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iamthemob's avatar

Has anyone felt that they have had their right to free speech violated under the law?

Asked by iamthemob (17121 points ) November 11th, 2010

Freedom of speech is, legally, the right to say what you want free from unwarranted government interference. Because speech can at times be damaging, there are various limitations on free speech that differ from government to government.

I would like to know if people have ever felt that this has been violated. Please, if possible, include:

(1) to the extent possible, what you said or wanted to say.
(2) your nation of origin.
(3) what you believe your right to free speech legally entails in that nation.
(4) why you think it was violated legally.

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20 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Never in my entire life. GQ.

poisonedantidote's avatar

Police telling me not to use curse words. yea, they can take on armed gang members, but the word fuck makes them cry.

Other than that, not that i can think of. Probably at school a few times.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Not personally, no.

iamthemob's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie – you know of someone personally, though? If so, do tell (exercise that right…;-))

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Oh, I didn’t mean to imply that. If I do know someone personally, I don’t know their story. I have just never run into this. Unless you want to count getting thrown out of school repeatedly for wearing “offensive” t-shirts. hah. Of course, that doesn’t count. :)

iamthemob's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie – Maybe it does! What was the t-shirt? Was it a public school? Was it offensive because of what it said or because of how you, ahem, looked…;-)

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

It was a public school. It was a plain, black t-shirt with the numbers 666 across the chest in hot pink. Not that I ever was a Satanist or devil worshipper, I just figured that if the Christians got to wear their t-shirts to school all the time… that I should be allowed to wear that one. I thought I was “making a statement.”

Kind of embarrassing, but, that’s what happened. Still pretty sure I should have been allowed to wear my shirt. I think they sent me home 3 separate times before I just gave up on the shirt – or my mother threw it away, either one is possible.

iamthemob's avatar

WOW. Yeah – that counts. That totally counts.

I think it counts for both the speech and establishment clause of the first amendment, in fact.

The lawyer in me wants to slap you for not complaining and going to a lawyer – or that you’re not still in that school – that sounds like it had the potential to be a precedent setting court case.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Too late to go back and sue my old high school? Haha. That was something like 11 years ago, now.

It’s okay, in retrospect I’m glad I was the girl that pushed the limit a little bit, but I don’t particularly want to be remembered forever as the girl with the satanic t-shirt.

iamthemob's avatar

Yeah – too late. Plus, since it’s a civil right, you wouldn’t really get money – the state is generally immune.

I would see if they still have that policy, and talk to them about it. Go back, wear the shirt (well a new version, considering that’s gone…;-)). See what happens. If they still have the policy, etc., I would see about talking to a clinic at a law school or something about it – there could be someone who can find a way for you to get standing. Or there may be students who are still being repressed.

It’s too late for you, perhaps – but this is an educational institution. This is where we should be teaching kids about their rights – not shutting them up.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Oh, is “sue” used exclusively for cases involving money? I didn’t mean it that way, but my knowledge of legal jargon is skimpy.. at best.

I’m not going to do that. Not that you aren’t right, but, I am not a big fan of too much attention nowadays. If you ever visit Ohio, I’ll make you a shirt.

iamthemob's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie – no no, there’s no need for money (although that’s generally the case). You would be suing for an injunction against the school to prevent them from stopping you from wearing the shirt, so you would be suing them not. The problem is that would be the only real remedy – so you don’t have standing in court I think at this point as you aren’t attending the school anymore.

Although…Roe v. Wade was about abortion. By the time the Supreme Court ruled on the issue, the plaintiff had clearly already had the baby, so the question was technically “moot.”

There’s an exception to mootness in constitutional issues, regarding situations that are currently moot but the injury to the right is repeatable. So maybe…if you’re concerned about being able to wear expressive clothing in areas under the control of the government, you could show a repeatable or ongoing injury.

That’s a lot of legal gymnastics though. You’re probably best with your plan.

DominicX's avatar

This is not serious or anything, but I did feel that I had freedom of the press violated a bit during senior year of high school.

Essentially, a friend and I conspired together to write this anonymous newsletter criticizing the actions of the administration at a school dance (walking without flashlights and yardsticks preventing people from dancing too close together, despite that never having happened before at any other dance at that school).

We spread the letter around secretly (no one ever found out it was us) and people like my art history teacher (who has always been critical of the administration) actually made copies of the newsletter and made it available to her students.

Well, the administration was not happy. They cracked down on that newsletter, saying no one was allowed to have it or read it and they went on a witch hunt to find out who wrote it (but of course never did).

YARNLADY's avatar

Nope, in fact, just the opposite – a person on the internet spread lies about me which were complete fabrications, and even though she was convicted of stalking and spent several years in a mental institution, her lies are still there for everyone to see.

The right to free speech is alive and well.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

@iamthemob I thought Tinker v. Des Moines did set the precedent. (Although, the current court has chipped away at it somewhat IMHO.)

talljasperman's avatar

yes… but I’m afraid to say… I live in Canada…am outreach worker pretending to be a social worker called got me wrongly commited for something I said out of context… I’m labeled as ill from now on… and I’m afraid to speak up

mattbrowne's avatar

Hate speech is illegal in Germany.

iamthemob's avatar

Do you consider such law a violation of your right to free speech?

I, personally, do – I think hate speech legislation is incredibly problematic.

mattbrowne's avatar

No, I don’t consider such law a violation of my right to free speech, and so does the majority of German voters.

But I’m aware that it’s very problematic. There are pros and cons.

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