Freedom of speech is not to commit a crime

Freedom of speech is not to commit a crime

The first Amendment to the Constitution reads: “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech.” The Supreme Court has ruled that speech can be regulated if it presents “a clear and present danger, or incites imminent lawless action.” Speech that directly leads to a dangerous situation or promotes lawlessness is a criminal act. Hate crimes, as an example, are a criminal act and against the law. The question arises, however, as to whether speech that can or does motivate others to commit crimes is in itself unlawful, and whether such acts that do not directly lead to violence, fall under the ruling of “imminent lawless action.” Consider that values vary from generation to generation and the public generally does not want regulation that interferes in the marketplace of ideas. The public generally balks where violence, injury and death are the direct result of aggressive harassment. The public always has a right to ‘boo” behavior or demand civil decency. Hate, however, is not free speech. Hate inspires violence. Anyone who promotes hate is a “clear and present danger and an inciter of imminent lawless action.” Terms such as “Creeping Political Correctness” that denigrate public intolerance are absurd. Demonizing common decency and correct behavior is simply an excuse to abuse it. Intolerance is wrong, but bigotry can be an example of common political expression, or it can be an instrument of violence depending on its results. Intent is vague concept and not a suitable criterion for legislative regulation. Any speech, however, that can be judged as a cause and effect act of violence should be considered a crime and its perpetrator a criminal offender. Richard Dorsey. Hacienda Heights, CA.

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