I recall in my high school civics class when discussing free speech, the teacher used the example of yelling, “Fire”, in a crowded theater as something that is not protected by free speech. That’s an extreme example. A more realistic example would be this question:
Does someone have the right to harass someone verbally?
This becomes very relevant during Hill Cumorah Pageant. Hecklers arrive from out of town for the purpose of harassing those attending Pageant or activities during pageant.
I believe the answer to my question is yes, they have a 1st Amendment Right to harass, but within certain parameters. As a member of the board of the chamber of commerce, I got a phone call regarding such harassment which should not be protected by the 1st Amendment. It is this…
If your verbal harassment of Person A results in a loss of business to Person B, Person B’s rights have been violated. This is the reason why many communities have a “free speech zone”. Free speech zones have been established to keep protesters and demonstrators from trespassing and interfering with commerce.
Here’s an example. You can’t stand in the center of the freeway holding a protest sign. It’s illegal. It has nothing to do with free speech; it has to do with public safety.
Another example would be you can’t start yelling on a bull-horn at 2am in the morning, waking the entire neighborhood.
I’ve got several complaints from business owners about the hecklers impacting their business. One employee says one of the hecklers told him he was going to hell. The heckler, a protestant minister claiming to be from Newark, New York, accosted him on the sidewalk. His point in telling me this was he felt that if this guy did this to him, what if he does that to someone heading to his store, and because he’s in front of his store people might not shop at his store.
He’s got a good point. So, should free speech be protected when it has unintended consequences for people not involved in the protest?
Elizabethe and I went with our friend David to Pageant. This was David’s first time, and we had a great time visiting with David.
Me and David
We ran in to Sister Lewis (who served in Palmyra), and Sister Sharp. They spent time talking to David. It was golden hour, so as a photographer I couldn’t pass the chance to get this picture.
Sisters Lewis and Sharp
Pageant, as always, was spectacular. I love this scene where Jesus calls the little children to come unto him…
Hill Cumorah Pageant
Prior to pageant, there was an obnoxious guy yelling on a bull horn about how bad we are. I believe in free speech and it should be protected. I wonder if this guy realizes how obnoxious he is and rather than alienating people against Latter-day Saints, he’s alienating people against himself.
I guess sometimes you’ve got to let people show their true colors.