In the United States Supreme Court, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes provided a relatively simplistic rationale for the restriction on freedom of speech in United States v. Schwimmer, 279 U. S. 644 (1929). Holmes stated that: “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic…The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent. “
Obviously, freedom of speech and expression are intricately tied to other fundamental freedoms. Restrictions and limitations on speech and expression are required to maintain a balance between those freedoms and peace and security of communities. Maryam Namazie, a London based civil rights activist and commentator explains how free speech impacts other basic human rights. Namazie emphasizes that international laws on freedom of speech have failed to protect individuals and groups who have steadfastly exercised their rights to free speech and expression based on unjustified government censorship.
Namazie recounts several incidents of unjustified restrictions on freedom of expression pursuant to demands for other fundamental rights in the Middle East. In Tehran, for example, bus workers rallying for recognition of their labor law rights were arrested together with family members and some of them were subjected to torture. In another extreme example, teachers in Afghanistan who spoke out in favor of females obtaining an education were threatened with death. A similar position was adapted against women who advocated for equal treatment for woman generally in Iraq.
Journalists in Iran were imprisoned for publishing an article that compared Khomeini with the AIDS epidemic. In Yemen an editor awaits execution for publishing an account of Mohammed’s endorsement of “the killing of a woman who had insulted him. ” Namazie explains that these incidents are manifestations that many nations do not recognize the ambit of free speech and primarily treat it as a privilege rather than a universal right. Namazie warns that: “Any limits on free speech & expression are really attempts by those in power or vying for power to limit our rights and the rights of the population at large. ”