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It’s Our Constitutional Right (5)

September 24, 2012

     When I think of the U.S. Constitution, I immediately that of freedom of speech. I guess that is my first association I had with the Constitution which is appropriate, as it is our first amendment. I have learned that there is more to the First Amendment than I thought. I always thought that you could say what you wanted, when  you wanted and not get in trouble. Also, I learned that the freedom of speech protects oral, written and symbolic speech but not conduct. There are 3 categories under freedom of speech. They are fully protected speech, limited protected speech and unprotected speech. Congress has also found challenges with free speech in the internet.

freedom of speech

freedom of speech (Photo credit: iranian cartoonist)

Who would think that so much can come under freedom of speech? I am a little confused by symbolic speech. If a person burns the American flag as a protest, then it is considered a symbolic speech and is fully protected. Yet, the act of burning the flag is the conduct of the person(s) and  this conduct is protected. Go figure.     I am also having a difficulty understanding the difference between offensive speech which has limited protection and  speech  that incites violent which is considered unprotected speech. To me, some offensive speech can incite a riot or someone to be angry and retaliate. Also offensive speeches can have words that provoke a hostile response. In what category would a hate speech fall?  

With society becoming more liberal, soon there will be a fine line between protected and unprotected speech.

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