Beyond Labels: Pornography, Violence, and Free Speech

  • Edith L. Pacillo
Part of the Library of Public Policy and Public Administration book series (LPPP, volume 12)


A publisher publishes a manual on how to murder. An individual reads the manual, then murders three people. Does the First Amendment shield the publisher from civil liability for the murders? One court has answered, “No.”A publisher publishes a manual on how to rape. An individual reads the manual and rapes a woman. Does the First Amendment shield the publisher from civil liability for the rape? Courts have suggested that the answer should be “yes.” The only significant difference between these scenarios is that the murder manual has no redeeming social value that requires First Amendment protection, while the fact that pornography leads to violence against women merely shows that it is worthy of protection—which is ironic and unjust. Rice v. Paladin Enterprises provides a new approach for those who seek compensation for injuries when perpetrators use instructional publications as an inspiration for sexual violence. Rice v. Paladin Enterprises holds that the publisher of the how-to style murder manual, Hit Man: A Technical Manual for Independent Contractors, was not entitled to First Amendment protection when a person used the manual to commit three murders. This ruling cleared the way for the publisher to be held civilly liable for aiding and abetting three murders.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edith L. Pacillo
    • 1
  1. 1.AttorneyBoiseUSA

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