By now, we're all familiar with the story of the lady in New Jersey who put up yard signs that were critical of President Biden. Most of her neighbors are Democrats, and they took her to court to force the removal of the signs.
Judge Gary Bundy ordered her to take down the signs, or face a fine of $250 a day.
The debate over free speech has gone on for decades.
The first time the issue came to my attention was in 1964, when the Berkeley Free Speech movement was born.
The Free Speech Movement (FSM) was a massive, long-lasting student protest which took place during the 1964–65 academic year on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley. The Movement was informally under the central leadership of Berkeley graduate student Mario Savio. Other student leaders include Jack Weinberg, Michael Rossman, George Barton, Brian Turner, Bettina Aptheker, Steve Weissman, Michael Teal, Art Goldberg, Jackie Goldberg and others.
With the participation of thousands of students, the Free Speech Movement was the first mass act of civil disobedience on an American college campus in the 1960s. Students insisted that the university administration lift the ban of on-campus political activities and acknowledge the students' right to free speech and academic freedom. The Free Speech Movement was influenced by the New Left, and was also related to the Civil Rights Movement and the Anti-Vietnam War Movement. To this day, the Movement's legacy continues to shape American political dialogue both on college campuses and in broader society, influencing some political views and values of college students and the general public.[7
One of sign's in Mrs. Dick's yard read, ""F*** Biden, and f*** you if you voted for him. I recently saw a t-shirt with that saying on a guy at a gas station in Tucson. Although my initial thought was to slap the shit out of him, I quickly realized that he was merely display his ignorance.
The Supreme Court has made clear that the offending word Ms. Dick used in the banners, which she posted on her mother’s fence in Roselle Park, is legal in political statements. It ruled in a famous 1971 case that a draft protester had the right to wear a jacket with a message that one of his lawyers memorably described as “not actually advocating sexual intercourse with the Selective Service.”
Twenty states with Republican-controlled legislatures have invoked the fear of violence as a justification for new laws cracking down on racial justice protests. Florida, Iowa and Oklahoma passed laws granting immunity to drivers who strike protesters. Some of the same states also have recently enacted laws that seek to restrict instruction in public schools about the role of racism in the nation’s history.
The right to free speech must be balanced against other considerations, and the Supreme Court imposes a wide range of restrictions. Americans are not free to libel or to incite violence, to curse on the radio or to hold noisy demonstrations in the middle of the night.
Although some people might object to Trump's ban on Facebook and Twitter, the fact remains that his comments on those sites DID incite violence, and they continue for a period of time after January 6.
The editorial board of the New York Times disagrees with judge Bundy about Mrs. Dick's signs, and they are probably correct.
On occasion, it might be more appropriate to use creative methods to counter hateful speech.
When the Westboro Baptist church started protesting at military funerals, a few citizens bought the house across the street from their church, and painted it in rainbow colors. In addition, members of several motorcycle gangs started showing up at military funerals to keep members of the church a safe distance away.
Legal decisions have gone both for and against the church, and the military funeral protests have not been in the news for more than a decade.