Mar 15, 2021
FREE SPEECH BATTLES Interviewer: MATTHEW BERKMAN. The approach to free speech embodied by the First Amendment of the American Constitution is often considered, by Americans at least, to be a model for the rest of the world. Historian FARA DABHOIWALA argues that it is actually an outlier best ignored by other countries. In his discussion with political scientist Matthew Berkman, Dabhoiwala locates what he calls the “peculiar shape” of the First Amendment in an era much like our own, the early eighteenth century, when trolling and fake news raised serious concerns about the abuse of speech – and when two mercenary journalists, writing anonymously, weaponized an absolutist conception of free speech to bury these concerns. Dabhoiwala looks back to this history to help Americans broaden their idea of free expression going forward.