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Book Reviews: Figures of Speech: First Amendment Heroes and Villains
By Zachary Margulis-Ohnuman
Book Reviews columns.
Figures of Speech: First Amendment Heroes and Villains
By William Bennett Turner
Berrett-Koehler Publishers (2011)
Figures of Speech: First Amendment Heroes and Villains tells nine morality tales about freedom of speech in America in the past century. At the center of the book is its author, lawyer William Bennett Turner, who is personally involved in nearly half the stories, but who is too modest to anoint himself one of the First Amendment heroes. He does not have to; his advocacy speaks for itself.
Turner may be a true First Amendment hero, but the central dichotomy in the title of the book does not hold: at least two of the characters undergo Darth Vader-like transformations from hero to villain and back. Some of the heroes are particularly loathsome while some of the villains are almost endearing.
As the First Amendment grew teeth, increasingly unpleasant speech was protected. We start with Yetta Stromberg, a nice Communist camp counselor from California, and the Jehovah’s Witnesse
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