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Stanley Fish's View On Free Speech With A Personal Opinion

831 words - 4 pages

In the essay in his recent book, "There's No Such Thing as Free Speech and it's aGood Thing Too," Fish argues that free speech "is not an independent value, but apolitical prize," and any differences, which the courts have drawn between, protected andunprotected expressions are "malleable." Like any other concept, the principle of freespeech is, for Fish, "inherently nothing," but one more noise in the "din and confusion ofpartisan struggle."Fish, a literary theorist, has brought textual theory and post structuralism into thedebate over how to understand legal theory. Fish argues that there is no such thing as anobjective legal text that can be applied to law. So, for example, to use a title for hisfamous essay There's No Such Thing as Free Speech and It's a Good Thing Too becausefree speech does not and cannot reside in some Platonic ideal. Rather it can only beunderstood as a reason of politics or in terms of what people and groups can get ...view middle of the document...

They might use theoryafter the fact to provide a justification for their actions, but at the time of decision-makingthey avoid theorizing in place of applying the deep interpretive knowledge they sharewith other members of the community.Thus free speech, like every other aspect of the law, is inherently political. Fishnotes that free speech will always be limited somehow. There will always come a point,relative to some "assumed conception of the good," that a given community will refuse toallow certain speech "not because an exception to a general freedom has suddenly andcontradictorily been announced, but because the freedom has never been general andalways been understood against an originary exclusion that gave it meaning." Thus therecan be no platonic idea of absolute free speech.The First Amendment was probably intended to protect political speech more thanall forms of expressions. Fish fails to note this, but instead deals with how the FirstAmendment comes to be interpreted. The First Amendment is an important idea and agood principle. Because the Fist Amendment is so broad, it is difficult to make anyrestrictions on speech at all, therefore careful restrictions are made without politicalconsiderations. Fish's ideas would allow for any number of drastic limitations.On the topic of freedom of speech, I believe that is it very vital but it must havecertain limitations like all freedoms. These must be acted upon in the context of conflictswith other rights. If people have a right to life, then yelling "fire" in a crowded roomwould violate their rights. Threatening phone calls are considered harassment and peoplehave rights against such. This list goes on with examples. This is basically the system wecurrently have in the United States. It does not involve influence on others as a basis forrestrictions, as Fish advocates. Influence is far too indirect a way to look at things, as itwould leave the door open to far more invasive restrictions that even Fish would probablynot enjoy. You could be threatened, harassed, and trampled, as a person thinks it isamusing to yell "fire" in crowds. That is not appealing to me either so my position ismore moderate in the philosophy of Fish.

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