The Best Of Freedom Of Speech

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A demonstration or other public assembly requires no permission from the police or other authorities. If a public meeting is held outdoors, the police must be notified of the event no later than six hours before the assembly is scheduled to begin, but the police have no authority to prohibit the event.

Defamation is a crime only if the target is a private person.

Kiah Morris case: How far do free speech protections go in the US?

Defamation of corporations is never a crime unless it's covered by competition regulations or similar legislation. Sentences have never been given for publishing pro-drug propaganda. There are no restrictions regarding obscenity. It's illegal to display obscene visual material in a public place in a manner that is likely to cause public offense. Drawings and animations showing child pornography are legal. While bestiality is legal as such, videos and photographs showing sex with animals are banned. After the abolition of film censorship there are no restrictions on sex shown in movies regardless of the venue of display, violent pornography being the only exception to the rule.

Disparagement of the flag of Finland is an offense that can be punished with a fine. The ban specifically includes using a flag with unauthorized addenda. Blasphemy and hate speech are forbidden. The blasphemy law applies to all religions.


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The hate speech law protects people of different sexual orientations, races, skin colors, places of birth, national or ethnic origins, religions or beliefs and disabled people. The hate speech law is relatively lax. It prohibits only threatening, insulting and defaming the aforementioned groups, while criticism and expression of opinions against these groups of people are not per se forbidden.

For instance, unlike in 16 other European countries and Canada, denying the Holocaust is legal. During the years — there were 21 successful court cases regarding hate speech. The expressions ruled illegal include stating that some groups are trash, a group is a racial monster that needs to be destroyed, and comparing asylum seekers to animals and saying that violence against foreigners is acceptable. A Finnish member of EU parliament Jussi Halla-aho was sentenced for both blasphemy and hate speech in by the Supreme Court after saying that " Islam is a paedophilia religion" and "it's a national and possibly even genetic special characteristic of the Somali people to rob passers-by and to be parasites living on the tax-payers' money".

The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen , of constitutional value, states, in its article The Press Law of , as amended, guarantees freedom of the press, subject to several exceptions. France does not implement any preliminary government censorship for written publications. Any violation of law must be processed through the courts. The government has a commission recommending movie classifications , the decisions of which can be appealed before the courts. Another commission oversees publications for the youth.

The Minister of the Interior can prohibit the sale of pornographic publications to minors, and can also prevent such publications from being publicly displayed or advertised; such decisions can be challenged before administrative courts. The government restricts the right of broadcasting to authorized radio and television channels; the authorizations are granted by an independent administrative authority; this authority has recently removed the broadcasting authorizations of some foreign channels because of their antisemitic content. Freedom of expression is granted by Article 5 of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany , which also states that there is no censorship and that freedom of expression may be limited by law.

The press is regulated by the law of Germany as well as all 16 States of Germany. The prohibition of insult, which has been widely criticized, led to 26, court cases, 21, convictions and 20, fines in alone. Outdoor assemblies must be registered beforehand. This list has been updated to include: "people with disabilities, various sexual identity and sexual orientation", effective from July Freedom of speech is protected by Article However the article qualifies this right, providing that it may not be used to undermine "public order or morality or the authority of the State".

Furthermore, the constitution explicitly requires that the publication of "seditious, or indecent matter" be a criminal offence. This led to the government passing blasphemy legislation on 8 July The scope of the protection afforded by this Article has been interpreted restrictively by the judiciary, largely as a result of the wording of the Article, which qualifies the right before articulating it. Indeed, until an authoritative pronouncement on the issue by the Supreme Court, many believed that the protection was restricted to "convictions and opinions" and, as a result, a separate right to communicate was, by necessity, implied into Article Under the European Convention on Human Rights Act , all of the rights afforded by the European Convention serve as a guideline for the judiciary to act upon.

The act is subordinate to the constitution. In Italy the Constitution guarantees freedom of speech, as stated in Article 21, Paragraph 1: []. The Article also gives restrictions against those acts considered offensive by public morality , as stated in Paragraph Such restrictions are enforced through the Italian Penal Code which, for example, includes articles that prohibit:. Commercial advertising of artwork owned by the government, such as Michelangelo's David created in the 16th century , require an assessment of the adequacy of the image, which must respect cultural dignity.

Blasphemy against the Roman Catholic church was illegal in Malta. However the law was repealed in Article 7 of the Dutch Constitution Grondwet in its first paragraph grants everybody the right to make public ideas and feelings by printing them without prior censorship, but not exonerating the author from their liabilities under the law. The second paragraph says that radio and television will be regulated by law, but that there will be no prior censorship dealing with the content of broadcasts. The third paragraph grants a similar freedom of speech as in the first for other means of making ideas and feelings public, but allowing censorship for reasons of decency when the public that has access may be younger than sixteen years of age.

The fourth and last paragraph exempts commercial advertising from the freedoms granted in the first three paragraphs. The penal code does have laws sanctioning certain types of expression. Such laws and freedom of speech were at the centre of a public debate in The Netherlands after the arrest on 16 May of cartoonist Gregorius Nekschot. On 1 February , the Dutch Parliament abolished the law penalizing blasphemy. Laws that punish discriminatory speech still exist and are occasionally used to prosecute. The Constitution of the Republic of Poland , specifically forbids the existence of " political parties and other organizations whose programmes are based upon totalitarian methods and the modes of activity of nazism, fascism, and communism, as well as those whose programmes or activities sanction racial or national hatred, the application of violence for the purpose of obtaining power or to influence the State policy, or provide for the secrecy of their own structure or membership ".

On 18 July , about 30 human rights activists were temporarily detained by the police, allegedly for insulting Vladimir Putin , a visiting head of state. The activists were released after about 30 hours and only one was actually charged with insulting a foreign head of state. A law forbidding anyone from blaming the state of Poland for Holocaust atrocities during World War II was voted by lawmakers on January 26, After Salazar's dictatorship was overthrown in , Article 37 of the Portuguese Constitution prohibits censorship of opinion and information.

Article of the Penal Code of Spain prohibits the " Glorification or justification , by any means of public expression or dissemination , of the crimes included in Articles of this Code or of those who participated in its execution, or performance of acts involving disrepute, contempt or humiliation of the victims of terrorist offenses or their families[ Freedom of speech is regulated in three parts of the Constitution of Sweden :.

Hate speech laws prohibit threats or expressions of contempt based on race, skin colour, nationality or ethnic origin, religious belief or sexual orientation.

Brendan O'Neill - Freedom of Speech and Right to Offend - Proposition

In the weeks preceding the election of , the privately owned TV channel TV4 refused to show an advertisement of the Sweden Democrats party, fearing that it could be prosecuted for publishing hate speech. The law regulating TV and radio broadcasts had previously expressly prohibited discrimination against advertisers, granting a rejected advertiser the right to complain to a national board. However, the ban was lifted just two months before the election, thus making it possible for TV and radio broadcasters to opt out on some parties while showing the commercials of other parties.

Some Danish ministers criticized the TV4 decision as democratically unacceptable. Other laws or exceptions related to freedom of expression in Sweden concern high treason , war mongering, espionage , unauthorized handling of classified information, recklessness with classified information, Insurgency , treason , recklessness that damages the nation, rumour mongering that hurts national security, inciting crime, crimes that obstruct civil liberties, illegal depictions of violence, libel , insults, illegal threats, threats towards police officers or security guards and abuse during legal proceedings.

United Kingdom citizens have a negative right to freedom of expression under the common law. UK laws on defamation are among the strictest in the western world, imposing a high burden of proof on the defendant. However, the Education No. A ruling of the House of Lords —the then highest court of appeal—revived the so-called Reynolds Defence , in which journalism undertaken in the public interest shall enjoy a complete defence against a libel suit.

Conditions for the defence include the right of reply for potential claimants, and that the balance of the piece was fair in view of what the writer knew at the time. The ruling removed the awkward—and hitherto binding—conditions of being able to describe the publisher as being under a duty to publish the material and the public as having a definite interest in receiving it.

The original House of Lords judgment in Reynolds was unclear and held 3—2; whereas Jameel was unanimous and resounding. Lord Hoffman 's words, in particular, for how the judge at first instance had applied Reynolds so narrowly, were very harsh. Hoffman LJ made seven references to Eady J , none of them favorable. He twice described his thinking as unrealistic and compared his language to "the jargon of the old Soviet Union.

The Video Recordings Act requires most video recordings and some video games offered for sale in the United Kingdom to display a classification supplied by the BBFC. There are no set regulations as to what cannot be depicted in order to gain a classification as each scene is considered in the context of the wider intentions of the work; however images that could aid, encourage, or are a result of the committing of a crime, along with sustained and graphic images of torture or sexual abuse are the most likely to be refused.

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The objectionable material may be cut by the distributor in order to receive a classification, but with some works it may be deemed that no amount of cuts would be able to make the work suitable for classification, effectively banning that title from sale in the country. Cinemas by convention use BBFC classifications, but recordings refused a classification by the BBFC may still be shown in cinemas providing the local authority, from which a cinema must have a licence to operate, will permit them.

The Malicious Communications Act and Communications Act have been used to restrict what individuals may post on social networks. Article of the Norwegian Constitution has granted freedom of speech since and is mostly unchanged since then. Article of the penal code was a law against blasphemy, but no one has been charged since It was removed as of 29 May Norway has however several laws that ban the right to impart information, such as laws against alcohol and tobacco advertisement on television, radio, newspapers and on the internet.


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  8. Various aspects of the contemporary press freedom situation are criticized by multiple international organizations. Russian constitution provides for freedom of speech and press, however, government application of law , bureaucratic regulation , and politically motivated criminal investigations have forced the press to exercise self-censorship constraining its coverage of certain controversial issues, resulting in infringements of these rights.

    According to Human Rights Watch , the Russian government exerts control over civil society through selective implementation of the law, restriction and censure. The Federal Law on Counteracting Extremist Activity codifies a definition of "extremism", prohibits advocacy of extreme political positions, imposes liability on organizations that do not disavow the "extremist" statements of their members, and allows government authorities to suspend, without court order, social and religious organizations and political parties.

    In , Russia strengthened criminal responsibility for crimes under Art. Under the strengthened laws, those convicted of "extremist activity" face up to six years in prison. The Swiss Constitution also guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of information for every citizen Article The Swiss animal rights organization Verein gegen Tierfabriken Schweiz took the country to the European Court of Human Rights twice for censoring a TV ad of the organization, in which the livestock farming of pigs is shown.

    The organization won both lawsuits, and the Swiss state was convicted to pay compensations. Switzerland was criticized by Turkish media and Turkish politicians for acting against the freedom of opinion. Freedom of expression in Canada is guaranteed by section 2 b of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms :.

    Section 1 of the Charter establishes that the guarantee of freedom of expression and other rights under the Charter are not absolute and can be limited under certain situations:. Other laws that protect freedom of speech in Canada, and did so, to a limited extent, before the Charter was enacted in , include the Implied Bill of Rights , the Canadian Bill of Rights and the Saskatchewan Bill of Rights. R v Keegstra , decided in , is one of the major Supreme Court decisions relating to freedom of expression. Section of the Criminal Code makes it a criminal offence to promote genocide against members of an identifiable group, based on their colour, race, religion, ethnic origin, sexual orientation or gender expression or identity.

    When originally enacted, the list of protected personal grounds in s. Sexual orientation was added to the list in , when Parliament passed An Act to amend the Criminal Code hate propaganda. The Court struck down a provision in the Criminal Code that prohibited publication of false information or news, stating that it violated section 2 b of the Charter and could not be justified under s.

    Canada has had a string of high-profile court cases in which writers and publishers have been the targets of human rights complaints for their writings, in both magazines and web postings. The human rights process in Canada is civil in nature, not criminal. Freedom of speech in Cuba is guaranteed by Article 53 of the Constitution of Cuba , and freedom of association by Article Citizens have freedom of speech and of the press in keeping with the objectives of socialist society.

    Material conditions for the exercise of that right are provided by the fact that the press, radio, television, movies and other organs of the mass media are State or social property and can never be private property. This assures their use at the exclusive service of the working people and in the interest of society. The law regulates the exercise of these freedoms. The rights of assembly, demonstration and association are exercised by workers, both manual and intellectual; peasants; women; students; and other sectors of the working people, [rights] to which they have the necessary ability los medios necesarios to exercise.

    The social and mass organizations have all the facilities they need to carry out those activities in which the members have full freedom of speech and opinion based on the unlimited right of initiative and criticism. Books, newspapers, radio channels, television channels, movies and music are censored. Cuba is one of the world's worst offenders of free speech according to the Press Freedom Index Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

    In the United States, freedom of expression is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution , and by precedents set in various legal cases. There are several common-law exceptions, including Neisser, Eric Recapturing the Spirit: Essays on the Bill of Rights at There are federal criminal law statutory prohibitions covering all the common-law exceptions other than defamation, of which there is civil law liability , as well as terrorist threats , [] [] making false statements in "matters within the jurisdiction" of the federal government, [] spreading false and misleading information relating to death or injury of members of the US Military, [] [] speech related to information decreed to be related to national security such as military and classified information , [] false advertising , [] perjury , [] privileged communications, trade secrets, [] [] copyright, and patents.

    There also exist so-called " gag orders " which prevent the recipient of search warrants [] and certain court orders such as those concerning national security letters , [] [] [] subpoenas, [] pen registers and trap and trace devices , [] [] 18 U. Most states and localities have many identical restrictions, as well as harassment, and time, place and manner restrictions. In addition, in California it is a crime to post a police officer's or public safety official's address or telephone number on the Internet for the purpose of obstruction of justice or retaliation for the exercise of official duties.

    Historically, local communities and governments have sometimes sought to place limits upon speech that was deemed subversive or unpopular. There was a significant struggle for the right to free speech on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley in the s. And, in the period from to , the Industrial Workers of the World , a working class union, found it necessary to engage in free speech fights intended to secure the right of union organizers to speak freely to wage workers.

    These free speech campaigns were sometimes quite successful, although participants often put themselves at great risk. In some public places, freedom of speech is limited to free speech zones , which can take the form of a wire fence enclosure, barricades, or an alternative venue designed to segregate speakers according to the content of their message.

    They are most often created at political gatherings or on college or university campuses. There is much controversy surrounding the creation of these areas—the mere existence of such zones is viewed as unconstitutional by some people, who maintain that the First Amendment to the United States Constitution makes the entire country an unrestricted free-speech zone.

    While federal and state governments are barred from engaging in preliminary censorship of movies, nearly all American theatres refuse to exhibit movies that have not been rated by the MPAA , a private movie industry organization. This does not affect movie distribution via physical tapes or discs, cable TV, or the Internet. Since , it has become quite common for movie studios to release "unrated" versions of films on DVD, containing content that had been removed from the theatrical version in order to get a satisfactory MPAA rating.

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    Unlike what has been called a strong international consensus that hate speech needs to be prohibited by law and that such prohibitions override, or are irrelevant to, guarantees of freedom of expression, the United States is perhaps unique among the developed world in that under law, some hate speech is protected. For instance, in July a U. The MTA considers the new guidelines adhere to the court's ruling and will withstand any potential First Amendment challenge. Under the new policy, the Authority has continued to allow viewpoint ads, but required a disclaimer on each ad noting that it does not imply the Authority's endorsement of its views.

    In Brazil, freedom of expression is a Constitutional right. Article Five of the Constitution of Brazil establishes that the "expression of thought is free, anonymity being forbidden". Furthermore, the "expression of intellectual, artistic, scientific, and communications activities is free, independently of censorship or license".

    However, there are legal provisions criminalizing the desecration of religious artifacts at the time of worship, hate speech, racism, defamation, calumny, and libel. Brazilian law also forbids "unjust and grave threats". Historically, freedom of speech has been a right in Brazilian Law since the Constitution was enacted, though it was banned by the Vargas dictatorship and severely restricted under the military dictatorship in — Freedom of Expression in Ecuador is guaranteed by Article 66 susection 6 of the Constitution of Ecuador , which States that the following right of a person is guaranteed: [].

    Accusations or insults without factual basis can be punished by three months to three years in prison according to Article of Ecuador's penal code. To freedom of information, opinion, expression, and dissemination of thought, whether oral, written, or in images, through any medium of social communication, and without previous authorization, censorship, or impediment, under penalty of law. Crimes committed by means of books, the press, and any other social media are defined by the Criminal Code and tried in a court of law.

    Any action that suspends or closes down any organ of expression or prevents its free circulation constitutes a crime. The rights of information and opinion include those of founding means of communication. This right is generally respected by the government , and access to internet is not restricted nor monitored in Peru. However, there were reports that some private groups such as the coca growers cocaleros , as well as some provincial and local authorities, have been harassing journalists by threatening judicial actions against them, illegally arresting them or attacking them.

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. National breakdowns of freedom of speech. Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Main article: Censorship in Algeria. Main article: Human rights in Egypt. Main article: Human rights in Eritrea. See also: Internet censorship in Malawi. Main article: Human rights in Mauritania. Main article: Censorship in Nigeria. See also: Media of Sierra Leone. Main article: Human rights in Sudan. Main article: Censorship in Tunisia. See also: Internet censorship in Tunisia. Main article: Human rights in Zimbabwe.

    Main article: Human rights in Bangladesh. See also: Laws in Bangladesh. Main article: Freedom of press in India. See also: Censorship in India. Daily Mail Publishing Co. The protections against subsequent punishments for reporting the truth afforded by the Daily Mail principle are not absolute, but the barriers to such government regulation of the press are set extremely high.


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    Sullivan and cases that followed also hold that the First Amendment protects the publication of false information about matters of public concern in a variety of contexts, although with considerably less vigor than it does dissemination of the truth. Lorain Journal Co. By the same token, the Supreme Court has been considerably less definitive in articulating the degree of First Amendment protection to be afforded against restraints on the freedom of the press that are indirect and more subtle than the issuance of a prior restraint or the imposition of criminal or civil sanctions subsequent to publication.

    Thus, for example, in its decision Zurcher v. Stanford Daily, the Court held that the First Amendment does not protect the press and its newsrooms from the issuance of otherwise valid search warrants. Similarly, in in Herbert v. Most significantly, in in Branzburg v. Hayes, a sharply divided Court was skeptical of the contention that the First Amendment protects journalists from the compelled disclosure of the identities of their confidential sources, at least in the context of a grand-jury proceeding.

    That privilege, however, is by no means absolute and may be forfeited in a variety of circumstances, especially when no confidential source is thereby placed in jeopardy or when disclosure is sought in the context of a grand-jury or other criminal proceeding. And, finally, the Court has held that the First Amendment affords the press and public affirmative rights of access to at least some government proceedings. In a series of decisions beginning with 's Richmond Newspapers, Inc. Virginia, the Court established that the First Amendment not only protects the press from prior restraints and other government-imposed penalties, but also invests the press and public with a right to attend criminal trials and other judicial proceedings.

    This right, however, is not absolute and is routinely balanced against other competing interests articulated by the proponents of secret proceedings. Nevertheless, in such cases, and others like 's Cox Broadcasting Corp. Hayes, , or Internet chat-room participant. Indeed, the Court has rejected arguments advanced by the institutional press that, because of its structural role in ensuring the free flow of information in a democratic society, it ought to enjoy unique protections from otherwise generally applicable laws that inhibit its ability to gather and report the news.

    Thus, in in Cohen v. In in Bartnicki v. Vopper, the Court held that, even when a statute is directed at deterring unlawful conduct e. While it is undeniable fact that freedom of press is essential ingredient of democracy, it does not mean it will advance the goals of democracy. Namely, once in this country that now seems far away, radio and television broadcasters had an obligation to operate in the public interest. That generally accepted principle was reflected in a rule known as the Fairness Doctrine.

    The rule, formally adopted by the Federal Communications Commission in , required all broadcasters to devote a reasonable amount of time to the discussion of controversial matters of public interest. It further required broadcasters to air contrasting points of view regarding those matters. The Fairness Doctrine arose from the idea imbedded in the First Amendment that the wide dissemination of information from diverse and even antagonistic sources is essential to the public welfare and to a healthy democracy. In August the FCC repealed the Doctrine, claiming that it was unconstitutional, although the Supreme Court had ruled unanimously in that the Fairness Doctrine was not only constitutional but essential to democracy.

    As a result, general public is very rarely served with fair and balanced information. The public airwaves serve today no other purpose but to express the opinions of those who can pay for air time. Some authors argue that m ainstream media journalism today is a shameful joke because of president Reagan's decision to abolish Fairness Doctrine. Once upon a time, the Fairness Doctrine ensured that the information we receive - information vital to the ability of the people to govern in the manner intended - came from a wide variety of sources and perspectives.

    Reagan's policies annihilated the Fairness Doctrine, opening the door for a few mega-corporations to gather journalism unto themselves. Today, Reagan's old bosses at General Electric own three of the most-watched news channels. This company profits from every war Americans fight, but somehow is trusted to tell the truths of war. Thus, the myths and lies are sold to us. Learn more about freedom of speech and freedom of press by visiting the following Web sites:.

    First Amendment Cyber Tribune. Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press. Freedom of Speech on Public College Campuses. Internet and the First Amendment. Return to the Table of Contents. Freedom of Speech Why is freedom of speech so solidly entrenched in our constitutional law, and why is it so widely embraced by the general public?

    Freedom of Press Freedom of the press protects the right to obtain and publish information or opinions without government censorship or fear of punishment. By the same token, the government cannot: Pass a law that requires newspapers to publish information against their will. Impose criminal penalties, or civil damages, on the publication of truthful information about a matter of public concern or even on the dissemination of false and damaging information about a public person except in rare instances.

    Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Press

    Impose taxes on the press that it does not levy on other businesses. Compel journalists to reveal, in most circumstances, the identities of their sources. We have now seen how many hands are soiled with blame for the present crisis of free speech. But what is to be done? The great instinct of humanity, even when facing catastrophe, is to do nothing rather than something.

    But the choir of the deranged is not content with people merely agreeing to do nothing; as we have seen in case after case, the demands to silence free speech always come with the requirement of explicit acquiescence on our part. But he has another choice. Those who resolve to stand for the truth in the face of a culture of censorship should consider three important short-term steps. The first is to make common cause. In his recent book, The Once and Future Liberal , Mark Lilla warns fellow progressives not to be seduced by the air horns and pepper spray of the silencers. The second step is to defund the institutions causing the damage.

    The institutions of higher education where the most visible suppressions of free speech have taken place are not fully private institutions but, rather, depend on the support of government and private donors. Out of the 40 biggest university endowments, 35 experienced declines in , even at a time when the overall market rose by 13 percent. Middlebury College suffered a 9 percent loss in its endowment value, Dartmouth lost 4. And this only speaks to the distress of the endowed.

    These are not, in other words, institutions that can afford to ignore inquiry into their records of speech suppression. It is time to press on that weakness. Withholding support for misbehaving schools is not a happy notion for those who are used to donating each year out of love for alma mater. I ask only whether alma mater must weigh more heavily in your minds than freedom of thought and expression.

    We are not talking here about mere bad frat-boy behavior or professorial eccentricity but about orchestrated campaigns to assault the fundamental liberties of the American republic, tolerated by campus administrators who, in equal measure, fear confrontations with student activists as a threat to their career advancement, and hope that no news of their cravenness leaks out to the press and the alumni.

    Target your giving as intelligently and purposefully as you target your personal investing. Stand with those who stand for liberty, defund those who will not, and do not pass by on the other side. The final step to salvage free speech is to cultivate a spirit of resolute opposition to its suppression. The stakes here are not minor ones. But you must. The anti-free-speech fanatics on campuses and throughout the country have raised their hand against the idea that guarantees us life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    So I say: when the black-maskers finally feel emboldened enough to come with baseball bats, whether for Charles Murray or Carolyn Rouse, or for Pentecostal bakers, Mormons, Jews, or Catholics— resist. That is the answer of Madison, of the First Amendment, and the only worthwhile answer of the free spirit. Allen C. Guelzo is the Henry R. Send a question or comment using the form below. This message may be routed through support staff. More detailed message would go here to provide context for the user and how to proceed. City Journal search.