In the wake of the most recent Berkeley riots (started when Antifa twits thought they’d have some fun and “bash the fasc'” crashing a conservative pro-free speech rally) and Berkeley’s decision not to host a talk by Ann Coulter because they couldn’t find a safe space to do it, the left has revived and started aggressively pushing this idea that “freedom of speech does not include hate speech.” Before we go on, let’s pause for a moment to consider the delectable irony that a hyper-left university campus has declared it cannot provide Ann Coulter with a “safe space,” which I guess means they’re out of crayons. Moving on.
Yes friends, the lunatic left (from nobody internet journalists to Democrat higher-ups like Screamin’ Howard Dean) is claiming that, among the other things in the Constitution that lefties swear by but aren’t really there, there is an exclusion in the First Amendment expressly denying its protections to people who engage in “hate speech.” They base this on the legal principle of “fire in a crowded theater” and loosely on prohibitions against sedition and calling for violence against public officials.
They’re wrong. There is no such provision, express or implied. The old “fire in a crowded theater” straw man is an example of a malicious act done with the express purpose of causing wanton harm and destruction, and you clearly don’t have the right to do that. However, yelling “there’s a fire!” is not an opinion. It’s a true/not true statement of fact. Furthermore, if you have a legitimate belief that there is a fire in the theater, even if it turns out you were wrong, you’re still okay. As with most criminal acts, intent matters, but so does an actual action.
Some lefties are dredging up the old term “fighting words” and comparing that to hate speech, and I doubt most of them realize that doing that destroys their own argument. It is a basic principle of criminal law that there is no such thing as “fighting words.” It does not matter how angry someone makes you, in the absence of a legitimate physical threat or attack (you know, like getting bashed by someone out to collect “Nazi scalps”) you do not have the right to go off and hit someone. The expression “them’s fightin’ words” has been classically used to imply a verbal provocation can be enough to provoke a battery, but under Anglo-American common law (meaning pretty much everywhere in the civilized world and definitely all through the USA) words do not justify physical violence, not in the eyes of the law anyway.
Calling for violence against elected officials is a tricky thing to navigate and pretty much universally frowned upon, but it’s also understood that that’s different because of the visibility and vulnerability of public officeholders and the national interests at stake. You’re allowed to criticize government officials any way you like and suggest they ought not be in office, and obviously in the wake of President Trump’s election it’s been let slide since so many deranged twits called for bad things to be done to him without consequence. But even with an actively enforced prohibition on inciting violence against an elected official, in no way at all does that prohibit speech or comments about how much you don’t like him or wish he would be impeached or would not be sad if he was mauled by wild boars or something. The left claims that “hate speech” that is critical of immigrants or minorities is the same thing as calling for violence against them, and not only is this grievously wrong, but it ignores the fact that there already are laws against discussing and agreeing to commit criminal acts including battery. It’s called a conspiracy, and generally, there is no upper limit on the number of conspirators who can be involved, nor is any express agreement required to hold someone responsible for conspiring to go beat up Joe Minority, nor is he actually required to have beaten up said person in order to be guilty of conspiring to do so. In other words, for the actual kind of speech these idiots claim they want to prohibit, the kind that actually calls for illegal acts and violence, there are already laws in place.
But that’s not what they want to do. The left is fine with hate as long as it’s directed at the correct people–President Trump, Rush Limbaugh, Christians, Americans, white men, pro-life women, the list goes on and on. Hell, the left practically does nothing BUT hate. It drips from them like drool from a Pavlovian dog listening to the Carol of the Bells. This is why when they lose they scream obscenities, riot, burn, attack people, throw rocks, throw explosives, pepper spray women, and that’s just for starters. These people are actually engaging in violence because of their deranged hatred. And they see nothing wrong with that–they think they’re out fighting the Nazis which is not so objectionable until you realize that there are no Nazis, and in their twisted minds everyone who disagrees with them is a Nazi.
Which brings us to what they really want to do. See, the First Amendment and its prohibitions on Congress messing with religion, speech, the press, and the right to assemble and petition were expressly designed with unpopular and disfavored ideas in mind. They were intended for “hate speech” for the very simple reason that if what you’re saying doesn’t make anyone upset or angry, then it doesn’t need to be protected. No Congressman is going to try to pass a law against saying “nice day isn’t it?” The entirety of the First Amendment is in the Constitution specifically because the men who wrote it knew what even the best, most free, most democratic, most respectful of individuals’ rights government the world had ever known was capable of doing. They knew the dangers of some government body or official deciding what was “hate speech” as they call it today and they explicitly said there could not be a law abridging the freedom of speech, period, end of that part of the sentence. No exceptions, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Seriously, do these people really believe that the contemporaries of “Give me liberty or give me death!” Patrick Henry would place arbitrary exceptions for “hate speech” into the very freedom of speech itself?
You’re allowed to call for action, you’re allowed to express opinions. Saying we should bomb the hell out of Afghanistan is protected. Saying you oppose gay marriage is protected. Saying we should send Syrian refugees back to the Middle East is protected. Saying white people are inherently superior and genetically better than all other races and ought to have their own country and wouldn’t it be nice if that country was the USA is protected (please note that I am NOT saying ANY of these examples are my opinion). So is expressing desires for would-be terrorists to blow themselves up or for fugitive killers to meet a hungry bear in the woods or wishing harm to befall rotten people. When you start getting people together to go out and attack others (like Antifa did), that’s a conspiracy to commit assault and battery by mob. Revolutions come with consequences, children.
There was an article in the Washington Post within the past few days which actually expressed shock and outrage that conservatives were “demanding” to be included in free speech, inadvertently admitting that the left actually believes the First Amendment’s protections only apply to them (and leading to the rational conclusion that if this “hate speech” exception is found in some “penumbra” somewhere, that the left will insist it only applies to conservatives but they can be as hateful as always). Many actual supporters of free speech have responded to the ignorant fools claiming there is an exception for hate speech by saying they’ll agree as long as we get to decide what is “hate speech,” which gets right to the core of the matter. Banning speech, religions, or the right to promulgate and share your ideas is intended to control what you think and believe. It’s meant to stop the free flow of truth and return control of the “accepted facts” to the dinosaur media. It’s meant to prevent parents from teaching their children and likeminded strangers from sharing knowledge. It’s meant to halt progress in exchange for hiveminded conformity. This is why we have the First Amendment at all. As I said before, if ideas and words don’t anger anyone, then they do not need to be protected. They do, therefore they must be.
Words cannot physically harm you, but they are lethal to leftist fantasies. They cannot win on the battlefield of truth and ideas, so their only recourse is to try to shut people up. This is what the First Amendment was made to prevent. There is no exception.
Final thought: you know who actually did ban “hate speech?” The Nazis.