This is a jump off of the Ender's Game thread, as well as a discussion on the same subject I had elsewhere on the internet (namely, Orson Scott Card). In the other discussion, people were advocating book stores take Card's works down (which I think is a bad idea), and others were saying that would infringe Card's First Amendment rights. That sort of claim is common, so I thought it would be useful to say a few words about U.S. law and the U.S. Constitution. This may or may not be of interest to members outside the U.S. The first thing you have to remember when dealing with things like free speech is that the First Amendment protects against government action, not private action. Initially, it was only the Federal Government that was bound by it (in fact it starts with Congress shall make no law), but with the Fourteenth Amendment and the subsequent Incorporation Doctrine, the state and local governments became bound as well. If I run a bookstore and I decide to take Card's works off the shelves because I don't like his political views, I have not infringed Card's First Amendment rights. If I am the head of a public library and I decide to take Card's books down for the exact same reason, then I have infringed his First Amendment rights. So, keep in mind the requirement of State action if you're talking about violating the Bill of Rights. It was said here that the First Amendment defines free speech. That's not the case. The First Amendment protects free speech, among other things, but doesn't define free speech. It would have been impractical to do so, and instead we have decades upon decades of case law from the courts establishing the boundaries of free speech. Some might argue for a literal interpretation of the First Amendment and consider that a blanket definition, but if that's true then it certainly isn't the definition we use, and furthermore not a practical one. If you look at the First Amendment it provides an absolute prohibition on laws abridging speech, prohibiting free exercise of religion, or laws "respecting an establishment of religion." Here's the text: We do have laws abridging speech, of course. Also abridging the press. Also laws with respect to religious establishments, and laws that can curtail the free exercise of religion, and so on. A literal reading of the amendment to provide an absolute prohibition would be unworkable. It may have been workable at the founding of the country, when the First Amendment only applied to the Federal government (in other words, States could still make these laws), but now that this amendment applies to all levels of government a literal reading isn't feasible. In any event, there are a lot of misunderstandings surrounding Constitutional law in the U.S. The Constitution is itself a legal document. In fact, it is the Supreme law of the U.S. The final arbiter of what it means and how it should be applied is the Supreme Court (a power not actually granted to the court in the Constitution, but taken by the Court itself in the famous Marbury v. Madison case early in our history). To get back to Card - private individuals boycotting his work, or refusing to stock his books on their shelves, is not a First Amendment issue. Those things in no way infringe Card's First Amendment rights. Nor would denying him space to write an article in a magazine, newspaper, or web site based solely on his political views be a First Amendment issue, unless it was the government that was denying him the opportunity. I, personally, don't agree with pulling his works from shelves or trying in other ways to censor him, even when done by private parties, but the Constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech doesn't enter into it.