Should Hate Speech be Protected?
Eliane Mitchell

29 September 2017

Hate speech: it can exclude, stigmatize, and potentially threaten our progress toward equality. So why is hate speech protected under the First Amendment, and should it actually be protected? 

In this interview from the NYTimes, Erwin Chemerinsky, one of the foremost legal scholars on the First Amendment, argues that the First Amendment protects hate speech for good reason. Social progress has always depended on the protection of free speech, and because how hate speech is defined is both malleable and circumstance-dependent, institutions cannot ban free speech without setting terms that could later backfire or stagnate progress. To be sure, the First Amendment's protection of speech, no matter how hateful (for the exception of extortion, true threats, and fighting words), is its most important feature—giving rise to a free speech-hate speech trade off that Americans must accept in order to reap its full benefits.

But what do you think? Should there at least be some limitations to hate speech, such as that which misinforms (similar to false advertising)? Or is "deceptive hate speech" again too malleable and circumstance-dependent of a parameter? Read the full article here:


Comments (2)

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Monday, October 2, 2017 -- 12:23 PM

I have wrestled with this

I have wrestled with this issue for at least 25 years. Probably even longer, but , not so vehemently as during those last 25. The founding fathers (and mothers) probably had no notion of how our society and American civilization at large would unfold. The seventeen hundreds and the following hundred years were a test drive for American democracy, and, given the circumstances leading up to and following the American Revolution, Jefferson et. al. must have tried to contemplate the future as best they could within the limits of their lives and times. Certainly, laws change, and in the fullness of time and experience, we find that they must. Sticks and stones...recall that little recitation?...but words can never hurt me. We wanted it to be so, with all our will and determination. But,(as the experts now admit) it has never been. I suspect---no, PREDICT, that hate speech will be eradicated from our lexicon. We need only look at its proliferation and its ability to incite the most vile acts; and its usage to promote incredibly wrong-headed agendas. Complexity compounds chaos. Simplicity supports serenity. That six-word litany is, to the best of my knowledge, my own. I hope it catches on, either because of my writings, or in spite of them. This is a long-distance race. It had better be. Sprinters capture glory. But marathoners earn the respect of everyone else. Oh, and by the way: this has nothing to do with religious doctrine or dogmas. It is much more urgent than those contrivances.

czrpb's picture


Wednesday, October 25, 2017 -- 7:05 AM

Does anyone know if any Free

Does anyone know if any Free Speech advocates have addressed Germany's speech restrictions around National Socialism and the Holocaust?

Specifically, AFAIK, the fundamental objection to speech regulation is a slippery-slope/targeting argument. Has this been a problem with Germany's law?

Erwin does give empirical evidence that University of Michigan's speech codes were used to target the very people it meant to help. I love evidence, so this is great!

But one wonders if the numerous restrictions in other countries haven't had such problems, is it an American culture peculiarity?