Are Racist opinions illegal? Is Hate Speech Illegal? NO!


Are Racist opinions illegal? Is Hate Speech Illegal? NO!

Racist opinions publicly expressed solely for the purpose of putting ones thoughts into words shared with others who may, or may not share the same opinion, and, may or may not want to hear such opinions is not illegal.

Making statements that many may consider to be hate speech is not illegal either. Unless, that is, the speaker is intentionally attempting to incite “imminent” unlawful acts as a consequence of his speaking. For example, riots, or other public disturbances that could result in property damage, disruption of the usual flow of traffic, harm to individuals and/or to their property, etc. The key words are “intentionally” and “imminent.”

The Supreme Court has consistently protected the First Amendment rights of individuals to free speech.

“In 1969, the Supreme Court protected a Ku Klux Klan member’s allegedly racist speech and created the “imminent danger” test to permit hate speech. The court ruled in Brandenburg v. Ohio that; “The constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a state to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force, or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.”[80]This test has been modified very little from its inception in 1969.”

Please read the following information from an Wikipedia article entitled:

Hate speech (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hate_speech)

Critics have argued that the term “hate speech” is a contemporary example of Newspeak, used to silence critics of social policies that have been poorly implemented in a rush to appear politically correct.[7][8][9]

United States

Constitutional framework

The 1789 Constitution of the United States of America dealt only with the three heads of power—legislative, executive, and judicial—and sketched the basic outlines of federalism in the last four articles. The protection of civil rights was not written into the original Constitution but was added two years later with the Bill of Rights, implemented as several amendments to the Constitution. The First Amendment, ratified December 15, 1791, states:

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.

Although this section is written only to apply to the federal congress (i.e. the legislative branch), the 14th Amendment, ratified on July 9, 1868, works to extend this prohibition to laws of the states as well.

Some state constitutions also have a “free speech” provision, most notably, California.[78]

Supreme Court case law

Some limits on expression were contemplated by the framers and have been read into the Constitution by the Supreme Court. In 1942, Justice Frank Murphy summarized the case law: “There are certain well-defined and limited classes of speech, the prevention and punishment of which have never been thought to raise a Constitutional problem. These include the lewd and obscene, the profane, the libelous and the insulting or ‘fighting’ words – those which by their very utterances inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace.”[79]

Traditionally, however, if the speech did not fall within one of the above categorical exceptions, it was protected speech. In 1969, the Supreme Court protected a Ku Klux Klan member’s allegedly racist speech and created the “imminent danger” test to permit hate speech. The court ruled in Brandenburg v. Ohio that; “The constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a state to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force, or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.”[80]

This test has been modified very little from its inception in 1969 and the formulation is still good law in the United States. Only speech that poses an imminent danger of unlawful action, where the speaker has the intention to incite such action and there is the likelihood that this will be the consequence of his or her speech, may be restricted and punished by that law. (Emphasis is mine)

In R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul, (1992), the issue of freedom to express hatred arose again when a gang of white people burned a cross in the front yard of a black family. The local ordinance in St. Paul, Minnesota, criminalized such racist and hate-filled expressions and the teenager was charged thereunder. Associate justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the Supreme Court, held that the prohibition against hate speech was unconstitutional as it contravened the First Amendment. The Supreme Court struck down the ordinance. Scalia explicated the fighting words exception as follows: “The reason why fighting words are categorically excluded from the protection of the First Amendment is not that their content communicates any particular idea, but that their content embodies a particularly intolerable (and socially unnecessary) mode of expressing whatever idea the speaker wishes to convey”.[81] Because the hate speech ordinance was not concerned with the mode of expression, but with the content of expression, it was a violation of the freedom of speech. Thus, the Supreme Court embraced the idea that hate speech is permissible unless it will lead to imminent hate violence.[82] The opinion noted “This conduct, if proved, might well have violated various Minnesota laws against arson, criminal damage to property”, among a number of others, none of which was charged, including threats to any person, not to only protected classes.

In 2011, the Supreme Court issued their ruling on Snyder v. Phelps, which concerned the right of the Westboro Baptist Church to protest with signs found offensive by many Americans. The issue presented was whether the 1st Amendment protected the expressions written on the signs. In an 8-1 decision the court sided with Phelps, the head of Westboro Baptist Church, thereby confirming their historically strong protection of hate speech, so long as it doesn’t promote imminent violence. The Court explained, “speech deals with matters of public concern when it can ‘be fairly considered as relating to any matter of political, social, or other concern to the community’ or when it ‘is a subject of general interest and of value and concern to the public.” [83]

Societal implementation

In the 1980s and 1990s, more than 350 public universities adopted “speech codes” regulating discriminatory speech by faculty and students.[84] These codes have not fared well in the courts, where they are frequently overturned as violations of the First Amendment.[85] Debate over restriction of “hate speech” in public universities has resurfaced with the adoption of anti-harassment codes covering discriminatory speech.[86]

NTIA report

In 1992, Congress directed the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to examine the role of telecommunications, including broadcast radio and television, cable television, public access television, and computer bulletin boards, in advocating or encouraging violent acts and the commission of hate crimes against designated persons and groups. The NTIA study investigated speech that fostered a climate of hatred and prejudice in which hate crimes may occur.[87] The study failed to link telecommunication to hate crimes, but did find that “individuals have used telecommunications to disseminate messages of hate and bigotry to a wide audience.” Its recommendation was that the best way to fight hate speech was through additional speech promoting tolerance, as opposed to government regulation.[88][89]

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