1948 July 18

“Everything Worth Saying Should Be Said”


In an essay on this day to mark the publication of his book, Free Speech and its Relation to Self-Government, Alexander Meiklejohn, an early theorist of the First Amendment, set forth his argument that “everything worth saying should be said.” Meiklejohn’s theory focused on political speech and ideas necessary for political debate and decision-making. He did not, however, place as high a value on forms of expression that were not directly related to that, including non-verbal expression and explicit sexual forms of expression. Somewhat forgotten today, Meiklejohn was very influential on free speech issues in his time. His book was largely supplanted by Yale Law Professor Thomas Emerson’s Toward a General Theory of the First Amendment (1963)

Meiklejohn had been president of Amherst College until he was fired in 1923 for de-emphasizing football. (Yes, Amherst was a football power at the time.) From that time onward, he had a more or less free-lance academic career. He was head of the Experimental College at the University of Wisconsin from 1927 to 1932.

Read Meiklejohn’s Free Speech and its Relation to Self-Government online: http://uwdc.library.wisc.edu/collections/UW/MeikFreeSp

Learn more about Meiklejohn: http://www.brown.edu/Administration/News_Bureau/Encyclopedia/Meiklejohn.html

And more: http://uscivilliberties.org/biography/4134-meiklejohn-alexander-18721964.html

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