Chaplinsky V New Hampshire

Offensive Words
Keisha Knight
November 5, 2012
Criminal Law and Courts
Mrs. R. Dickens
10:30 1:00

Chaplinsky v New Hampshire

When do offensive words addressed by one person to another in a public place exceed the limits of free speech guarantee of the First Amendment to U.S. Constitution and incur criminal liability for one who speaks them?

Words become offensive when it is addressed to a person by another person when other people feel offended as well as the person that it is directed too. It exceeds the limits of free speech of the First Amendment to U.S. Constitution because this Amendment does not include lewd and obscene language. The words the that he used were known as ‘ fighting words.’ Fighting words are words that, by their utterance can inflict injury or immediate breach the peace. These words are excluded from the court. The words that Chaplinsky used could have easily forced someone to retaliate. Although we do have the right of freedom of speech, that doesn’t necessarily mean that every word that we say are according to the case of Chaplinsky v New Hampshire.

Briefing of the case
Case: Chaplinsky v New Hampshire
CITATION: 315.U.S.568 (1942)
FACTS: Chaplinsky was a Jehovah’s witness that made several remarks respecting organized religion while handing out religious literature of his own on a public street. Several citizen complained that Chaplinsky’s message was offensive to the city marshal. The marshal told the citizen that Chaplinsky had every right to engage in what he was doing, but the crowd was irritated by it. A disturbance occurred, without placing Chaplinsky under arrest an officer had to escort Chaplinsky to the police station. On the way to the station they encountered the city marshal, where Chaplinsky uttered the words “ You are a God Damned Racketeer” and “ a Damned Fascist.”Chaplinsky was convicted of violating a New Hampshire law prohibiting the use if offensive or annoying words when...
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