Are You a First Amendment Scholar?
True threats can be prosecuted under the law. A “true” threat is distinct from a threat that is made in jest. The Supreme Court noted that “a threat must be distinguished from what is constitutionally protected speech” (see Watts v. United States (1969)) and recognized that “uninhibited, robust, and wide-open” political debate can at times be characterized by “vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials” (see New York Times Co. v. Sullivan (1964)). Hence, a true threat must be viewed in its context and distinguished from protected hyperbole.Not all speech is protected by the Constitution. Here are the categories of unprotected speech.
“If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the process of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence” wrote Justice Louis Brandeis in his concurring opinion in Whitney v. California (1927). His statement forms the essence of the counter-speech argument that the best way to oppose bad speech is with good speech, and a far superior alternative to censorship.Reading: President Obama - Student Protests Should Embrace Free Speech