The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.
— Ludwig Wittgenstein
It is a wondrous line, that passage from Wittgenstein’s Tractatus (1921). It could readily serve as a First Amendment maxim. For we come to learn our world, in real measure, from the ways by which we speak of it, from how we give expression to what we perceive, and from how we communicate between one another. In all of these ways and others, one of the First Amendment’s high purposes is to keep dialogue alive and vibrant. Or as Justice Louis Brandeis so eloquently put it in his concurrence in Whitney v. California (1927): “If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the process of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.”
Harvesting the story
Taking his conceptual cue from the two famous messages from those two great men, James C. Foster has written a valuable addition to the literature of free speech in America. I refer to his just-published Bong Hits 4 Jesus: A Perfect Constitutional Storm in Alaska’s Capital. In this well-written, thoroughly researched, evenly balanced and thoughtful book, Foster ...