Cover image for Free for all : defending liberty in America today
Free for all : defending liberty in America today
Kaminer, Wendy.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boston, Mass. : Beacon Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
xix, 235 pages ; 21 cm
Homeland offense, post-9/11 -- No place to hide -- Can we talk?. -- Whose God is it anyway -- Criminally unjust -- Women's rights -- Women's wrongs -- Anti-individualism/left -- Anti-individualism/right -- Homeland offense, pre-9/11.
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Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
KF4750 .K36 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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A lawyer, social critic, and columnist at The American Prospect, Wendy Kaminer has said that she likes to think words have power but knows they don't cast spells. She argues with her readers and expects them to argue back. Her taste for liberty, her legal training, wit, and innate contrarianism help her elude the usual political labels and inform her writings on censorship, feminism, pop psychology, religion, criminal justice, and a range of rights and liberties at issue in the culture wars.

In this new collection, Kaminer has her sights set on the fate of civil liberties in America. Opening with a powerful overview of liberty's tenuous hold on this "land of the free," Kaminer offers incisive, original investigations of political freedom in our frightened, post-September 11 world and reviews perennial threats to sexual and religious liberty, free speech, privacy, and the right to be free from unwarranted, unprincipled prosecutions.

Author Notes

Wendy Kaminer is the author of many books. Her articles and reviews have appeared in numerous publications including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Nation, The Atlantic Monthly, and Newsweek, and her commentaries have aired on National Public Radio

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

"Live Free or Die," New Hampshire's grammar-challenged state motto, sounds worthy enough on the surface. But defining and ensuring freedom are infinitely more difficult and crucial than stamping slogans on license plates, as social critic Kaminer (Sleeping with Extra-Terrestrials: The Rise of Irrationalism and the Perils of Piety, etc.) argues in this insightful, incisive new collection of essays, most of which appeared in the American Prospect. The Bush administration's reaction to September 11 ramping up domestic surveillance, covertly detaining a thousand-plus suspects, instituting military rather than civil trials, squeezing dissent only continues what the author sees as a troubling trend of limiting liberty. A champion of First Amendment freedoms, Kaminer argues against restricting Internet communications, squelching pornography, threatening abortion providers under the guise of free speech and sacrificing defendants' rights in criminal trials in favor of the victims. She's for flag-burning as peaceful protest, instituting the Equal Rights Amendment and protecting abortion rights. A devout civil libertarian, Kaminer aims her crisp writing, clear thinking and deflating humor equally on all who would challenge liberties, from antipornography feminists to pro-surveillance attorneys general. She relishes exposing hypocrisy, such as the religion-based social engineering advocated by self-described antigovernment conservatives. Still, she unleashes her strongest barbs and uncharacteristically relies more on insult than insight in excoriating the right wing's anti-individualism. Despite Kaminer's argument that "civil libertarianism is a nonpartisan virtue," this will be an important book particularly for lefties who feel left behind in a nation in which conservatives are winning most of the battles. (Sept. 20) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Introductionp. xi
Author's Notep. xx
1. Homeland Offense, Post-9/11
Patriotic Dissentp. 3
Safety and Freedomp. 7
Fear Itselfp. 10
An Imperial Presidencyp. 13
Ignorant Blissp. 17
2. No Place to Hide
Someone to Watch over Mep. 23
Public Livesp. 31
3. Can We Talk?
Toxic Mediap. 37
Toxic Media vs. Toxic Censorshipp. 41
Screen Saviorsp. 49
Courting Unsafe Speechp. 53
Virtual Offensivenessp. 57
Grand Old Ragp. 60
Freedom's Edgep. 64
The Root of All Speechp. 67
The War on High Schoolsp. 72
Don't Speak Its Namep. 77
Virtual Rapep. 81
4. Whose God Is It, Anyway?
The Joy of Sectsp. 93
Faith-Based Favoritismp. 97
Good News?p. 101
American Gothicp. 104
Sectual Discriminationp. 107
The AG Is Their Shepherdp. 110
5. Criminally Unjust
Ordinary Abusesp. 115
Victims vs. Suspectsp. 119
Pictures at an Executionp. 123
Secrets and Liesp. 126
6. Women's Rights
Equal Rights Postponementp. 131
Reproductive Emergencyp. 134
Abortion and Autonomyp. 138
7. Women's Wrongs
Feminists, Puritans, and Statistsp. 145
Feminists, Racketeers, and the First Amendmentp. 148
Sexual Congressp. 154
Sex and Sensibilityp. 159
Reproductive Entitlementp. 164
Fathers in Courtp. 168
8. Anti-Individualism/Left
American Heritagep. 173
Politics of Identityp. 177
Gun Shyp. 180
Guilt of Associationp. 183
9. Anti-Individualism/Right
When Congress Plays Doctorp. 189
Law and Marriagep. 194
Gay Ritesp. 198
Bad Vibes in Alabamap. 202
10. Homeland Offense, Pre - 9/11
Author's Notep. 206
Taking Libertiesp. 207
Games Prosecutors Playp. 225
Acknowledgmentsp. 236