Tuesday, April 17, 2012

It says something about the decline of this country that a specialist in Middle East Studies writing about Kuwait gives a better defense of free speech than a professor of American constitutional law does writing about The U.S.

Mark Tushnet, Art and the First Amendment

It's a lawyer's job to make lemonade from lemons, but a scholar is not a jobbing lawyer and he or she should be willing to argue not just from case law but from principles and values, to the point of saying that a Supreme Court decision was unjust. The Supreme Court decides what the state considers to be permissible as a matter of law. A scholar should be willing to disagree. Tushnet understands this, but here he argues from precedent, recent scholarship and laziness.

Barney Rosset died very recently. It's bad enough that he had to fight the law. Worse still that we have to do it again.

The "objective" study of what is in language, the model of scholarship as science, leads to passivity -words change their meanings- and passivity now leaves us standing on the port side of a boat that's drifting to starboard.

I've used that line too often but I can't think of a better one.

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