Free Speech In America Today
Free speech is one of the most cherished rights in America. But what are the limitations on that speech? It is worth noting in These volatile times that ignoring the restrictions on free speech could lead to legal woes.
The highly publicized trials of Alex Jones, who spent about a decade spewing lies about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, resulted in Jones being ordered to fork over hundreds of millions of dollars to the families of victims in both compensatory and punitive damages. Jones argued that he was being prosecuted simply for using his First Amendment right to free speech. And while it’s true that the First Amendment protects what we say, even when it’s untrue, offensive, or cruel, it does not protect against defamatory speech. Sandy Hook families were able to press civil charges against Jones for defamation, and juries agreed that his words were not protected.
Speech that is not protected by the First Amendment
The fact of the matter is, there are several types of speech that are not protected by the Constitution. These include:
- Defamation and libel;
- Child pornography;
- Criminal threats;
- Unlawful assembly;
- Refusing to disperse once police direct one to do so;
- Obstruction of a law-enforcement officer.
What about hate speech?
We’re hearing more and more about hate speech these days. While there is no legal definition for hate speech, most people recognize that it encompasses any speech that is demeaning or insulting to a particular group and that is based on sexual orientation, religion, race, disability, or gender. Speech directed toward particular subgroups like these is not protected by the First Amendment in this country
.How about symbols?
The Supreme Court has ruled that protesters may be involved in highly controversial actions such as burning the American flag. Such behavior is protected by the First Amendment, even though many in this country find such behavior to be abominable. On the other hand, it is unlawful to use a symbol to threaten others. What about wearing a Confederate flag or a swastika if people feel threatened by those items? This is essentially a gray area, and each case is determined on its own merits.
Have your first amendment rights been violated?
Just because someone may not agree with your speech, it does not take away your right to that speech. If you’ve been charged with crimes in violation of your First Amendment rights, you need a Kissimmee criminal defense attorney who’s willing to go to bat for you. At Salazar & Kelly Law Group, our goal is to fight for the best possible outcomes for you. Schedule a confidential consultation in our office today.