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In addition to obscenity tests, there are other legal limits to American free
expression. For example, speech is not protected if it is meant to incite crime or
violence against others. The other major restriction against free speech concerns
its broadcast on radio or television. Regardless of intention, there are restrictions
on broadcast media in the United States between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 10:00
p.m. (known as the "safe harbor" hours ).
The origin of these restrictions can be traced back to the first piece of national
legislation meant to regulate the use of radio. The Radio Act (of 1927 ) says "No
person within the jurisdiction of the United States shall utter any obscene, inde-
cent , or profane language by means of radio communication."
This is still enforced today, though the standards used to define "obscene, inde-
cent, or profane" have changed.
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In theory, any speech that falls outside of those restrictions, whether uttered on
the radio , in a newspaper, through the Internet, or at a busy street corner, should
be exchanged free of government censorship. However, despite the idealistic
emphasis on protecting free speech in America, occasionally the principles of the
country are manipulated and marred by incidents where public outrage at the
message's content is used to control and suppress ideas be they political, artistic,
scientific, literary, or even musical. These are usually events involving high
emotion, fear, the spread of unclear or incorrect information, and hyperbolic
rhetoric like that found in the wake of the September 11
th
attacks.