ERIC Number: ED213054
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1981-Nov
Reference Count: 0
Beyond Free Speech: A Critical Examination of the Realities Surrounding the First Amendment.
Haiman, Franklyn S.
A strictly legal rights approach to freedom of expression is inadequate because it fails to acknowledge that such freedom rests on a set of assumptions that are not adequately met in the United States, and so make that system ineffectual. The first assumption is that speech can influence the beliefs and behavior of those to whom it is addressed; but this country's increasingly centralized wealth and political power create self-interest groups capable of opposing the messages of others' free speech. The second assumption is that those who have a stake in decision making (all citizens) will have the motivation and communication competence to express themselves; but rampant illiteracy and inadequate education leave a vast number of Americans at a disadvantage. The third assumption is the "de facto" freedom to express oneself; but often citizens prefer silence to censure from family, employers, and neighbors, or to harrassment from vigilante groups. The final condition for free speech is access to channels through which it can reach its intended audience; but this access remains contingent upon media "gatekeepers" and is reserved for the wealthy. Creation of publicly owned competing channels in radio, television, and newsprint is one possible solution. However, the legal right of expression must be woven into the psychological and economic fabric of American society to make the First Amendment more of a right than an empty promise. (HTH)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: First Amendment; Media Use
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Speech Communication Association (67th, Anaheim, CA, November 12-15, 1981).