Roots of free speech

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Published on January 24, 2009

Author: dkennedy56

Source: slideshare.net

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A whirlwind, 216-year tour from Queen Elizabeth to Thomas Jefferson.

The roots of free speech A whirlwind, 216-year tour fromQueen Elizabeth to Thomas Jefferson

Two great principles No prior restraint

Two great principles No prior restraint No penalty for reporting the truth

Two great principles No prior restraint No penalty for reporting the truth But how did we get from there to here?

Queen Elizabeth I Censorship is rampant Truth is never a defense Catholicism is considered a threat to the state

William Carter’s fate

John Milton Poet, Puritan, politician Opposed prior restraint His own work on divorce had been censored

The Areopagitica Licensing and censorship should be abolished

The Areopagitica Licensing and censorship should be abolished The truth will win out in a free exchange of ideas

The Areopagitica Licensing and censorship should be abolished The truth will win out in a free exchange of ideas Punishment could still be meted out after publication

Holmes and Milton “[T]he best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market” — Holmes “Let [Truth] and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter?” — Milton

The case of John Peter Zenger Royal Governor William Cosby sparked political opposition Zenger, a printer, approached to start an anti-Cosby newspaper

New-York Weekly Journal Attacked Cosby relentlessly Real force behind it was James Alexander Argued that truth should be a defense

From Cato’s Letters “The exposing therefore of public wickedness, as it is a duty which every man owes to truth and his country, can never be a libel in the nature of things.”

The burning of the Journal Zenger arrested in November 1734 Charged with seditious libel Tried in August 1735

Andrew Hamilton The original Philadelphia lawyer Argued that truth should be a defense in libel Told jury it could decide the law as well as the facts

Paul Starr “[T]he Zenger verdict vindicated the idea that the press could serve as a guardian of popular liberty by scrutinizing government.”

Isaiah Thomas Threatened with seditious libel prosecution in 1771 Invoked Zenger precedent Government dropped case

John Adams Sedition Act of 1798 a threat to free speech Recognized truth as a defense Overturned in 1964

James Madison Principal author of the First Amendment His Virginia Resolution was a ringing denunciation of seditious libel

Thomas Jefferson Preferred “newspapers without a government” to “a government without newspapers”

Thomas Jefferson Preferred “newspapers without a government” to “a government without newspapers” “I deplore ... the putrid state into which our newspapers have passed”

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