TED & Talks

‘Fighting the good fight’: Why free speech has no political party | Jonathan Zimmerman

What can and can’t you say? A brief glimpse of precedent-setting free speech cases in the United States.

– There’s a reason you’re free to wear clothing with protest statements on them today. In 1968, 19-year-old Paul Robert Cohen was arrested for disturbing the peace by wearing a jacked that read “F*ck the Draft” in a California courthouse. His case went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which decided that being offended by the jacket did not merit censorship.

– Jonathan Zimmerman argues that the history of debate in the U.S. – of who gets to say what, and how that has evolved – should be taught to every American.

– Zimmerman also says it’s ahistorical for free speech to be cast as a conservative issue. For much of U.S. history, champions of free speech were those who fought for social justice to help the powerless keep the only power they had: their voices.

Jonathan Zimmerman is Professor of History of Education at the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. A former Peace Corps volunteer and high school social studies teacher, Zimmerman is the author of “Campus Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know” and six other books. He is also a frequent contributor to The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New York Review of Books, and other popular periodicals. His latest book is “The Case for Contention: Teaching Controversial Issues in American Schools (https://amzn.to/2Q7PeHF)

Read more at BigThink.com: https://bigthink.com/sponsored-institute-for-humane-studies/free-speech-history

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