January 24, 2014
The phrase “clear and present danger” is the standard by which freedom of speech can be abridged. As the saying goes, nobody has the right to shout “fire” in a theater. The United States Supreme Court began citing this standard in 20th century rulings, reaffirming that freedom of speech stops at the point where it puts pubic safety in peril. The idea is controversial, but it should be understood that constitutional rights are not absolute. Whether you agree with this standard as it applies to freedom of speech, is of little importance here. It only matters that you understand what it means, because economic inequality is a clear and present danger to American democracy.