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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book--very objective, May 20, 2001
By 
"jeffersonfan" (Charlottesville, VA United States) - See all my reviews
Hentoff deals with the subject of free speech in the most objective manner I've seen. As a writer for the Village Voice, he could not be accused of being a right-winger, so criticism of the hypocrisy of the left is very credible. I've always thought it ironic that the left portrays itself as having a lock on being open-minded, yet it is all too happy to restrict speech that presents a contrary point of view.
Hentoff gives many examples, including some of his own, where both sides of the political spectrum attempt to censor the speech of the other. He discusses everything from efforts on college campuses to prevent non politically correct subjects from being discussed to censorship he faced while writing his columns.
Great book for people to read on both sides of the political spectrum. Perhaps it could move more people on both sides to actually listen to opposing points of view rather than trying to prevent the discussion. We have to understand that the 1st Amendment was not designed to protect speech we agree with--their would be no need for such protection. Being offended is really not a constitutional reason to preclude speech (in my view as well as Hentoff's).
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hentoff seeks the truth, February 20, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Free Speech for Me--But Not for Thee: How the American Left and Right Relentlessly Censor Each Other (Paperback)
Though the Left has now turned against Hentoff for his politically incorrect views on Bill Clinton, he is far from being some cranky right-winger. In this book, he holds up free speech as an ideal that few people really uphold. He especially criticizes "civil libertarians" who use the First Amendment as protection of things they like and then ignore it when trying to ban what they hate (racist writing, sexual harassment, etc.). Rather than set up left-wing straw men to knock down, Hentoff details stories of how the left censors, while acknowledging that the Right censors as well. But since conservatives admit their intentions they are not as dangerous as the duplicitous people on the Left. Hentoff seeks truth in everything, and this book is his finest.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books on the subject of Free Speech, August 12, 1997
By 
lazarus@vnet.net (Charlotte, NC, USA) - See all my reviews
Hentoff's dogged persistance to the First Amendment comes through again and again in this work. He does not care about the topic, he does not care about who wants a word censored, he only cares that the Constitution protects Free Speeach and he will, too. I came aupon this title, and searched for it. Upon finding it, I swallowed the book whole. I became alternately enraged and amused at the attempts of some to limit the expression of others, and their reasons for doing so. Hentoff's work should be required reading for all students, and naturalized citizens; he brings the First Amendment to life through powerful stories adn facts
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting collection of anecdotes, January 29, 2005
This review is from: Free Speech for Me--But Not for Thee: How the American Left and Right Relentlessly Censor Each Other (Paperback)
Hentoff, one of the foremost free speech advocates, presents stories, many involving his own experiences, of individual examples of censorship initiatives from both the 'left' and 'right'. He doesn't really present a comprehensive philosophical case, but rather provides concrete examples of the necessity for rigorous protection of free speech.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Both insightful and accessible, May 18, 2007
By 
Christopher H. Hodgkin "chodgkin" (Friday Harbor, Wa United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Free Speech for Me--But Not for Thee: How the American Left and Right Relentlessly Censor Each Other (Paperback)
This is one of the most important books of our time. Hentoff is a passionate believer in free speech who recognizes that if speech is truly to be free, he must protect the expression even of ideas he abhors. He catalogs with equal regret the efforts of both the right and the left to censor speech they don't like. While being sympathetic to those who object to allowing bigots, racists, pornographers, atheists, and others of many stripes the right to lay out ideas that one group or another finds repugnant, he makes both an intellectual and an emotional case for allowing everyone to have their say, no matter how much this may offend some. He points out that suppressing speech doesn't get rid of the underlying thought, but merely drives it underground and gives it the benefit of martyrdom. His corrective to bad speech is good speech: those who believe in their ideas should not try to censor other views, but should openly confront and refute them with opposing ideas.

His prescription can be hard to accept at times, but the case he makes is persuasive that in the end, liberty of speech is the best guarantee of a free society and of the ability for that society to work through the all viewpoints to reach agreement on which opinions are social desirable and which are not.

Democracy and freedom are hard masters, but they are worth it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Should be must reading, May 29, 2013
This review is from: Free Speech for Me--But Not for Thee: How the American Left and Right Relentlessly Censor Each Other (Paperback)
I first became familiar with Nat Hentoff in the mid-1990s when teaching a college-level class in applied ethics. One of the issues we covered was free speech. Having read other books by free speech advocates as well as the writings of those who try to justify censorship, I can safely say that Hentoff's "Free Speech for Me But Not for Thee" is the best volume on the issue, particularly because of the numerous real-life examples he provides. His book describes numerous occasions when speech has been censored by those on both ends of the political spectrum. As a person who leans Left, it is most interesting that more than half of his examples are taken from situations in which the political Left has censored the freedom of speech of those with whom they disagree. One of his most gripping stories is of his defense of the right of members of the American Nazi Party to hold a demonstration in the Chicago suburb of Skokie (a suburb with a heavily Jewish population, many of whom at the time were Holocaust survivors). The ANP had been denied a permit to march and had appealed to the courts. They had asked the ACLU to intervene on their behalf. The ACLU refused. To Hentoff, this smacked of hypocrisy, for it was obvious to him that the ACLU's advocacy of free speech was selective, something to which some people and groups were entitled, but not all. Hentoff (as well as other free speech advocates) left the ACLU as a result.

This is just one of many stories Hentoff tells. Anyone who desires to know more about how our civil liberties are being eroded, particularly our right to freedom of speech, should read Hentoff's book. While the examples are a little bit outdated, the principles remain. In this day and age, when those on both sides of the political spectrum try to stifle their opponents by denying them the right to an open forum, this book is must reading.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The first "textbook" I ever enjoyed, July 26, 1997
By A Customer
I had to read this book my freshman year of college in a class called "law and the political process." It may have been the first book I ever read for school that completely engrossed me. I read it from cover to cover in only a few days. Hentoff really attempts to look at the issue from a perspective of defending absolutely the freedom of speech, not from either the right or the left. People on both sides of the political spectrum have attempted to limit what others can read. This was a truly enjoyable experience, and five years later, I still pick up this book and read a chapter or two to inspire myself
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Precarious State of Free Speech, August 8, 2013
By 
warlord (new york city) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Free Speech for Me--But Not for Thee: How the American Left and Right Relentlessly Censor Each Other (Paperback)
I had been reading Nat Hentoff's column on civil liberties in the Village Voice for years. He had a talent for examining situations and noting ramifications that most people ignored or never thought of. One might assume that Mr. Hentoff is a liberal. I believe he is not; he is a civil libertarian. There is a difference, and reading his works will show why. He condemns the hypocrisies of liberals as well as conservatives. He discusses the dangers of political correctness, and exposes the lack of free thinking in our colleges and universities. This is an important work, and everyone should read it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Groundbreaking and Fascinating, December 23, 2008
By 
Miss Bennett (San Francisco, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Free Speech for Me--But Not for Thee: How the American Left and Right Relentlessly Censor Each Other (Paperback)
Hentoff is that rare creature who really believes in free speech even for those who express views he abhors; he is one of the most intellectually honest writers and thinkers ever. He has a light, non-didactic style and a knack for telling the real world stories that underly each chapter. He genuinely doesn't care which side of the political spectrum is the censor or the censored, so his book is accessible and fair to all. The descriptions of events at Yale are particularly spot-on.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Obscenity is not protected speech., July 27, 2014
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Excellent book. Almost a convert to porn as a form of free speech. However, Obscenity does NOT fall under the category of free and protected speech, and can, indeed, be censored. This is the greater feminist issue.
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