Don’t let the idiot speak: The case against Terry Jones

National Post | Full Comment

Clarence Brandenburg was a 1960s-era Ku Klux Klan leader in rural Ohio — the sort of fellow who’d get along well with Koran-burning Florida preacher Terry Jones if the two had a chance to meet. During one infamous 1964 rally, Brandenburg burned a cross and made a speech raising the specter of “revengeance” against blacks and Jews. Brandenburg was convicted under Ohio’s criminal syndicalism law, but the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the result. In a famous 1969 decision bearing Brandenburg’s name, the Court held that hate speech of this kind was protected under the First Amendment unless it was (a) directed toward inciting “imminent lawless action,” and (b) there was a likelihood of inciting “imminent lawless action.”

As far as domestic law goes, I’ve always felt that the Brandenburg test is the right one — not just for the United States, but for any civilized nation that takes free speech…

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