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Friday, April 27, 2012

5 Myths about Free Speech

I support the goals of the Occupy Movement but I also think it's important to understand the law with regard to what is and is not permissible.  One of my favorite legal writers has a terrific post on the Verdict.Justicia.com site.  Much as there is considerable confusion over the difference between "free exercise" and "establishment" with regard to religion, there are myths surrounding free speech (as Snyder discovered in Snyder v Phelps.)

To sum up:

Myth No. 1:  The Expressive Intent or Motive of the Protestor Is the Most Important Factor in Determining Whether His/Her Speech Can Constitutionally Be Prohibited.


Myth No. 2:  Laws Regulating the “Time, Place and Manner” of Speech in a Content-Neutral Way Are Unimportant or Are a Pretext for Speech Suppression, and Thus Do Not Really Need to Be Enforced.


Myth Number 3:  Expressive Conduct Is Treated No Differently Than Pure Speech Is.


Myth Number 4:  The Authorities Could, if They So Chose, Cut Protestors a Break When the Protestors Are Trying to Speak Out on Important Issues to Accomplish Just Results.


Myth Number 5:  Even if Rules Have to Be Enforced By Ordinary Governments, University Campuses Are Special Places Where More Expressive Conduct Should Be Permitted.



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