Friday, April 07, 2006

Interesting article on prior restraint and free speech

Here's an interesting article on, among other things, the origins of this country's somewhat peculiar interpretation of free speech. Written by fellow blogger Tony Palmeri: From Blackstone To Blogging. The primary focus of the article is on a recent free speech case in which an area website was shut down by a local judge after some anonymous users posted comments about a local elected official--comments which said official felt were defamatory. The site is now back on line, as the judge ended up lifting his injunction against the site.

The most interesting part of the article, though (in my opinion), pertains to this person Blackstone and his cleverly crafted concept of "free" speech:
Very simply, US Courts have defined freedom of speech to mean [...]: the government cannot prevent you from communicating, but once you do communicate there could be punishment. This view of freedom of speech actually comes from British Jurist William Blackstone's 1769 Commentaries on the Laws of England, vol. 4, Chapter 11, "Of Offenses to the Public Peace."
Good stuff, and Palmeri knows what he's talking about on this.


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