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Free Speech

             A parody in Hustler magazine owned by Larry Flint made for a disgruntled Reverend Jerry Falwell. Claiming the excerpt caused emotional distress, Mr. Falwell sought 200,000$ in punitive damages. After establishing the magazine's content was protected under the Constitution 1st Amendment, the Supreme Court reversed the decision leaving the reverend empty-handed and a bruised public image.
             Shouting 'Fire' in a crowded theatre is a typical analogy used in freedom of speech cases. Making such a bogus claim is considered unlawful. Schenck v. United States was the case that gave the "fire" phrase notoriety. The general secretary for the Socialist Party in Philadelphia, Charles Schenck, along with Elizabeth Baer, were found guilty by a jury for attempting to cause insubordination among drafted soldiers in WWI. The two circulated pamphlets to soldiers urging them not to "submit to intimidation" by participating in a war that was controlled by "Wall Street's chosen few. The court ruled the leaflets content was intended to influence men to resist the draft. Justice Holmes acknowledged that the defendants would have been within their legal rights had it not been for the time and current controversy. Justice Holmes further supported their decision by adding, "the character of every act depends up on the circumstances in which it is done." Furthermore, "The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre, and causing panic. It does not even protect a man from an injunction against uttering words that may have all the effect of force." Mr. Holmes believed the pamphlet posed a clear and present danger that obstructed the duties of soldiers who were fighting a war to secure our rights and liberties.
             What is the extent the government can take in suppressing free speech? The government does have logical arguments for limiting free speech for safety and security matters of the nation.

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