The First Amendment prevents Congress from passing any laws that abridge the freedom of speech. But what does that actually mean? In this presentation, professor Meg Mott considers the history of speech laws in the United States, how states and municipalities have tried to curb offensive speech, and how the Supreme Court has ruled on those efforts.
She’ll also discuss how speech fits into the life cycle of our democracy. While some argue that limits on speech are necessary for marginalized persons to feel welcome in the public sphere, others argue that the criminalization of speech serves the needs of the penal state more than the general public.
All arguments are welcome as we make full use of our reasoning powers to bring the First Amendment to life!
About Meg Mott
After twenty years of teaching political theory and constitutional law to Marlboro College undergraduates, Meg Mott has taken her love of argument to the general public. Her award-winning series “Debating Our Rights,” on the first ten amendments brings civil discussions on contentious issues to public libraries and colleges. She attended the University of New Hampshire in the 1970s and is currently teaching at Keene State College.
This program is part of the “Democracy and the Informed Citizen” initiative, administered by the Federation of State Humanities Councils and funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The initiative seeks to deepen the public’s knowledge and appreciation of the vital connections between democracy, the humanities, journalism, and an informed citizenry.