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41 N. Ill. U. L. Rev. 1 (2020-2021)

handle is hein.journals/niulr41 and id is 1 raw text is: Governments Erasing History and the
Importance of Free Speech
NOAH C. CHAUVIN*
Nationwide protests against police brutality and structural racism have
led to a renewed push for governments to take down or alter Confederate
monuments and symbols. Advocates for these changes argue that they will
make our public spaces more just and welcoming to all people. Not everyone
agrees. Some defenders of the monuments and symbols accuse pro-removal
protestors and the governments who acquiesce to their demands as conspir-
ing to erase history. In this essay, I argue that those who oppose removing
the monuments should come away from the controversy with an appreciation
for the importance offree speech. On the other hand, supporters of removal
should come away from the controversy with an appreciation for the im-
portance offree speech.
I.      IN TROD U CTION ....................................................1
II.     THE GOVERNMENT AS ARBITER OF TRUTH....................5
A.  GOVERNMENT     AS  SPEAKER...............................................5
B.  GOVERNMENT     AS ENFORCER..................... .....................9
III.    C ON CLU SION .....................................................15
I.      INTRODUCTION
In June of 2020, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced that the
Commonwealth of Virginia would take down a massive statue honoring Con-
federate General Robert E. Lee that currently sits on state-owned land in
Richmond.' Supporters of Northam's decision praised it as a step in the right
direction that was long overdue.2 Critics decried the decision as erasing
*   J.D., William & Mary Law School, 2019; B.A., SUNY Geneseo, 2016. This paper
benefitted from early conversations with Matt Strauser and from careful editing by the mem-
bers of the Northern Illinois University Law Review. All errors-and all views-are strictly
my own.
1. Bill Chappell, Massive Robert E. Lee Statue in Richmond, Va., Will Be Removed,
NAT'L      PUBLIC     RADIO     (June      4,     2020,     11:27     AM),
https://www.npr.org/2020/06/04/869519175/massive-robert-e-lee-statue-in-richmond-va-
will-be-removed [https://perma.cc/QAM4-L37M].
2.  Press Release, Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, The Virginia Legislative Black
Caucus Statement on the Removal of the Robert E. Lee Statue (June 3, 2020)
https ://www.vablackcaucus.com/news/c/0/i/46863762/vlbc-statement-removal-robert-e-lee-
statue [https://perma.cc/H3U5-PNYX].
1

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