Today is Constitution Day here in these United States, and though at times tattered and torn, this document seems to be holding up most of the time. And significantly, the First Amendment of the Constitution supported free speech — something that wasn’t always allowed in Revolutionary times….and isn’t today, either.

The importance of free speech in these days of unlimited internet access is sometimes complicated, but an upcoming graphic novel may help sort some of it out while revealing the history of this important right.

The FREE SPEECH HANDBOOK (First Second, on sale 11/2/21) is written by media lawyer Ian Rosenberg and Eisner-nominated artist Mike Cavallaro as part of their
World Citizen Comics series.

The book provides a practical framework for understanding free speech protections via ten landmark First Amendment cases.

The book already has some praise: Juju Chang, Emmy Award-winning co-anchor of ABC News’ Nightline, says “[FREE SPEECH HANDBOOK is] the Freakonomics of First Amendment law—explaining high concept legal precedents through vivid storytelling and colorful characters.”

And to mark all of this, The Beat is proud to present an excerpt of this book. The topic kicks off with something dear to my heart: the 2017 Women’s March, an event I proudly participated in with my mother and about a dozen of my closest friends. Because I’m a packrat, I still have the poster my mother made tucked away in a portfolio case here somewhere.

But as this excerpt makes clear, our ability to march peacefully and freely that day was the result of a landmark free speech case involving a woman who protested for worker’s rights nearly a hundred years prior.

Themes reappear throughout history, and understanding how its all connected helps us make better decisions in the present. The Free Speech Handbook is a good start for that.
Free Speech Handbook goes on sale on November 2nd.