On the Issue of Hate Speech Essay

On the Issue of Hate Speech Essay

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Almost all Americans today have heard of the First Amendment and its protection of free speech. This protection allows a free exchange of ideas among the members of society. Without it, Americans would not be able to voice their criticisms against anything without having a fear of being arrested. However, in the past, the government has limited this fundamental right several times. During World War I, Charles Schenck passed out fliers criticizing the national draft. He was arrested, and the Supreme Court decided that his arrest was acceptable because his actions posed 'clear and present danger'. Other limits exist on libel and slander. Now, with these limits enacted in the past, and with a growing multicultural society in America, a debate on a certain issue has slowly increased. Should hate speech be protected as free speech, or should it be suppressed?
Hate speech is defined as "an incitement to hatred primarily against a group of persons defined in terms of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and the like" (“Hate Speech Law & Legal Definition” definitions.uslegal.com). Throughout history, American society has been intertwined with such speech directed towards several groups, such as African Americans, Asians, and other immigrant groups. In 1969, Clarence Brandenburg, a leader of the KKK in Ohio, was arrested under Ohio law for uttering hate speech and committing hateful actions. However, the Supreme Court, in a landmark decision named Brandenburg v. Ohio, upheld Brandenburg's right to free speech ("Brandenburg v. Ohio." kids.laws.com) In doing so, the Supreme Court avoided the restriction of hate speech in society. The judges made a wise decision, since the limitation of hate speech carries w...


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...ork Times. The New York Times, 27 June 2012. Web. 24 Feb. 2014.
Rauch (Brookings), Jonathan. "A New Argument for Hate-speech Laws? Um … No." Washingtonpost.com. The Washington Post, 4 Feb. 2014. Web. 23 Feb. 2014.
Turley, Jonathan. "Shut up and Play Nice: How the Western World Is Limiting Free Speech." Washington Post. The Washington Post, 14 Oct. 2012. Web. 24 Feb. 2014.
Jefferson, Thomas. "First Inaugural Address In the Washington, D.C." Speech. 1801 Presidential Inauguration. Washington, D.C. 4 Mar. 1801. Bartleby.com. Web. 23 Feb. 2014.
"Federal Court Rules in Favor of Free Speech in Portland’s Medians." Aclu.org. American Civil Liberties Union, 12 Feb. 2014. Web. 24 Feb. 2014.
Barnes, Robert. "The Supreme Court Confronts the Line between Free Speech and Security with Protester’s Case." Washington Post. The Washington Post, 30 Nov. 2013. Web. 24 Feb. 2014.

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