ERIC Number: ED251885
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1984-Nov
Reference Count: 0
The Continuing Application of the Fighting Words Doctrine.
The doctrine of "fighting words" was first articulated by the United States Supreme Court in 1942 in the case of Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire when it declared one classificaton of language as outside the bounds of constitutional guarantees. Since then the Court has continually redrawn the line defining which speech is constitutionally protected, narrowing the nature of fighting words in the process. At various times the Court has equated fighting words with language that inflicts injury, incites a breach of the peace, provokes retaliation or violent action, or is calculated to offend sensibilities. The Court has also found it necessary to consider other contextual factors, such as the cultural milieu and geographical location, in rendering its decisions concerning fighting words. The problem appears to be the vagueness of the doctrine. Given this vagueness, and the resulting inability of authorities to agree on where to draw the line, continuing revision of the doctrine seems inevitable. (RBW)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Fighting Words Doctrine
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Speech Communication Association (70th, Chicago, IL, November 1-4, 1984).