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Teknon4 wrote:

I was one of the ones who asked Fool HQ about "what this all means to our First Amendment rights and the future of message board discussions," as the Barker piece mentions.

TMFOtter responded:

Point 1: I see multiple references to the First Amendment. Yahoo, as well as the Motley Fool are private entities. They are NOT public domain. In other words, your First Amendment Rights DO NOT APPLY. Your ability to state your opinion here is, at its base, dependent upon the company's desire to allow you to do so.

This is in no way a threat, just a clarification of the issue. You cannot assume right of free expression on message boards, because you don't have it. You don't have right of free expression in the work place, on college campuses, or even in the Boy Scouts. Anyone who doubts this should try this test: Go to work (or school) and yell out the most hurtful, racist, sexist, whatever-ist thing you can think of.


You are blurring the distinction between freedom of speech from legal consequences vs. freedom of speech from other consequences. The First Amendment issues created by CSFB lawsuit obviously involve the former, while your examples to refer the latter.

Sure, TMF can pull my posts if it so wishes, and my employer may fire me for things I say (I've read nothing here arguing otherwise). But First Amendment protection of speech from *legal* consequences does not apply any less on these boards or at the workplace than it does in a public forum.

(Note - I'm not claiming *all* speech is protected by the 1st Amendment).

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
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