The Lt. Governor of Pennsylvania says that the First Amendment does not protect people who claim the election was stolen. According to him, freedom of speech means the ability to “talk all day about what [your] favorite football team is,” but no one has the right to say “incendiary lies” about the election.

He uses the “fire in a theater” excuse, which is a load of bullshit. As I have written here before:

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote the most well-known, misquoted, and misused phrase in Supreme Court history: “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.”

Without fail, whenever any controversy about limiting people’s rights comes up, someone will misquote this phrase as proof of limits on the right to free speech, then use that as support for their claim that all rights have limits. Whatever that controversy may be, the law can then be interpreted to mean that we should limit the rights of the people. Holmes’ quote has become a crutch for every would be tyrant in America.

Go read the case where the phrase originated before using it as your argument. I will wait. The case is U.S. v. Schenck, and it was so bad that was overturned more than 50 years ago.

The case had nothing to do with fires or theaters or false statements. Instead, the Court was deciding whether Charles Schenck, the Secretary of the Socialist Party of America, could be convicted under the Espionage Act for writing and distributing a pamphlet that expressed his opposition to the draft during World War I. The case didn’t call for violence. It did not even call for civil disobedience. It simply urged people to vote out any politician who supported it.

The crowded theater remark that everyone likes to trot out was an analogy Holmes made before issuing the court’s holding. He was explaining that the First Amendment is not absolute. The actual ruling, that the pamphlet posed a “clear and present danger” to a nation at war, landed Schenk in prison. That case, along with two others, was used to toss people in prison for daring to oppose or speak out against President Wilson’s policies.

The case was effectively overturned in 1969, with the Supreme Court’s decision in Brandenburg v. Ohio. In that case, the Court held that inflammatory speech, even speech advocating violence by members of the Ku Klux Klan, is protected under the First Amendment, unless the speech “is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.” Sound familiar? This is why they can’t do shit about what President Trump had to say on January 6, nor can they legally shut down the speech of the right. So instead, they are allowing large megacorporations to have monopolies on the digital town square, they coopting them into performing the censorship for them.


TechieDude · August 5, 2022 at 7:42 am

The reason for the first ammendment was exactly that – to protect political speech. If you can’t get that simple concept, you have no business being in politics.

Big Ruckus D · August 5, 2022 at 10:42 am

We are past the point of opposing speech being useful for dealing with sanctimonious cocksuckers like this guy. Just feed him to feral pigs so he can be turned into the pile of shit he already is. Problem solved, and not a word need be spoken (or written) to get it done. Don’t even need any rights for that, just a moral imperative to give tyrants what they deserve.

Chiquita Good Banana · August 5, 2022 at 11:57 am

Truth fears no investigation and only banana republics have political prisoners.
As for censorship, I want to hear every opinion and then I’ll decide without some apparatchik middle man doing the thinking for me.

Steve S · August 5, 2022 at 12:47 pm

So we know he’s a cheater.

Aesop · August 5, 2022 at 5:46 pm

Here’s a better quote, exactly in context:

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.

The latter would include any elected government official violating their oath of office by advocating the restriction of pre-existing unalienable God-given Constitutional rights.

They can either STFU and desist, or take their chances with a handy rope and a convenient overhead anchor point.

The only flaw to date with the Bill of Rights was that it didn’t specify exactly such punishments for violations of those rights within the text, enforceable by whoever got to the perpetrator first.

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