mind your business

Friday, June 11, 2010

Well, “Good” Free Speech is Ok…

Last year as Solicitor General, current Supreme Court Justice nominee Elena Kagan argued in U.S. v. Stevens that, “Whether a given category of speech enjoys First Amendment protection, depends upon a categorical balancing of the value of the speech against its societal costs.”

Are you kidding me?

I assume at first blush you are all as grossly appalled as I was regarding that frightening, liberty-crushing statement. Yet, let’s think about this.

Take the whole “yelling ‘fire’ in a movie theater” example. The state has limited that free speech precisely because of the societal costs. There is arguably no benefit in yelling “fire” when there is not one, except to gain some kudos from the rest of your teenage friends. And there is a serious negative effect that could occur through people stampeding each other in a rush to make it out the door first.

Now, regardless of whether or not you think this kind of free speech should be protected, it currently is not. And perhaps, examples like this are simply what Kagan is referring to.

But that’s giving her a huge benefit of the doubt. And I’m more terrified of her now than ever.

By: Eric Olsen, Regular Columnist
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