The legally justified guide to political activism


(Photo by Letrice Fowler, Illustration by Vu Chau)

John Ferrannini and Kameron Schmid

Among all the things said during last week’s protest on campus, only one has been verifiably proven to be incorrect multiple times in America’s history.

“Your hate speech isn’t protected here,” shouted multiple protesters at the Sacramento State College Republicans. Anyone shouting that was, in review of constitutional law and established precedence, wrong.

Anybody arguing for their right to hate is in a precarious position in terms of emotion, logic and humanity.

But legally, they’d be ironclad correct.

To the increasing fury of those on the left side of the political spectrum, the prevalence of prejudiced thought and suspicion is swelling in the U.S. — and it’s coming from the top down.

But America’s courts have proven among the most tolerant — even among other democratic countries — of offensive or incendiary language.

Political speech has the most protection of any form of speech, and its content can only be restricted in special circumstances such as incitement to “imminent lawless action,” the publication of material that would cause “grave and irreparable danger to the public,” defamation of character and “fighting words.”

Speech can also be regulated in terms of time, place and manner if the government offers a compelling enough reason, but these restrictions must be content neutral.

Whether you’ve been organizing protests for years or are newly energized (or enraged) by the election results, The State Hornet has prepared for you a legally justified guide to political activism.

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(Illustrations by Barbara Harvey and Vu Chau)