Walter Chaplinsky
Guy Lochhead, 11/09/10
American Jehovah’s Witness famous as the defendant in the Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire court case. In 1941, Chaplinsky was standing on the pavement in Rochester, New Hampshire, preaching, handing out pamphlets, and calling organised religion a “racket”. A crowd gathered and had to be dispersed by the police, who also removed Chaplinsky to take him to police headquarters. On the way, they met the town marshal, who had earlier told Chaplinsky to keep it down. Upon seeing him again, Chaplinsky allegedly called him “a God-damned racketeer” and “a damned Fascist”. He was arrested and fined under a New Hampshire statute preventing intentionally offensive speech directed at others in a public place. He appealed, claiming the law infringed upon his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights to free speech. The court upheld the decision. This is sort of interesting, but I would feel more sympathetic if Chaplinsky wasn’t preaching religion. There’s a lack of control that comes before any statutes. The decision by the Court is strange, and, I think (knowing very little about the case, admittedly), unfair, but the guy’s blatantly an idiot anyway. How can a Jehovah’s Witness preach against organised religion?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *