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Freedom of Speech, 2nd Edition by Barendt, Eric (22nd March 2007)

I Why Protect Free Speech?

From: Freedom of Speech (2nd Edition)

Eric Barendt

This chapter discusses the nature of a free speech principle and explores the coherence of four justifications for that principle: arguments concerned with the importance of discovering truth, free speech as an aspect of self-fulfilment, the argument from citizen participation in a democracy, and suspicion of government. Each of these arguments emphasises the interests of either the speaker or the audience, or perhaps that of the public in an open tolerant society. Therefore, the free speech interests of speakers, recipients (listeners, readers, and viewers), and the general public in the unimpeded communication of information and ideas are considered. These distinctions may have legal significance. Some texts confer rights on both speakers and recipients, while others provide only for freedom of speech or expression, without making it clear whether both groups enjoy rights.

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