Freedom of Speech and Press in America

Freedom of Speech and Press in America

Freedom of Speech and Press in America

Freedom of Speech and Press in America

Excerpt

This volume by Edward G. Hudon, a distinguished student of the law, will, I trust, meet with wide interest. Even though most members of the Bar seldom in their practice have the joyous experience of trying to ambush the Great Concern of our Republic over our First Amendment in the Bill of Rights, I have the fond hope that they will want to read this book carefully.

The author stresses, from his point of view, the early British and colonial attitudes toward freedom of thought and expression and is clearly mindful of the scar given to freedom of the mind in 1798, when the Alien and Sedition Laws were enacted with support from some of the very same Founding Fathers.

Dr. Hudon's discussion of the clear and present danger rule I found valuable, particularly because I am by no means in agreement with his historic interpretations. I, for one, never like subjective words such as "clear and present danger." I am not easily scared, so seldom if ever in life has a danger been clear or present to me. Holmes was a slogan maker while Brandeis played with the slide rule of law. The latter urged for "freedom" as long as there is time to make answer or, in the alternative, time to call the police.

Nor do I believe that our judicial system has lacked consistency. It has been as consistent as life itself. The Bill of Rights and particularly the great First Amendment guaranteeing freedom of press was written when our government was run by superior people—that is, when less than 25% were literate, when women, by and large, were deemed unfit for education other than the spinet and the needle. It was designed as a vague ideal when our population was only around four million and when mail was sent from Boston to Atlanta by sailing vessel via England because this was quicker than overland by our so-called roads in the winter months. The Founding Fathers could not foresee the advent of the telephone, the typewriter, the photographs of Daguerre, motion pictures, radio, television and, of course, Telstar. It was with a quill pen that our rule of freedom of thought was expressed as an ideal.

In the author's terms, the law is volatile. I disagree. But I enjoyed the quiet, speechless debate I had with this volume because I believe . . .

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.