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What's Wrong with the First Amendment

AUD$39.95 inc GST

  • Date Published: October 2016
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781316613771

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  • What is Wrong with the First Amendment? argues that the US love affair with the First Amendment has mutated into free speech idolatry. Free speech has been placed on so high a pedestal that it is almost automatically privileged over privacy, fair trials, equality and public health, even protecting depictions of animal cruelty and violent video games sold to children. At the same time, dissent is unduly stifled and religious minorities are burdened. The First Amendment benefits the powerful at the expense of the vulnerable. By contrast, other Western democracies provide more reasonable accommodations between free speech and other values though their protections of dissent, and religious minorities are also inadequate. Professor Steven H. Shiffrin argues that US free speech extremism is not the product of broad cultural factors, but rather political ideologies developed after the 1950s. He shows that conservatives and liberals have arrived at similar conclusions for different political reasons.

    • Provides a critique of free speech idolatry, therefore readers who take the First Amendment for granted will be challenged to rethink their position
    • Will appeal to those who favor free speech, by criticizing the treatment of dissent and of religious minorities under the First Amendment
    • Offers a comparison of how the US and other Western countries treat freedom of speech and religion, so readers will be able to reflect on their own assumption about the US position
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Steven H. Shiffrin challenges the conventional wisdom that safeguarding the freedom of speech necessarily entails protecting almost all communicative activities without regard to the functions they serve or the costs they generate. Deploying examples with a master's touch, he demonstrates how such indiscriminate blindness to consequences ill serves the noble, centuries-old struggle for freedom of thought. This book is much needed in an age when the bloating of the First Amendment threatens to cheapen it.' Vincent Blasi, Corliss Lamont Professor of Civil Liberties, Columbia Law School

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2016
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781316613771
    • dimensions: 230 x 153 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.35kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction
    Part I:
    1. Privacy
    2. Justice
    3. Race
    4. Sex
    5. Violence
    6. Commerce
    7. Democracy
    Part II:
    8. Dissent
    9. Religion
    Part III:
    10. How did we get here?
    11. What next?

  • Author

    Steven H. Shiffrin, Cornell University, New York
    Steven H. Shiffrin is Charles Frank Reavis Sr Professor of Law Emeritus at Cornell University, New York. He is the author of The Religious Left and Church-State Relations (2009), Dissent, Injustice, and the Meanings of America (1999) and The First Amendment, Democracy, and Romance (1990), as well as the winner of the Thomas J. Wilson Award. He is also a co-author of Constitutional Law, 12th edition (2015) and The First Amendment, 6th edition (2015). His writings have appeared in many publications, including the Cornell Law Review, the Harvard Law Review, the Michigan Law Review, the Northwestern Law Review, the UCLA Law Review, the Virginia Law Review, Commonweal, the New York Times Book Review, and the Washington Monthly.

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