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Insults and Blasphemy

Reader comment on item: Cartoons and Islamic Imperialism

Submitted by Margie (United States), Feb 7, 2006 at 12:09

Dr. Pipes,

You wrote: "Westerners will either retain their civilization, including the right to insult and blaspheme, or not."

Many types of insults and blasphemy were illegal as recently as the very early 20th century in the United States. Those offenses were apparently not considered protected speech under the 1st Amendment until recently. In the course of genealogical pursuits I found a newspaper article from just after the turn of the century which described the arrest and hearing of a great uncle who was released after he was able to convince the judge that what he had actually said to the store clerk and her daughter was "Dod Dam." Another great uncle, who fancied himself quite the ladies' man, was arrested and brought before a judge for "insulting" a married lady on a downtown Atlanta sidewalk (after her husband had attempted to shoot him for it).

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