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The Boston Globe



Freedom of speech for whom?

I’ve been thinking about the First Amendment lately, since the death of the peerless Anthony Lewis, the legal affairs columnist who over the years came to understand the Bill of Rights better than some of the justices he covered (and whom he generally revered). In his last book, “Freedom for the Thought That We Hate,” Lewis wrote that “freedom to speak and write as you wish is the inescapable necessity of a democracy.” Precisely.

For most journalists, “Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech” is a kind of secular commandment, and we treat it with respect. I’ve written editorials myself opposing curbs on published ideas I found repugnant (websites denouncing abortion providers, for example) because I believe so deeply that the most obnoxious views are the ones that need protection most.

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