Our Constitution says that we have the right to say anything we want, with exceptions. People don’t seem to understand this.
You can’t use speech to cause riots, panic, or other harm. For instance, you can’t leap up and scream “FIRE, FIRE” in a crowded theater. It could cause a panic run for the exits that would get people trampled to death. You can’t go creating public disturbances, it’s against the law everywhere to disturb the peace. You can’t verbally threaten the lives of people.
You can lie about others and slander their names without being jailed for it, but you can be sued for slander in civil court, so slandering speech is only free until someone sues you for doing it.
The issue of Free Speech has been coming up frequently lately in our politics, especially regarding social media sites which appear to be doing some censoring of postings on the candidates. Social media sites are private companies and they can censor anything they like, anytime, just as I do here on Newsbleat when someone posts some comment that I think is patent bullshit or otherwise not to my liking. People have bitched at me, saying that I’m violating Freedom of Speech. I am not, Newsbleat is MY freedom of speech, not anyone elses. It goes back to the old saying that if you want a free press you need to own one.
Protesters disrupting speakers, drowning them out with noise, is not protected Free Speech. It’s Disturbing the Peace. Although they’re usually allowed to get away with it, they are violating the law. If it happens on private property the protester can be removed for trespassing. This is why Trump was in his legal rights to call for the removal of various protesters at some of his rallies. It’s simple. If I pay to rent an auditorium, I get to say who comes in the doors and who has to leave.
The protesters at these events seem to think that they can say and do anything as long as they don’t commit assault, under the shield of Free Speech, and they’re wrong. The people they’re harassing have a Constitutional Right as well and it’s called Freedom of Assembly, which also has certain limitations, the most important being PEACEFUL assembly. Even in a public place, if the assembly is peaceful and protesters are noisy and disruptive, the police have the right and obligation to remove the protesters and charge them with Disturbing the Peace.
People need to remember that our Constitution’s laws are designed to maintain a peaceful society, not allow one that is disruptive under some misconception that everyone gets to freely annoy everyone else if they feel like it. That’s not how it is.