Phoenix Freedom of Speech and Press Attorney
The freedom to speak and debate issues openly and freely is one of the most important and cherished rights we enjoy in the United States. Though much of that debate is fostered through a free press, Internet resources, including blogs and social media, has given every individual the potential for a platform as wide as that previously reserved for editors of major publications. They may also place individuals or businesses who are not per se journalists within the realm of protections normally afforded to a free press in this country. Yet, to keep these freedoms alive and vibrant, these expansive first amendment rights must be vigorously defended even when the speech may be offensive or potentially harmful to another individual or group who disagree with it.
The courts in our country and state have recognized that free speech rights are not absolute, and that some speech is undeserving of protection or can at least be reasonably restricted or limited to serve other public purposes. The classic example, of course, is the ability of the government to restrict your ability to shout “fire” in a crowded theater and incite a panic that might injure others. But other more subtle policies may also entitle the government to restrict rights to free expression. For example, speech and debate in public schools may be restricted by policies encouraging respect for teachers or creating a positive, controlled learning environment. Also, while public venues such as parks and sidewalks may be generally persevered spaces for public discourse, the timing or manner of speech in those areas may be limited by policy of protecting neighboring businesses or residents from harassing noise or from dangerous crowd conditions that contribute to local safety or pollution hazards. To know exactly what restrictions can or can’t be imposed requires study and experience. And, to enforce your rights often requires an experienced advocate to educate untrained government officials who may, maliciously or inadvertently, try to stand in the way of free speech.