Too Much of a Good Thing

This piece in the Post has me thinking about the Second Amendment.  A corollary argument is unlikely to convince pro-gun extremists. But it should. They will one day wake up to find all their rights revoked if they refuse to allow reasonable limits to the size, shape, and scope of their arsenals. (I’m satisfied with the pun, but don’t think it adds much to the overall argument).

Free-speech absolutists aren’t protecting democracy. They might even be endangering it.

“…In fact, American law places limits on all rights, even speech. The courts have interpreted freedom of speech in particular as limited in a whole host of situations. For example, so-called time, place and manner restrictions take into account if a speech act is dangerous to the public (e.g. the cliche cry of “fire” in a movie theater) or even just a disturbance, like shouting about the dangers of state socialism after midnight on a residential street. There is also a whole battery of limitations having to do with mendacity and reputational harm — for example, defamation laws.

“So American law has always recognized that there are limits on free speech and that those limits are determined by the primacy of some public goods.”

The follow-up commentary on this article is worth looking at, if you enjoy the slow, wordy boxing match of intellectuals debating central tenets of the Constitution. And if you happen to be up at 4 a.m. in Paris.


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