Essential reading for journalists, political activists, and ordinary citizens alike.

THE FIGHT FOR FREE SPEECH

TEN CASES THAT DEFINE OUR FIRST AMENDMENT FREEDOMS

A deep dive into 10 precedent-setting legal actions that helped define the scope—and limits—of the First Amendment.

“Most of my career has focused on explaining complicated legal concepts to smart people who are not lawyers,” writes media lawyer Rosenberg. His approach is admirably free of legal locutions, though his discussions of some concepts are subtle. Consider two cases that formed the precedent for whether a government can compel expression regarding the Pledge of Allegiance—which, until 1942, was accompanied by a salute uncomfortably like that of the Nazis. Religious in origin, the objections to reciting the pledge came from Christians who believed that to do so would be to worship a graven image. The Supreme Court eventually agreed, though it has remained reticent on the question of whether municipalities and other governments can compel a person to sing the national anthem. Situated within the same general legal domain are such matters as former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s habit of taking a knee during the anthem to protest police brutality, which excited angry commentary from the Trump administration, some of whose principals have demanded overhauling libel laws to suppress criticism. That’s unlikely to happen given the court’s widespread acceptance of the argument, advanced by Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., that “the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out.” This broad interpretation allowed Madonna to muse about blowing up the White House when Trump took office, just as it protected students prosecuted in the 1960s for their slogan “Fuck the draft.” The toughest nut in the book is the dividing line between hate speech and free speech, a discussion that anyone in media and legal circles will want to study closely.

Essential reading for journalists, political activists, and ordinary citizens alike.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4798-0156-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: New York Univ.

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?

A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

HAPPY-GO-LUCKY

Sedaris remains stubbornly irreverent even in the face of pandemic lockdowns and social upheaval.

In his previous collection of original essays, Calypso (2018), the author was unusually downbeat, fixated on aging and the deaths of his mother and sister. There’s bad news in this book, too—most notably, the death of his problematic and seemingly indestructible father at 96—but Sedaris generally carries himself more lightly. On a trip to a gun range, he’s puzzled by boxer shorts with a holster feature, which he wishes were called “gunderpants.” He plays along with nursing-home staffers who, hearing a funnyman named David is on the premises, think he’s Dave Chappelle. He’s bemused by his sister Amy’s landing a new apartment to escape her territorial pet rabbit. On tour, he collects sheaves of off-color jokes and tales of sexual self-gratification gone wrong. His relationship with his partner, Hugh, remains contentious, but it’s mellowing. (“After thirty years, sleeping is the new having sex.”) Even more serious stuff rolls off him. Of Covid-19, he writes that “more than eight hundred thousand people have died to date, and I didn’t get to choose a one of them.” The author’s support of Black Lives Matter is tempered by his interest in the earnest conscientiousness of organizers ensuring everyone is fed and hydrated. (He refers to one such person as a “snacktivist.”) Such impolitic material, though, puts serious essays in sharper, more powerful relief. He recalls fending off the flirtations of a 12-year-old boy in France, frustrated by the language barrier and other factors that kept him from supporting a young gay man. His father’s death unlocks a crushing piece about dad’s inappropriate, sexualizing treatment of his children. For years—chronicled in many books—Sedaris labored to elude his father’s criticism. Even in death, though, it proves hard to escape or laugh off.

A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-39245-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

Did you like this book?

more