Free Expression and Democracy takes on the assumption that limits on free expression will lead to authoritarianism or at least a weakening of democracy. That hypothesis is tested by an examination of issues involving expression and their treatment in countries included on The Economist's list of fully functioning democracies. Generally speaking, other countries allow prohibitions on hate speech, limits on third-party spending on elections, and the protection of children from media influences seen as harmful. Many ban Holocaust denial and the desecration of national symbols. Yet, these other countries all remain democratic, and most of those considered rank more highly than the United States on the democracy index. This book argues that while there may be other cultural values that call for more expansive protection of expression, that protection need not reach the level present in the United States in order to protect the democratic nature of a country.
Kevin W. Saunders received his PhD from the University of Miami and JD from the University of Michigan. He clerked at the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit for Judge Kenneth Starr. He taught at the University of Arkansas and the University of Oklahoma, and as visiting James Madison Chair at Drake University, Iowa, before moving to Michigan State University, where he holds the Charles Clarke Chair in Constitutional Law. He is the author of three earlier books: Violence as Obscenity (1996), Saving our Children from the First Amendment (2006), and Degradation: What the History of Obscenity Tells Us about Hate Speech (2011).
Acknowledgments; 1. The protection of free expression in a democracy; 2. Varieties of expression; 3. Incitement of crime; 4. Hate speech; 5. Holocaust denial and other false assertions of fact; 6. Political party bans; 7. Political campaign limitations; 8. The desecration of national symbols and lese majeste; 9. Defamation; 10. Attacks on personal honor; 11. Obscenity and child pornography; 12. Children and expression; 13. Criminal trials and freedom of the press; 14. Government secrecy; 15. A matter of choices; Index.