Commenter PGofHSM puts it well, responding to people who don't just complain about current speech restrictions, but argue that somehow we once had free speech but don't any more:
I'm still trying to figure out when the golden age of political free speech was.
A worthy challenge, I think. Let's even set aside sexually themed speech, purely commercial advertising, and epithets -- I think this speech should generally be constitutionally protected, but I'm willing to ignore that speech for purposes of this argument (since some of the people whom I'm generally trying to persuade believe that such speech is too far removed from political matters to merit protection). Let's focus on speech that is related to political, religious, or moral matters. When has such speech in the U.S. ever been materially more protected from government restriction, on balance, than it is now? I don't think there ever has been such a time.
I should say that I have argued against some relatively novel speech restrictions, such as hostile environment harassment law, or the recent broadening of restrictions on expensive speech about election campaigns. My point is simply that on balance speech protections, even when focusing on speech on political, religious, or moral matters, are about as broad today as they ever have been -- the high water mark having largely been achieved in the 1970s and 1980s, and on balance not materially retreated from since then -- and much broader than they often have been.
Related Posts (on one page):
- More on How We've Supposedly Lost Our Traditional Free Speech Rights:
- The History of Broadcast Content Regulation:
- Are We Losing Free Speech Protections?
- Must NBC Stop Running Law & Order Episodes With Fred Thompson if He Announces His Candidacy,