Freedom of speech means protecting speech we disagree with – even speech we hate. The Supreme Court reminded us of that, for example, when it upheld the right of an anti-gay church to picket near the cemetery during military funerals. We may hate the disrespect visited upon fallen servicemen and women, but we can only protect our fundamental freedoms by extending that protection to everyone, however odious one’s practices may be to most people. California has been one of the states most willing to test the limits of freedom of speech, but the lessons learned there apply equally in Jacksonville and throughout the country.
A few years back, Sacramento attempted to regulate the sale of violent video games. The U.S. Supreme Court put an end to that practice, finding video games a form of artistic expression as worthy of protection as books or any other art form.
Now a new law has come under the scrutiny of free-speech advocates. That law is popular enough as it targets paparazzi, who are about as popular as plague carriers among California’s elite. It is also prudently and narrowly crafted to prohibit only the unauthorized picture-taking of celebrities’ children, not the celebrities themselves.
Nevertheless, however strong the knee-jerk reaction may be to “protect the children” and “take down the paparazzi,” advocates see this as a knick in the First Amendment’s armor.
The law just took effect. Its past was decided in the legislature. Its future will likely be decided in the courts.