Episode 13: How Free is Free Speech?

How Free is Free Speech?
Hate Speech is Free Speech.

This week Ann, Dan, and Afro Becky discuss Freedom of Speech and its limitations (or lack thereof).

First a very brief look at Net Neutrality and how its reversal can affect content creators, their audiences, and change the internet as we know it. If the FCC reverses Net Neutrality, all data on the internet has the potential to not be treated equally without paying a premium. It’s our theory that both ISPs and the new FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai, a former Verizon attorney have a lot to gain financially if Net Neutrality is reversed.

Freedom of Speech. How free is free? There are very few limitations when it comes to free speech. In the case of the Texas woman with the decal on the back of her pickup truck that reads, “F Trump and F you too if you voted  for him,” she is protected by the First Amendment. Profanity is not prohibited whether its spoken, in print, or as in this woman’s case, a political statement. Can you use profanity towards or around law enforcement? Absolutely. Cursing is not a crime and is protected by the First Amendment. The only thing that isn’t protected is something that would cause a person to believe they will become injured or their life is in danger. This would include things like yelling fire in a crowded movie theater, talking about bombs at airports, or talking about shooting at a school. Aside from these examples there is a more obscure limitation which is defined as obscenity. Obscenity is however not clearly defined and there are no examples of obscenity that we could come across.

We also take a look at some examples from around the world where speech isn’t free and comes with harsh punishments if you’re caught violating that country’s laws.

Ask an Attorney:

  1. Can you evict an abusive spouse that co-owns the property?
  2. What are the differences between Federal Court, State Court, and Small Claims Court?