The Limits of Speech

By Richard Nelson

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August 15, 2016

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Is there a limit to free speech?  In a day of mass shootings and terror threats any speech viewed as possibly inciting violence is under close scrutiny. James Evans, a Muhlenberg County man found this out the hard way. In 2014, he posted violent song lyrics about a school shooting on his Facebook page and this left local school officials feel threatened. The song was called "Class Dismissed (A Hate Primer). It was based on the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre that left 32 dead. The lyrics are very explicit and understandably frightening which led to jail time for Evans. The ACLU successfully challenged the county and won an out of court settlement of $60,000. If there's a lesson to be learned, its that we should temper our words and think twice before posting on social media.

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Director, Commonwealth Policy Center