Freedom of Speech: Missouri Knights of the Ku Klux Klan V. Kansas City

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Dennis Mahon, a member of the KKK, was trying to exercise his freedom of speech, through airing a television program called “Race and Reason.” The Missouri Knights group chose public cable access to broadcast because they were free of any editorial control from the cable company. The show ran for five years and reached 50 cities. (Alderman, and Kennedy 25-36) Their original request to air the show was denied because the company had regulations that required that programming on Channel 20 be produced locally. In order to comply with the regulation the group changed the show’s name to “Klansas city Kable.” The main focus of their episodes dealt with racial issues and exposing government and corporate bureaucracy. In Kansas City, the cable company studio was located in a neighborhood that was 95 percent black. American Cablevision was concerned that violence would occur. Their other concern was that viewers would cancel their subscriptions. (Alderman, and Kennedy 25-36) Reverend Cleaver did not believe that “Klansas City Kable” was an exercise as free speech. Instead he believed that the KKK was creating a terrorist organization. (Alderman, and Kennedy 25-36) According to the Supreme Court, the struggle between the fear of violence provoked by speech and the promise of the First Amendment has produced perhaps the most famous principle in all of constitutional law: the “clear and present danger” test, the idea that government cannot punish speech unless it creates a clear and present danger. (Alderman, and Kennedy 25-36) Because freedom of speech is the most protected, it was hard for Cleaver and his allies to cancel the show. They then proposed the idea of eliminating the public access channel altogether. The proposal went through, and the channel was canceled. (Alderman, and Kennedy 25-36) After, Pevar (Mahon’s attourney,) filed suit in federal district…...

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