The Revolution in Freedoms of Press and Speech
The title of legal historian Wendell Bird’s book The Revolution in Freedoms of Press and Speech refers to a dramatic change in the dominant understanding of press freedom in Britain and the United States. By the mid-1760s, Bird shows through a painstaking examination of previously ignored material, the majority position—the one that would be reflected in the First Amendment—was that people had a right to criticize the government without going to jail for it.
While that conclusion may not seem surprising, it contradicts the prevailing academic view, which says hardly anyone objected in principle to prosecut
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