Thomas I. Emerson Quote

“It is frequently said that speech that is intentionally provocative and therefore invites physical retaliation can be punished or suppressed. Yet, plainly no such general proposition can be sustained. Quite the contrary…. The provocative nature of the communication does not make it any the less expression. Indeed, the whole theory of free expression contemplates that expression will in many circumstances be provocative and arouse hostility. The audience, just as the speaker, has an obligation to maintain physical restraint.”

~ Thomas I. Emerson

The System of Freedom of Expression, 1970

Ratings and Comments

Mike, Norwalk

We hold this truth to be self evident. Hate speech criminalization is just another tool of despotism, tyranny, and the statist theocracy.

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Anon    11/20/09

Laws against any type of speech is suppression of thought and once they have one law more of such controls will follow and be caught up in the net called antisocial behavior. To speak of such things that make others 'uncomfortable' will be criminal.

Waffler, Smith

Sticks and stones will break my bones but names or words will never hurt me even though lies and distortions can be painful. Still violence is verboten take 'em to court under libel laws.

J Carlton, Calgary

Try exercising free speech outside a G20 meeting and see how fast you invite violence.

E Archer, NYC

Yeah, we can say whatever we want as long as we do not cause any one to act. Our dissent must be limited to opinion only -- that is fine, just don't try and change anything. ;-) The message from government is clear: shut up and do as you're told or else.

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RBESRQ    11/20/09

I love the theory and I'll give it 4 stars for intent.

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    Publius    11/21/09

    So, by this theory, radical calls to violence are acceptable, it is the individuals responsibility to listen, discern and not react violently. As an open standard, this makes child porn perfectly acceptable, just like yelling fire in a crowded theater.

    Anonymous, Vidor

    It is my hope, that my words spark confrontation.To ignite a serious debate,through words that inflict pain and thought!

    Mike, Norwalk

    Publius, the quote concerns speech. Child porn is not speech but, a physical violence of a most heinous nature. Said child porn participants should face capital punishment in my estimation. The viewer of such child porn then becomes an accessory, somewhat similar in effect to a stranger being hired to drive a get away car in a bank holdup. If you'd like the legal specifics why your yelling fire in a crowded theater" is not the same as the quote's sentiment, I can explain that to you also. Publius, would your last name happen to be Neocon?

    Waffler, Smith

    Good job Mike, good job. I am right with you on your comments. Archer well he as usual is off base. Our opinons taken together, in a democracy, do become policy. His interest in doing more is simply the interest of the terrorist or dictatior who is not happy having his fair say along with everyone else but wishes to be the bully on the block. Democracy takes patience and tinkering around the edges.

    Ronw13, Yachats Or

    My o My, To the intent of observing when and where violence will erupt. When the yoke of oppression becomes to burdensome. It is a very methodical approach to empirical science taking place, to understand how Divine providence ( intervention ) takes place. Obviously things can be hid in plain sight. But How, is what is wanted to be known. " How forcible are right words ! " ( Job ). Pungent and vehement are the punctuation used. As with gravity, little " g " gods wish to control something totally out of their control, human nature. Publius is on point, the condoning of unethical behavior is part of the experiment. Many elements are involved. In this nation God no doubt is involved from the start !

    jim k, Austin

    Freedom of speech is okay except in universities. Speech is fine unless it conflicts with the current agenda at colleges.


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