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Free Speech

Edited by Bethany Jacobs, 2nd edition


Free Speech: A Casebook for Writers foregrounds arguments about the nature and legitimacy of speech. The readings range from national and international government speech policies, to essays on racist speech at the university, to debates over trigger warnings, to considerations of the free speech implications of Gamergate and trolling. In the contemporary United States, free speech is one of the most valued, and least understood, rights imparted by the Constitution. This casebook challenges students to interrogate their own understandings of free speech, and to ask crucial questions which are at the heart of all these readings: Is there such a thing as free speech? Is speech ever “free”? And would that be a good thing? With an eloquent and lucid introduction by James Crosswhite that discusses argumentation and speech in the context of the principles elucidated in The Shape of ReasonFree Speech: A Casebook for Writers provides excellent foundations in critical thinking and argumentation for students in Writing 121.


Unit 1: Speech Codes Near and Far

  • Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany, Part I. Art 5, Sec 1-3
  • Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Sec 1-2
  • The Constitution of Japan, Art 21
  • The Constitution of India, Art 19
  • The Constitution of Ireland, Art 40, Sec 6.1
  • The Constitution of the People’s Republic of China, Art 35
  • The Constitution of South Africa, Ch 2, Sec 16
  • France’s Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, Art 11
  • Israel’s Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty
  • United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Art 19
  • United States Constitution, First Amendment
  • University of Oregon Student Conduct Code (2016) and (2003)

Unit 2: Speech and the University

  • ACLU, Hate Speech on Campus
  • Stanley Fish, There’s No Such Thing as Free Speech and It’s a Good Thing, Too!
  • Wendy Kaminer, The Progressive Ideas Behind the Lack of Free Speech on Campus
  • Charles R. Lawrence III, Regulating Racist Speech on Campus
  • Benno Schmidt, The University and Freedom

Case Study: Trigger Warnings

  • Samantha Field, Should Colleges Use Trigger Warnings?
  • Jack Halberstam, You Are Triggering Me
  • Aoife Assumpta Hart, Trig Reciprocal Functions: I’m a Trans Woman Adjunct Prof and I Use Trigger Warnings
  • Jenny Jarvie, Trigger Happy
  • Katie McDonough, Tigger Warnings on Campus: What the Critics Are Missing
  • Melissa McEwan, Tiggered
  • Jennifer Medina, Warning: The Literary Canon Might Make Students Squirm

Case Study: Free Speech Online

  • Georgia Graham, Harsh Twitter Troll Sentences Could Infringe on Freedom of Speech
  • Emily Greenhouse, Twitter’s Free Speech Problem
  • Dominique Jackson, Freedom of Speech Should Never Mean Freedom of Abuse
  • Dana Liebelson, The War over Free Speech, Harassment, and Trolls Hits Another Social Media Site
  • Anita Sarkeesian, Image Based Harassment and Visual Misogyny
  • Anita Sarkeesian, What I Couldn’t Say Panel at All About Women
  • xkcd, Free Speech