The Short Life and Curious Death of Free Speech in America
by Ellis Cose
An urgent examination of free speech in America—addressing “cancel culture,” “acceptance of lying,” “dialogue that limits the life quality of others”—from critically acclaimed journalist and bestselling author of The Rage of a Privileged Class.
For Americans, whether conservative or progressive, free speech has long been considered among America’s preeminent freedoms, thought to separate us from dictatorships and prevent injustice. Now, more than ever, we are seeing how free speech has shaped America’s social and political landscape. So, at this most crucial time comes The Short Life and Curious Death of Free Speech in America by bestselling author and critically-acclaimed journalist Ellis Cose. He discusses how being heard is increasingly the province of the wealthy. It is no coincidence that historically huge disparities in income have occurred at times when moneyed interests increasingly control political dialogue. The Trump Administration’s accusations of “fake news,” free use of negative language against minoritized groups, and blatant xenophobia in the last four years have left Americans questioning how far First Amendment protections can and should go.
The Short Life and Curious Death of Free Speech in America, a wholly original examination of the state of free speech in America today, will litigate ideas that touch on the life of every American. We have seen social media become a widespread disseminator of false information. It has proven powerful in keeping people of differing opinions and political parties at constant odds. Protesting, a hallmark of American free speech, is criminalized or requires compliance from the authorities. The nation—and world—are watching in real time as white nationalism rises, race and gender-based violence is broadcast widely, and voter suppression persists. The problem, Cose asserts, is that individuals have virtually no voice at all. He looks at the danger of hyper-partisanship and how the electoral college’s suppressive structure determines the nation’s leaders. He examines other countries to see what we can learn from their approach to problematic speech. Weaving landmark court cases together with a critical look at contemporary applications, Cose’s eye-opening account sheds much-needed light on this cornerstone of American history and culture.