The Conservative Defense of Free Speech
New Directions in the Ethics and Politics of Speech
Free speech generally receives its most ardent support from those of a liberal or radical persuasion who push the bounds of acceptable speech, arguing from the position of individual rights and from the purported necessity of challenging social authority and transgressing social bounds. Conservatives are often cast in the role of censor, curbing verbal excess and valuing social stability over individual expression. There is much to these stereotypes. Nonetheless, traditionalist conservatism has hitherto underutilized conceptual resources for engaging in a defense of freedom of speech. Concepts distinctive to traditionalist conservatism are actually helpful in defending freedom of speech, both by appealing to traditionalist conservatives as well as by shoring up liberal arguments for free speech. This chapter explores four concepts: the American unwritten constitution, moral prejudgments, tradition, and authority, and discusses ways in which they are useful in a defense of freedom of speech.
Sheahan, L. (2022). The Conservative Defense of Free Speech. New Directions in the Ethics and Politics of Speech, 128-147. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003240785-9