Roots of free speech

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

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Roots of free speech

  1. 1. The roots of free speech<br />A whirlwind, 216-year tour fromQueen Elizabeth to Thomas Jefferson<br />
  2. 2. Two great principles<br />No prior restraint<br />
  3. 3. Two great principles<br />No prior restraint<br />No penalty for reporting the truth<br />
  4. 4. Two great principles<br />No prior restraint<br />No penalty for reporting the truth<br />But how did we get from there to here?<br />
  5. 5. Queen Elizabeth I<br />Censorship is rampant<br />Truth is never a defense<br />Catholicism is considered a threat to the state<br />
  6. 6. William Carter’s fate<br />
  7. 7. John Milton<br />Poet, Puritan, politician<br />Opposed prior restraint<br />His own work on divorce had been censored<br />
  8. 8. The Areopagitica<br />Licensing and censorship should be abolished<br />
  9. 9. The Areopagitica<br />Licensing and censorship should be abolished<br />The truth will win out in a free exchange of ideas<br />
  10. 10. The Areopagitica<br />Licensing and censorship should be abolished<br />The truth will win out in a free exchange of ideas<br />Punishment could still be meted out after publication<br />
  11. 11. Holmes and Milton<br />“[T]he best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market” — Holmes<br />“Let [Truth] and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter?” — Milton<br />
  12. 12. The case of John Peter Zenger<br />Royal Governor William Cosby sparked political opposition<br />Zenger, a printer, approached to start an anti-Cosby newspaper<br />
  13. 13. New-York Weekly Journal<br />Attacked Cosby relentlessly<br />Real force behind it was James Alexander<br />Argued that truth should be a defense<br />
  14. 14. From Cato’s Letters<br /> “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.”<br />
  15. 15. The burning of the Journal<br />Zenger arrested in November 1734<br />Charged with seditious libel<br />Tried in August 1735<br />
  16. 16. Andrew Hamilton<br />The original Philadelphia lawyer<br />Argued that truth should be a defense in libel<br />Told jury it could decide the law as well as the facts<br />
  17. 17. Paul Starr<br /> “[T]he Zenger verdict vindicated the idea that the press could serve as a guardian of popular liberty by scrutinizing government.”<br />
  18. 18. Isaiah Thomas<br />Threatened with seditious libel prosecution in 1771<br />Invoked Zenger precedent<br />Government dropped case<br />
  19. 19. John Adams<br />Sedition Act of 1798 a threat to free speech<br />Recognized truth as a defense<br />Overturned in 1964<br />
  20. 20. James Madison<br />Principal author of the First Amendment<br />His Virginia Resolution was a ringing denunciation of seditious libel<br />
  21. 21. Thomas Jefferson<br />Preferred “newspapers without a government” to “a government without newspapers”<br />
  22. 22. Thomas Jefferson<br />Preferred “newspapers without a government” to “a government without newspapers”<br />“I deplore ... the putrid state into which our newspapers have passed”<br />

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