“Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
"The price of freedom of religion, or of speech, or of the press, is that we must put up with a good deal of rubbish." Robert H. Jackson
Freedom of Speech, how far does it go? What are the limits? Should there be limits? What is the responsibility of law enforcement.
It would seem contradictory that we have such a clear statement from the Bill of Rights when compared with laws such inciting a riot, harassment, and even treason. Colorado Revised Statutes 18-11-201 Advocating overthrow of government is a class 5 felony.
Reasonable limits were set of Free Speech in 1919 with the decision written by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic. [...] The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent."
So apply that statement to the following story
Please note the source: The American Conservative
When Bush came to the Pittsburgh area on Labor Day 2002, 65-year-old retired steel worker Bill Neel was there to greet him with a sign proclaiming, “The Bush family must surely love the poor, they made so many of us.” The local police, at the Secret Service’s behest, set up a “designated free-speech zone” on a baseball field surrounded by a chain-link fence a third of a mile from the location of Bush’s speech. The police cleared the path of the motorcade of all critical signs, though folks with pro-Bush signs were permitted to line the president’s path. Neel refused to go to the designated area and was arrested for disorderly conduct; the police also confiscated his sign. Neel later commented, “As far as I’m concerned, the whole country is a free speech zone. If the Bush administration has its way, anyone who criticizes them will be out of sight and out of mind.”
I couldn’t say it better myself so I will say it again “As far as I’m concerned, the whole country is a free speech zone.”
For those of us on the front lines of law enforcement will always be put in difficult positions. We are the most visible face of the government. When the powers that be overstep their authority, they will delegate it to us.
The Democratic National Convention will be in Denver August 25-28 2007. The organizers (www.08DNC.com) and the protesters (www.recreate68.com) are working diligently for this event.
Decisions about my department’s involvement in the DNC are being made far above my pay grade. I get to do what I am told or face the consequences. I am talking to the command and asking about these issues. I may be a pawn in the big scheme by I can ask questions and make by concerns known over coffee and a doughnut. When the big day comes, we will all make decisions and we will live with the consequences.
In order for our American society to work we need more expression. As much as I personally think that Swaggartt, Dobson and Haggard the rest of God’s little helpers are causing unbelievable damage to the country, I will support their right to speak and I will sit here on my little blog and speak because the cure for bad speech is more speech.
"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." Evelyn Beatrice Hall, writing as S. G. Tallentyre in 1906 (commonly attributed to Voltaire, of whom Hall wrote a biography).