Free speech fights

Free Speech Fights

Free speech fights

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Free speech fights are conflicts over the right to speak freely, particularly involving the Industrial Workers of the World (the "IWW", or "Wobblies'") efforts in the early twentieth century to organize workers and publicly speak about labor issues. Wobblies, Single Taxers, and other radicals of the time were actively engaged in organizing workers and others, and their efforts were often opposed, and sometimes met with violent repression by local government and business authorities. The most notorious of these conflicts was the "San Diego Free Speech Fight", which brought the IWW to the greater notice of the American public and was notable for the intensity of violence by anti-labor vigilantes directed at the IWW; this violence included the kidnapping and tarring and feathering of Ben Reitman, who was a physician, and was Emma Goldman's lover.

More generally, a free speech fight is any incident in which a group is involved in a conflict over its speech. For instance, the Free Speech Movement, which began with a conflict on the Berkeley Campus in California in the 1960s, was a "free speech fight".

"Free speech fights" and the IWW

The IWW engaged in free speech fights during the period from approximately 1907 to 1916. The Wobblies, as the IWW members were called, relied upon free speech, which in the United States is guaranteed by the First Amendment, to enable them to...
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