|September 8, 2013
(Source: The Telegraph)
ALEXANDRIA, VA — An Indiana man thought he had the freedom to speak about controversial topics and teach others what he knows. The Federal Government disagreed. This week that man found out that the penalty for free speech is 8 months in federal prison. He taught people how to beat polygraph tests. The case has sparked a debate about whether or not the right to lie, or teach others to lie, should be protected under the First Amendment.
“My wife and I are terrified,” said Chris Dixon, of Marion, Indiana. “I stumbled into this. I’m a Little League coach in Indiana…never in my wildest dreams did I somehow imagine I was committing a crime.”
Dixon, 34, had been struggling to find work as an electrical engineer and began working as a polygrapher. He soon began giving lessons on defeating the polygraph test.
A polygraph test measures blood pressure, sweat activity, respiration and movement to identify people who lie or try to beat the test. While polygraph data is not admissible in court, polygraphers use the information to detect what they believe are lies, followed by an attempt to elicit a confession to confirm their suspicions.
Polygraph instructors, like Dixon, claim to teach methods that help the test-subjects avoid scrutiny. Polygraph countermeasures include controlled breathing, muscle tensing, tongue biting and mental arithmetic.
“It may be unfortunate for federal law enforcement … but it is protected speech to tell people how to lie on a polygraph,” Dixon’s lawyer, Nina Ginsberg, said.
Despite having no criminal record, the Federal government found out about his lessons and began pursuing him for obstructing federal proceedings and wire fraud.