Andrew P. Napolitano
March 17, 2016
On Feb. 7, 1946, Arthur Terminiello, a Roman Catholic priest who was a fierce opponent of communism and believed that President Harry Truman was too comfortable with it, gave an incendiary speech in a Chicago hall that his sponsors had rented.
The hall held about 800 people, but nearly 2,400 showed up. Father Terminiello’s opponents outnumbered his supporters by a 2-1 ratio. The atmosphere in the hall was electric, with almost everyone present taking sides for or against this priest — all under the watchful eyes of Chicago police.
The speech delighted the priest’s supporters and enraged his detractors. When it became apparent that violence might break out, theChicago police approached Terminiello while he was speaking and asked him to stop and leave the building.
He refused to leave and resumed his speech. The police prediction soon came to pass. The fiery priest ignited the hatred of his adversaries, many of whom seemed to have come to that venue to silence him. The shouters hurled chairs, rushed the stage and attempted to attack him.
a> safely escorted Terminiello out of the hall and then, in the presence of the many rioters who by now had spilled out onto a public street, arrested him for inciting a riot. The charge was defined in Illinois in the mid-1940s so as to criminalize any behavior that intentionally arouses the public to anger or brings about public unrest.