By Harvey Silverglate
The act of censorship is usually seen as a direct affront to the First Amendment, buts it’s not always that clear and simple. The reason, of course, is that the amendment has several clauses, and at times some of them are in tension with one another, if not in seeming conflict.
Consider today’s curious report in The Boston Globe that the pastor of St.
Any publication that devotes itself to promoting liberty, like
this blog, must stop for a moment to take note of the passing of one of the
giants in the never-ending battle for freedom. Connecticut attorney Catherine
Roraback died last week at the age of 87. While she left no survivors other
than a sister who announced her death, she did leave an enormous legacy for
which we all should be grateful.
Scholars have for centuries sought
to define and promote the concept of academic freedom, and, while the exact
definitions they’ve arrived at have varied, the underlying rationale has always
been the same: to shield academics from political and religious pressure. For
this reason, I’m a bit puzzled by the fact that many of the modern-day groups that
describe themselves as defenders of academic freedom are also clearly political
in nature and often seem to be promoting a political agenda rather than
neutral principles of liberty.
Once again, the news media faces a “prior restraint against publication” imposed by the courts, yet few in that industry or elsewhere seem to understand the nature and impact of prior restraints and the true threat they pose. Contrary to common belief, prior restraints pose a more serious threat to Sixth Amendment rights (i.