Language is our key to imagining the world, others, and ourselves. Yet sometimes our ways of talking dehumanize others and trivialize human experience. In war other people are imagined as enemies to be killed. The language of race objectifies those it touches, and propaganda disables democracy. Advertising reduces us to consumers, and cliches destroy the life of the imagination. How are we to assert our humanity and that of others against the forces in the culture and in our own minds that would deny it? What kind of speech should the First Amendment protect? How should judges and justices themselves speak? These questions animate James Boyd White's Living Speech, a profound examination of the ethics of human expression--in the law and in the rest of life. Drawing on examples from an unusual range of sources--judicial opinions, children's essays, literature, politics, and the speech-out-of-silence of Quaker worship--White offers a fascinating analysis of the force of our languages.
Reminding us that every moment of speech is an occasion for gaining control of what we say and who we are, he shows us that we must practice the art of resisting the forces of inhumanity built into our habits of speech and thought if we are to become more capable of love and justice--in both law and life.
Table Of Contents:
Preface xi Introduction: The Empire of Force and the World of Words 1 Chapter One: Speech in the Empire 13 Chapter Two: Living Speech and the Mind Behind It 50 Chapter Three: The Desire for Meaning 91 Chapter Four: Writing That Calls the Reader to Life--or Death 124 Chapter Five: Human Dignity and the Claim of Meaning 168 Chapter Six: Silence, Belief, and the Right to Speak 204 Index 227