Concept Week 11

Right to free speech: Difference between protections for political vs. commercial speech

For starters according to the Ohio State Bar Association “commercial speech” is a phrase that came from the U.S. Supreme  Court decision in 1942 when an owner of World War 1 vintage submarine brought a lawsuit against the City of New York when they said that he could not pass out flyers advertising tours of his Sub. They come up with the conciseness that commercial speech refers to speech that is either printed, broadcast or on the internet that advertises a product or service. Such things have caused the U.S Supreme Court to rule that “political speech” is speech that deals with issues of public interest or that of social concern. Thus political speech is entitled to full protection under the 1st Amendment of the United States Constitution while commercial speech is given much less protection due to the fact that some material being shown on a commercial may be “false or misleading” .

Concept Week 11/12

Right to free speech: Difference between protections for political vs. commercial speech

By Austin Merritt

Free speech can be a wonderful thing. It can inform a citizen, let a citizen be heard, but it can also bring about major controversies. Men and women have given their lives for us to keep this privilege. Free speech, granted to us in the first amendment, does not mean that we have absolute free speech though. If my speech brings about a threat, stirs up violence, or invokes a violent revolt against the organized government, I do not have protection for my speech. If my political speech were to threaten the national security or destroy someone’s reputation with false information, I do not have protected speech. Different protections on speech are present in the status quo today. Commercial speech is speech used that obtains a profit through publications. For example, commercial speech could be newspapers, or advertisements. Political speech may pertain to anything based upon government. It can be seen in elections to everyday functions, such as the military. Commercial speech does not allow libel (slander) to be expressed so that it defames or destroys the reputation of another person. But in political speech we see that all the time. Look at the election last year. Romney and Obama were not portrayed to be the same person as they see themselves when they look in the mirror every morning. As long as there is a hint of the truth in the statement, it is allowed to remain. Commercial speech has a lot of protection in terms of copyrights, regulations and the Federal Communication Commission (FCC). The FCC regulates what can be said through commercial and political speech for that matter. For example, certain words cannot be used across mass communication. People have been in trouble for using certain cuss words. Again other protections may be for more political reasons. Recently seven SEALs were in trouble for disclosing classified information to a video game. The reason that political freedom does not exist in this situation is that it can put our national security at risk. If I were to sum up the regulations on freedom of speech for political speech and commercial speech it would be this: Freedom for political speech is protected if it does not bring risks to national security, does not undermine the government and is not false. Freedom for commercial speech has to be true in nature, meet FCC standards, not inflict harm upon others, and not stir up a revolt against the government.

My example that I found on USA Today is about how seven Navy seals are being punished for their involvement with disclosing personal information to a video game company. There is also an example of a former SEAL who writes about the raid that occurred in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The SEALS involved with the video game are being reprimanded because they have disclosed personal information that they promised they would not give out. True that in the military, you have certain guidelines, but this goes to show you that the government does have the power to limit what you can disclose but they can’t control what you say 100%.

Concept Week 11

Right to free speech: Difference between protections for political vs. commercial speech

By: Shelby Schroeder

The First Amendment of our Constitution protects the freedom of speech.  However, it protects some types of speech more than others. Political speech is the ability for Americans to discuss things about politics.  You can criticize the government and their policies as much as you want, and you won’t get in trouble (as long as you aren’t telling lies or threatening anyone).  This form of speech is the most highly protected by the first amendment, mostly because it is the most expressive and important to our functioning nation. Commercial speech, like advertising is not as highly protected because it is based on PROFIT and is not expressive. It is based on a company or individual trying to persuade someone to buy a product. 

Example: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-11-07/mcgraw-hill-must-face-illinois-suit-over-s-and-p-ratings (From Businessweek)

Example explained: McGraw Hill Company is facing a lawsuit from lawyer accusing them of having a “fraudulent role’” in assigning improperly high ratings to mortgage-backed securities. The judges rejected the company when they said their rating opinions were protected under the first amendment freedom of speech rights.  The lawyer further stated that while commercial speech has some protection under the First Amendment, false, misleading, or deceptive commercial speech is not.  This just shows an example of the problems that can arise when determining how much commercial speech is protected in the First Amendment.

Discussion Week 11

How is political speech expressed in social media? Provide some examples that you have seen, or been involved in.

By: Shelby Schroeder

I think social media is one of the biggest places where people express their political beliefs.  In some ways, it’s great that people can come together to discuss their opinions and ideas about politics, but in other ways, people take it way too far.   Before social media and the internet, most debates about politics would be in newspapers, or simply just by word of mouth.  Twitter offers a way for people to just make a simple statement, so there isn’t too much fighting going on.  Facebook is where the real “problems” are.  I saw this mostly after the presidential election was over, when Obama won, a lot of people made a lot of happy statuses referring to Obama.  Others however, made really angry statements degrading him and making it seem like our country was doomed.  Fights quickly broke out and these statuses had a large number of likes, but also dozens of comments.  This showed me how truly divided our country can be, and how sometimes the freedom of speech on the internet can get out of hand.  A lot of people who were making statuses and comments had no idea what they were talking about.  Overall I think that expressing yourself about politics in social media can be good, as long as you don’t attack others about what they believe in.

Concept Week 11

Right to free speech: Difference between protections for political vs. commercial speech

By: Marina Eggen

Let’s start by defining both political speech and commercial speech.  Political speech is an expression which comments on government action rather than the private conduct of an individual.  It is an expressive activity that forms the foundation of our democracy. Commercial speech is speech done on behalf of a company or individual for the intent of making a profit.  Political speech receives the highest level of protection und the First Amendment.  As long as you are not looking to profit from your speech, art, etc. and it is on a political topic, it is protected under the First Amendment.  As far as commercial speech goes, until recently commercial speech was not protected under the First Amendment, but now it has qualified for some protection.  Some parts of commercial speech are protected under the First Amendment, but not all.  For example the informational function of advertising is not protected.  Over all political speech is far more protected than commercial speech is due to the First Amendment.

Example: http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/06/23/scotus.drug.data/index.html?iref=allsearch

This article from cnn.com by Bill Mears gives a great example of how some commercial speech is protected.  Some states wanted to pass a law to block “date mining” companies from marketing information about doctors’ prescriptions.  This would ban any use or publication of the information for “marketing purposes” of brand-name medicine.  The Supreme Court over turned this law due to the restrictions violating commercial speech protections.