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Rather than abstract philosophical discussion or yet another analysis of legal doctrine, Speech and Silence in American Law seeks to situate speech and silence, locating them in particular circumstances and contexts and asking how context matters in facilitating speech or demanding silence. To understand speech and silence we have to inquire into their social life and examine the occasions and practices that call them forth and that give them meaning.
Among the questions addressed in this book are: who is authorized to speak? And what are the conditions that should be attached to the speaking subject? Are there occasions that call for speech and others that demand silence? What is the relationship between the speech act and the speaker? Taking these questions into account helps readers understand what compels speakers and what problems accompany speech without a known speaker, allowing us to assess how silence speaks and how speech renders the silent more knowable.