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UC Berkeley Guest Speaker: It’s Time to ‘Change Our Interpretations’ of the First Amendment

New Yorker reporter Andrew Marantz called on Americans to reinterpret the First Amendment during a recent guest lecture at the University of California, Berkeley.

During a recent speech at UC Berkeley, New Yorker reporter Andrew Marantz argued that the First Amendment is outdated. The speech, which was highlighted this week by Campus Reform, was moderated by UC Berkeley spokesperson Dan Mogulof and included Chancellor Carol Christ.

UC Berkeley posted the transcript of the Marantz event on their website. During the event, Marantz argued that the right’s perspective on free speech is incompatible with modern America.

“The underlying premise [of the right’s perspective on free speech] was, ‘This is a public university, therefore, the First Amendment applies, therefore, he has to be able to speak.’ …What I’m questioning is whether that should be the interpretation of First Amendment law for time immemorial, or whether we can change our interpretations of laws just like we’ve always changed our interpretations of laws,” Marantz said.

Marantz argued that the First Amendment doesn’t create effective discourse. He claimed that “techno-utopians” falsely believed that the “marketplace of ideas” would sort out disagreement in a productive manner.

There’s nothing in our laws and our constitution that says that the national discourse will be handled well, will be handled effectively. We’ll get to this but all the liberties in the constitution that pertain to this are negative liberty is not positive ones. So you just… That naive faith that the techno-utopians had or that we all I think tacitly sometimes have that the marketplace of ideas will sort it out. I was watching the marketplace of ideas at work and it was not being sorted out.

At one point during the event, Marantz compared the concept of a “free marketplace of ideas” to allowing a party guest to light your couch on fire.