Letter: Don’t put limits on rights | PostIndependent.com

Letter: Don’t put limits on rights

As is often the case, trying to discern a freedom of action, i.e. a right, from the consequences of an action is misunderstood.

Mr. Colby, in a recent letter, cites Judge Holmes in regard to the First Amendment. Using the example of shouting “fire” in a theater, Judge Holmes utilized the straw man of consequence in order to limit free speech.

There should be no limit to speech itself; after all, is it satisfactory to shout “fire” in a theater with no other patrons? How about a theater with only deaf patrons? Or a theater where no one else speaks English? Or a theater that you do not know has other patrons? How about in the forest with no one else around? The speech itself is not the problem.

Limiting speech based on content is a very dangerous and slippery slope. One should be responsible for the consequence of an action, hence; if you shout “fire” in a crowded theater and this leads to panic, injury, etc., of course you should bear the consequences of your action. But limit speech itself?

This is also true of the Second Amendment. Attempts to limit it pre-emptively are based on false premises and shortsighted solutions to more serious problems.

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Michael Stahl


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