Fighting Words Doctrine
The First Amendment doctrine holds that certain utterances are not constitutionally protected as free speech if they are inherently likely to provoke a violent response from the audience. N.A.A.C.P. v. Clairborne Hardware Co., Miss., 458 U.S. 886, 102 S.Ct. 3409, 73 L.Ed.2d 1215 (1982).
Words which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace, having direct tendency to cause acts of violence by the persons to whom, individually, remark is addressed. The test is what persons of common intelligence would understand to be words likely to cause an average addressee to fight. City of Seattle v. Camby, 104 Wash.2d 49, 701 P.2d 499, 500.
The "freedom of speech" protected by the Constitution is not absolute at all times and under all circumstances and there are well-defined and narrowly limited classes of speech, the prevention and punishment of which does not raise any constitutional problem, including the lewd and obscene, the profane, the libelous, and the insulting or "fighting words" which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace. Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, 315 U.S. 568, 62 S.Ct. 766, 86 L.Ed. 1031.