Hate Speech, Sex Speech, Free Speech

By Nicholas Wolfson | Go to book overview
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In the end, the arguments of the new critics of traditional liberal defenses of the First Amendment turn on power. Elite white groups possess power; subjugated minority groups and women lack power. Speech is merely the epiphenomenon of power, to use the language of the older Marxist left. Free speech is merely a cunning device by which the dominant hierarchies cultivate and preserve their dominance. Culture, books, plays, cinema, history, and philosophy are products of the ruling elites. They possess no truth or value outside of their instrumental value to the elites. It is a grim world.

They argue that law (including First Amendment doctrine) is merely the product of power-group lobbying and influence. The very scope of First Amendment doctrine turns and twists with the influence of interest-group politicking. Ideas of truth, democracy, beauty, autonomy, or legal reasoning are largely irrelevant (or more accurately, radically subjective), at least until the right group, namely the new critics, reach power. Thus First Amendment doctrine is viewed as merely the product of lobbying and maneuvering of groups whose economic interest will be satisfied by new twists in the doctrine. The more powerful the group, the more certainly it will get the proper constitutional doctrine.


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Hate Speech, Sex Speech, Free Speech


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