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There's no constitutional free speech protection for inciting terrorism; Google-YouTube and NYT are off-base

The New York Times in it's Sunday editorial: "Joe Lieberman, Would-Be Censor" needs to go back to school on what is "constitutionally protected free speech," because they obviously don't understand the full Constitution or context.  

  • The brouhaha here is that Senate Homeland Security Chairman wrote a letter to Google-YouTube requesting that they take down terrorist content "intended to encourage violence against the West." (My first post on this is here.)
  • Almost immediately, Google-YouTube essentially stiff-armed the Senate Homeland Security Committee in a blog post that said no to most of their request. (My second post on this is here.)

I suggest the New York Times editorial board and Google-YouTube go back to the Constitution, which importantly protects freedom of speech in the First Amendment, but also makes the Supreme Court in Article III, the essential final arbiter of what the Constitution says and means in everyday life -- not the New York Times or Google-YouTube authority-wannabes.

My disagreement with the NYT editorial is it incorrectly claims that Chairman Lieberman's request of Google is the equivalent of "telling a media company to shut down constitutionally-protected free speech."

  • As I noted in my previous blog on this topic, the Supreme Court free speech decision (U.S. v. Williams) just last week affirmed that: "Offers to engage in illegal transactions are categorically excluded from First Amendment protection."
  • The terrorist content at issue here is intended to encourage the spread and incitement of violence -- and therefore is not "constitutionally protected free speech."

The New York Times editorialists are being irresponsibly dismissive of legitimate and widely recognized reasons of why a free and democratic society may need to limit free speech

  • Their editorial concludes with a irresponsibly absolute statement: "Cutting off free speech is never the right answer." [bold added]
    • First, terrorist content is not "free speech" protected by the U.S. Constitution.
    • Second, limiting speech is often found to be the right answer to fulfill the purpose or preamble of the U.S. Constitution: "We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
      • Thus there are many legitimate and important limitations of pure "free speech."
      • Moreover, the following many types of speech are deemed illegal and not protected: perjury, contempt of court, slander, libel, hate speech, treason, obscenity, profanity, "fighting words", imminent lawless action, sedition, copyright infringement, trade secrets, etc.

I, like all Americans, cherish and understand the critical importance of truly respecting freedom of speech in our American Democracy.

  • However, we also should all understand that a person cannot have freedom of speech if they are dead from terrorism or have been intimidated or effectively silenced by terrorists.
  • What is clear is here is that both the New York Times and Google-YouTube are advancing their own definition and concept of "free speech" not that our forefathers or our final constitutional arbiter of the free speech -- the U.S. Supreme Court. 
    • I respect their freedom of speech, but I also have the freedom of speech to call them on their deception that they are advancing "constitutionally" protected free speech.
      • They are not; they can't hide behind a Constitution that they don't respect in practice.
      • They are protecting speech that they want to protect.      

   

 

 

 

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