Not A Suicide Pact

How many times have we heard, in one form or another, that the U.S. Constitution is not a suicide pact? Now let us add the voice of Newt Gingrich, explaining why the First Amendment is not a license to commit murder, acts of terror, or treason.

The fact is not all speech is permitted under the Constitution. The 1st Amendment does not protect lewd and libelous speech, and it should not -- and cannot in 2006 -- be used as a shield for murderers.

Former federal prosecutor Andy McCarthy put it best: "With an enemy committed to terrorism, the advocacy of terrorism -- the threats, the words -- are not mere dogma, or even calls to 'action.' They are themselves weapons -- weapons of incitement and intimidation, often as effective in achieving their ends as would be firearms and explosives brandished openly."

We need a serious dialogue -- not knee-jerk hysteria -- about the 1st Amendment, what it protects and what it should not protect.

It's about time that those believing that the First Amendment allows all kinds of speech wake up, study a little history and law, and figure out that not all speech is protected speech. There are plenty of laws on the books that have passed constitutional muster, such as those that make it illegal to incite a riot through one's actions or one's speech. Folks out there must realize that one's words can have consequences and that the First Amendment doesn't absolve them from being held accountable for them.

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