Free Speech: Two Examples of How Politicians Deal With Hecklers
The U.S. has some of the strongest free speech laws in the country. Political speech, i.e. speech undertaken for the purposes of campaigning or to make a political point, is among the most protected forms of speech. Nonetheless, despite its protection, speech that incites people to imminent lawless action doesn’t usually have free speech protection and one can be prosecuted for inciting people to commit violent acts (all rights are limited).
In my classes, I often highlight examples of contemporary political speech that scholars have noted as falling within that imminent lawless action exception. Here is an example from Donald Trump from the 2016 presidential election:
Apply the elements to the remarks made in the video. Does candidate Trump’s speech 1) incite people to 2) imminent 3) lawless 4) action?
On the other hand, here’s an example of a heckler during another 2016 campaign rally. How does Obama create an environment that allows for the expression of speech without raising questions about imminent violence etc.?
Which approach do you find more productive for engaging in political dialogue?
Importantly: what legal, political and policy limitations is Obama working under compared to Trump (remember that Obama is a sitting president at the time this video is made)?