Does America have a “Free Speech Problem” – a disposition for “social silencing” -- as the NY Times recently wondered? Are we in the throes of “de-pluralizing” contemporary American society, where “canceling” those who disagree with us is simply the way we conduct our business? Have we lost sight of the importance of a free and open marketplace of ideas?
This program will explore the evolution of the right to free expression in the United States, from the Founders’ belief that liberty lay at the cornerstone of a free society, through the twentieth century where its standing waxed and waned, to the current moment where book banning and the “revisiting” of America’s brutal past are commonplace. We’ll examine the words and meaning of the Bill of Rights, the implications and consequences of legal decisions, and the possibilities and hopes for a freer future.
About the Presenter
Beau Breslin is the Joseph C. Palamountain Jr. Professor of Government at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY. He holds a Ph.D. in constitutional theory/American politics from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. from Hobart College. He has written extensively on the U.S. Constitution, the right to free expression, and the death penalty. His latest book, A Constitution for the Living: Imaging How Five Generations of Americans Would Rewrite the Nation’s Fundamental Law (Stanford University Press, 2021), has won several awards.
He is currently working on a monograph that considers what was lost when critical sections of America’s Founding-era documents (the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution, and so on) were edited and redacted because of political sensitivities.
The President's Series
Welcome to the President's Series—an engaging collection of special events hosted by the Library in collaboration with the President of the Board and members of the Library Board of Trustees. Join us for thought-provoking discussions and explorations of the most pressing topics shaping our world today: intellectual freedom, free expression, and civil liberties in American institutions. Guest speakers, including legal experts and constitutional scholars, will help make sense of current events, landmark historical precedents, and their impact on our lives.