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NP: Where there's smoke

You can’t shout “fire” in a crowded theatre. Or can you? Has anyone ever tried? My Friday Post column discusses the all-time favourite cliché of the enemies of free speech.


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The reason that people use this old chestnut is to make a simple point: there are times and places when the right free speech can be dangerous and therefore is limited. Of course they then move on to use this to the point of abuse, but the principle remains. if we are to limit free-speech, then how and to what extent?


The last time I was near a major fire, I went over to the crowd it had drawn and began to shout "Theatre! Theatre!" But I don't think they appreciated my point.


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