Most Read
    Image 01 Image 02 Image 03

    Empowering people who start fires to define freedom of speech is how freedom of speech dies

    Empowering people who start fires to define freedom of speech is how freedom of speech dies

    The inability to distinguish between those who set fires and those who criticize those who set fires

    An Op-Ed by Sarah Chayes in The Los Angeles Times, ‘Innocence of Muslims’ doesn’t meet free-speech test sets forth the standard by which freedom of speech dies in this country:

    In one of the most famous 1st Amendment cases in U.S. history, Schenck vs. United States, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. established that the right to free speech in the United States is not unlimited. “The most stringent protection,” he wrote on behalf of a unanimous court, “would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic.” …

    In Afghanistan, and in all of the Arab nations in transition, an extremist fringe is brawling for power with a more pluralistic majority. Radicals pounce on any pretext to play on religious feeling….  By providing extremists in Libya and elsewhere such an opportunity, the makers of “Innocence of Muslims” were playing into their hands.

    As for imminence, the timeline of similar events after recent burnings of religious materials indicates that reactions typically come within two weeks. Nakoula’s video was deliberately publicized just before the sensitive date of Sept. 11, and could be expected to spark violence on that anniversary.

    While many 1st Amendment scholars defend the right of the filmmakers to produce this film, arguing that the ensuing violence was not sufficiently imminent, I spoke to several experts who said the trailer may well fall outside constitutional guarantees of free speech. “Based on my understanding of the events,” 1st Amendment authority Anthony Lewis said in an interview Thursday, “I think this meets the imminence standard.”

    Finally, much 1st Amendment jurisprudence concerns speech explicitly advocating violence, such as calls to resist arrest, or videos explaining bomb-making techniques. But words don’t have to urge people to commit violence in order to be subject to limits, says Lewis. “If the result is violence, and that violence was intended, then it meets the standard.”

    Empowering the people who start fires to determine what we can and cannot say is how freedom of speech dies in this country.

    We already are pretty far down that path.

    Update: Sarah Chayes, author of the piece in question, emails:

    Dear Prof. Jacobson:

    Just for the sake of precision, could you put the accurate headline for my LA Times piece on your blog? I never said “Innocence of Muslims” doesn’t meet First Amendment standards, I said it may not. As you doubtless know, authors don’t get to write their own headlines, and the LA Times has corrected it, so it now reads as a question. In the print version it was “free speech or incitement?”

    For the record,the headline the LA Times now has on it’s website is NOT the original headline. I accurately quoted what originally was on the LA Times website.


    Donations tax deductible
    to the full extent allowed by law.



    TeaPartyPatriot4ever | September 18, 2012 at 11:31 pm

    This was a pre-planned coordinated attack, whom subversive elements within the US govt, helped them, the radical Al-Queda and Muslim Brotherhood affiliated radical islamists, to use this film to stir up the “in response angry mob” violence as a ruse for political cover, for islamists and Obama to blame as a scapegoat.. Resulting in the rape and murder of our US Ambassador and 3 other diplomatic staffers in Libya, as well as all the other Tet offensive style attacks upon American Embassies in the middle east, on the anniversary of 911.

    And the so called mainstream media complex, aka Obama’s pravda propaganda praetorian media guards, have been givin their marching orders to run with it in defense of Obama- their Fuhrer-in-Chief, against all the factual evidence that says otherwise..

    They’re not fooling anyone but themselves..

    All part of the plan.

    DHS just ordered almost 2 billion rounds of ammunition for domestic use.

    How many rounds did you order?

    The idea that ruthless, lawless fascists are going to relinquish power simply over an election is as absurd as Obama’s election in the first place.

    Mark my words: there will be martial law if Obama loses the election.

    And you’d better not just prepare by sitting around waiting.

    But then again, we have John Boehner on our side.

    ibuckshot | September 19, 2012 at 7:53 am

    “The inability to distinguish between those who set fires and those who criticize those who set fires”

    Its come to my attention that Professor Jacobson is guilty of this himself, banning those that are critical of fire starters and using the opportunity to extract control over freedom of speech.


    stellarjo | September 19, 2012 at 9:56 am

    Here’s an alternate scenario;

    An abortion doctor performs an abortion at an abortion clinic. An anti-abortion extremist hears this and then bombs that abortion clinic. Some innocent bystanders get killed in the blast. Do we claim the doctor, the nurses and/or the patient violated the 1st Amendment because they incited violence?

    While that scenario seems pretty far-fetched, this is what seems to be happening to me right now with this video “controversy”. The Muslims in other countries use this video as a reason to protest and riot (which would have happened no matter which party was in control of the WH). But because we have a situation that potentially damages the Democrat President, Democrat supporters rally. These supporters do all they can to divert attention away from him by claiming the video is the reason for the rioters/violence. And because of the violence the video creator has somehow violated the 1st Amendment, Imminence Standard.

    Both scenarios seem pretty ridiculous to me, but because Barack Obama is in a fight for reelection, we get these absurd 1st Amendment violation posts/articles.

    Also, why haven’t we heard of the many US Muslims who have rioted? Oh right…

    Leave a Comment

    Leave a Reply

    You must be logged in to post a comment.

    Notify me of followup comments via e-mail (or subscribe without commenting.)

    Font Resize
    Contrast Mode
    Send this to a friend