An exercise of free speech?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by 项小政, Mar 5, 2014.

  1. 项小政

    项小政 Senior Member

    Here is a sentence from an essay titled what's gone wrong with democracy in the latest issue of the Economist:
    All this creates the impression that American democracy is for sale and that the rich have more power than the poor, even as lobbyists and donors insist that political expenditure is an exercise in free speech.
    I can't understand the meaning of "an exercise in free speech" .
    Please help me, thank you in advance!
  2. srk Senior Member

    South Bend, Indiana
    English - US
    The Supreme Court has ruled essentially that, in certain contexts, money is equivalent to speech. Here's a link to a Wiki article on the relevant case, called Citizens United.

    The First Amendment to the US Constitution guarantees free speech, and citizens exercise their right to free speech by speaking their minds without fear of government retribution. (See definition 1 in the WRF Dictionary for "exercise": to put into use; employ: to exercise tact.

    Lobbyists and donors point to the ruling saying that it allows whatever advantage political expenditure affords them.

    Edit: You can see other uses of the phrase "an exercise in" by using the links under this Ngram. It means "an experiment in" or "an undertaking in". "An exercise in futility" is an undertaking that can bear no fruit.
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2014

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