Hate Speech Is Not My First Amendment
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Hate Speech Is Not My First Amendment

“When does free speech stop and hate speech begin?”

Hate Speech Is Not My First Amendment
Ken Fager/Flickr

The First Amendment states that we have freedom of speech. With that luxury comes freedom of expression which allows for us to say what we want. It grants us permission to protest peacefully against corporations and governments. Hate speech is by definition a “speech which attacks a person or group on the basis of attributes such as race, religion, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, disability, or gender.” However, it’s hard to limit hate speech when you can pretty much get away with what you’re saying all the while preaching the First Amendment right.

When I learned more about restrictions on hate speech, I felt appalled by how little of barriers are held against it. On the flip-side, if we add policies to limit hate speech, then they can also be used against one’s ability to exercise free speech. The “fighting words” clause was placed in the law to deem hate speech unacceptable when it is an “immediate breach of peace.” Unless you directly provoke or threaten another individual, hate speech is constitutionally accepted.

“When does free speech stop and hate speech begin?” There is no exception put in place for hate speech in the First Amendment. Whatever the situation may be, if someone insults another’s race, religion, sexual orientation, disability and etc., it’s deemed acceptable by the laws of the Constitution. A prime example of hate speech is the Westboro Baptist Church. Everything that they’ve said and done is within the laws of free speech. What comes to mind when I think of the Westboro Baptist Church? I think of human nature gone wrong who do nothing but define themselves as the root of evil and sin. What’s embedded in a human to want to cause disparage, harmful language, and pain and sorrow? And to do all of that willfully?

With Trump now in office, hate speech has risen over the country. The day after he was elected, there were multiple reports of minorities being harassed with hate speech. “Go back to your country!” “Get back on the boat!” “Trump’s gonna get you now, you terrorist!” These were just a few of the words spewed among these innocent people who had done nothing wrong. Although the words are protected by the First Amendment, it doesn’t mean it should be acceptable behavior. If I hear this being said to someone, my first response would be to protest against the speaker. For most people, it’s human instinct to want to protect someone from harm. It’s especially important for me, considering that I’m an Indian woman. No one had come up to me and insulted my country after election day, but I had seen it all over social media. I had heard about it on the news. It was happening everywhere and it was happening too often.

Although hate speech is protected, for the most part, we should never allow for it to consume people. We all have the ability to stand up and fight for one another, to protect one another. Hate speech happens in the world everyday and it’s impossible to stop it, but you should never give up on wanting to fight against it.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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