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Lecture 8

COM 250 Lecture Notes - Lecture 8: Boston Gazette, Early American Currency


Department
Communication
Course Code
COM 250
Professor
Terilli Samuel
Lecture
8

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COM$250$
Class$8$
Seditious$Libel$
!
Freedom!of!expression!in!the!American!colonines:!
o The!American!colonies!were!no!oases!of!tolerance!and!freedom!in!the!18th!
Century!and!could!hardly!be!good!examples!for!the!framers!of!the!First!
Amendment!
o Freedom!had!no!history!as!a!concept!or!practice!prior!to!the!First!Amendment!
o Freedom!of!speech!developed!as!an!offshoot!of!freedom!of!the!press!and!of!
religion!
o A!citizen’s!right!to!speak!his!mind!was!without!basis!in!everyday!experience!and!
nearly!unknown!in!legal!and!constitutional!history!
o The!phrase!“freedom!of!speech!referred!primarily!to!a!“parliamentary,”!not!a!
civil!right.!!!
o *Levy,!1960,!5.!
Adams!on!freedom!of!expression:!
o An!essay!written!by!Adams!for!the!Boston!Gazette!addressing!his!publishers,!
Edes!and!Gill:!
o “The!stale,!impudent!insinuations!of!slander!and!sedition,!with!which!the!
gormandizers!of!power!have!endeavored!to!discredit!your!paper,!are!so!much!
the!more!to!your!honor,!for!the!jaws!of!power!are!always!stretched!out,!if!
possible,!to!destroy!the!freedom!of!thinking,!speaking,!and!writing!.!.!.!Be!not!
intimidated,!therefore!by!any!terrors!from!publishing!with!the!utmost!freedom!
whatever!can!be!warranted!by!the!laws!of!your!country.”!
o Strong!support!for!freedom!of!the!press,!is!it!not?!
Speak!no!EVIL:!
o In!1775!Connecticut!passed!a!statute!providing!for!the!prosecution!of!any!person!
who!wrote!or!spoke!a!libel!against!Congress!or!the!acts!of!the!state!legislature.!
o In!1776!Congress!urged!the!states!to!enact!legislation!to!prevent!the!people!
from!being!“deceived!and!drawn!into!erroneous!opinions.”!
o Other!legislative!acts:!Loyalty!oaths;!punishment!for!revealing!troop!movements!
or!discouraging!enlistments;!punishment!for!derogatory!comments!about!the!
Continental!currency.!.!.!!!
Interpreting!the!first!amendment:!
o Absolutist!doctrine?!
§ All!forms!of!expression!are!protected!by!the!First!Amendment!
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