When “Free Speech” Becomes an Issue of Liability
There are places in the world where people are executed for speaking out against injustice, or for voicing an opinion. Americans are protected from this through their First Amendment rights – the right to free speech. Unfortunately, some believe this gives them unprecedented freedom, and that their words do not come with consequence. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, in some cases, “free speech” can sometimes become an issue of liability.
Words Have Power
The presidential campaign has brought up a lot of issues, but none quite so prominent as the freedom of speech, and when it is being taken too far. In fact, the media has been rampant with concerns over recent utterings at debates and rallies that could be – according to some – considered an encouragement to cause undue harm to others. This is a prime example of free speech gone wrong, but there are many others, and they are not always political in nature.
Take, for example, the yelled threats of one person to another. Depending on the circumstances, these threats of harm could be considered a criminal offense. Granted, these cases are extremely difficult to prove, but they show us that free speech does not give us the right to say and do whatever we want. Our words have power – they can inspire or instill fear, hurt or heal – and all who enjoy the right to free speech should remember as such.
When Free Speech Leads to Injury
Words can also create mass chaos. Consider the following scenario as an example: someone yells “fire” in a movie theater when there is not a fire, people scatter to the exits in a panic, and someone is trampled in the process. In such an instance – and many others like it – the person who created the chaos could be held liable for the injuries sustained by the trampled victim. Further, the victim may, in some instances, be able to pursue damages from the business or establishment. Of course, pursuing such damages would be extremely complex, and it would require in-depth knowledge of the law to determine who might be liable for damages, but the victim is fully within their right to pursue compensation, despite the “free speech” amendment.
At Herrling Clark Law Firm, Ltd. we fight for the rights of victims of personal injury accidents and strive to get them the maximum settlement that they deserve. Dedicated, skilled, and experienced, our Green Bay, Wisconsin personal injury attorneys are prepared to represent you in your case. Call us at 920-739-7366 and schedule your free initial consultation today to learn more.