Free speech in America is not fully what most of us think it is.
In the United States one can’t simply say anything to anyone in any circumstance without expecting repercussions, retribution, and fallout. Yet, we all think it should be that way.
Mouth off at the local punk? He may kick your ass. Talk back to a parent? You may get punished. Tell your boss to fuck off? You could get fired. Call for a violent revolt? You may get arrested.
Free speech is our cherished right under the United States Constitution. The First Amendment. It allows you to say a lot of things without fear of being jailed by the government. Want to tell the US president to get lost or curse at a policeman? You have that luxury.
“However,” notes Maclen Stanley, author of the Law Says What? Stuff You Didn’t Know About The Law (But Really Should!) :”the First Amendment doesn’t give you an unlimited right to say anything you want, whenever you want to say it. This is a common misconception, as the freedom of speech is not absolute.”
Stanley goes onto to point out numerous categories of things Americans can get in trouble for saying, such as:
- False Statements
Libel (written defamation) and slander (spoken
defamation) are no-nos. For example, you can’t publish a story about your
friend’s girlfriend’s fake case of Monkey Pox.
threats of physical violence are typically not protected. A threat of violence
directed at a former or current US president can be a felony.
Saying things that lead others to commit an act
of violence is also a crime.
that is intended to provoke the imminent incitement of lawless action and be
likely to actually provoke such an action could be a crime.
Speech Owned By Others
If you plagiarize or violate copyright laws or
trademarked works, you are a criminal.
Lewd or Obscene Speech
that is overly lewd or obscure is not protected. Such speech must be shameful
or reflect a morbid interest in sex and lack any literary, artistic, political,
or scientific value.
Stanley notes: “Speech can be restricted if the government has a compelling interest in doing so.” He also points out: “Private individuals and private businesses can ban whatever type of speech they please.”
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About Brian Feinblum
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@theprexpert. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2022. Born and
raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester with his wife, two kids, and
Ferris, a black lab rescue dog. His writings are often featured in The
Writer and IBPA’s The Independent. This blog, with
over 4,000 posts over the past decade, was named one of the best book marketing
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the past three decades, including 21 as the head of marketing for the nation’s
largest book publicity firm, and two jobs at two independent presses, Brian has
worked with many first-time, self-published, authors of all genres, right along
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Jeff Foxworthy, Seth Godin, and Henry Winkler. He recently hosted a
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Sarah Lawrence College, Nonfiction Writers Association, Cape Cod Writers
Association, Willamette (Portland) Writers Association, and Connecticut Authors
and Publishers Association. His letters-to-the-editor have been published
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