What is Symbolic free speech ?

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  • 1 decade ago
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    Symbolic speech, sometimes referred to as symbolic conduct or expressive conduct, is a legal term for an action that expresses an opinion or idea non-verbally. Examples of symbolic speech are marching in a parade, burning a flag, or cross burning. Because it involves action and not simply written or spoken words, this form of expression is subject to more government regulation

    In considering whether an act can be considered symbolic speech and whether it qualifies for protection under the First Amendment, US courts have typically considered certain questions, which include:

    Where did the action occur? Was it in a public area?

    Did the action cause Imminent lawless action?

    Did the action communicate a constitutionally protected message?

    Although much symbolic speech is constitutionally protected in the United States, some acts of symbolic speech, such as burning a draft card, are not protected and are punishable by law

  • 1 decade ago

    LittleBigDog is generally correct, but missed a few details.

    Conduct is considered symbolic speech under the O'Brien test (established by the Supreme Court) if the action was intended to convey a message, and the intended audience is reasonably likely to understand the message being conveyed. That's a threshold test, because if the action is not found to express a message (content), none of the other free speech rules apply.

    The list LittleBigDog gave ("in considering, .... include:") is a good broad summary of the factors used to determine if speech in general is protected or not, whether direct (verbal/written) or symbolic.

    Generally, if some action is determined to be symbolic speech, then it has the same protections as any other type of speech. However, like other types of speech, it is still subject to some regulation.

    The 'draft card' example is an anomaly. The court acknowledge that it was speech, and that it was protected speech. However, they determined that the pressing need of having a functioning draft system (which required the physical card) overrode the general protection afforded to such action, and that the restrictions (preventing destruction of the draft card) were not too burdensome relative to that goal, especially since the speaker could have conveyed the same message (content) by some other equally effective means, including burning a fake copy of his draft card.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I presume it means we really don't have it. I've sent emails

    all over the world. And every publisher, editor, journalist, or

    mail reader, who doesn't like what you say. Throws it in the trash.

    Source(s): Point of view
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