First Amendment and Speech

I believe it is time for a public information notice reminding everyone the actual text of the First Amendment as it applies to speech:

Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech

It does NOT say:

No citizen may ever experience any negative consequences from their speech

This is the reason the reminder seems necessary


  1. gadfly:

    This technical argument might fall into the category of splitting hairs.

    There is, of course, good evidence that it really matters as to which side of the political spectrum you live as to whether or not there exists a consequence to imprudent speech.

    The Popehat folks jumped all over two politically conservative women one of whom spoke a word that is acceptable in the 'hood when spoken by a brother or a sister ... but has been banned elsewhere by liberals with a guilt complex because their ancestors were slave owners.

    If the Popehat folks missed some "bad-mouthing" that is apparently perfectly acceptable, they need only look to Rachel Maddow and Mike Malloy who hide from libel and slander laws by directing their venom against famous conservatives.

  2. Gil:

    Does that means someone can be legitimately punched in the nose for verbally insulting someone? I would say yes. However others would imply "shall make no law" says people should be able to say and print what ever the heck they what regardless of its contents. After all what of the laws to do with libel, slander, threats of violence, copyrighs, patents, trademarks, etc., and the 1st Amendment?

  3. Patrick:

    gadfly, this isn't a libel case. That would raise a First Amendment issue.

    As for Maddow and Malloy, when they claim that their free speech rights are being violated by simple criticism or an advertiser boycott, that would post them in the category of Dr. Laura and Sarah Palin. The people at the Popehat blog don't have a problem with bad-mouthing (I know - I'm one of them) at all. They bad-mouth people all the time.

    What they do have a problem with is whiners, of which you're a first class example.

  4. wilky:

    Patrick, you guys have a problem with whiners, but bad mouthers are fine? Funny, I've always found that bad mouthers, at their core, are whiners with a mean streak. But in the end who cares, neither one of them are considered classy individuals.

  5. EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy:

    The question of legitimacy of a modest violet reaction to direct insults is, of course, one of social convention.

    In a strict reading of the law, that punch is both a tort and a criminal act, and has been for time out of mind. It's just that, as long as the actual injury was slight saying "Well, he called my wife a..." was sufficient to dodge criminal prosecution and net a minimal civil settlement ("We find for the plaintiff and award a sum of one dollar for damages"), because there was a social convention concerning "asking for it".

    Obviously this can be taken to an extreme which basically negates the idea of rule of law, and less obviously it does not work well in a multi-cultural environment unless the cultures have been living together long enough for the everyone to be clear on what the limits are with each subset. It also fails in the presence of steep class distinctions or power differentials.

    Maybe we could do with a little more social correction. But not a lot. The biggest and best weapon against the endemic of whinging is to point and laugh at people who really deserve it.

  6. gadfly:


    I was not surprised that your response to my post adopted the liberal meme. Predictably, you adopted an attack response dedicated to belittling your chosen adversary rather than discussing my point. My post was not a whine by any definition and your vague instructional references as to when and if Maddow-Malloy conversations and public broadcasting misconduct would approach libel is insulting at best.

    Perhaps some examples of your history of attacking liberal broadcasters, politicians and the press would be more instructive in making your implied point that you are an equal opportunity bad-mouther.

  7. Patrick:

    Unlikely gadfly, as I'm not a conservative. I'm a libertarian. I worry far more about policemen and politicians than about airheads on cable news channels that I never watch.

    As for who I badmouth, you need merely put on your ruby red slippers, click on my name (three times), and you can see for yourself. I've been badmouthing people there for three years, so there'll be a lot of trash to wade through.

  8. Mesa Econoguy:

    Nancy Pelosi sez:

    Congress shall make any law it sees fit, abridging the freedom of speech.

    Nancy is an ignorant pig.

  9. Ken:

    This technical argument might fall into the category of splitting hairs.

    The difference between government prohibition and private condemnation is a "technical" one that amounts to "splitting hairs?"


    So -- aren't you violating Patrick's First Amendment rights by criticizing him?