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Free Speech for Me—But Not for Thee: How the American Left and Right Relentlessly Censor Each Other
For years now, Nat Hentoff has been the best-known lay guardian of the magnificent spirit and letter of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. His principled advocacy of free expression for all seems to be needed more than ever today, at a time of appalling assaults on expression not only by traditional opponents on the political right—those offended ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published August 1st 1993 by HarperCollins Publishers
(first published October 1st 1992)
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Mar 07, 2008 James rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Every citizen
Hentoff unsparingly skewers the hypocrisy of too many true believers on both sides of the political spectrum, neither of whom seem to grasp the idea of true democracy or respect for diversity, but differ only in the type of conformity they try to impose. As he shows, this is inimical to the fundamental American philosophy of "I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."
NFL football players are taking a knee. The President is attempting to pressure the NFL into punishing rebellious players. Nazis are marching in the streets. Racist comments are being made by and to middle school students in my hometown. Banned book week is an annual celebration at the library. The reaction is visceral and immediate. This book allows these situations to be put into perspective in regards to the importance of the First Amendment and the lengths some people have gone to to protect ...more
Nat Hentoff is a columnist who has written extensively about free speech and intellectual freedom. This book explores the "messiness" of free speech. It is easy to support intellectual freedom when it coincides with one's personal values but it is much harder to do so when the speech in question may conflict with or differ from your values. As a librarian for over 25 years I fully support intellectual freedom. But, I also see that there can be ethical dilemmas and gray areas when looking at how ...more
Finally had to return this to the library unfinished, after renewing it twice. Found much of it interesting but would much rather read Hentoff's Village Voice pieces than try to get through over 400 pages of his anecdotes in one tome. Highly enjoyed Hentoff's high praise for Judith Krug!
Excellent examination of free speech in various aspects. This book certainly gave me pause to realize that, despite believing myself generally fair, I do want to treat certain works or types of work differently from others. I'm convinced, based on the breadth of incidents he discusses and examines, that this is a human impulse, rather than one limited to either side of the political spectrum—but it is one that, with firm commitment to liberal values (in the classical, non-partisan sense) we can ...more
Nathan Irving "Nat" Hentoff was a historian, novelist, music critic, and syndicated columnist. As a civil libertarian and free-speech activist, he has been described by the Cato Institute—where he has been a senior fellow since 2009—as "one of the foremost authorities on the First Amendment" to the U.S. Constitution. He was a staff writer for The New Yorker for over 25 years, and was formerly a ...more