so what does “freedom of speech” mean? it has become increasingly clear that many people are very much against “freedom of speech” as it currently stands. many people publicly take the position that everyone should be able to speak freely if they are not offended by what is said, though i’m sure they wouldn’t claim that is their position. specifically coming to mind here are those who say NAMBLA should be prosecuted for promoting the abolishment of age-of-consent laws, or that pro-marijuana ads shouldn’t be allowed in public fora.
so where is the line commonly drawn? justice holmes’s fire in a crowded theatre analogy comes to mind, certainly. last summer, SCOTUS allowed the conviction of a man who burned a cross on private property, with the owner’s permission, under anti-terrorism laws. if you advocate the breaking of the law, you can be charged with disturbing the peace. libel and slander are not protected by freedom of speech. so it seems to me that you are allowed to say whatever you want, so long as your words don’t break any existing laws. but the first phrase of the first amendment is “congress shall make no law…”? that doesn’t seem like a reasonable place to draw the line.
so, on to the questions: should freedom of all speech be protected or should only certain types be? if you opt for the latter, where is the line drawn, and why? if you opt for the former, what do you mean by “freedom of speech”?