The Law: Decisions

How much bad-mouthing must a policeman take before arresting the name-caller? The Supreme Court has ruled that states could ban verbal cop-baiting only if it involved "fighting words" likely to provoke a breach of the peace. But last week the court again made clear that no matter what words are used, the state law must first have defined the offense with precision. In North Little Rock, Ark., a policeman had heard one man in a group say, "Well, there goes the big bad mother— cops." Twice more, with pungent variations, the hecklers piled...

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