To the editor: The Trump mob’s invasion of the Capitol occurred on Jan. 6 — 50 years to the day after Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave his “Four Freedoms” address on Jan. 6, 1941.

The country then faced unprecedented danger and instability in the wake of German hostilities. Fearing war would engulf the U.S. as well as Europe, FDR invoked the freedoms worth fighting for, the first being freedom of speech.

How ironic is it then that the Republicans used free speech as one of the reasons to acquit Donald Trump in his second impeachment. No one questioned a politician’s right to express his opinion. Typically, speech is protected under the First Amendment unless it constitutes a “clear and present danger” and falls into the “shouting fire in a crowded theater” category. But the House managers narrowed the debate to focus on whether Trump’s pattern of speech successfully exhorted the mob to commit unlawful acts.

The 1969 Brandenburg case they cited exonerated a Klu Klux Klan leader for a speech he gave saying that, if elected officials and the courts continue to suppress the white race “… there might have to be some revengeance (sic) to take.” The court found that his “requested” violence proved to be uttered in the abstract and did not post an imminent threat likely under the circumstances.

For years, Trump has pushed the boundaries of protected free speech with his “hate speech” attacking immigrants and minorities. But there has yet to be a court finding that his speech actually precipitated violence — even though, for example, a Trump-supporting white-supremacist shooter gunned down Mexicans shoppers in a mall in El Paso.

One must clearly prove causation — “imminent danger”— which must directly link to the words of the speaker. Picture Trump standing on Jan. 6 before a mob, sporting weapons, dressed in body armor and carrying plastic restraints. Then he whips them up and points them directly towards the Capitol. If that doesn’t qualify as speech provoking “imminent danger,” what does?

Legal arguments aside, it’s hard to imagine why those GOP senators who could have curbed his dangerous power voted to acquit. Why would they wish to remain under Trump’s thumb, when it’s obvious he could turn that mob against any one of them at any time? Just ask Mike Pence.

Carolyn Kay Brancato, Richmond

{&break}The author is a writer focusing on freedom of speech issues.