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Free Speech and Democracy

Semester and Year SP 2004
Course Number K20.1144
Section 001
Units 4.0
Level U
Foundation Requirement SOC


The tension between free expression and social control has shadowed the Great American Conversation since the birth of this country. The constitutional ideal that our government "shall make no law" abridging free speech has given way, in fact, to laws that limit discussion, ostensibly for the public good. Likewise, new media technologies advance our ability to access and exchange ideas and information, but raise new questions as to the limits of such dialogue. This course, then, addresses the delicate balance between free speech and democracy, guided by our readings of Plato's Republic, Lippmann's Public Opinion, and McChesney's Our Unfree Press. We also examine important Supreme Court decisions that have shaped First Amendment rights in regard to hate speech, pornography, corporate control of mass media, and the rights of journalists. With this foundation, we ask: Are there any forms of free speech that should be restricted? If so, which? And, who should decide?

Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

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