March 24, 2020
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Mark Twain once wrote that Americans enjoy “unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience and the prudence never to practice either.” Martha Bayles believes that prudence may have gone out of fashion.
The nationally known cultural critic and frequent contributor to the Boston Globe, Weekly Standard and Claremont Review of Books will present “How Not to Defend Free Speech: With Friends Like Hollywood, Charlie Hebdo, and U.S. Higher Education, the First Amendment May Not Need Enemies” on Thursday, April 2, at 7:30 p.m., in the Gund Gallery’s Community Foundation Theater.
Bayles’ insight into the effect American culture has on its image and political worldview has garnered her widespread attention with the increased topicality of First Amendment rights. “Free speech has been in the news a great deal lately, including some hard cases. We expect Professor Bayles to stimulate a timely and lively discussion,” said Tom Karako, assistant professor of political science and director of the Center for the Study of American Democracy.
Bayles, hailed as “one of the great unsung critics of the baby boom generation” by Sam Schulman of the Weekly Standard, is recognized for her often trenchant criticism of popular aspects of American society. She has written two books: Hole in Our Soul: The Loss of Beauty and Meaning in American Popular Music, about the waning profundity of American pop culture, and Through a Screen Darkly: Popular Culture, Public Diplomacy and America’s Image Abroad, a compilation of foreign perspectives of Americans. She currently is a visiting fellow at the Hudson Institute, a conservative nonprofit think tank in Washington, D.C., and associate professor of the practice of the humanities at Boston College.
By Matthew Eley '15