First Amendment Rights

Latest Articles


The 13th Annual Muzzle Awards

A year and a half into the Age of Obama, we are learning a lesson we should have figured out long ago — that repression, once in place, is rarely rolled back all the way, and that liberals no less than conservatives are reluctant to give up power.
A look at the dishonorable enemies of free speech and personal liberty in New England
By DAN KENNEDY  |  July 02, 2010

Bully pulpit

While I understand, appreciate, and respect the First Amendment and our right to speak freely, in the case of bullying, Harvey Silverglate makes a dangerous assumption that “civilized people, even teenagers can intuit the difference between protected spe
Letters to the Boston editor, April 23, 2010
By BOSTON PHOENIX LETTERS  |  April 23, 2010

Will Beacon Hill be bullied into enacting a politically correct law?

A case of high-school bullying in South Hadley ended in tragedy this past January when the alleged victim, a freshman girl, committed suicide. Now, ramped up by the outrage over the case, Massachusetts legislators are in danger of enacting a politically
Freedom watch
By HARVEY SILVERGLATE  |  April 09, 2010


Incarcerated in a maximum-security prison in Cranston, Rhode Island, Jeff Mailhot grabbed a pen and a sheet of stationery and traced an outline of his beefy left hand.
A serial killer seeks a payoff
By JOHN LARRABEE  |  April 02, 2010
gates list

The Gates case isn't about race

The weeks-long hubbub over the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis "Skip" Gates Jr. by the Cambridge Police Department has centered on race, understandably, for two reasons: 1) the African-American population has suffered inequitably in its relat
Doesn't Matter If You're Black or White Dept.
By HARVEY SILVERGLATE  |  August 07, 2009

The 12th Annual Muzzle Awards

With the era of repression and secrecy fostered by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney finally over, this should be the best of times for freedom of expression, open government, and civil liberties. Yet change comes slowly.
A look at the dishonorable enemies of free speech and personal liberty in New England.
By DAN KENNEDY  |  July 10, 2009



Judge Stephen Breyer, Bill Clinton's latest pick for the Supreme Court, has attracted support so broad that it spans ideological and political differences.  
Stephen Breyer may be the right man at the wrong time
By HARVEY SILVERGLATE  |  June 05, 2009

Sotomayor's mixed message on free speech

Minutes after President Barack Obama announced that he was nominating appellate judge Sonia Sotomayor for the vacant seat on the Supreme Court, battle lines were drawn on the pre-scripted questions of "post-racial" America.
Freedom Watch
By HARVEY SILVERGLATE  |  June 05, 2009

Speak no evil?

Anthony Lewis's free-speech credentials are impeccable: among other things, the former New York Times columnist is James Madison Visiting Professor of First Amendment Issues at Columbia University's Journalism School
Why tightening up on anti-Obama speech is a bad idea
By ADAM REILLY  |  January 14, 2009

The 11th Annual Muzzle Awards

Freedom of expression may be guaranteed by the Constitution. But it’s an idea we have to fight for every day.
Silencing free speech
By DAN KENNEDY  |  June 25, 2008

Mike Edison walks alone

On his death bed, Mike Edison probably won’t lament that he didn’t do this or he didn’t go there.
By AMY FINCH  |  June 10, 2008

Dartmouth's right is wrong

This article originally appeared in the April 15, 1988 issue of the Boston Phoenix.
A bad Review of some campus elitists
By SEAN FLYNN  |  April 18, 2008

Totalitarian ploy defeated

For performance artist Milan Kohout, freedom of speech has prevailed.
Free speech trumps Boston cops

Newspapers censor Bono’s ‘fucking’ gaffe

Why does our ostensibly “free” press insist on acting like prudes or cowards when reporting stories for which it’s vital that readers learn someone said “fuck” rather than an undefined “expletive”?
The FCC’s ‘broadcast indecency’ rules: Still, well, bullshit
By HARVEY SILVERGLATE  |  March 12, 2008

War stories

In his new book, Reporting the War: Freedom of the Press from the American Revolution to the War on Terrorism , author John Byrne Cooke tracks press influence on public opinion.

Pressuring the press

By ADAM REILLY  |  November 28, 2007

Anti-activist bill backed by Collins, Allen, and Michaud

US Senator Susan Collins and both of Maine’s US representatives are backing legislation that could result in more incidents like the November 2 run-in between police and eco-activists in Greenville.
Thought police
By JEFF INGLIS  |  November 14, 2007


Southern discomfort

A pair of recent developments in the Sun Belt serves as a useful reminder that antagonism between government and the press can get a whole lot nastier.
Anti-press overreach in the Sun Belt. Plus, the strange resilience of Page Six editor Richard Johnson
By ADAM REILLY  |  October 26, 2007

The 10th Annual Muzzle Awards

Mitt Romney will say or do anything if he thinks it will help him become president.
Silencing free speech
By DAN KENNEDY  |  July 10, 2007

Speech therapy

The Muzzle Awards have been chronicling the worst Free Speech violations for a decade. Here are some of the lowlights from the past 10 years.
The Muzzles through the ages: 10 years of First Ammendment deterioration
By DAN KENNEDY  |  July 03, 2007

Alito: hypocrisy in high places

The First Amendment took two big hits from the Supreme Court on June 25.
Freedom watch

Maine prison bosses violate court orders

In the activist climate of an earlier era, a Maine legal-aid group brought and won three prisoner-rights lawsuits against state corrections officials.
Department of Corrections ignores federal rulings going back to the 1970s
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  June 27, 2007


Inmate sues prison officials in federal court

Did the Maine Department of Corrections violate the First Amendment’s free-speech guarantee by keeping inmate and human-rights activist Deane Brown from contact with the news media?
First amendment watch
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  May 18, 2007

Well shut my mouth!

Are today’s college students thinner-skinned than were previous generations?
Tufts and Brandeis muzzle student newspapers — at students’ urging

Why the Imus cave-in is bad for free speech, radio, and the whole society

I was never a fan of Don Imus.
Freedom watch
By HARVEY SILVERGLATE  |  April 19, 2007

Imus’s downfall is a setback for free speech

Maybe you hadn’t noticed, but you lost something last week.
By MARY ANN SORRENTINO  |  April 18, 2007

Pressing the case

In the aftermath of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby’s perjury conviction last week, the journalistic fallout of the case remains a subject of intense interest for reporters and legal observers.  
A limited federal shield law would be better than the post-Libby status quo
By JIM TARICANI  |  March 14, 2007


Facing off over Facebook

Students, be warned: the college of your choice may be watching you. Post at your own peril: The risks of sticking it to the man on Facebook. By Adam Reilly
Who’s looking at you, kid?

Cracks in the armor

A couple of cracks have opened in the state’s armor of prison secrecy.
Prison employee may be disciplined in suicide case; interview policy to be rewritten
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  January 31, 2007

We don’t need to whisper

My New Year’s resolutions.
Politics and other mistakes
By AL DIAMON  |  January 03, 2007

State: One Santa okay; another no way

Maine regulators have refused to approve an English beer’s label featuring Santa Claus holding a beer, saying it makes the product attractive to children.
Open Market
By JEFF INGLIS  |  December 06, 2006