Hindus and Baptists
MAULE at LAW.VILLANOVA.EDU
Fri Oct 22 19:11:08 PDT 1999
Someone help polish my understanding:
Words that cause someone reasonably to think that he or she needs to act violently in order to prevent or terminate physical harm to himself or herself and who has no other recourse are words that are not (and should not be) protected by the First Amendment.
Words that cause someone to be angry, sad, insulted, disappointed, annoyed, or offended, [add more] do not lose First Amendment protection simply because the person hearing them might channel or could channel the anger, sadness, offense, disappointment or annoyance into violence. That the person hearing these words lacks civilized self-control is no reason to shift the burden back to the speaker to maintain a comfortable atmosphere for the person hearing the words, even if the speaker KNOWS (or has reason to know) that the person hearing the words will be angered, saddened, insuleted, disappointed, annoyed, or offended by the words.
I apply a totally different approach to poking sticks at wild animals. I'm unwilling to extend the analogy to speech. Though I can equate the speaker in many instances to the stick-poker (idiot, fool, etc), the analogy won't work unless I equate the person hearing the words to a wild animal. I don't want to do that (though at times I'm tempted).
Professor of Law
Villanova University School of Law
Villanova, PA 19085
maule at law.vill.edu
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