Civil rights victory as 'fighting words' exception to First Amendment is narrowed
Free speech won a big victory last week in the Nutmeg State. At a moment when campus and media thought police attempt to marginalize opinions they don't like under the rubric of "feeling threatened," one state's supreme court came out foursquare in defense of freedom of obnoxious speech. Reason magazine noticed, though most of the media didn't.
Elizabeth Nolan Brown writes:
There's no "hate speech" exception to the First Amendment, but that doesn't stop some overzealous authorities from acting as if there is. Nina Baccala was convicted in 2013 for calling a Connecticut grocery store manager "fat" and "ugly" during an argument. But now Baccala's right to free speech has been avenged by the state's Supreme Court.
On July 7, the court agreed with Baccala's lawyers that insulting and cursing at a store manager does not count as using "fighting words," and thus are not exempted from First Amendment protection.
The case stems from a 2013 incident at a Stop & Shop grocery store in Vernon, Connecticut. After a store manager told Baccala it was too late to process a wire transfer, Baccala lost her temper and began berating the employee. She was eventually convicted of breaching the peace, a misdemeanor, and was sentenced to 25 days in jail. She appealed.
You now have the right to be a jerk and curse at a supermarket clerk if you live in the Nutmeg State. Congratulations...uh...Connecticuters...Connecticotians (Cotton Mather, 1702)...Connecticutensians...Nutmeggers!
Hat Tip: AoSHQ