Date of Graduation

8-2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Communication (MA)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Communication

Advisor

Stephen Smith

Committee Member

Frank Scheide

Second Committee Member

Patrick Williams

Abstract

Following World War I and the Bolshevik Revolutions, America's Red Scare began, inciting fanatical patriotism and an alleged threat of anarchy that gripped a nation with fear. Paranoia about communists, socialists, and anarchists divided the country and resulted in many states, including Arkansas, passing criminal anarchy laws. Since a majority of those accused of anti-American activities were involved in labor disputes, Arkansas makes for an interesting case study; not only did it have a relative lack of labor disputes, it still passed anti-Bolshevik laws. The purpose of this research is to develop an understanding of the ways in which dissenters have been effectively silenced by the controlling power and the consequences of that hegemonic silence. To illustrate this, I will use a First Amendment framework to examine four incidents: the 1934 arrest of George Cruz in Mississippi County; the 1935 arrest of Ward Rodgers in Poinsett County; the 1935 arrest of Horace Bryan in Sebastian County; and the 1940 arrest of Nathan Oser in Polk County. In analyzing these cases, I argue that limitations on freedom of speech serve the agenda of the establishment. Furthermore, these limitations serve to economically punish dissenters and rhetorical construct dissenters as criminals. This study proposes a new perspective on the negative effect that First Amendment limitations can have on America society. These cases are indicative of the politically charged environment that existed in the South during the Red Scare and illustrate the ways that power is used to silence poor and working class Americans.