What is ‘Speech’? The Question of Coverage
UVA Law Faculty Affiliations
This chapter assesses the question of coverage of the right to freedom of speech. Beneath the language and complexities of the question of coverage, and apart from the misleading question, ‘what is speech?’, is a much simpler question that is necessarily the first question always to be asked: ‘is this a free speech dispute?’. The question of coverage is this question. At times the answer will be determined by an authoritative text. At times it will be answered by examining the underlying point of a distinct and weighty principle of free speech. And at times the answer will be so obviously ‘yes’ or ‘no’ that one may not even recognize that the question is there. But the question, whether explicit or implicit, is always there. Labelling the question as the question of coverage, and distinguishing between coverage and protection, brings to the surface a component that is necessarily part of addressing any free speech issue and any free speech dispute.