The First Amendment And Freedom Of Speech

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For the most part, freedom of speech is the freedom to speak on any subject. There is an exception to the First Amendment, and these categories are obscenity, child pornography, fighting words, speech integral to criminal conduct, and incitement to immediate unlawful action. They are not protected under the First Amendment, therefore are punishable based on content. The lack of protection from the First Amendment protects children from people trying to exploit them, protects a group or single person from injury due to incitement or fighting words, and protect individuals from blackmails and extortion. Context is very important component of speech. These categories have well-defined boundaries and there are more that are unprotected, but don’t pertain to police officers. The Supreme Court took 15 years after obscenity was declared unprotected by the first Amendment to develop a constitutional definition. Obscenity is tested by the Miller test. This test shows obscenity if it appeals to the prurient, which is defined as an interest in sex, of the average person, illustrates hard-core sexual acts, and lacks any literary, political, artistic, scientific, or other value. The Miller test identifies specific hard-core sexual acts that must be established before it is considered obscene. If a piece has value it is not considered obscene even if they portray sexual activity. Child pornography is excluded because of the need to protect children from being exploited and sexual abused. Child pornography does not have to appease the obscenity portion of the Miller test. The first legislation for child pornography was passed in 1977. Since then, Congress has toughened statutes on child protection laws. As the internet progressed, Congress began to talk about child pornography on computers. Allowing children to view pornography allows adults to entice children into sexual activity. Other concerns brought to Congress was it was a moral concern too. Congress’s first action in this area was its passage of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (CDA), which attempted to incorporate the Miller obscenity test and sought to limit the exposure of children to sexually explicit material on the Internet (Ward, para. 6). Fighting words are not excluded from the First Amendment for communicating ideas, insulting or offensive language. People have a right to say provocative things if they so choose. Fighting words are classified as to purely inflict injury, as the book stated. There are no set words that are automatically categorized as fighting words. Fighting words are highly debated, especially when it comes to police officers. The Supreme Court has made it unconstitutional to arrest someone who verbal attacks a police officers because they are trained to not react physical and therefore it would not be considered fighting words. The incitement to riot is depended upon if the words used in that situation creates a present danger. The Congress has a right to prevent such acts. The Supreme Court has said that for speech to lose First Amendment protection, it must be directed at a specific person or group and it must be a direct call to commit immediate lawless action (Incitement to Imminent,

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