Chapter

The Crime of Seditious Libel, and England’s Evisceration of Freedoms of Press and Speech

Wendell Bird

in Press and Speech Under Assault

Published in print February 2016 | ISBN: 9780190461621
Published online March 2016 | e-ISBN: 9780190461980 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190461621.003.0002
The Crime of Seditious Libel, and England’s Evisceration of Freedoms of Press and Speech

More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • History of the Americas
  • Political History

GO

Show Summary Details

Preview

Chapter 2 describes the development of the crime of seditious libel (criticism of government) in English common law, and the crown judges’ purposeful effort to support the government and prosecution of its critics by creating at least six unique features that deviated from ordinary criminal law rules. In doing so, the crown judges refused to allow a defense of truth, discarded the requirement to prove criminal intent, punished criticism of government officials even when true, criminalized criticism of the government even without libel of any individual, limited the jury to determining inconsequential issues, allowed general warrants for searches anywhere for any seditious publication, and ultimately rendered freedom of press meaningless by defining it in the most narrow way. That narrow definition, by Sir William Blackstone and by Lord Mansfield, was not based on anything in precedent, but was a choice of the narrowest of many definitions in popular discussion.

Keywords: seditious libel; English common law; Sir William Blackstone; Lord Mansfield; freedom of press; freedom from licensing

Chapter.  20322 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas ; Political History

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content. subscribe or login to access all content.