Hate Speech

Where does freedom of speech end, and hate speech begin? The first Amendment can be very controversial at times. “Establishing the line between protected speech and a federal hate crime can be challenging for prosecutors and courts and depends on the facts of each particular case.”(http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/how-federal-law-draws-a-line-between-free-speech-and-hate-crimes/) Hate speech has always been a controversial topic because sometimes it can invoke violence. Comments intended as specific and immediate threats brush up against protections. For example, “It’s one thing to say, ‘Kill all the Jews,’ versus ‘Kill that Jew who was my kid’s school teacher who gave him an F,’” said James Weinstein, a constitutional law professor at Arizona State University. That begins to lie under fighting words. According to (http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/how-federal-law-draws-a-line-between-free-speech-and-hate-crimes/), A 1942 Supreme Court decision called Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire — which involved a Jehovah’s Witness who cursed at a city marshal, calling him a “damned fascist” — articulated a “fighting words” doctrine that restricted insults intended to provoke an “immediate breach of the peace.” Although hate speech is technically legal, some of it can be taken as fighting words and become a problem. This is where the first amendment becomes controversial. It’s hard to tell what fighting words are because there is no clear definition in the amendment. It depends on the scenario and many other factors.


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