Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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October 15, 2012

It's easy to misunderstand what's free speech

(Continued)

Holding bigoted religious views is indeed reprehensible — but not illegal. If the government wants to prosecute Youssef on a charge of deliberately and directly inciting violence with his video — if proven, one of the few, very narrow legal restrictions on free speech — it should do so, and make its case in public.

The First Amendment is not a shield for lawbreakers, but it is one against government officials who would use the letter of the law to void the shelter of its 45 words.

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Gene Policinski is senior vice president and executive director of the First Amendment Center in Nashville, Tenn. Contact him at gpolicinski@fac.org.

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