FAN 30 (First Amendment News) — New & Forthcoming Books on Free Speech & Related Topics

UnknownAs the summer winds down, the cerebral season beckons us with a variety of books on free speech, with topics ranging from campaign finance to paparazzi and from free speech history to contemporary privacy issues boiling in the free speech caldron. There are also books on global expression, reporters privilege, and censorship and racial ridicule, among others. So prepare your minds, it is, as they say, the time of the season.

You may recall the name Judith Miller, the Pulitzer Prize winning and former New York Times journalist who was jailed for 85 days for contempt of court for refusing to reveal her sources to a grand jury in connection with a leak naming Valerie Plame as a CIA agent. Though Floyd Abrams represented her, the Court of Appeals ruled against her First Amendment and other claims in In re Grand Jury Subpoena, Judith Miller (D.C. Cir. 2005).

Against that backdrop and more comes a book titled The Story: A Reporter’s Memoir (Simon & Schuster). The release date is April 7, 2015. Here is how her publisher describes the book:

She turns her journalistic skills on herself and her controversial reporting which marshaled evidence that led America to invade Iraq. She writes about the mistakes she and others made on the existence in Iraq of weapons of mass destruction. She addresses the motives of some of her sources, including the notorious Iraqi Chalabi and the CIA. She describes going to jail to protect her sources in the Scooter Libby investigation of the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame and how the Times subsequently abandoned her after twenty-eight years. 

The Story describes the real life of a foreign and investigative reporter. It is an adventure story, told with bluntness and wryness.

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UnknownEarly next year the University of North Carolina Press will release Censoring Racial Ridicule: Irish, Jewish, and African American Struggles over Race and Representation, 1890-1930. The book, replete with a provocative cover, is by M. Alison Kibler, an associate professor of American Studies and Women and Gender Studies at Franklin & Marshall College.

In Censoring Racial Ridicule Professor Kibler explores the “relationship between free expression, democracy, and equality in America,” and all of this mindful of contemporary debates over hate speech.

What is different about this forthcoming book is how it approaches its subject matter and how it portrays the responses of those who have been the victims of racial hatred. Unlike many other books that depict the victims of hate speech as helpless and silent victims, Professor Kibler’s work reveals a far more robust and courageous response, sometimes accompanied by calls for censorship.

This is how the history of opposition to hate speech is summarized in some advance publicity on the book:

A drunken Irish maid slips and falls. A greedy Jewish pawnbroker lures his female employee into prostitution. An African American man leers at a white woman. These and other, similar images appeared widely on stages and screens across America during the early twentieth century. In this provocative study, M. Alison Kibler uncovers, for the first time, powerful and concurrent campaigns by Irish, Jewish and African Americans against racial ridicule in popular culture at the turn of the twentieth century. Censoring Racial Ridicule explores how Irish, Jewish, and African American groups of the era resisted harmful representations in popular culture by lobbying behind the scenes, boycotting particular acts, and staging theater riots. Kibler demonstrates that these groups’ tactics evolved and diverged over time, with some continuing to pursue street protest while others sought redress through new censorship laws.

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0804793085Other books coming out this year include the following:

See also Jason Ross Arnold, Secrecy in the Sunshine Era: The Promise and Failures of U.S. Open Government Laws (University Press of Kansas, Aug. 20).

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When Doctor Samuel Johnson finished [his great] English dictionary, he was visited by . . . a delegation of London’s respectable womanhood who came to his parlor . . . and said, “Doctor, we congratulate you on your decision to exclude all indecent words from your dictionary,” [whereupon he replied],  “ladies, I congratulate you on your persistence in looking them up.” – Christopher Hitchens (2006)

Books coming out next year

UnknownSome of the books on free speech scheduled to be published next year include the following:

Amicus briefs staking up in “true threats” case

The case is Elonis v. United States and the amicus briefs are coming in — eight thus far. The groups and their lead lawyers are:

(Hat tip to SCOTUSblog & ABA Preview of Supreme Court Cases)

→ For commentary, see:

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Many people are confused about what free speech is all about. It is not freedom for the thought you love. It is freedom for the thoughts you hate the most.Larry Flint on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of Hustler Magazine.

Another Reminder — Senate to vote on amendment to First Amendment

A procedural vote has been scheduled for Monday, September 8, 2014 at 6 p.m. EDT concerning a proposed amendment to the First Amendment. More on this next month.

Young-Americans-for-Liberty-Montclair-State-e1358420291622Headline: “Libertarian Students are Leading the Fight for Free Speech on Campus”

Writing in The Daily Caller, Elliot Engstrom notes: “A diverse collection of students and activists has launched an all-out assault on campus speech restrictions. This coalition includes conservatives, libertarians, and even leftists dedicated to the free and open expression of ideas. And today, this coalition is winning.”

For more, go here.

→ See also Azhar Majeed, “This Academic Year, Colleges Should Eliminate Speech Codes — Or Prepare for Their Day in Court,” Huffington Post, Sept. 2, 2014

First Amendment essays sought

Oklahoma high school students who enter the 2014 Zach Taylor First Amendment Essay Contest will be eligible to win cash prizes worth up to $300.The contest is sponsored by FOI Oklahoma Inc., a statewide organization that supports organizations and individuals dedicated to government transparency. This year, writers are being asked to write about the importance of one of the five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment.

→ Essays, which are due Oct. 10, should be about 500 typewritten words and double-spaced in Microsoft Word or portable document format. Entries must include the student’s name, grade, school, teacher’s and  principal’s names along with the student’s mailing address, phone number and email address.

→ Entries must be emailed to Bill Young at

→ Prizes will be awarded Nov. 5 during the 2014 First Amendment Congress at University of Central Oklahoma. Information: (405) 522–Screen Shot 2014-09-02 at 9.57.26 PM3562 or (405) 370–3750.” (Source here)

The First Amendment in Five Minutes?

That’s right, just listen to Floyd Abrams here on Big Think.

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Next Scheduled FAN Column: #31, Wednesday, September 10th.

Last Scheduled FAN Column: #29, “Exceptional Freedom: How many exceptions are there to the First Amendment?

Last FAN Column: #31.1, “Florida Bar Joins Petitioner in Urging Court Review of Judicial Elections Case

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