The Left Attacks The First Amendment Due To Claims Of Hate Speech
Free speech as promised in the First Amendment, when is it free, when does it cost something, when does it cross the line, does the right to Free Speech revoke the power of governments to shut down and silenced because what is being stated is perceived as hateful or offensive? I looked at what our founders said about this speech, what great judges have declared, what the supreme court said, then started to research.
Here is a vivid example. Writing in the Harvard Crimson Paper editorialist Sandra Korn says quote, “It’s tempting to decry frustrating restrictions on academic research as violations of academic freedom. Yet I would encourage student and worker organizers to instead use a framework of justice. After all, if we give up our obsessive reliance on the doctrine of academic freedom, we can consider more thoughtfully what is just.”
I got up this morning, and as always I while thinking about what I was going to write, put on the internet and started to listen to pros and cons of a constitutional amendment. I heard a speaker say that if anything should give an example of how the 1st Amendment is abused is Ann Coulter. So out of curiosity decided I would put her on and listen to her interviews, interaction with the audience. I will state that I may not agree with all she stands for but must say, this woman is fearless, she will go anywhere, no matter what type of audience and wade right into the fray.
I decided the best place to start this is to look at the right given to all of us, to find this I went right to the source:
I looked this right granted to us under the law, the reason for not only the right to worship as you please, which is in its own right an exercise of free speech, but we are more dealing with the freedom to express yourself. This should not be stopped if it’s political, faith-based, reporting on the news or expressing your view, is there any place in the constitution that says this right should be halted because it is perceived as hateful? The answer to this a definite NO.
I next looked at the Supreme Court, the highest authority of the law, how it applies to us, these are just a few I found, some of them very offensive, but I agree with the court:
- Terminiello v. Chicago (1949) – Arthur Terminiello, a Catholic Priest was defrocked for making an anti-Semitic speech, In his remarks, he repeatedly attacked Jews and Communists and liberals, inciting the crowd. Some scuffles broke out between audience members and protesters outside, and Terminiello was arrested under a law banning riotous speech, but the Supreme Court overturned his conviction. Freedom of speech…,” Justice William O. Douglas wrote for the 5-4 majority, is “protected against censorship or punishment, unless shown likely to reduce a clear and present danger of a serious substantive evil that rises far above public inconvenience, annoyance, or unrest … There is no room under our Constitution for a more restrictive view.”
Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969) – Ohio Klansman named Clarence Brandenburg, was arrested because, during his speech he spoke of the need to overthrow the current government due to their relaxing of laws concerning race, the need to put on in that would put the old rules back in place.
Writing for the unanimous Court, Justice William Brennan argued 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 law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.”
National Socialist Party v. Skokie (1977) – When the National Socialist Party of America, better known as Nazis, was declined a permit to speak in Chicago, the organizers sought a permit from the suburban city of Skokie, where one-sixth of the town’s population was made up of families that had survived the Holocaust. The city moved to stop the march because the KKK had targetted this area due to the Jewish population and the fact they were survivors of the Holocaus or the children of survivors.
But the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower ruling that the Skokie ban was unconstitutional. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court, where the justices declined to hear the case, in essence allowing the lower court’s ruling to become law. After the verdict, the city of Chicago granted the Nazis three permits to march; the Nazis, in turn, decided to cancel their plans to march in Skokie. They had gotten the publicity they wanted to get in the march; they felt no need to move on, they had achieved what they wanted.
- Metal v. Tam (2017) –This was a case where the group had “THE SLANTS” as a logo, they were denied a patent from the patent office, the acting director at the time Tam said that it was racially offensive towards Asians and was a term people used to describe them, said that the Lanham Act prohibited any act that disparaged a racist attack in a group of people, for example, you could not ask for a patent on a logo that uses the “N” word. Circuit Judge Moore decided that the disparaging provision of the Lanham Act is unconstitutional for various reasons and that Mr. Tam should be granted trademark protection on THE SLANTS.
R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul (1992) – This was actually looked at in two cases, the Virginia v. Black (2003), this was dealing with the right of a citizen to burn a cross on private land of an African American family home, and the second dealing with it in a public realm of this. In the first case they city had arrested the teen and charged him with a hate crime, the charge was thrown out by the court due to the right of speech, even hate speech, which burning of a cross is seen as such is such a right. In the second case, the Supreme Court refined the ruling saying while freedom of speech can’t be a reason for the arrest, the intimidation and threats of such an act would be seen as illegal if the city or state made up such an ordinance or law it would be upheld.
The reason I used these cases were they were the most offensive personally to me, being Jewish, my wife is Asian, I find any such racist attacks as offensive to the extreme, but that is not why the courts rejected the arrest, they have stated free speech, even offensive speech is a right given by the constitution, as such it should be protected at all cost. I have said time after time:
The way to silence bad or hateful speech is not to silence it, otherwise, you make people who are curious wonder what you are hiding, the only way to silence bad speech is with rightful speech, speech that exposes the other for what it is, that uses facts to support what the speaker is stating.
If you do this you expose the speech and the speaker for what they are, you take away any appeal the speech has, what they are saying will quickly fall on less and fewer ears, soon they are just noise in a background cluttered with such noise.
This is the only way you should silence such speech; everyone has a right to speak, does not mean that many will listen. We see as a perfect example the mainstream press, they are lamenting that they are being hurt by the President calling them fake news, but then what do they do, they turn around and give phony news to try to support their decisions. The press can’t have it both ways, if you are going to present an unbiased reporting of the story, then attacking what they are reporting would be of little use, but when you see the mainstream press primarily being controlled by Liberal talking points, they aren’t the free press, they are nothing more then the mouthpieces for today’s Democratic party, as such they open themselves up to the same scrutiny and exposure as the DNC does.
Free speech with faith has to be the same; we have for years seen the Johnson Amendment, Section 501(c)(3), used as a means of stifling churches from speaking out against politics, they yell if they do then their tax exempt status will be revoked. I have to wonder why no case has ever been challenged in the courts when digging I found nothing in the courts, but what I did find that in each case where it was brought up in court the IRS settle out of court. The reason why is simple, they know the tax law, which Trump finally with executive has halted enforcement of the law, but this should only be a stop gap, this needs to be brought in front of the high court and struck from the books.
We will continue to see assaults against free speech, on campuses, in statehouses, with special interest groups and in the halls of Congress, but we need to fight any encroachment on this right, the right to free speech includes the following and so much more:
- Not to speak (specifically, the right not to salute the flag).
West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943).
- For students to wear black armbands to school to protest war (“Students do not shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate.”).
Tinker v. Des Moines, 393 U.S. 503 (1969).
- To use certain offensive words and phrases to convey political messages.
Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15 (1971).
- To contribute money (under certain circumstances) to political campaigns.
Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 (1976).
- To advertise commercial products and professional services (with some restrictions).
Virginia Board of Pharmacy v. Virginia Consumer Council, 425 U.S. 748 (1976); Bates v. State Bar of Arizona, 433 U.S. 350 (1977).
- To engage in symbolic speech, (e.g., burning the flag in protest).
Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989); United States v. Eichman, 496 U.S. 310 (1990).
I think in closing we should look at the dissenting view of justice in Abrams v. United States (1919), take these words to heart and hold them in our hearts:
Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., dissenting in Abrams v. United States (1919)
“Persecution for the expression of opinions seems to me perfectly logical. If you have no doubt of your premises or your power and want a certain result with all your heart you naturally express your wishes in law and sweep away all opposition.
To allow opposition by speech seems to indicate that you think the speech impotent, as when a man says that he has squared the circle, or that you do not care wholeheartedly for the result, or that you doubt either your power or your premises. But when men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations of their own conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas — that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out.
That at any rate is the theory of our Constitution. It is an experiment, as all life is an experiment. Every year if not every day we have to wager our salvation upon some prophecy based upon imperfect knowledge. While that experiment is part of our system I think that we should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe and believe to be fraught with death, unless they so imminently threaten immediate interference with the lawful and pressing purposes of the law that an immediate check is required to save the country.
I wholly disagree with the argument of the Government that the First Amendment left the common law as to seditious libel in force. History seems to me against the notion. I had conceived that the United States through many years had shown its repentance for the Sedition Act of 1798, by repaying fines that it imposed. Only the emergency that makes it immediately dangerous to leave the correction of evil counsels to time warrants making any exception to the sweeping command, “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech.” Of course, I am speaking only of expressions of opinion and exhortations, which were all that were uttered here, but I regret that I cannot put into more impressive words my belief that in their conviction upon this indictment the defendants were deprived of their rights under the Constitution of the United States.”
Freedom of speech is one of the foundations of this nation, any move to stifle this, even if the speech is offensive has to be stopped. A speech that is disagreeable of offensive has to be as equally protected as the one you agree with, for remember, what is seen as offensive is up to the individual, how do you know next time you speak someone will not find what you say as offensive.