Date: December 27, 2015
“It is one of the most hallowed precepts in modern constitutional law: Freedom of speech may not be curbed unless it poses a “clear and present danger” — an actual, imminent threat, not the mere advocacy of harmful acts or ideas. But in response to the Islamic State’s success in grooming jihadists over the Internet, some legal scholars are asking whether it is time to reconsider that constitutional line.
Appeals for a tougher response to the Islamic State’s online recruiting efforts have, not surprisingly, emerged from the political realm. Donald J. Trump said the government should call on Bill Gates and others to somehow close off dangerous Internet sites, and called First Amendment concerns foolish.
Hillary Clinton said the government should work with host companies to shut jihadist websites and chat rooms. That would be constitutional if voluntary, legal experts say, but not if the government exerted pressure on private firms to cooperate in censorship.
A more forceful case and a legislative proposal were put forth by Eric Posner, a professor of law at the University of Chicago, in an article for Slate. […] The Islamic State’s ability to spread “ideas that lead directly to terrorist attacks,” he said, “calls for new thinking about limits on freedom of speech.”
His proposal would make it illegal to go onto websites that glorify the Islamic State or support its recruitment, or to distribute links to such sites. He would impose graduated penalties, starting with a warning letter, then fines or prison for repeat offenders, to convey that “looking at ISIS-related websites, like looking at websites that display child pornography, is strictly forbidden.
Justice Holmes – “We should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe.”
Still, it was not until 1969, in the landmark case Brandenburg v. Ohio, overturning the conviction of a Ku Klux Klan member, that the Supreme Court established the current meaning of clear and present danger. It ruled that the government could not punish inflammatory speech unless the speech was likely to incite “imminent lawless action.”
A little documenting, of our further dissent into cultural oblivion.
…After ISIS websites…what is next?
People should not have this power of censorship…period.