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Freedom of speech

University of Michigan Law School

2008

Computer Law

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Full-Text Articles in Law

On Communication, John Greenman Jan 2008

On Communication, John Greenman

Michigan Law Review

Everybody knows that communication is important, but nobody knows how to define it. The best scholars refer to it. Free-speech law protects it. But no one-no scholar or judge-has successfully captured it. Few have even tried. This is the first article to define communication under the law. In it, I explain why some activities-music, abstract painting, and parading-are considered communicative under the First Amendment, while others-sex, drugs, and subliminal advertising-are not. I argue that the existing theories of communication, which hold that communicative behaviors are expressive or convey ideas, fail to explain what is going on in free-speech cases. Instead, …