Angry New Yorker

Monday, April 28, 2003
More on Bruce and Free Speech
A friend writes... "[T]he point is that intimidation and punishment for expressing your views does, at some point, become a first amendment issue, particularly as the FCC proposes to allow further consolidation of the mass media in the hands of private interests with political agendas. If what happens after you've spoken makes it clear that you really should have kept your mouth shut, how does that promote robust, wide open and uninhibited speech?"

My response...
Granted, the issue of intimidation and punishment are certainly real, and I agree that media consolidation is serious, but they are not true first amendment issues, per say.
Media consolidation is rather a "policy" decision that incidentally implicates speech issues. And the Supreme Court has clearly held that while speech designed to intimidate can be regulated on 1st amendment grounds (holding this most recently in Virginia v. Black [01-1107], the cross-burning case decided earlier this month), it has also held that intimidation of you, ONCE YOU'VE HAD YOUR SAY, by others resulting incidentally from YOUR expressive/conduct or speech cannot be regulated on 1st amendment grounds (though it may, perhaps be regulated through other means, i.e. criminal law, etc.).

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