No room for abridgment : an enlightenment era reappraisal of the First Amendment and campus hate speech
Symonds, Meredith Davidson.
Thesis (M.A.L.S.)--Georgetown University, 2010.; Includes bibliographical references.; Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format. In the late eighteenth century, Enlightenment philosophy advocated seeking truth through unrestricted learning, and this education creates awareness of the delicate balance between autonomy and consideration for all of humanity. This era's philosophy was put into practice by the formation of the American republic and respective Constitution and Bill of Rights, both of which empower and limit government as well as ensure civil liberties defined by the Enlightenment ideals of autonomy. The First Amendment, created in the Bill of Rights, establishes the freedom of speech, press, and religion; all of which are fundamental to unrestricted learning and self-government. While it seems that the intellectual leaders of the United States concurred with the political philosophy that established the republic, a mistrust of the masses caused Congress appease its fears by occasionally abridging the First Amendment in ways that censor the public, limit learning, and contradict Enlightenment philosophy.; This thesis will examine how the history of the American republic enforces the interpretation of the First Amendment to protect hate speech on public college campuses. In order to illustrate this argument, this study first uses sources of Enlightenment philosophy regarding society, liberty, and speech. The second chapter displays American history and founding documents that created the republic's social contract and Bill of Rights. The next two chapters provide commentary by political philosophers and scholars as well as federal court cases that set precedent for the modern courts, which interpret our Constitution and subsequent laws.; As a result, this examination will show that eighteenth century philosophy is embedded in the foundation of the United States such that our modern means of interpretation, the Supreme Court, has consistently reaffirmed Enlightenment idealism in American law. Therefore, the term "freedom of speech" includes most all controversial messages, including "hate speech," and especially hate speech on college campuses, where education is supposed to be most unrestricted-- exactly as the Enlightenment philosophers envisioned. Thus, we will see how each element of this nation's foundation colors the history of American public policy and confirms that the view of civil liberty is unwavering and aligned with Enlightenment idealism.
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