Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.
Oliver Wendell Holmes (18411935)
But the character of every act depends upon the circumstances in which it is done . The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic. It does not even protect a man from an injunction against uttering words that may have all the effect of force . The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent. It is a question of proximity and degree.
Justice OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES, Schenck v. United States, Baer v. United States, 249 U.S. 52 (1919).