‘Civility Roundtable’ Forum to Explore Limits of Free Speech

Free speech is guaranteed to all Americans in the First Amendment. But the right isn’t absolute. Legal constraints prevent us from unjustifiably shouting “fire!” in a crowded theater. And social constraints prevent many, if not most, of us from using racial slurs.

The city of Mountain View will host a forum on Wednesday titled “Free Speech: How Far is Too Far?,” which explores the limits of our right to expression. Organized by the city’s Human Relations Commission, the roundtable discussion comes as the nation grapple with the rise of so-called alt-right groups that espouse hateful rhetoric.

Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian will moderate the discussion. The panel will feature Deputy District Attorney Angela Alvarado, Santa Clara University’s Director of Campus Ethics Programs David DeCosseMountain View Voice editor Andrea Gemmet and GreenFire Energy CEO Joseph Scherer.

The event is free, open to the public and runs from 6:30 to 9:30pm at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts on Castro Street.

Wednesday’s forum culminates the Civility Roundtable series hosted by the city commission, a public advisory board tasked with addressing social and quality-of-life issues in Mountain View. Since their inception in 2012, the community talks have explored pressing issues in Mountain View and the surrounding region.

To peruse the agenda, click here


  1. When considering the extents of the right to free speech, a number of unspoken questions should also be considered:

    1. Does the speech in question advocate criminal action in any way? I.E. does it advocate actual physical violence against others? Does it advocate the overthrow of the government?

    2. Does placing limits on speech not of a criminal nature impose undue burdens – BOTH on the ‘speaker’ in question, and on those who might choose to voluntarily ‘listen’ to said speaker?

    3. If Gun control advocates wish to impose limits on gun ownership, arguing, for example, that, because Armalite-style rifles (A.R. actually stands for Armalite Rifle, and NOT Assault Rifle) were not available at the time of the creation of the Bill of Rights, that they are subject to governmental regulation, will those same gun control advocates concede that they only means of communication of that message NOT subject to governmental control are physical print materials in black and white together with the use of town criers since THOSE were the technologies of speech available at the time the Bill of Rights was written?

    4. If the definition of ‘harm’ for legal purposes is going to be redrawn to include emotional damage of a type that is impossible to measure. will those advocating for controls of both speech and guns concede that their opponents have just as legitimate a claim for (unmeasurable) emotional damage against advocates of speech and gun control?

  2. So the City of Mountain View is going to rewrite the constitution as they deem appropriate! Wow! God help us all!

  3. > Organized by the city’s Human Relations Commission, the roundtable discussion comes as the nation grapple with the rise of so-called alt-right groups that espouse hateful rhetoric.

    All you need to know that this is just left-wing political advocacy.

    You know it’s just a phoney-baloney political stunt if they don’t have a single panelist who has been banned by Twitter or Facebook.

    I’m sure these mini-totalitarians would ban a speech by the President of the United States as “espousing hateful rhetoric”.

    > “Free Speech: How Far is Too Far?,”

    In Mountain View, a speech by the President is “too far”.

    Pathetic children. They shouldn’t be allowed to buy a gun or vote until they’re aged 96.

  4. Put a twelve foot high sound-proof wall around Mountain View and call it a “safe space”.

    Don’t forget to leave doors for illegal aliens, but make sure there are metal detectors for guns and screeners to seize pirated music and climate denying or white supremacist literature.

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