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FREE SPEECH

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

A momentous decision has just been handed down by the Supreme Court of New York, concerning city ordinances aimed against the right of free speech. The city of Mt. Vernon recently passed an ordinance giving the mayor arbitrary power to grant or refuse petitions for street meetings. By virtue of this, a number of socialists have recently been arrested there for holding a street meeting without a permit. Although the city protested in the hearing of the case that the meeting interfered with traffic, it was made clear to the judges that the real cause of the restriction was to prevent socialist propaganda. Accordingly the ordinance was decided to be unconstitutional.

This step will be widespread in its effects. It is no longer war time. The people should be allowed this natural human right. It was in 1774 that the American colonists objected to the clause in the "Coercive Acts" which prevented free public meetings. We are still American enough to protest against such restrictions. Of course free speech should be allowed only so long as it does not interfere with other rights given us under the Constitution, so long as it does not incite people to violence and counsel overthrow of government. Curbing free speech only helps the cause of unbalanced radicals.

We are beginning to see with the eye of the blind poet who said in his "Areo pagitica": "Let Truth and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter?"

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