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Hate Speech is the Price We Must Pay for Freedom of Speech

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     Living in the United States we enjoy many wonderful freedoms and liberties. Even though most of these freedoms seem innate to our lives, most have been earned though sacrifice and hard work. Out of all of our rights, freedom of speech is perhaps our most cherished, and one of the most controversial. Hate speech is one of the prices we all endure to ensure our speech stays free. But with hate speeches becoming increasingly common, many wonder if it is too great of a price to pay, or one that we should have to pay at all.
          
          Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech,or of the press: or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

     When the framers of the constitution penned these 45 words could they have known the extent that they would be studied and scrutinize? Are the words meant to be taken literally or is it the “spirit” to them that is most important? Many views exist and are hotly debated, but most agree that this amendment has enabled some of the best things in the history of our country to be said; and ultimately done. However it has also enabled some of the worst.

     When discussing hate speech one has to address fighting words. Fighting words are words that the Supreme Court believes that even the mere utterance of them will inflict injury or incite an immediate breach of the peace. The court also believes these words are unnecessary for anyone to use, and that even if they were not used someone could still express their ideas.
     
     Historically some hate speeches have contained fighting words, but they are view by the court as a separate entity. Fighting words are often classified as having absolutely no social value, and are not protected by the first amendment. In this regard I think that hate speech and fighting words are very analogous to indecent and obscene material. While indecent material might be frowned upon it is constitutionally protected, as where obscene material (also classified as having no social value) is not. This distinction was first made in the early 1940s in the Chaplinsky case.

     Chaplinsky was a Jehovah’ s Witness, and one day while doing some face-to-face confrontations as part of his religious practices, an...


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...nts think is appropriate. That kind of gathering offers an opportunity for people to talk about something other than the Klan. It also shows the outside world the community does not condone Klan activity.”
     
     Perhaps in the end all we can really do it to try and come to terms with hate speech on a personal level. I believe 100 percent in the first amendment, and I look at having to tolerate hate speech as a price I have to pay for enjoying such a wonderful freedom. I don’t think it would be effective or warranted to limit the peoples freedom in attempts to try and stop the despicable practice of hate speech.

Works Cited:

The Associated Press State & Local Wire, January 7, 2002.

Fales, John The Washington Times, Pg. 11 September 2, 2002.

Fein, Bruce The Washington Times, August 6, 2002.

Rodrigues, Janette The Houston Chronicle, Pg. 15 January 17, 2001.

Taylor, Lynda Guydon The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pg. w3 June 24, 2001

Cases Cited

Black v. Virginia, 262 Va. 764, 553 S.E.2d 738 (2001)

Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, 315 U.S. 568 (1942)

Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989)

Village of Skokie v. National Socialist Party 373 N.E. 2d 21 (1978)


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