Interpretation of First Amendment should not be taken too literally

To the Editor,

Anthony Alaniz’s “This and That” column of November 12, 2015, should be read with both interest and a level of doubt.

Alanis correctly cites the First Amendment — we theoretically have the right to say what we will. But, like many elements of the Constitution and the various amendments, there are firm limits placed by legal case law. True, Congress didn’t pass laws limiting free speech, but legal precedents have certainly done so. You can go into a forest where no one can hear you and yell “fire” until you are hoarse and you are within your rights. Do it in a crowded theatre where there is no fire and you should be arrested and convicted.  Does your right to bear arms allow you to shoot a machine gun 25 feet from a playground where children are playing? No. Nor should it, even if you miss hitting the kids. It seems absurd that we even have to pass laws about where and what kind of gun one can shoot.

There are clear precedents established by various legal decisions that lead to criminal charges and convictions. Other decisions lead to civil penalties.  You can say anything you like about your neighbor in theory.  Lie, however, and he or she may well sue. Exercise prudence. 

Protest movements are hardly new to the planet. The establishment of various religions were often accompanied by protests. The Magna Carta was a protest, as was the Boston Tea Party, one of the elements that led to Alaniz’s beloved First Amendment. 

Alaniz states, “Free speech is, and should be, absolute.” My free speech inner guru suggests the Herald’s readers not take his interpretation too literally.

Wanda M. Fish



Tecumseh Herald


110 E. Logan St.
P.O. Box 218
Tecumseh, MI 49286

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