Supreme Court Review

Article Title

Heckle: To Disconcert with Questions, Challenges, or Gibes


I would like to consider the case that can be made for permitting, encouraging, and protecting the activity of heckling.1 Is heckling free speech? (It is certainly speech.)2 Or is it a violation of free speech (albeit a horizontal violation rather than the sort of vertical violation—violation by government—that the First Amendment seems framed to protect us from).3 Or is it both—free speech and a violation of free speech—to be dealt with under the auspices of an ordered as opposed to an anarchic system of liberty?4 In this article, I don’t want to consider just the threat that heckling poses (or is imagined to pose) to free speech itself. I also want to consider the threat it poses to public order and security, the threat it poses to political choreography, and above all the salutary threat it may pose to forms of political expression that we should not be in the business of trying to nourish and protect.

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