Silence and Freedom

Silence and Freedom

Book - 2007
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Chicago Distribution Center
This thoughtful and iconoclastic book argues that silence can be an expression of freedom.
"You have the right to remain silent." These words, drawn from the Supreme Court's famous decision in Miranda v. Arizona, have had a tremendous impact on the public imagination. But what a strange right this is. Of all the activities that are especially worthy of protection, that define us as human beings, foster human potential, and symbolize human ambition, why privilege silence?This thoughtful and iconoclastic book argues that silence can be an expression of freedom. A defiant silence demonstrates determination, courage, and will. Martyrs from a variety of faith traditions have given up their lives rather than renounce their god. During the Vietnam era, thousands of anonymous draft resisters refused to take the military oath that was a prelude to participating in what they believed was an immoral war. These silences speak to us. They are a manifestation of connection, commitment, and meaning.This link between silence and freedom is apparent in a variety of different contexts, which Seidman examines individually, including silence and apology, silence and self-incrimination, silence and interrogation, silence and torture, and silence and death. In discussing the problem of apology, for example, the author argues that although apology plays a crucial role in maintaining the illusion of human connection, the right to not apologize is equally crucial. Similarly, prohibition against torture—so prominent in national debate since the events of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib—is best understood as a right to silence, essential in preserving the distinction between mind and body on which human freedom depends.

Book News
In a defense of the right to remain silent, Seidman (constitutional law, Georgetown U.) explains why silence is and should be privileged over other behavior, and discusses limits on a right to silence. Silence can be an expression of freedom, he argues, and even when it is not, but only the result of alienation, it must be protected in order to give meaning to speech. Annotation ©2008 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Publisher: Stanford, Calif. : Stanford Law and Politics, 2007
ISBN: 9780804756204
Branch Call Number: 345.056 SEI
Characteristics: x, 246 p. ; 24 cm
Alternative Title: Silence & freedom


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