ERIC Number: ED209146
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1981-Sep
Reference Count: 0
Freedom of Speech--A Comparison of Recent U.S. and British Experience.
Barnum, David G.
This comparative analysis of the constitutional status of freedom of speech in Great Britain and the United States focuses on four speech-related offenses--seditious libel, defamatory libel, blasphemous libel, and group libel or incitment to racial hatred. The analysis concentrates on the profound and rapid changes that issues related to freedom of speech have undergone recently in the two nations. The paper is presented in three major sections. In the opening section, the author presents definitions of each of the four offenses in Britain and the United States. In the second section, information is presented on the constitutional status of each offense in Britain and the United States, with emphasis on comparing the major issues of constitutional policy which have been raised in relation to each offense in the two nations. Examples of major issues discussed include insubordination in the armed forces, political agitation with intent to create a breach of the peace, criticism of individual public officials, and intent to stir up racial hatred by publishing or saying things against a section of the public distinguished by color, race, or ethnic or national origin. The final section offers conclusions based on the ways in which these and similar offenses have been viewed and treated recently in the two nations. A major conclusion is that British law emerges as more restrictive of freedom of speech, at least in a formal or doctrinal sense, than American law. Although the constitutional status of these freedoms in Britain may be entirely satisfactory in practice, the restrictions of a statutory or common law nature existing in Britain on these freedoms would be unconstitutional in the United States. (DB)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Great Britain; United States
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association (New York, NY, September 3-6, 1981).