Re: End of all Open Source.

From: Olathe (Olathe_at_DALnet.irc)
Date: 11/24/03


Date: Sun, 23 Nov 2003 23:02:35 -0600

Barry Margolin wrote:

> Free speech is not an absolute, and there are limits. The usual examples
> are yelling "fire" in a crowded theatre when there's no fire and
> slander/libel. In this case, national security is presumably the reason
> for the limit.

I think that free speech is an absolute, but you can be held responsible
for other things that happen to be caused by speech. For instance, if
someone says they are going to hit me, I can charge them with assault.
They were free to say the words, but they aren't free to threaten me
with physical violence (by word or action) because I have the right to
self-defense (including asking a court to place them in jail).

In the case of yelling "Fire" in a crowded theater, it's not so much
that the speech is restricted as causing a panic/destruction of
property/etc. is restricted.

You might think that I'm making distinctions that don't matter, but it's
a lot harder for those in power to start restricting unharmful speech
(that they happen to disagree with) if they can't reasonably use the
argument you did. My reasoning takes the emotional focus off of the
speech and puts it on the actions that caused harm (assault, inciting a
panic, property damage, etc.) and STILL allows you to convict someone
based on what they said.



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