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Restraint of tongue and tweet

November 9, 2018
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

To the editor:

The recent politically motivated violence has caused many to ask the president to cool his rhetoric, and others to hold him at least partially to blame for the deaths in Jeffersontown, Kentucky, and Squirrel Hill, Pennsylvania, and for the mail bombs sent to Trump critics. There is no question as to the paucity of wisdom in employing hate speech; history has many examples of its destructive and deadly nature. But, is it legal?

In 1969, in Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 , the U.S. Supreme Court made history by ruling that, to merit conviction, the violence advocated must be intended, likely and imminent.

This means that hateful, racist, misleading and inflammatory speech are protected by the first amendment, except when it is intended to incite or produce IMMINENT violence. Unless it can be shown that the president crosses that line, he will continue to feed the monster.

As citizens, the best we can hope to do henceforth is to elect leaders of greater wisdom and restraint of tongue and tweet.

Susan McGuire




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