Although it is proper to classify many free speech writers as first rate, it is possible that the age in which they write inhibits the production of genuinely great work with a genuinely common goal. With this in mind, we must look at whether there is free speech protection for nonrepresentational art, instrumental music, and nonsense under the Court’s case law. The underlying problem for today’s free speech theorists is no doubt multifaceted. But one important aspect thereof may involve our collective poring over the glittering remnants of a shattered mirror, even as our understandings of the possible uses of a mirror become increasingly unclear, contested, or unstable. This metaphor would suggest that today’s best free speech theorists are not engaged on a genuinely common project.

This abstract was written after publication by 2023-2024 Et Cetera Editor-in-Chief Philip Shipman