A Stand-Alone Blog Post

Does Everyone in Our Country Have Free Speech Rights?

Occasionally I review a  book that deserves a special post to highlight its importance. In our country, everyone is supposed to have an equal opportunity to express opinions, but is that really the case? Has it always been the case? It certainly wasn’t originally the case. Only men with property were allowed to give voice to their opinions and help make this country what it could be.

Is it the case now that everyone has an equal voice? I don’t think so. If you happen to be Native American or African American or anything but White or if you’re female you don’t have equal sway. Since this is one of my Bully Pulpit issues, I’ll quit before I annoy or offend you with my opinions, but I do have them and will not be denied the right to express them.

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

Ian Rosenberg

Illustrated by Mike Cavallaro

This book is part of the World Citizen Comics series and explains various instances of how we’ve come by the present version of the United States of America’s First Amendment to the Constitution. This country was founded on the premise that the people, well at least some of the people, should be free and allowed to express their opinions without fear of being jailed or murdered for questioning the government’s rules and regulations. In principle the amendment is absolutely essential to a democracy, but how to enact it and to whom does it apply? Everybody or just a select few? The author discusses problems that have had to be decided by United States Supreme Court. But even those aren’t hard and fast decisions. The book is well worth libraries having and teachers can have a field day setting up student teams to debate the two sides of the various issues discussed in here. For instance, did/do formerly enslaved people or descendants of such people have the right to contest what they consider unfair treatment? Do people claiming the right to be speaking for God have the right to scream at a family simply burying a beloved child killed in defense of our country? Do women have the right to ask for equal rights to men? Do people have the right to protest any branch of the government or any position the government holds? These are just some of the issues discussed in the book. The downside to this book is that the author frequently shows his political bias in the cases he presents. Still, the teachers can use this problem for classroom debate and the students can see if they can do better when they’re the ones running the country. The illustrator could have worked a bit hard to make the historical figures look a bit more like them.

BIBLIO: First Second/Roaring Brook Press, Ages 14 +, $28.99.

REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan

FORMAT: Graphic/Comic Non-Fiction

ISBN: 978-1-250-61975-4

And you are allowed to tell me your views even if you disagree with me. I promise I’ll read and think about what you write. Sarah

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