Monday, June 19, 2017

The Supreme Court gives the country some necessary guidance on free speech; Washington Post, June 19, 2017

Editorial Board, Washington Post; The Supreme Court gives the country some necessary guidance on free speech

"THE UNITED STATES is engaged just now in a freewheeling debate about — freewheeling debate. Or, to put it more precisely, about how freewheeling debate should normally be. The struggle is being waged across various battlegrounds — college campuses, social media, New York theater, even the air-conditioned offices in which federal employees decide whether to protect trademarks, such as that of Washington’s National Football League franchise.

Now comes the Supreme Court with a strong statement in favor of free speech, to include speech that many find offensive. With the support of all eight justices who participated in the case (new Justice Neil M. Gorsuch being the exception), the court struck down a 71-year-old law requiring the Patent and Trademark Office to deny registration to brands that may “disparage” people or bring them “into contemp[t] or disrepute.” The ruling means that a dance-rock band may henceforth call itself “the Slants” on the same legal basis that, say, Mick Jagger’s bunch uses “the Rolling Stones” — even though many Asian Americans find the term derogatory and demeaning...

As the court’s decision reminds us, constitutional and decent are not the same thing."

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