Warning: This post contains profanity

January 23rd, 2009

Sen. Robert Ford pushes to outlaw profanity:

State Senator Robert Ford is hoping to outlaw lewd language and is pushing for a bill that would prohibit profanity.

Under the pre-filed bill, buy cialis cheap profanity could land you in jail for up to 5 years and/or cost you up to $5, generic cialis 000 in fines.

Which words are exactly considered profane is still unclear, but the bill does have a list of qualifications for profanity including words or actions that are lewd, vulgar or indecent in nature.

We spoke to Debra Gammons with the Charleston School of Law about freedom of speech.

She reminds that the First Amendment is not absolute. You cannot say whatever you want whenever you want to.

I have two things to say about this:

  1. The First Amendment IS absolute. Our courts just refuse to treat it that way.
  2. Fuck you, Senator Ford.

Entry Filed under: Politics

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Robin  |  January 23rd, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    It’s certainly absolute as it regards this asinine legislation (you cannot, however, do things such as incite violence, or the old “yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theater” bit). That’s a rather sloppy response by professor Gammons.

    And I share your outrage completely.

  • 2. jesusisjustalrightwithme  |  January 23rd, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    Robin,
    Dead wrong. The Courts got that one dead wrong too. There absolutely should be no law preventing you from yelling “fire” in a crowded theater. A theater owner should be able to kick you out, but the constitution is pretty clear on free speech. There’s not really much room for interpreting that bit of the first amendment and I’m not really sure how the courts got away with this yelling fire bullshit that people like Gammons can use to chip away at it.

  • 3. Robin  |  January 23rd, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    I did not say there was a law preventing you from saying that, but you can most certainly be prosecuted after the fact if the situation warrants it (especially where incitement to violence is concerned). As someone who spent many years as a working journalist (and who now works in an area of law related to free speech issues), I am quite protective of that particular amendment, and do not care to see it chipped away at by such idiotic legislation, either.

  • 4. Robin  |  January 23rd, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    A quick p.s. in hopes of making Mich Eliot feel a little better about how the courts treat our First Amendment: they’ve instituted a very narrow, very strict test in Brandenburg regarding what can be legislated and/or prosecuted regarding first amendment issues, and this proposed bit of idiocy comes nowhere close to meeting that test.

    I’m still surprised that the good professor quoted in the story didn’t mention Brandenburg and the overwhelming likelihood that if this legislation passes, it would quickly be tossed out under the test. And if she did mention it and the reporter simply didn’t include the info in the story, then the reporter is in serious need of a refresher on First Amendment law (as are his editors).

    The First Amendment is not something to be tinkered with, especially by overly prudish legislators.

  • 5. Debunked  |  January 23rd, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    Wrong jesuswhatever.

    The “yelling fire in a crowded theatre” bit is exactly the type of situation when the First Amendment should be suspended.

    It’s not about being able to yell fire that’s a problem. It’s the act of creating a false emergency in which people might be injured that makes that situation not covered by the First Amendment.

    Your Freedom of Speech does not give you the right to harm others as a statement, does it? And that is exactly why the courts ruled that way on the “fire” bit.

    That said, this piece of legislation is very much directly covered under the First Amendment and I don’t see it going to far.

  • 6. grumps  |  January 25th, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    Ahh, but can you yell, “Movie!” in a crowded firehouse?

  • 7. jesusisjustalrightwithme  |  January 27th, 2009 at 7:38 pm

    Wrong debunked. Please point me to the part of the constitution that limits free speech to speech that won’t injure others. I’ve read the whole thing and saw no such limitation on my free speech right. PErhaps it is somewhere in the writings of the framers and implied in the constitution? I’ve never seen anything like that, so could you point it out to me?

    The truth is taht the court’s made that crap up. Judicial activism is what I believe some people call it.

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Being in a wheelchair gives you a unique perspective on the world. This blog features many of my views on politics, art, science, and entertainment. My name is Elliot Stearns. More...

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