More Speech, Better Speech as the Best Defense

Jerome Neu

in On Loving Our Enemies

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199862986
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199949762 | DOI:
More Speech, Better Speech as the Best Defense

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Justice Brandeis famously argued that “more speech, not enforced silence” is the preferred remedy when harm from speech is feared (Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357, 375–78 [1927]). This chapter argues that he was as right for the world as he was for his narrower jurisdiction, the United States. The rights protected by the American Bill of Rights are precisely rights against the majority. In particular, people have a right to speak even if the majority does not wish to hear. To give some the power to shut up others is to endanger all. While Justice Brandeis's call for “more speech” may not always provide the remedy desired, in the realm of religion like the realm of politics, the risky commitment to the airing of objectionable views in the service of freedom requires that debate and discussion be “uninhibited, robust, and wide-open.”

Keywords: freedom of speech; First Amendment; rights; Bill of Rights

Chapter.  5762 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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