A handy guide to what types of speech are not protected by the First Amendment


Here’s a useful guide to non-controversial types of speech that are not protected by the First Amendment, as recently re-articulated by the Supreme Court. Note that “hate speech” is not among them:

From 1791 to the present the First Amendment has permitted restrictions upon the content of speech in a few limited areas and has never included a freedom to disregard these traditional limitations.

These historic and traditional categories are long familiar to the bar, including obscenity,  defamation, fraud,  incitement, and speech integral to criminal conduct–are well-defined and narrowly limited classes of speech, the prevention and punishment of which have never been thought to raise any Constitutional problem.

The associated cases:

  • Simon & Schuster, Inc. v. Members of N. Y. State Crime Victims Bd., 502 U. S. 105, 127 (1991)
  • Roth v. United States, 354 U. S. 476, 483 (1957)
  • Beauharnais v. Illinois, 343 U. S. 250, 254-255 (1952)
  • Virginia Bd. of Pharmacy v. Virginia Citizens Consumer Council, Inc., 425 U. S. 748, 771 (1976)
  • Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U. S. 444, 447-449 (1969)
  • Giboney v. Empire Storage & Ice Co., 336 U. S. 490, 498 (1949)
  • Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, 315 U. S. 568, 571-572 (1942).

Further Reading:

How To Spot And Critique Censorship Tropes In The Media’s Coverage Of Free Speech Controversies A superbly useful guide to help you understand who is right and who is wrong when they invoke the First Amendment in the media.



Caterina Fake: 30 Days of Genius

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I was interviewed by Chase Jarvis, the co-founder and CEO of Creative Live, an education company that has live education around the clock, every day, in creative fields such as design, filmmaking, photography and music. It’s a great company! I was on their board too.

Here is the interview, which was recorded last week, and is part of a series “30 Days of Genius”, which includes interviews with other folks such as Richard Branson, Swiss Miss, Arianna Huffington and other interesting and unexpected people. I had fun doing it, and, while I chafe at being characterized ONLY as an Entrepreneur and Angel Investor, was able to talk about my experiences along the way.

Further Reading

These are some of the books I mentioned in my interview:

A Blue Fire by James Hillman. Hillman is a student of Carl Jung, but focuses his work on the cultivation of the soul. Great guide for creative pursuits, but for anyone looking beyond success into fulfillment and magnanimity in the old sense: great-souledness.



The Emigrants by W.G. Sebald. A German writer, who spent most of his career teaching in East Anglia in England. Sebald writes movingly, is deeply learned. The Emigrants is his masterpiece: a study of men, their lives and failures, their deaths.

Monday’s List

In which I gather random, unrelated things in short list form.

  • Never having made pizza before, I made 10 pizzas yesterday.
  • I worked as a youth in a nursing home, and gained a lot of experience taking care of elderly people. There was something quite beautiful about the old people
  • I am going to dig into the archives of Caterina.net and other sites around the internet where I’ve done some writing. I will repost some of the better posts, update some, and so on. Many of the posts have been offline for years, but I still have all the archives, going back to the late 90s. Nearly 20 years of blog posts should provide some fodder.
  • I’ve read some exceptionally good books recently, which I will write about soon in greater detail.

Doubt in Buddhism


“Doubt is the fifth of the five hindrances to insight in meditation teaching, writes Sharon Salzburg, in a post about doubting.”  The other hindrances, grasping, aversion, sleepiness, and restlessness are easier to see than doubt, she says, as it “often disguises itself to us as something skillful, like a brilliant thought.” Brilliant thoughts are often the crafty method used to avoid difficult things such as acceptance or understanding.

Salzburg’s post provides these other thoughts: “Don’t believe anything. See for yourself what’s true,” from Buddha, which, like much great wisdom, come across as obvious, a platitude, but is not. And I was also struck by what Salzburg’s guru said in response to some students going off and trying out other gurus, “The dharma (the truth, the nature of things, the way or the path to freedom) doesn’t suffer from comparison.”

Sundance in Havana

Back from an amazing trip to Cuba with the Sundance board and staff to the Havana Film Festival. Sundance had hosted several workshops and panels, and sponsored several Cuban documentary filmmakers to make movies about Cuba in transition. In transition it truly is! We started out opening night at the Karl Marx Theatre:

We were staying at the Hotel Saratoga, though many events were at the Hotel Nacional, the state-owned hotel. I have some travel tips for any staying at the Saratoga:

We ate at a dozen of the restaurants that cater to the new tourist trade, that are in converted houses on residential streets, such as this one, the Rio Mar:

I was amazed at how similar the menus at all the restaurants were– there wasn’t a single meal that didn’t start with a mojito. Fish was rare, and chicken common, which seemed odd for an island nation. There weren’t many fishing boats, as independent non-governmental food acquisition is discouraged, even illegal.

I’ll continue with the travelogue–more posts about Havana to follow on Findery. If you have the chance to go to Cuba, go, and soon! The influx of tourism following on the relaxing of US-Cuba relations means that soon it will be more and more like Miami, and less and less like the old Cuba.


Designing a better umbrella

Umbrellas, as we know, blow inside out in the wind, and require the person holding it to sacrifice the use of one of their hands. Shouldn’t we all be using Knups? Knups are made from banana leaves lashed to a frame of bamboo. They are worn rather than carried, which allows you to use your hands. And if you lean into the wind, they won’t blow inside out, or away.


So often traditional designs are superior to modern designs. Knups are the traditional umbrellas of Northern India, and are here being used in the wettest place on earth, Mawsynram, which has over 38 feet of rain a year.

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