Free Speech

January 26, 2013 at 3:42 pm | Posted in Conceited, Enemies of Freedom, Fairness, Privacy | Leave a comment
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Campaign signs in Apex, North Carolina, 20 July 2004, photographed by Seth Ilys.

Campaign signs in Apex, North Carolina, 20 July 2004, photographed by Seth Ilys.

It is not just what you say, but also where and how you say it.

The Bill of Rights protects your right to urge a balanced budget, or the outlawing of abortion, or the imprudence of your county wanting to build a toll road, or that every adult be required to carry a loaded gun at all times.

It does not allow you to force me to listen.

It does not allow you to barge into the home of Chief Justice John Roberts, or into that of President Obama, or into mine, to force any of us to listen to you.

It does not allow you to barge into a session of Congress, or a courtroom, or a government office, or a movie theater, or a store, or a church, or a wedding, or a funeral, to force those present to listen to you, or even to hear you.

You can display your opinion on a sign on your own property, or publish it in print or online, but you can’t oblige me to read it or listen to it.  You can’t even force me to look at it.

You cannot constrain how I use my time, nor where I direct my attention, nor what I think about.

That is why it was reasonable for Magistrate Judge Karen Howze to ban Rives Grogan from the District of Columbia until his court date, and why the objections to the ban by the Rutherford Institute and others is misguided.  See here, here, here, and here, for description of the event and the Judge’s order, and for views opposite to mine.  Public Safety isn’t the issue in this case.  The issue here is people’s right to not have their time and attention hijacked against their will.

The principles above also show that Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church’s picketing of funerals goes beyond the limits of protected free speech.

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