Hate Speech
You may be thinking: "I already know Hate Speech is!" and you may have even seen the sticker in Ms. Heppeler's room, but the truth of the matter is this - For decades, even Supreme Court Justices have not fully decided on the definition of 'Hate Speech'.

external image Dwight_Schrute__Question____by_AngryDogDesigns_large.png?1303405618 Would outlawing Hate Speech be an impedement to US citzens's First Amendment Rights, and if so, what would be the repercussions?








Hate Speech and its Constitutional Controversy1st Amendment to the United States Constitution
q-photo-we-the-people-american-constitution.jpg
"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."
The U.S. Constitution protects ALL speech, even if it is found offensive. People have the right to speak, write, or post their thoughts on paper, books, magazines, radio, television, and any other media you can think of - including the Internet. Free speech is only free if we can speak without boundaries, without hesitation. However, if speech becomes threatening, and made with an intent to harm another individual, the boundary has been crossed into Hate Crime. Hate Crime is punishable by law.The problem and controvery that surrounds the issue currently and is years past is quite simple, what is considered Hate Speech as opposed to Hate Crime?
This is how the United States government legally defines Hate Speech:
"Hate speech is a communication that carries no meaning other than the expression of hatred for some group, especially in circumstances in which the communication is likely to provoke violence. It is an incitement to hatred primarily against a group of persons defined in terms of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and the like. Hate speech can be any form of expression regarded as offensive to racial, ethnic and religious groups and other discrete minorities or to women."


The IssueWho Does the Issue Affect?
  • The Issueof Hate Speech affects not one targeted group of people, but rather, people of all sorts. All races, religions, groups, affiliations, ethnicities, etc., are attacked.
    • More prominently, these goups have been the major target of Hate Speech
      • Homosexual Affiliations/Gays
      • Blacks/African Americans
      • Jews
      • Women
external image free%20speech.jpg

    • Religions sometimes attack each other through hateful speech, but more prominently these religions:
      • Christians
      • Islam

  • The Geogrpahy
    • Unfortunately, it is hard to put a marker on the map as to where hate speech occurs more often, becuase it happens sporadically and at random points
    • It is clear thought that hateful speech against other races predominantly occurs in the south as opposed to the north.


How did it all start?
  • Even between historians, its hard to debate precisely when Hate Speech started or originated; Mostly because America has been such a historically racist country since its founding. Although the beginning isn't clear, the breakthrough moments or, "Defining" moments are quite blatant. Landmark cases brought much publicity to the issue. Also, it brought forth a stern requirement for legislature by the American people. Although Hate Speech existed far before its first major contestant date, the first time a case was brought forth towards the Suprmeme Court was in 1988. Many other cases would follow including one that was just decided mere weeks ago.

Landmark Cases
Hustler Magazine v. Falwell (1988)
R. A. V. v. City of St. Paul (1992)
Wisconsin v. Mitchell (1993)
Virginia v. Black (2003)
Snyder v Phelps (2011)

Current StandingCases that Helped Decide
  1. The Most Recent
    • Snyder v Phelps: Ruling = Not Hate Speech
    • Quick Synopsis: The Supreme court ruled in favor of the Westboro Church who was protesting at funerals of Army members. Whether the Men are gay or not, the memebers of the church would asemble at funerals with signs exhibting their hatred of Homosexuals and how they should not be allowed in the Military. The signs were more than provaocative, yet the highest court in the US still said that the members of the church have the right to say what they please under thei 1st and 14th amendment. To read the details and see the class in full, click here
Westboro Baptist Church members protesting while a mother has to bury her son who has just died in action in Afghanistan
Westboro Baptist Church members protesting while a mother has to bury her son who has just died in action in Afghanistan
------> Westboro Baptist Church members protesting while a mother has to bury her son who has just died in action in Afghanistan

    • Meanwhile, even though the Supreme court has made its opinion clear, some still think that justice needs to occur for these poor families. Critically acclaimed documenter and fil-maker, Michael Moore, weighs in on the issue himself. (See video to bottom right)



  1. The Second most impacting was the first ever hate speech case brought forth to the Supreme Court, Hustler Magazine v Falwell
    • Hustler Magazine v Falwell: Ruling = Not Hate Speech
    • Quick Synopsis: In Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell, (1988), the US Supreme Court held, in a unanimous 8-0 decision, that the 1st Amendment's free-speech guarantee prohibits awarding damages to public figures to compensate for emotional distress intentionally inflictedupon them. Thus, Hustler magazine's parody of Jerry Falwell was deemed to be within the law, because the Court found that reasonable people would not have interpreted the parody to contain factual claims, leading to a reversal of the jury verdict in favor of Falwell, who had previously been awarded $200,000 in damages by a lower couexternal image westboro3.jpg--------------------------> This cartoon pokes fun at the combination of both cases and their similarities.

So What's the point?
dwight_fact.png
Because of a strong foundation that still holds true today, you have the right to meaningful Hate Speech, as long as it does not incite direct violence; This right is protected by the 1st and 14th Amendments, and has since been made stronger due to Supreme Court Precedents.


Sources