9 episodes

Unprecedented tells the raw and emotional stories of ordinary people who defined the limits of our First Amendment rights. Hosted by award-winning radio producers Michael Vuolo and Matthew Schwartz with special appearances by NPR’s Nina Totenberg. You'll never think of the Constitution the same way again. From WAMU.

Unprecedented WAMU

    • History
    • 4.3, 667 Ratings

Unprecedented tells the raw and emotional stories of ordinary people who defined the limits of our First Amendment rights. Hosted by award-winning radio producers Michael Vuolo and Matthew Schwartz with special appearances by NPR’s Nina Totenberg. You'll never think of the Constitution the same way again. From WAMU.

    A Thousand Ways to Kill You

    A Thousand Ways to Kill You

    Anthony Elonis wrote a series of Facebook posts describing gory fantasies of revenge, often in the form of rap lyrics, against his estranged wife and others. He was later convicted of violating a federal law that prohibits such threats and was sentenced to more than three years in prison. Elonis claimed he was merely venting and using an established art form, just like Eminem. And that the First Amendment protects violent speech. Listen to the Season 1 finale of Unprecedented.

    If you love Unprecedented, you can support the show and more great podcasts from WAMU by heading to wamu.org/donate.

    • 44 min
    Bodily Harm Is Coming

    Bodily Harm Is Coming

    To a Klu Klux Klan member, a flaming cross is a "beautiful" symbol of "racial purity." To many Americans, it's the image of racist intimidation. But, what is it to the Supreme Court, and is it protected by the Constitution? In the emotionally-charged case, Virginia v. Black, the KKK learns the difference between intent and historical perception — with unexpected assistance from an African American ACLU lawyer. Plus: A Supreme Court Justice breaks his years-long silence.

    If you love Unprecedented, you can support the show and more great podcasts from WAMU by heading to wamu.org/donate.

    • 38 min
    Drugs for a Deity

    Drugs for a Deity

    Joe Frederick knew that students have some free speech rights, but he wanted to find out just how far those rights go. So when his high school class headed outside to watch the Olympic torch pass through their Alaska neighborhood in January 2002, Joe unfurled a 14-foot-banner that would test the limits of the First Amendment in school. Except...no one really understood what the banner meant, including Joe Frederick!

    If you love Unprecedented, you can support the show and more great podcasts from WAMU by heading to wamu.org/donate.

    • 28 min
    The Most Moderate Protest

    The Most Moderate Protest

    John and Mary Beth Tinker—teenagers in Iowa during the mid-1960s—wore black armbands to school one day as a symbolic protest against the Vietnam War. They were both suspended and later sued the Des Moines school district for violating their First Amendment rights. The armbands may seem mild compared to the vocal walkouts we see today. But at the time, it was described as "a disturbing situation within the schools." In this landmark case, the Supreme Court weighed whether freedom of speech extends to public students.

    If you love Unprecedented, you can support the show and more great podcasts from WAMU by heading to wamu.org/donate.

    • 33 min
    Middle Finger To God

    Middle Finger To God

    When Albert Snyder arrived for the funeral service of his son Matthew, a young Marine who died in the Iraq War, he was surprised by the noise and chaos that greeted him. Seven members of the Westboro Baptist Church—which believes that U.S. military casualties are a result of God's anger at an America that embraces sin—were picketing the funeral, holding signs with messages like "Thank God for Dead Soldiers." Snyder sued Westboro for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, and the Supreme Court had to decide: Does the First Amendment protect hurtful speech directed at a private citizen?

    If you love Unprecedented, you can support the show and more great podcasts from WAMU by heading to wamu.org/donate.

    • 36 min
    Terry Abrahamson’s Dirty Joke

    Terry Abrahamson’s Dirty Joke

    When asked to pen some biting humor for the pages of Hustler back in 1983, writer Terry Abrahamson took aim at evangelical Christian preacher Jerry Falwell. The result was a vulgar parody of a real Campari ad—though instead of celebrities coyly talking about their "first time" tasting the Italian liqueur, Abrahamson wrote a fictional account of Falwell's first time having sex (SPOILER: it was in an outhouse, with his own mother). Falwell sued Hustler for intentional infliction of emotional distress, and the Supreme Court had to decide: Does the First Amendment give us the right to parody a public figure?

    If you love Unprecedented, you can support the show and more great podcasts from WAMU by heading to wamu.org/donate.

    • 39 min

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5
667 Ratings

667 Ratings

news_reader77 ,

Love it

Bring back this podcast!!!

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More, more, more

I randomly check to see if any new episodes are uploaded. Love this podcast!

Rue Bee ,

Love!!

I found this podcast at 7:30am this morning and I am now caught up with all the episodes 12 hours later. Wow. This is the podcast I needed right now. Thought provoking and cynical yet easy to comprehend and follow. Such interesting topics and guest speakers! Please keep producing these little gems and I will keep listening!

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