In 1994 Stanley Fish, a peripatetic and controversial scholar at Duke, published a book titled There’s No Such Thing as Free Speech, and It’s a Good Thing, Too. It was the free part of free speech that he challenged. His claim was that, unbeknownst to defenders of speech freedom, speech occupies and is bounded by a realm of values and politics in which the speakable and unspeakable are defined and beyond which speech is unspeakable—and usually illegal. As speakers we are trapped by our politics and predispositions; what we say inside the safe realm cannot be called free. Speech that might rightly count as free—speech outside of the dominant domain at a point in time, like hate speech or obscene art or blasphemy—doesn’t count as speech. It is instead outside the domain of acceptable discourse, indeed often illegal. Thus, there is no such thing as free speech....
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