Free Speech Handbook: A Practical Framework for Understanding Our Free Speech Protections

Ian Rosenberg and Mike Cavallaro. First Second, $28.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-250-61975-4
Taking a rare general-interest approach to constitutional issues that doesn’t speak down to its audience, this savvy nonfiction graphic narrative provides an excellent introduction to the little-understood theory and practice of free speech in America. Adapting his 2021 The Fight for Free Speech, Rosenberg breaks down the issue into ten concepts (e.g. prior restraint and press freedom, protections for hate speech). With art by Cavallaro (the Nico Bravo series), each offers a dramatic and intelligent analysis of the core cases and their broader real-life effects. Rosenberg links modern controversies to historical precedent to demonstrate how debates evolve (for example, connecting Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest to a 1935 case of Jehovah’s Witness schoolchildren refusing to say the Pledge of Allegiance). As a media lawyer, Rosenberg is a staunch free-speech advocate but keeps speechifying to a minimum in his nuanced takes, as when he notes how the Supreme Court’s decision to allow convicted sex offenders to keep using Facebook “doesn’t tell us what can be done to mitigate the problems created by social media trolls and hate mobs,” or points out that “what Stormy Daniels had to say about Trump’s sex life is not as important as her ability to say it.” Cavallaro’s cartoony drawings, meanwhile, are accessible and smartly highlight emotion and conflict. This informative and inspiring guide looks past free-speech clichés to home in on how such rights are not chiseled in stone but fought over on an ever-shifting battlefield. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 10/14/2021
Release date: 11/02/2021
Genre: Comics
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