As the first editor at The Conversation to cover the democracy beat, I’ve found that I could spend about 80% of my time on First Amendment and free speech stories. There’s been a lot of activity in the U.S. over the past six months around who gets to speak, who gets shut down, what kind of expression is allowed and what isn’t. From banning drag shows in Tennessee to telling teachers what they can’t teach and stopping controversial personalities from speaking in public, we’ve covered what looks like a growing trend of censoriousness.

In legal scholar Erica Goldberg’s story today, you can read about how that rising tide isn’t ideologically fixed at one end of the political spectrum. It’s coming from the right and the left.

Now, she writes, besides the specific examples of speech repression that she cites, there’s been “a documented shift in public attitudes about free speech … that is more diffuse, but highly consequential for democracy. Younger progressives seem eager to use the heckler’s veto to intimidate or block people from speaking.”

And that signals something disturbing to Goldberg, a professor at the University of Dayton, who says that “instead of using speech or protest to counter the speech or expression that critics dislike, people on the right and the left appear to want to prevent ideas they don’t like from entering the conversation.”

Naomi Schalit

Democracy Editor

Demonstrators who support banning books gather during a protest outside of the Henry Ford Centennial Library in Dearborn, Mich., on Sept. 25, 2022. Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images

Free speech used to be honored by both left and right – now shouting down opponents and banning disliked speech is a bipartisan cause

Erica Goldberg, University of Dayton

Free speech is under attack from both sides of the political spectrum.

Enrique Tarrio, center, stands with other Proud Boys at a 2019 rally in Portland, Oregon. AP Photo/Noah Berger

Proud Boys members convicted of seditious conspiracy – 3 essential reads on the group and right-wing extremist white nationalism

Jeff Inglis, The Conversation

Who are the Proud Boys, what do they want and is there a path back into society for these extremists?

Protesters demonstrate against the conviction and death sentence of Richard Glossip. Larry French/Getty Images for

Rejected Oklahoma plea for death penalty commutation highlights clemency’s changing role in US death penalty system

Austin Sarat, Amherst College

Despite support for clemency from Oklahoma’s top prosecutor, a death row inmate appears set to die on May 18.

Montana House Rep. Zooey Zephyr’s censure shows that American standards of political decorum are failing

Alauna Safarpour, Harvard Kennedy School

Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, first established a set of political decorum rules in legislatures to help establish stability during the country’s early years.

Dominion threw away its shot by not requiring a correction and apology from Fox News

John C. Watson, American University

Dominion’s settlement of its defamation suit against Fox News provided a solution for Dominion – but it did nothing to help journalism.

The firings of Don Lemon and Tucker Carlson doesn’t mean the end of hyperpartisan cable news networks

Nolan Higdon, California State University, East Bay

Since the 1980s, cable news networks have focused on hyperpartisan news coverage to attract core audiences in an increasingly fragmented media market.

Emmett Till’s accuser, Carolyn Bryant Donham, has died – here’s how the 1955 murder case helped define civil rights history

Davis W. Houck, Florida State University

While Bryant Donham was never charged for her involvement in Till’s death, the Justice Department continued to investigate the case and consider the potential for an arrest as recently as 2021.

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