Free speech: An evolution through history into a protected freedom

Newseum Freedoms-305The fundamentals of democracy established during classical antiquity evolved helped shape the democratic society that is the United States of America.

A series of Newseum Institute articles by contributor Ashley Mehra over the coming year will offer a historical perspective to the current debate on the extent of free speech in America:

  • How did the Greeks develop frameworks for restrictions on freedom of expression, specifically with reference to shame and reverence?
  • How have these ancient frameworks for free speech evolved over time?
  • How should American society address the debate on protections to free speech on social media, an issue brought to the fore by Supreme Court cases such as Elonis v. United States, which highlights the dangers of the increasingly anonymous, impersonal interactions with online communication?

How can research on the origins and concerns of “the right to speak freely” during classical antiquity help us to better understand free speech, the role of the Internet as a medium for dialogue, and more broadly, the changing face of American political thought?

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