Learn more about Peltz-Steele v. UMass Faculty Federation at Court Listener (complaint) and the Liberty Justice Center. The case is now on appeal in the First Circuit as no. 22-1466 (PACER paywall). Please direct media inquiries to Kristen Williamson.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Knowles, Metroka enter the fray on free speech today

My friend and colleague Dr. Helen J. Knowles, SUNY Oswego Political Science, has just published, as co-editor with Dr. Brandon T. Metroka, the compelling and timely collection, Free Speech Theory: Understanding the Controversies (Peter Lang 2020) (Amazon).  The editor-authors gave me an advance look at this one, and my well earned endorsement humbly graces the back cover.  Here is the prĂ©cis:

The rallying cry of "Free speech!" has long served as a touchstone for liberals and conservatives, alike, engaged in political polarization conflict and discourse. The democratization of media and the feverish pitch of political polarization, however, have contributed to the weaponization of free expression. From Colin Kaepernick to "fake news," boycotts of partisan television programming to removals of Confederate monuments, internet neutrality to the silencing of college professors and all points between, citizens and pundits all too frequently wield the slogan of "Free speech!" as the sword and shield of political discourse. Oftentimes, ironically they do so with little regard for the views of their opponents. As a result, society risks trading a substantive value for an empty slogan or, far worse, blind authority.To rediscover the underlying assumptions and social values served by free expression, and to move current controversies beyond rhetorical flourishes, Helen J. Knowles and Brandon T. Metroka assemble an impressive group of legal and political scholars to address one overarching question: "Why should we value free speech?" Through analyses of several recent controversies invoking concerns for free expression, the contributors to this volume make complex political theory accessible, informative, and entertaining. Beginning with internet neutrality and ending with an overview of developing free expression controversies in comparable western democracies, experts reestablish the link between free expression and the underlying values it may serve. In doing so, this volume unearths values previously unexamined in our modern—but increasingly impoverished and bitter—political discourse.

I can't heap enough praise on Dr. Knowles, whose work in law, history, and political science is uniformly superb.  I featured another book of hers just one year ago.  And in the spring of 2019 (back when I was allowed to be around other people), I had the privilege of seeing firsthand how she inspires passion in her students in the classroom and on campus.  It is evidence of her talents as a teacher that I have in the last year counseled several of her students in their desire to pursue graduate studies. 

Coincidentally!, I was wearing my SUNY Oswego shirt just last week, when I learned about this book's appearance.  Below is me with Park Ranger Jordyn Steele (no relation) in Glacier National Park.  Woe to the persons who asked me, "Where is that?," and then got an unsolicited nonfiction book recommendation.


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