Chapter

Homeopathic Machismo in Free Speech Theory

in Courting the Abyss

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print April 2005 | ISBN: 9780226662749
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226662756 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226662756.003.0005
Homeopathic Machismo in Free Speech Theory

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This chapter focuses on intellectuals' accounts of free expression and on important Supreme Court decisions. The U.S. Supreme Court is one of the world's most prolific and influential producers of communication theory. Especially but not only in its interpretations of the First Amendment, the Court has ruminated on the gamut of communicative problems facing a democratic polity, in the process offering smart and sometimes curious commentary usable for more general purposes. Its discourse on free expression is an open book about mass communication in the modern world. Admittedly, the Court produces theory of a peculiar sort. Extended theoretical treatments about free expression usually come from scholars or judges writing in the luxury of private thought, rather than in decisions. The late twentieth-century interpretation of the First Amendment contains a touch of what the Russian literary theorist Mikhail Bakhtin and his followers call “the carnivalesque,” the raucous celebration of inversion, mockery, and transgression.

Keywords: communication theory; mass communication; free expression; First Amendment; U.S. Supreme Court

Chapter.  18030 words. 

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