- Series: Very Short Introductions
- Paperback: 128 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (April 15, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0199232350
- ISBN-13: 978-0199232352
- Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.5 x 4.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #502,653 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Free Speech: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) 1st Edition
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"A very careful and efficient inspection of this area by discussing the central arguments as they are related to the idea of free speech while examining the need for limitations... The title will be great for students who have been newly introduced to the idea of free speech and need a to the point look at free speech without feeling overwhelmed by mounds of legal jargon... very well written and easy to read beginning to the topic of free speech. The organization of the book provided a straightforward discussion that readers could follow effortlessly... I found Free Speech: A Very Short Introduction to provide exactly what the title series set out to accomplish by introducing the free speech in a brief and easy to read format."--AALL Spectrum
About the Author
Nigel Warburton is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the Open University. He is the author of the bestselling Philosophy: The Basics.
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It is far more complicated to implement than the two simple words "free speech" imply. Warburton covers all the nuances admirably.
However, I think his choice of the Lipstadt-Irving matter is a very poor choice for anything having to do with free speech. He presents the trial as the final word in any kind of Holocaust discussion. Far from it. In fact, in spite of what the trial judge said about him, David Irving has never been known in revisionist circles as a holocaust denier. He is a straw man for the issue.
A much better choice would have been the Zundel trials in Canada in 1985 and 1988, where free speech triumphed in an examination of all of the issues relating to the Holocaust. (See The Holocaust on Trial, Robert Lenski; and The Great Holocaust Trial, Michael Hoffman)
Debra Lipstadt has famously said that she wouldn’t debate Irving or other holocaust deniers. What is she afraid of? So much for free speech. You wrote in FREE SPEECH, “To Mill it was obvious that even false views have a part to play in the free market of ideas.” (p 35) How can he cite anything relating to Lipstadt or the Irving trial as an example of free speech in action?
Maybe in another edition of the book he could include a better example of free speech
As US Justice Brennan said in Texas v. Johnson, which upheld the right of dissenters to burn the US flag as a protest, "If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the Government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable."
Virtually anything can be seen as offensive, and something that is both true and important is bound to offend somebody.
But in Britain today, it seems that we have the right to have free speech, as long as we don't use it. So members of the English Defence League are arrested and the group Muslims against Crusades is disbanded for saying things that some find offensive. But it is legitimate, if unjust and idiotic, to call for Sharia law here, and it is also legitimate, and just, to oppose Sharia law.
This government is trying to suppress dissent. It is expanding its police powers to control and limit expression, narrowing our rights of democratic participation.
The meanings of symbols like the poppy are in the realm of opinion and argument, so the state must not impose a politically correct interpretation on us. The state abused Remembrance Day, when poppy-sellers demanded that we stand `shoulder to shoulder' with the armed forces serving in the war against Afghanistan.
War demands consensus and recruitment of the media. We must resist the warmongering drive for conformity. Some may find it offensive to be told that that their country's armed forces are used not for national self-defence, not for any national interest, but for illegal aggression. But if the truth hurts us, then we must ask why.