Right to Free Speech
People v. Dietze, 75 N.Y.2d 47 (NY Court of Appeals 1989)
Speech is often “abusive” — even vulgar, derisive, and provocative — and yet it is still protected under the State and Federal constitutional guarantees of free expression unless it is much more than that (see, Lewis v City of New Orleans, 415 U.S. 130, 133-134; cf., Steinhilber v Alphonse, 68 N.Y.2d 283). Casual conversation may well be “abusive” and intended to “annoy”; so, too, may be light-hearted banter or the earnest expression of personal opinion or emotion. But unless speech presents a clear and present danger of some serious substantive evil, it may neither be forbidden nor penalized (Terminiello v Chicago, 337 U.S. 1, 4-5; see also, City of Houston v Hill, 482 U.S. 451, 461-462; People v Feiner, 300 N.Y. 391, 402, affd 340 U.S. 315)
The Supreme Court has oft reaffirmed the power of States to prohibit public speech which creates an imminent danger of violence.