ThunderPower Megaphones were created to help people better express themselves. Of course, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution explicitly protects your right to free expression with or without the amplified sound of an electronic bullhorn. But since you are going to exercise your right to speak, don’t you think people should hear you?
ThunderPower Bullhorns are designed for maximum power and volume and constructed from durable materials to withstand damage following being dropped or banged against hard surfaces. More and more people are turning to ThunderPower megaphones to incorporate into public speaking engagements, protests, or campaign rallies.
However, in addition to being armed with a ThunderPower megaphone, understanding some basic First Amendment principles and guidelines for free speech will help protect your rights while amplifying your message. That’s why ThunderPower Megaphones decided to outline a couple fundamental First Amendment principles everyone should know before hitting the streets with your message.
I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”Evelyn Beatrice Hall
Principle Number One: When Using Megaphones, It Is Your Conduct That Counts Not Your Content
In other words, it’s not what you say, it’s the way that you say it. Your right to express your opinion is protected no matter what beliefs you hold. However, how you present your beliefs is what matters. This issue was at the center of an important in a 1919 Supreme Court decision that rejected a man’s defense that he could yell, “fire” in a crowded theater. Any expression or protest that causes serious disruption can be stopped by law enforcement or other government agencies. But with a few notable exceptions, nobody can restrict your rights simply because they don’t like what you say.
Still, as long as you are not expressing “dangerous” expressions, the First Amendment protects your right to express your opinion, even if it’s unpopular. That means you can criticize the President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, or even the chief of police without fear of retaliation. But again, you can’t grab your ThunderPower Megaphone to start a riot or yell “rob that store” because this is considered speech that is intended to “inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace” and you will be subject to arrest. Further, First Amendment rights doesn’t extend to slander, libel, dangerous threats or speech that incites imminent violence or law-breaking.
Principle Number Two: Free Speech is for Everyone
The one thing is crystal clear regarding free speech is that it applies to everyone. That’s right, whether you are a Mormon or Muslim; man or woman, young or old, or whether you are an evangelist or an atheist you are protected by the First Amendment. Also, it doesn’t matter if you’re a U.S. citizen, whether you speak English, or are not of voting age. ThunderPower Megaphones wants to remind you that free speech is for everyone who is physically in the United States.
Principle Number Three: It Is About When, Where and How
Consider when, where and how you use your free-speech rights. If you organize a rally that causes violence or unnecessary disruption, your event may be disbanded. Every municipality has regulations and it’s your responsibility to understand them. You must observe reasonable regulations on time, place, and manner when you exercise your rights to demonstrate and protest.
This brings us to two additional points as well:
- Do you need a permit to march, promote, or advocate?
Whether you’re marching on city hall, holding a candlelight vigil, or rallying outside the statehouse or a private business, you should check your local municipal codes before pulling out the megaphone.
In general, the government can’t prohibit marches or rallies. However, it can make you get a permit in order to avoid competing uses of an area, and you don’t abuse the amount of time you use occupying the space or vandalizing the area.
In general, lawyers advise people to double check the specific rules and guidelines for the city you will be speaking in.
- How much noise can you make?
This area specifically addresses how you use your Thunderpower Megaphone, and like many municipal ordinances, the answer depends on what city you are in. However, in general this very important principle applies: You may use amplification devices as long as your intent is to communicate your message, not to disturb the peace. The government may require permits for music, drums and megaphones, most city ordinances are narrowly tailored so that they prevent excessive noise without interfering with your free-speech rights. Check your local regulations. You may not need a permit to use your ThunderPower bullhorn or megaphone, but the government may ban noisy parties without a purpose, or sound that is “amplified to a loud and raucous volume.”