If You’re Determined to Write about an Unjust Restraining Order (or Other Procedural Violation), There’s No Point in NOT Naming Names

TALKING BACK to restraining orders


The title of this post requires qualification. There is a reason not to name names in critical speech, especially speech that’s published: It’s safer, because you’re less likely to provoke the subject’s wrath. The catch is that if you write so innocuously (i.e., so generally and anonymously) that the subject doesn’t care, then your speech will have exerted no coercive effect. Coercive speech (speech intended to make someone reconsider his or her conduct) is protected by the First Amendment…which does not mean a trial judge will know it is. The only “safe” speech is no speech. Similarly, though, speech that fails to have any resonance may as well have been unexpressed.


Critical speech ABOUT a person, including speech intended to exert a coercive influence, is protected by the First Amendment. Putting someone on a dunking stool by holding up his or her conduct to public scrutiny in a one-to-many medium…

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