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Why is hate speech still protected in 2018?

by Julie Cappiello, Staff Writer

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White supremacist groups are trying to recruit college students on campuses nationwide. These groups are notorious for their spread of hate speech, but the First Amendment still protects them in 2018.

The Anti-Defemation League reports 147 incidents of white supremacist activity on college campuses. Groups such as Patriot Front and Identity Evropa spread the ideologies that white Europeans are a superior race, and that other races are inferior. Sometimes self-identified as the Alt-Right, white supremacist groups are neo-Nazis, and they are dangerous to college campuses and the diverse communities within.

On Jan. 11, at University of California, San Diego, campus police received a report of a member of the white supremacist group, Identity Evropa, disturbing a class. San Diego State had issues with the same group in 2016.

The group’s current leader, Patrick Casey, is a San Diego State alumnus.

In November of 2017, Identity Evropa held a private meeting on SDSU’s campus. The freedom to assemble is a right under the First Amendment — even the assembly of a group that promotes one race as superior and advocates for the end of multiculturalism. It is disturbing that this protected assembly occurred on SDSU’s campus.

According to the Cornell Law School, Legal Information Institute, fighting words are not protected by the First Amendment. However, the scope of what constitutes as fighting words is vague. In a 1949 case — Terminiello v. Chicago — Arthur Terminiello, a Catholic priest, had been giving a speech to the Christian Veterans of America when he criticized various racial groups. This led to protests the Chicago police department couldn’t contain. Through this case, the Supreme Court determined fighting words express a clear and present danger, and thus are not protected by the First Amendment.

The problem with this definition is that it leaves fighting words up to interpretation.

The same goes for hate speech. On June 19, 2017, the Supreme Court ruled there is no hate speech clause in the First Amendment. In his majority opinion, Justice Samuel Alito said, “Speech that demeans on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, disability, or any other similar ground is hateful; but the proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express ‘the thought that we hate.’” 

These clauses allows groups like Identity Evropa to express their hate for minority groups. On Jan. 28, the group hung a banner from the Bay Bridge in San Francisco with the words, “Danger, Sanctuary City Ahead.” On their website the group described sanctuary cities as “belligerent” who “harbor dangerous criminals.” San Diego is a sanctuary city in which about 170,000 undocumented residents live. About 40,000 of San Diego’s residents are DACA recipients.

America prides itself on its freedoms provided under the First Amendment, but hate speech should not be tolerated. This is not a call to limit or restrict the First Amendment. However, hate speech should be added to the scope of fighting words. It is not the words themselves that are detrimental to society, but the groups who advocate for and spread them.

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7 Comments

7 Responses to “Why is hate speech still protected in 2018?”

  1. Ken on February 7th, 2018 9:22 am

    We have a right to exist.

    [Reply]

  2. Zach on February 7th, 2018 1:35 pm

    I completely disagree. The 1st Amendment – Freedom of Expression, is designed to protect disgusting words, just as much as pleasant ones.

    Every American citizen sees hate speech differently; what might be hateful to some, is not hateful to others. What you are proposing could severely limit freedom of expression.

    For example, I do not agree with the KKK; however, I believe their speech should be protected by the 1st Amendment.

    As General Colin Powell said, “Free speech is intended to protect the controversial and even outrageous word; and not just comforting platitudes too mundane to need protection.”

    On a side note: Hate Crime laws are better suited to limit hateful actions, not limiting free speech.

    [Reply]

  3. Jim Lawrence on February 7th, 2018 3:51 pm

    “White supremacist groups are trying to recruit college students on campuses nationwide. These groups are notorious for their spread of hate speech, but the First Amendment still protects them in 2018.”
    The first amendment protects all speech, but there are some exceptions. There is no reason to ban “hate” speech, that is just a childish emotional justification to try and attack people who you dont like (aka tyranny).

    “The Anti-Defemation League reports 147 incidents of white supremacist activity on college campuses. Groups such as Patriot Front and Identity Evropa spread the ideologies that white Europeans are a superior race, and that other races are inferior. Sometimes self-identified as the Alt-Right, white supremacist groups are neo-Nazis, and they are dangerous to college campuses and the diverse communities within.”
    The ADL is clearly a biased group with an agenda: expand jewish power at the cost of anyone else. As for PF and IE, I searched around, but couldnt find any material from the groups claiming that they believed that white people are racially superior. But, as a thought experiment, lets say hispanics are racially superior to blacks. What does it matter? Literally who cares?

    “In November of 2017, Identity Evropa held a private meeting on SDSU’s campus. The freedom to assemble is a right under the First Amendment — even the assembly of a group that promotes one race as superior and advocates for the end of multiculturalism. It is disturbing that this protected assembly occurred on SDSU’s campus.”
    This is just white people freely associating with other white people. If you don’t like it you are bigoted and should re evaluate how you view white people.

    “According to the Cornell Law School, Legal Information Institute, fighting words are not protected by the First Amendment. However, the scope of what constitutes as fighting words is vague. In a 1949 case — Terminiello v. Chicago — Arthur Terminiello, a Catholic priest, had been giving a speech to the Christian Veterans of America when he criticized various racial groups. This led to protests the Chicago police department couldn’t contain. Through this case, the Supreme Court determined fighting words express a clear and present danger, and thus are not protected by the First Amendment.

    The problem with this definition is that it leaves fighting words up to interpretation.

    The same goes for hate speech. On June 19, 2017, the Supreme Court ruled there is no hate speech clause in the First Amendment. In his majority opinion, Justice Samuel Alito said, “Speech that demeans on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, disability, or any other similar ground is hateful; but the proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express ‘the thought that we hate.’”

    These clauses allows groups like Identity Evropa to express their hate for minority groups. On Jan. 28, the group hung a banner from the Bay Bridge in San Francisco with the words, “Danger, Sanctuary City Ahead.” On their website the group described sanctuary cities as “belligerent” who “harbor dangerous criminals.” San Diego is a sanctuary city in which about 170,000 undocumented residents live. About 40,000 of San Diego’s residents are DACA recipients.

    America prides itself on its freedoms provided under the First Amendment, but hate speech should not be tolerated. This is not a call to limit or restrict the First Amendment. However, hate speech should be added to the scope of fighting words. It is not the words themselves that are detrimental to society, but the groups who advocate for and spread them.”
    The Constitution is not a living document.

    [Reply]

  4. Tim Hudson on February 7th, 2018 4:06 pm

    People’s right to speak doesn’t simply end where you deem their words to be offensive.

    [Reply]

  5. Jack Strickland on February 7th, 2018 4:31 pm

    So in 2018 hate speech = things I disagree with now?

    [Reply]

  6. Francis Kirkland on February 7th, 2018 4:46 pm

    Can you please link any instance where Identity Evropa has advocated for White Supremacy:
    su·prem·a·cy
    so͞oˈpreməsē/Submit
    noun
    the state or condition of being superior to all others in authority, power, or status.

    (hint: you can’t)

    [Reply]

  7. Lucas Brabant on February 7th, 2018 5:06 pm

    No idea on paper warrants being charged with a crime. This idea that speech = violence is nonsensical and just proves that the left wants to censor their political opponents rather than debate them.

    [Reply]

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