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Fighting words

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Definition Edit

Fighting words are written or spoken words, generally expressed to incite hatred or violence from their target. Specific definitions, freedoms, and limitations of fighting words vary by jurisdiction. It is also used in a general sense of words which when uttered create (deliberately or not) a verbal or even physical confrontation by their mere usage.

Overview Edit

In U.S. constitutional law, the "fighting words" doctrine is a limitation on freedom of speech as granted in the First Amendment. In its 9-0 decision in Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire,[1] the U.S. Supreme Court established the doctrine and held that "insulting or 'fighting words,' those that by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace" are among the "well-defined and narrowly limited classes of speech [which] the prevention and punishment of . . . have never been thought to raise any constitutional problem."

References Edit

  1. 315 U.S. 568 (1942) (full-text).
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