Ideas are fine, as long they are federally approved

A federal judge in Las Vegas has ordered the banning of a book because it advocates 'lawless action'.

U.S. District Judge Lloyd D. George wrote in an order banning the book that Irwin Schiff is not protected by the First Amendment because he has encouraged people not to pay taxes.

"There is no protection ... for speech or advocacy that is directed toward producing imminent lawless action,"George wrote in support of the preliminary injunction on the book,"The Federal Mafia: How It Illegally Imposes and Unlawfully Collects Income Taxes."

In an ironic twist of events that was vaguely reminiscent of the book's title, the IRS lived up to its description.

The IRS raided Schiff's office Feb. 11, and the government later filed a civil complaint against him and two associates in March. George issued a temporary order March 19 against Schiff, ordering him to stop selling his book, lecturing and giving seminars.

The moral of the story is that ideas are fine, as long as they are federally approved, well regulated, and bureaucratically certified.

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what would you guys think if

what would you guys think if instead of avoiding taxes, the book advocated the rape of women or the murdering of children?

what are the limits of the First Amendment?

sure 3,100 people not paying a collective sum of $56 million in taxes is probably not a big deal, but if Schiff is selling his book on the false claim that "paying federal income taxes is voluntary", should the government do something about it?

just to be clear, I'm not making any claims here in support or against the ruling. I'm asking serious questions and hope to get honest answers.

Does this mean that the

Does this mean that the works of Lysander Spooner, Benjamin Tucker and other anarchists should be banned?

And of course the Federalist Papers are full of dangerous, subversive ideas. And that Tom Paine guy, he's a real menace.

What about Quakers who refuse to pay tax moneys out of religious opposition to war?


Spoonie, if you're looking

Spoonie, if you're looking for where the legal limit of the First Amendment sits, the SCOTUS basically draws the line at "shouting fire." The few limitations that have passed muster have been "imminent threat" or reasonable "time, place, and manner" restrictions.

Advocating rape is protected speech, whether people like it or not, as is advocating the murder of children. People advocate worse every day, so there's no big shock there.

Spoonie, Ideas themselves

Ideas themselves are just that - ideas. Individuals who act have the responsibility of using their own reason to decide on their actions. They may be influenced by 'good' ideas or by 'bad' ideas, but in the ends, the onus is on them to act justly no matter what ideas permeate their minds.

So, yes I support the right to publish horrific ideas about killing children and raping women. If you can support 'guns don't kill people, people kill people', then surely you can support 'ideas don't kill people, people kill people'.

fair enough. So then why is

fair enough. So then why is yelling "Bomb" at an airport or "Fire" in a movie theatre not protected by Free Speech?

What defines "imminent threat" or "reasonable"?

Guess I'll have to read the SCOTUS in my free time.

For purposes of information

For purposes of information only --

The US Supreme Court has actually ruled on four distinct exemptions to the free speech clause of the First Amendment:

1) Speech posing a "clear and present danger" of imminent violence or lawlessness (Schenck vs. United States, 1919);

2) Disclosures of "national security" (Near vs. Minnesota, 1931);

3) "Fighting words", that would provoke a reasonable person" to an imminent, violent response Chaplinsky vs. New Hampshire, 1942);

4) "Obscenity" (Miller vs. California, 1973, and probably the most disputed of these four exemptions).

The Schiff case looks pretty clearly like a #1, although these people can make it up as they go along.

Spoonie, the answer to your

Spoonie, the answer to your question about shouting fire ought to be pretty obvious--people can get killed when someone delibertaely incites a stampede in a closed space. The point is that the restrictions that are permitted must meet a strict standard of "content neutrality." In other words, the particular contents of the expression involved may not be a consideration when restricting speech.

So, in principle, the government could not restrict expression on the basis that it was "commie pinko tripe," or "racist," or something like that. But they could restrict someone marching down the street with a bullhorn at 3 AM keeping everyone awake at night--since that restriction has nothing to do with what the person is actually shouting into the bullhorn. What consititutes "resonable" in terms of time, place, and manner is, of course, up for some elasticity. The idea is that "Lolita" can't be banned because someone finds it reprehensible, though reading it aloud in the middle of the interstate during rush hour can be.

The tricky part about this case is the fact that the Feds are making the case that the utterance the words in this particular book poses some kind of hazard by inducing people to break the law. I think it's a weak argument, but then, I'm not a lawyer.