Hate Speech - And Response (2)

  • Tuesday, April 2, 2024

To make a law that makes hate speech illegal is both arbitrary and capricious. It would lack a rational basis and/or be contrary to the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America.

When anyone and everyone gets to decide what is hate speech to them, then it becomes ubiquitous and will cause practically all speech to halt.

I’m opposed to all forms of hate speech, not just because it has different standards for different people, rather because it only serves a purpose of hurt and destruction of society.

Don’t pray for rain and not expect to get some mud. The real solution is love one another. As simple as that seems it will mean each of us doing our part.

J. Pat Williams

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I don't think "love" looks the same to everybody. If we really loved one another, we would care about one another.

As a country, we can't control how people "feel," but we can somewhat control how people behave through our laws.

Renee Smith

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Mr. Williams begins by stating “To make a law that makes hate speech illegal is both arbitrary and capricious. It would lack a rational basis and/or be contrary to the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America.”

There are already civil and criminal laws that address forms of speech, without codifying every situation. Everyone should know that you don’t yell “fire” in a crowded theatre. You can’t make a TV or radio commercial based on lies. The torts of libel and slander are supported by substantial case law. Those are rationally based and not contrary to the First Amendment.

Before continuing, I want to be clear that hate speech must include the intent to harm or intimidate. Hate speech does not necessarily include personal insults, no matter how rude, coarse, crude, or vulgar. The intent to harm or intimidate includes attempting to sway the opinions of others because of the speech. 

Now, are there practical alternatives to eliminate hate speech, other than civil, criminal and tort laws? None of which I’m aware.

Without laws addressing hate speech, I see only two outcomes when hate speech occurs, neither particularly palatable.

1.  The stronger party at the time gets its way. For example Neo-Nazis direct hate speech at ethnic or racial groups. The Neo-Nazis may be challenged by those offended, but based on numbers of people at the locale at the time, the offended may be shouted down by the Neo-Nazis. I infer from Mr. Williams thesis that neither party is wrong because each side has exercised its First Amendment right. The chips fall where they may.

2.  The offended party must utilize the Courts to seek restitution based on libel or slander tort law. But the offended party may not have any resources to access the civil judicial system. Even with resources, an aggrieved party may be facing an adversary with far deeper pockets. If seeking recovery via tort law, the Court system becomes even more clogged. 

A civil judgment for libel or slander rarely curtails the hate speech of parties not involved in the litigation. The use of hate speech and possibility of litigation becomes a roll of the dice for the hateful party. Litigation will take years and the hate speech remains undeterred.

If there are more outcomes, please share them.

Mr. Williams states “When anyone and everyone gets to decide what is hate speech to them, then it becomes ubiquitous and will cause practically all speech to halt.” That is a sophist argument, since the statement is describing the torts of libel and slander, and there has been no curtailment of all speech. A jury ultimately makes the decision of what is hate speech.

We have no alternative of which I’m aware to deter hate speech, other than criminal codification. 

What constitutes hate speech must be clearly defined, including intent to harm or intimidate. The determination of whether or not hate speech with the intent to harm or intimidate occurred should be the domain of prosecutors; those charged will have the same rights as other criminal defendants. The intent of the hate speech to harm or intimidate must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

I’m pleased that Mr. Williams is opposed to all forms of hate speech. Every person should be.

I also wish Mr. Williams solution to hate speech would come true. We would love one another regardless of race, creed, gender, gender orientation, physical characteristics, sexual orientation, political stances, business stances or any other circumstance, position or disagreement. We would be considerate of others opinions, and engage civilly and reasonably.

But is it reasonable to expect each of us doing our part?

1.  Not when hate is ingrained because of upbringing or bias is instilled in a person or group.

2.  Not when broadcast or print media abuse their First Amendment right by offering opinions and lies as the truth.

3.  Not when religious leaders use their doctrines to foster hate toward differing doctrines, opinions or circumstances.

4.  Not when politicians use hate speech, thereby giving hate speech validity.

5.  Not without fair, unbiased, and swift accountability by prosecutors for hate speech intended to harm or intimidate.

If you wish to differ with my comments, please remember that I’ve made no partisan comments or taken a partisan stance. Don’t compare political parties or personalities. You may become part of the problem, not the solution.

Joe Warren


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