From the Palmer Raids to the Patriot Act: A History of the Fight for Free Speech in America

October 10, 2007

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Christopher Finan

In July 2005, four Connecticut librarians defied the United States government. The Federal Bureau of Investigation had issued a National Security Letter demanding informaton about patrons who had used the library's computers. Fearing that a government search of library records would have a chilling effect on free speech, the librarians contacted the American Civil Liberties Union, which obtained an injunction blocking the order. Since when did librarians become champions of free speech?

Join us for a discussion with Chris Finan about his new book, From the Palmer Raids to the Patriot Act: A History of the Fight for Free Speech in America. As an historian and activist, Finan describes the growth of free speech that began in response to the abuses of civil liberties that had occurred during World War I. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. provided the keynote for the emerging civil liberties movement in 1919 by declaring that “the ultimate good desired is better reached by a free trade in ideas–-that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market.”

 

Recorded Wednesday, October 10, 2007 at Jane Addams Hull-House Museum.