A superb exposition of the significance of free speech and an analysis of how to preserve it in our increasingly complex society. Smolla (Law/Marshall-Wythe School of Law at William and Mary College) makes a case for an open culture—one in which free-speech values pervade and permit a robust and open exchange of ideas. Seeing the achievement of such a culture as ``an aspiration of transcendent importance,'' he envisions a society in which free speech is seen both as a means of testing and choosing the best ideas—the ``marketplace'' rationale for free speech—and as an end in itself. Smolla demonstrates, however, that, in practice, society attempts to establish limits on speech that often lead to significant diminution of speech. He analyzes the possible harms of speech—to persons and property; to social, transactional, and business relationships; to individuals and to communal sensibilities—and creates a theoretical hierarchy of harms that, in his view, can create a theoretical basis for regulating speech (how his theory can be reconciled with the absolutist language of the First Amendment is not clear). After discussing this theoretical groundwork, Smolla examines the application of free- speech principles in practical situations, which he divides broadly into political speech (such as hate speech, obscenity, individual privacy, and public funding of the arts) and issues raised by newsgathering (such as censorship in the Persian Gulf War, the attempt to restrain release of tapes in the Noriega case, and the challenges posed by new technologies). Avoiding easy answers, the author demonstrates an acute sensitivity to the importance of preserving free speech while recognizing the practical problems faced by policy-makers. Smolla takes a scholarly—yet accessible—approach to his subject and displays a sure knowledge of recent First Amendment jurisprudence. An excellent and important work.

Pub Date: April 2, 1992

ISBN: 0-679-40727-8

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1992

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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