Free Speech Laws, Precedents & Scripture

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The First Amendment

Federal Law

Rebellion and insurrection are not protected "free speech".

18 U.S. Code § 2383 - Rebellion or insurrection

Whoever incites, sets on foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.

18 U.S. Code § 2101 - Riots

(Summary: "intent" to "incite a riot" or “aid and abet any person in inciting or participating in or carrying out a riot” are federal crimes. Federal jurisdiction kicks in when such activity crosses state lines; either when the accused physically crosses state lines, or his communication by mail, phone, etc. does.)

Supreme Court Precedent

Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 US 444 (1969) "Freedoms of speech and press do not permit a State to forbid advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action."

Hess v. Indiana, 414 US 105 (1973). A university professor who said “We’ll take the f—ing street again” was acquitted because his speech “amounted to nothing more than advocacy of illegal action at some indefinite future time....since there was no evidence, or rational inference from the import of the language, that his words were intended to produce, and likely to produce, imminent disorder, those words could not be punished by the State on the ground that they had a ‘tendency to lead to violence.’””

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People v. Claiborne Hardware Company, 458 US 886 (1982). "Strong and effective extemporaneous rhetoric cannot be nicely channeled in purely dulcet phrases. An advocate must be free to stimulate his audience with spontaneous and emotional appeals for unity and action in a common cause. When such appeals do not incite lawless action, they must be regarded as protected speech."