Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Is There a First Amendment Right to Intimidate People?

A concerned old lady holding a sign would certainly not constitute intimidation, because a "person of ordinary sensibilities" would not fear bodily harm. But a huge angry crowd, hurling insults and shouting obscene slogans, that very well might be. The larger the crowd, the more intimidating it is. Intimidation can be accomplished by sheer numbers alone. But then, even a smaller crowd of demonstrators can be extremely intimidating, especially if they are known for a history of violence. Angry large tattooed bearded men holding signs saying "TEAMSTERS LOCAL 666 -- DO NOT CROSS OUR LINE!" would frighten most people away. Why? Because they would have a reasonable fear of bodily harm.

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