[ExI] yelling fire
sparge at gmail.com
Fri Apr 9 16:07:09 UTC 2021
On Fri, Apr 9, 2021 at 11:09 AM spike jones via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
> I heard an expression this week that reminds me of my cheerfully misspent
> childhood: You can’t yell fire in a crowded theatre. I always assumed it
> true. But… is it? I understand it is a reference to the limits of free
> speech. It makes reference to something the old timers all understood but
> moderns do not.
> In the old days, theatres were made of wood and were full of flammables.
> They had no sprinkler systems, no smoke detectors, no fire alarms, no
> extinguishers, grossly insufficient emergency exits. Proles would trample
> each other in panic trying to get out if anyone screamed fire.
> What would happen if someone did that now? Answer: probably nothing. I
> wouldn’t get out of my seat. Any building that meets modern fire code
> doesn’t really burn worth a worry. The carpet is fire suppressed, drywall
> doesn’t burn at all, there are smoke detectors everywhere. If someone
> started screaming fire, the bouncer would likely throw the bum out, but I
> doubt there would be legal consequences.
> Conclusion: you can yell fire in a crowded theatre.
Doing that did cause a significant number of deaths a hundred or more years
ago. As a justification for not allowing anti-draft pamphlets to be
distributed, it's not such a great argument.
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