Tag Archives: internet

Does the First Amendment Protect Hate Speech?

Slander/Libel, Fighting words, and obscenity can be hate speech, but not all hate speech is slander/libel, fighting words, and obscenity. The First Amendment protects the majority of hate speech, but the only thing that it doesn’t protect is when someone is openly abusing the individual(s) with hate toward their race, color, ethnicity, gender, disability, sexual orientation, or religion.

Hate speech can be obscenity. An example of this is the R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul court case. Allegedly, a group of teenagers burned “a crudely fashioned cross on a black family’s lawn.” Based on the United State’s short history, not long ago were African Americans segregated against, and tortured and murdered. The Klu Klux Klan was a group organized in 1865, specifically made to strike fear into the hearts of African Americans and those that supported them. Eventually, the Klu Klux Klan decided to act, who continued to suppress newly freed slaves as well as beat and hang them. Their symbol was their white outfits as well as the burning cross. The display of this on the family’s yard caused extreme anger, and aroused fear based on their race. The issue is that hate speech itself falls into a number of different categories that are considered crimes. The article provides an example, “threatening to kill someone because he’s black (or white) or intentionally inciting someone to a likely and immediate attack on someone because he’s Muslim (or Christian or Jewish), can be made a crime.” This is hate speech, but falls under the illegal status because one cannot make true threats at another or try to start crimes for any reason. Hate speech can also be slander/libel. The Beauharnais v. Illinois was a case where a man posted papers asking government officials to “halt the encroachment, harassment, and invasion of white people and call whites to unite against the violence perpetrated by African-Americans.” This is libel against the African-American race, and collectively insulting every person that is or identifies with that race.

Lawyers say that hate speech itself is not part of the exceptions of the first amendment unless it falls under one of the other kinds of unprotected expression. The lines are not clearly drawn out, and hate speech continues to happen with no consequence because it is so difficult to pinpoint. The first amendment protects any speech, no matter how emotionally harmful, unless it poses physical harm, or is direct or personal toward another person. The first amendment is not just freedom of speech, but freedom of expression. Through the court system, there have been many cases where there has been tension because of what someone was wearing, including the Cohen v. California case. In this case, a man decided to wear a jacket showing his opposition to the Vietnam war. He was taken to court about it, but the judges protected him stating, “one man’s vulgarity is another man’s lyric.” The court protected the emotive and cognitive element of speech even though Cohen was found guilty and served 30 days in jail.

The Village of Skokie v. National Socialist Party of America was another case where clothing was questioned. A march was going to take place, and the marchers wanted to wear clothing extremely similar to those that Nazis wore, including the armband Swastika. The major issue was that the march would take place in a village where a large number of the population was Jewish, and most of whom had survived the concentration camps. The court case looked at the Cohen v. California case and ruled that the Nationalist Socialist Party could wear what they wanted to. The court said that the “government could not base rules on the feelings of “the most squeamish among us” and that the wearing of the swastikas was “a matter of taste and style.””

Hate speech is a giant grey area within modern day law. Many fights start with someone stating something awful to another person. A person could say something that would be fighting words, but the saying itself would not be the crime, but what follows after what was said would be. The internet makes it even more difficult to legislate hate speech. Hate speech is said every day on many platforms, that it would take an extremely long time and nearly impossible to shut down every website or every post that showed any sign of hate speech. The concept of “one man’s vulgarity is another man’s lyric,” makes one’s speech difficult to judge unless it is blatantly stated in a way that crosses the lines on one or more of the already established limits of speech.



Demaske, C. (2018). Hate Speech. [online] Mtsu.edu. Available at: https://mtsu.edu/first-amendment/article/967/hate-speech [Accessed 25 Sep. 2018].

Gjelten, E. (2018). Does the First Amendment Protect Hate Speech?. [online] http://www.lawyers.com. Available at: https://www.lawyers.com/legal-info/criminal/does-the-first-amendment-protect-hate-speech.html [Accessed 25 Sep. 2018].

Oyez. (2018). Beauharnais v. Illinois. [online] Available at: https://www.oyez.org/cases/1940-1955/343us250 [Accessed 25 Sep. 2018].

Oyez. (2018). Cohen v. California. [online] Available at: https://www.oyez.org/cases/1970/299 [Accessed 25 Sep. 2018].

Oyez. (2018). R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul. [online] Available at: https://www.oyez.org/cases/1991/90-7675 [Accessed 25 Sep. 2018].


Social media bans free speech?

Twitter, instagram, Snapchat, etc. all familiar names to people living in and well connected and free liberated place. Here we all believe our first amendments are a must and should and possibly have been honored for years and years to come. With the newer developments of social media things like  sharing free speech, ideas and the right to expression have been more accessible than ever. That is until someone crosses the line and posts something that maybe be demeaning and hateful towards woman or the LGBTQ community or something of the sorts. Then what should those free speech and right to expression enthusiastic sites do. Ban those accounts that are discriminatory, preaching hate speech or releasing obscenic content? If so then were can they draw the line between accounts that are purposely hurting people and those who are actually exercise go their amendments. This poses a new question for our society, Do social media outlets (twitter, Snapchat, instagram,etc.) violate the right to free speech when banning or suspending accounts for hate speech?

It’s a very hard line to draw. Nonetheless, social media hinders free speech in one way or another. No matter where you stand on the line, left, right, center, you will see the effects. If people are using their right to free speech in a negative or abusive way then social media should have the right to ban or delete an account after at least one fair warning. Many areas of social media are having a difficult time drawing the line between what is acceptable and what is hurtful or even offensive to others. And to be completely fair anything can be deemed as offensive or hurtful in this day and age. Even schools are prohibiting the use of social media and even banning some accounts.

According to the District Administration, High Schools are trying to determine what is acceptable to permit in the classroom. The social media that they accept has to be permitted for educational purposes and not used inappropriately but students and/or teachers. The big idea for schools and social media is safety vs. free speech, which one is more important.

According to Daily Telegraph, Universities are even challenging violation on free speech. One University banned its Conservative Society’s social media accounts for bringing to light a survey highlighting that the University is “very intolerant of free speech”.

According to New York Times, twitter, a media outlet highly known for its free speech, has recently been banning certain accounts due to the usage of dehumanizing and hateful speech. Twitter has made multiple statements explaining their usage policies.

Overall I think one can see that social media has no way of protecting everyone from hateful speech without putting some sort of limitations of the first amendments. There really is no way to censor everything that everyone says, therefor people need to either not be so sensitive, be more respectful or not use social media. 


Works Cited

HarryYorke. “Students’ Union Bans Tories in Free Speech Row.” Daily Telegraph (London), Mar. 2017, p. 9. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=f6h&AN=8Q2123134966&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

Schachter, Ron. “Social Media Policy: Safety vs. Free Speech.” District Administration, vol. 49, no. 8, Aug. 2013, p. 48. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=f6h&AN=103369527&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

CECILIA KANG, and KATE CONGER. “Inside the Struggle at Twitter Over What Warrants a Ban.” New York Times, vol. 167, no. 58051, 11 Aug. 2018, p. B1. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=f6h&AN=131175628&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

Is social media restricting your freedom of speech?

Should social media be able to restrict what you post? I think to some extent, social media should be able to control what some people post. There always is that fine line in social media of what is acceptable to post and what isn’t. If their post can be offensive to a group of people the post should be taken down. For example, saying you don’t like an actor because they’re Muslim. If someone expresses their hatred towards a person about things that they’ve done that doesn’t threaten the person that the post is about, then it’s fine. An example would be, I don’t like ______ because they said _______ about ________.

In the past two months, there has been a big debate in the Marvel community on whether James Gunn, the director of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, should be rehired after a ton of disrespectful tweets arose from ten years ago. Everyone in the cast from Guardians of the Galaxy posted a letter in support for rehiring James Gunn despite the tweets. However, Disney made a statement that they weren’t going to rehire him. Many of James Gunn’s tweets from ten years ago were about rape and pedophilia which makes sense why Disney fired him since they’re a very family-friendly business.

The pro to having social media restricting what you say is that people being “exposed” for what they said in the past won’t bite them in the butt in the future. There is also a con to having social media restrict what you say. Many conservatives on social media feel as if censorship is a bad thing. Professor Eric Gander states in Gretel Kauffman’s article Twitter Bars Alt-Right Accounts, “…individuals who are liberal are really not committed to liberal values, they’re committed to censorship.” Now I agree with the fact of social media can’t just altogether ban alt-righters from saying what they believe, it’s just when some of their beliefs offend a group of people by being racist, sexist, etc. Social media’s platform should be as neutral as it can without restricting others rights because they don’t have the typical liberal views, but also keeping in mind one’s limits to not offend people.

Social Media is Free Speech

Social media is so popular these days and is so versatile it can be used so many different ways. There are many positive aspects to social media, but a major debate over social media has always been about where the first amendment fits into all of it. The big question that everyone is talking about is if the government should be able to regulate what is being said and posted on social media.
The first amendment states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” To me, freedom of speech means that people have the right to say whatever they want whenever they want. Even though I believe lots of people choose to abuse this right and use it as a way to hurt people, it is still our rights as U.S. citizens to say whatever we want. Social media is just a part of this. The use of language can be more strong on social media because it is through a screen and not face to face. I think this is where most of the problems arise and where some people want social media to be regulated because lots of people share hateful and offensive thoughts online. Some people believe others should not have the right to say such horrible things online, and while I agree with that concept, I also acknowledge that the first amendment was created so people to speak their minds freely and have their opinions be heard. If the government were to regulate everything that was put on social media, it would cause people to become closed off and scared to share their views and opinions.
The U.S. is one country that grants its citizens the right to say whatever they want about whatever they want and I choose to look at that as a blessing instead of a curse. Despite the fact that some people abuse the first amendment and choose to use it as a weapon of hate instead of a way to heal and bring people joy and happiness, I do not believe that the government should be allowed to regulate everything put on social media. Social media is a creative output for so many people and a way for people to get their ideas heard. If the government is looking over everyone’s shoulder all the time, then they are taking away people’s voices because they will be too afraid to speak their minds.


Karentay. “How Should Governments Regulate Facebook and Other Social Media Platforms? Proposing A New Paradigm to Regulation.” Technology and Public Good, 24 Oct. 2017, techandpublicgood.com/2017/10/24/how-should-governments-regulate-facebook-and-other-social-media-platforms-proposing-a-new-paradigm-to-regulation/.

“First Amendment – U.S. Constitution.” Findlaw, constitution.findlaw.com/amendment1.html.

Praying Before Football Games- Against the Law or Not?

In a lot of places, they pray before football and other games. It has been going on for a long time. Now, people are challenging if this is going against the law. The 1st Amendment gives people freedom of speech and religion. How people interpret that leads to conflict on this issue.

The football team in Dumore has prayed before games for a long time (read more here). They are now told they can’t and are not happy about it. They can’t pray before the game anymore because they were told it’s against the law as public teacher and coaches should not be involved in leading religious acts. The 1st Amendment says freedom of religion. Some people think that means that people should be free to pray if they want. The other side thinks that means students can choose to pray, but it can’t be led by staff because it goes against the separation of church and state. If people from a different religion or belief were there, they could feel pressured to just follow along or be treated differently.

In conclusion, students can still pray if they want, but the 1st amendment makes it so people can be free to practice their own religions how they want to and not how the school tells them to.(read more here)

Works Cited:

“PRO/CON…Should sports teams be allowed to pray before games?” October 18, 2012 by Amy Ayala from King’s Courier


“When Faith and Football Don’t Mix” by Ken Paulson October 23, 2012


“Prayer Before Football Game Ruled Against The Law” by Stacy Lange 11/4/2016




Net Neutrality-The First Amendment Issue of Our Time

Net neutrality has been around since the internet took off. It says that internet service providers cannot slow down certain websites. This is so that they don’t slow down certain to discourage traffic on that site, but it has become an increasingly hot issue over the past few years. Some people believe that everyone should have equal access to the web and that companies that provide internet services are simply there to transfer information without bias. The big media companies, however, believe that since they engage in and transmit speech, that this is a violation of the first amendment.

Verizon in particular have voiced that they think it violates the first amendment by stripping these ISP’s of control over the transmission of speech on their networks. Other internet service providers also agree that net neutrality imposes dramatic new restrictions and that the government seeks to control all aspects of broadband internet access service.

Recently, the organization that regulates net neutrality has proposed new rules that permit a fast lane for content providers that are willing and able to pay for it. Many people believe that if the court allows this new rule, that broadband companies will shut off access to web sites and ideas they don’t like, and it will funnel consumers instead to the sites and ideas that are favorable to corporate interests. This, they think, risks the loss of free flow and exchange of ideas that is central to democracy.

Do You Speak through the Internet, or Does the Internet Speak for You?

Almost everyone has heard of net neutrality, but few truly understand the breadth of the issue. Simply, net neutrality prevents internet service providers (ISPs) from limiting access to certain websites or promoting their own content or sponsored content. In her article Court Backs Rules Treating Internet As Utility, Not LuxuryCecilia Kang explains that in June of 2016, the United States Court of Appeals ruled that the internet is a utility, which allowed the government to enact net neutrality.

Proponents of net neutrality believe that it protects the consumer by ensuring that he or she has access to all content on the internet. The court’s ruling of the internet as a utility makes the internet a tool for people to express their ideas not for the internet to project its own ideas. In this way, net neutrality protects the consumers’  First Amendment rights.

However, others argue that net neutrality violates the Internet Service Providers’ right to free speech. According to the ISPs, internet providers should be able to regulate speeds of websites in order to express their ideas. A group of broadband companies, including the small ISP Alamo, filed a lawsuit against the FCC to challenge net neutrality. The article How Net Neutrality Violates the First Amendment by Jon Brodkin explains the companies’ claims, “with prioritization, broadband providers convey a message by ‘favoring’ certain speech – that prioritized content is superior – because it is delivered faster”.

Some claim that the FCC does not have the power to restrict ISPs’ speech. However, one exception to the First Amendment is prior restraint, which states that only the US government has the right to prevent material from being published. Therefore, one can argue that it is unlawful for ISPs to block or to slow websites as that is a form of censorship, which is not protected under the First Amendment.

The debate surrounding net neutrality boils down to one essential issue: whose rights are more valid – the ISP’s or the consumers’?

Works Cited
Brodkin, Jon. “How Net Neutrality Violates the First Amendment (according to One ISP).” Ars Technica. WIRED Media Group, 06 Oct. 2015. Web. 15 Feb. 2017.
Furchtgott-Roth, Harold. “Net Neutrality Violates First Amendment.” Hudson Institute. Hudson Institute, 23 Nov. 2015. Web. 15 Feb. 2017.
Kang, Cecilia. “Court Backs Rules Treating Internet As Utility, Not Luxury.” New York Times 15 June 2016: n. pag. Print.
Manne, Geoffrey A., and R. Ben Sperry. “How to Break the Internet.” Reason May 2015: 20-28. SIRS Issues Reasearcher. Web. 15 Feb. 2017.