Should sex offenders be allowed on social networks? That’s the question facing courts in Indiana, Nebraska and Louisiana, as people convicted of sex crimes argue that participating in common online discourse falls under the right to free speech.

The knee-jerk reaction might be to side with authorities who want to block pedophiles from lingering online, looking to target young users, but it’s a complicated scenario. In the modern era, social networks or chat rooms, say civil liberties advocates, have become practically indispensable to free speech. So when bans are put in place or social networks — like Facebook, LinkedIn and others — implement changes that would severely restrict certain users from joining their communities, it can be a dicey situation.

Where do you stand on this issue? Do all people deserve the same rights to free speech (i.e., social online communities) — even if they are convicted sex offenders?

[via Chicago Tribune]