In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

104Rocky Mountain Review attention to the conventions of that narrative tradition. Thus, "the" narrative no longer exists autonomously; rather, it becomes "a" narrative along a continuum. This disruption of the narrative tradition ultimately allows disobedient writers to challenge the paradigms of authority and, thus, to highlight the "arbitrary and mutable nature of all narrative" (42). However, the arbitrary nature of narrative is also reflected in the book's divisions so that readers who want a quick, definitive reading on any of the individual works or on one particular narrative tradition may get frustrated . The way Walker weaves references of each work throughout her book demands that her audience read from start to finish. Fortunately, this is easy to accomplish. Both by avoidingjargon and by making clear her solid grounding in autobiographical and Anglo-feminist theories, Walker makes her 205-page book accessible to any reader. Moreover, her presentation provides a general overview to readers unfamiliar with this territory, while her necessary selectivity challenges other scholars to fill the gaps in her patterns with their own selections of texts. LISA FRY Loyola University ofChicago SAMUEL WALKER. Hate Speech: The History of an American Controversy. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1994. 217 p. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, professional comedian Lenny Brace occasionally began his routines by asking, "Any spies here tonight? Any kikes? Any niggers?" Members of the audience were stunned to silence until it became apparent what the comedian was doing—exposing racist terms, so they could be dealt with (109). How do we react when hate speech targets us? Should it be permitted or censored? If censored, why? And how would the law be worded? Does hate speech's permissibility depend on the context, the targeted audience, and the situation? How do we balance First Amendment rights of "free speech" with Fourteenth Amendment guarantees of "equal protection" under the law? These and many other thought-provoking questions Samuel Walker addresses in Hate Speech: The History ofan American Controversy. Walker defines his book as "a social and political history of the hate speech controversy in the United States from the 1920s to the present" (7). In his first chapter, he makes an important distinction between "hate speech" (communication) and "hate crimes" (assault and vandalism), saying that he prefers the one and repudiates the other. Walker favors an "absolutist" approach to freedom of speech, arguing that even the grossest and most offensive types of speech deserve to be protected under the guarantees of the First Amendment. Book Reviews105 Basically the book proceeds chronologically from the 1920s to the 1990s, yet it is also reflective, often returning to previous Supreme Court decisions for legal precedents to be used in cases tried in subsequent decades. As he focuses on landmark cases in federal court relating to offensive speech (the right of American members of the Communist Party to preach the overthrow of our government, the right of the KIu Klux Klan to castigate the Catholic church, the right of domestic Nazi groups to march in Jewish communities ), Walker sets these cases in their social and political context, showing how the offensive communication (mostly oral, but sometimes written , visual, symbolic, or nonverbal) is dealt with by local officials (mayors and police chiefs), advocacy groups, the Supreme Court, and the people themselves—either as individuals or as vigilantes. Walker's central argument is that America's strong tradition of free speech, unequalled in any other country in the world, resulted somewhat unpredictably from a series of choices made by the Supreme Court, advocacy groups, and American society during the last seventy years. He addresses why these choices were made by exploring three key issues: (1) how and why American public policy on hate speech developed as it did; (2) why American law and policy diverged, in such a pronounced way, from the "American-based" law and policy adopted throughout the international community , particularly in the area of human-rights legislation; and (3) why restrictive campus speech codes became so popular in the 1980s and 1990s on college and university campuses, in spite of the strong tradition of free speech that had developed in the United States by the 1970s (4-5). Underlying Walker...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1948-2833
Print ISSN
1948-2825
Pages
pp. 104-106
Launched on MUSE
2016-01-06
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.