Thursday, August 25, 2005
Pat Robertson - American Political Leader or Citizen exercising his 1st Amendment Rights?
Suprement Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. said "The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic". One wonders whether or not the statements made by Pat Robertson on Monday regarding the suggestion that the United States should assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez are protected under the 1st amendment. Where does the protection of free speech end? Would speech still be protected if it endangered the national security of the United States? Does Pat Robertson's standing in the community as a political leader and public figure put us more at risk from retaliation by Chavez than an ordinary pubic citizen with little to no public face? Does speech change protections based on the speaker's public standing? It seems reasonable to assume that me, you or any other citizen advocating the assassination of a governmental official is less dangerous to the US from retaliation that if someone say like a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, or the Executive administration or the Congress says this. In fact, it is against the law for a governmental employee to advocate this. However, if a public citizen does this is it protected speech? Any constitutional lawyers out there? I'd like know what is protected and what isn't. Does Robertson get a bye because he is simply a public citizen, or does he get held to higher standard because of his public image and visibility?
Tell me what you think,