Free speech

Dennis Putnam dap1 at MINDSPRING.COM
Thu Dec 23 17:28:42 MST 1999


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At 12:19 AM 12/23/99 -0500, you wrote:
>  SNIP
>We all know (or should) that you cannot yell "fire" in a crowded
>building, or libel another.
>  SNIP

This is a common misconception about the 1st. Yelling "fire" in a
crowded theater is not a 1st amendment issue. Indeed, strictly
speaking it is protected speech. However, when there are consequences
that result in harm to others it becomes a criminal and civil issue.
If one uses the 1st amendment to defend this action, an intellegent
judge would tell the defendant that, "yes, you certainly had the
right to say that however, you are also fully liable for the
consequences." In otherwords you cannot pass a law that specifically
prohibits one from yelling 'fire' in a crowded theater. That would be
unconstitutional. However, you can hold that person legally
responsible for any and all damages as well as responsible for
various criminal acts such as inciting a riot, reckless endangerment,
etc.

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Dennis Putnam                   Public Key can be obtained from:
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