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.


2 thoughts on “Hate Speech”

  1. You are very correct, the first amendment is a right that everyone has until it passes a certain point. Some of the points that people do make is that they say some things are considered fighting words, or hate speech like you said which I agree with. I also think that when fighting words are used and the defended that said the words says it’s free speech I think that is when they are wrong also the same when it comes to hate speech. I also agree on how you said when it gets to this point it makes the first amendment controversial.


  2. It’s true that there is a very thin line between hate speech and one’s First Amendment right. Determining whether the comments spoken by someone is considered freedom of speech or incitement has become increasingly difficult in our society. The trend that has developed has everyone walking on eggshells when it comes to speaking out against somebody. For example, Milo Yiannopoulos was scheduled to speak at an event at the University of California – Berkeley before it was shut down due to violent outbreaks of protests. This occurrence is very controversial, but it relates to the topic of free speech or hate speech. The violent protesters claimed that Milo was denouncing a specific group of people, but they have no solid evidence that it was in fact hate speech. Therefore, these protesters took away Milo’s First Amendment right by not allowing him to speak. If you ask me, that’s a bit extreme and contradictory of what the protesters were fighting for.


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