In this essay I talk about a wide range of themes in the hope of establishing a connection among them: writing (including the teaching of writing) and what is at stake, for the writer and the rest of the world, in doing it well or badly; certain forces in our culture-hard to define and understandthat tend to reduce or trivialize human experience, indeed the very value of the human being; the conception of the human being, not trivial at all, that underlies our practices of self-government in general and constitutional democracy in particular; and the idea of justice at work, or potentially at work, in our legal system and its realization-or nonrealization-in the opinions of our courts, especially those opinions of the Supreme Court that elaborate the law of the First Amendment (which of course deals with both speech and writing). I think that these issues, or most of them, are present in every act of speech or writing, every'engagement with language. As I hope to show, in each such instance it is a crucial question whether, and in what sense, the speaker or writer can be seen to mean what he is saying.
Publication Information & Recommended Citation
White, James Boyd. "Meaning What You Say." In Law in the Liberal Arts, edited by A. Sarat, 109-39. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2004.