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When are fighting words allowed according to the US Supreme Court?


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June 06, 2011 2:37PM

One of the unprotected categories of speech consists of "fighting words." This is narrowly defined as words which are likely to make the person to whom they are addressed commit an act of violence. But words that cause anger are not enough. You can't shut someone down for talking by saying that you want to hit the speaker. That would amount to a "heckler's veto" which is one of the thing free speech tries to avoid. Part of free speech is that it sometimes forces people to re-think their view point on beliefs and topics.