You Can't Always Say What You Want
The Paradox of Free Speech
by Dennis Baron
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Pub Date 28 Feb 2023 | Archive Date 14 Feb 2023
The freedom to think what you want and to say what you think has always generated a pushback of regulation and censorship. This raises the thorny question: to what extent does free speech actually endanger speech protection? This book examines today's calls for speech legislation and places it into historical perspective, using fascinating examples from the past 200 years, to explain the historical context of laws regulating speech. Over time, the freedom to speak has grown, the ways in which we communicate have evolved due to technology, and our ideas about speech protection have been challenged as a result. Now more than ever, we are living in a free speech paradox: powerful speakers weaponize their rights in order to silence those less-powerful speakers who oppose them. By understanding how this situation has developed, we can stand up to these threats to the freedom of speech.
“Dennis Baron has written a book that is as elegant as it is urgent. By measuring the distance between the meanings of words and the meanings of laws, he sheds much-needed light on the paradox of interpreting permanent documents with an ever-changing language.”
- Peter Sokolowski, Editor at Large, Merriam-Webster
“With characteristic insight and wit, Dennis Baron validates his reputation as one of the preeminent scholars of language and law working today. Through an engaging tour of some of the most revealing episodes in the history of free speech and its regulation, You Can't Always Say What You Want skillfully illustrates the ambiguities, uncertainties, and complexities that have long defined our language, our law, and ultimately our public lives.”
- Jonathan Gienapp, author of The Second Creation: Fixing the American Constitution in the Founding Era