Free speech is the backbone that holds democracy together. Without a free speech, ideas would not be challenged, governments would not be kept in check, and citizens would not be free. John Stuart Mill said once that, “If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person then he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.”( Roleff, 21). The right to free speech is essential to “egalitarian democracy,”(Tsesis) however, this right is not absolute and must be limited in certain situations.
Hate speech is one form of expression that should be limited in some situations. The key question to ask with regards to hate speech, is, does hate speech cross over into hate crime? (Hellwege) Hate crimes are often some of the most brutal forms of crime committed because they stem out of a deep-rooted enmity for the individuals involved (Tsesis). These types of crime have led the brutal dragging death of an African American man in Texas and the pistol-whipping of a boy in Montana (Hellwege). Is this type of crime incited by hate speech though? Hate speech in its essence is pugnacious, that is, the basic message of hate speech is to “elicit persecution,” and bring upon “dehumanizing effects”(Leets, 38). Yes, this sort of speech does incite violence. Hate speech breeds a culture of hate groups against Jews, blacks, gays, women, Hispanics, and practically any other nationality, sex or race.
How does hate speech then incite violence? Many inferences can be drawn form history, none more vivid and prevalent then the atrocities that occurred during World War Two. T...
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...iance.” Law & Society Review: Amherst; 2001; Vol. 35, Iss. 2: pg.345-394.
Hellwege, Jean. “Hate In the Crosshairs: Lawyers, Legislators Battle Hate Crime.”
Trial: Washington; Jan 2001 Vol. 37, Iss. 1; pg. 14-18
Leets, Laura. “Should All Speech be Free?.” The Quill, v. 89 no4 May (2001) pgs 38-39.
Leo, John. “Watch What You Say: The Left Can No Longer Be Counted On To Defend Free Speech” U.S. News & World Report; Washington; Mar 20, 2000
Roleff, Tamara L. Civil Liberties: Opposing Viewpoints. Greenhaven Press, San Diego CA, 1999
Saccuzzo, Jason Paul. “Bankrupting the First Amendment: Using tort litigation to silence hate groups.” California Western Law Review v.37 no.2 spring (2001).
Tsesis, Alexander. “Hate In Cyberspace: Regulating Hate Speech On the Internet”
The San Diego Law Review; San Diego Summer 2001; Vol. 38, Iss.3; pg. 817
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