Whenever Any Form of Government Becomes Destructive To These Ends,
It Is The Right of the People to Alter Or To Abolish It,
And To Institute New Government


Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Islamist speech in the USA and potential means of restriction

FIghting Words:
The fighting words doctrine, in United States constitutional law, is a limitation to freedom of speech as protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
In 1942, the U.S. Supreme Court established the doctrine by a 9–0 decision in Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire. It held that "insulting or 'fighting words,' those that by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace" are among the "well-defined and narrowly limited classes of speech the prevention and punishment of [which] … have never been thought to raise any constitutional problem."
Chaplinsky, a Jehovah's Witness, had purportedly told a New Hampshire town marshal who was attempting to prevent him from preaching that he was "a God-damned racketeer" and "a damned fascist" and was arrested. The court upheld the arrest and wrote in its decision that
There are certain well-defined and narrowly limited classes of speech, the prevention and punishment of which have never been thought to raise any constitutional problem. These include the lewd and obscene, the profane, the libelous, and the insulting or "fighting words" those that by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace. It has been well observed that such utterances are no essential part of any exposition of ideas, and are of such slight social value as a step to truth that any benefit that may be derived from them is clearly outweighed by the social interest in order and morality.
— Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire1942


The court has continued to uphold the doctrine but also steadily narrowed the grounds on which fighting words are held to apply. In Street v. New York (1969),[3] the court overturned a statute prohibiting flag-burning and verbally abusing the flag, holding that mere offensiveness does not qualify as "fighting words". 

In similar manner, in Cohen v. California (1971), Cohen's wearing a jacket that said "fuck the draft" did not constitute uttering fighting words since there had been no "personally abusive epithets"; the Court held the phrase to be protected speech. In later decisions—Gooding v. Wilson (1972) and Lewis v. New Orleans (1974)—the Court invalidated convictions of individuals who cursed police officers, finding that the ordinances in question were unconstitutionally overbroad.

In R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul (1992), the Court overturned a statute prohibiting speech or symbolic expression that "arouses anger, alarm or resentment in others on the basis of race, color, creed, religion or gender" on the grounds that, even if the specific statute was limited to fighting words, it was unconstitutionally content-based and viewpoint-based because of the limitation to race-/religion-/sex-based fighting words. The Court, however, made it repeatedly clear that the City could have pursued "any number" of other avenues, and reaffirmed the notion that "fighting words" could be properly regulated by municipal or state governments.
In Snyder v. Phelps (2011), dissenting Justice Samuel Alito likened the protests of the Westboro Baptist Church members to fighting words and of a personal character, and thus not protected speech. The majority disagreed and stated that the protester's speech was not personal but public, and that local laws which can shield funeral attendees from protesters are adequate for protecting those in times of emotional distress.

It sounds pretty tough to restrict speech.
As it should be.
We may be limited to infitration and post action arrests, and .suits
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Will some future court rule that saying "fuck Muhammad" are fighting words and thus may be actionable by some aggrieved Muslim or his running dog lackey Progressives?

Or that people who write "fuck Muhammad" in annonomous comments at the end of blog articles have to worry that the DOJ might send the FBI or NSA to find them?

Just asking.

-- theBuckWheat

Wednesday, February 03, 2016 2:55:00 am  

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