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Hate Speech and the First Amendment - Research Paper Example

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Name: Lecturer: Course: Date: Hate Speech and the United States First Amendment Introduction The United States under the First Amendment provides that the legislature shall not enact any legislation that may prohibit free speech or reduce the freedom of speech, press, and the right to assemble, or the right to petition the government for a redress of complaints presented to it (Schultz 279)…
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Hate Speech and the First Amendment
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"Hate Speech and the First Amendment"

Download file to see previous pages The United States First Amendment gives people the right to speak even if the listener of the conversation does not agree with you or feels that the speech is hateful or offensive. The protection also covers even the most offensive and controversial speech from any suppression by the government and permits only minimum regulation of the same through limited circumstances. The basis of this is the understanding by the government that free exchange of ideas encourages the proper understanding of the masses and prevents falsehoods, and embodies the fact that the freedom of expression by an individual without the fear of being punished by the government promotes liberty for better governance. By allowing the citizens to express themselves and their opinions no matter the disagreements, the First Amendment has helped in the promotion of transparency and social stability in the American society (United States and United States Supreme Court, 10).This means that under the First Amendment of the constitution of the United States, hate speech is constitutionally protected unless it can be proven that the speaker of the assumed hate speech intended to act violently or provoke an immediate act of violence. The implication of this legal provision in the United States constitution is that a person may be charged with an offence related to hate speech only if the statements uttered by that person constitute a threat or provocation of immediate violence. It also means that even in cases where the speaker of the intended hate speech threatens violence or intended violence, he may only be criminally prosecuted if there is a law that is drawn to apply to the situation in an appropriate manner. The United States government though faced with problems in the definition of hate speech has always endeavored to create laws and policies that discourage indecent behavior as well as creating laws that though do not define hate as crimes or acts. This means that the law tends to regulate acts rather than speech as was evident in the case of R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul, 505 U.S. 377 (1992) where the US Supreme Court debated about the burning of cross by the radical Ku Klux Klan and whether it was a sign of hate speech (Gerstenfeld 10). The superior court in this instance overruled the Minnesota law which it found to be unconstitutional as it violated a youngster’s First Amendment free speech rights. In Wisconsin v. Mitchell, 508 U.S. 476 (1993) where a white boy was beaten by black teenagers, the debate about the magnitude of the penalty was ruled by the Supreme Court. It held that an increased penalty did not violate the free speech rights of an accused person and therefore the courts could enhance the penalty. From the foregoing discussion, it can be said that the United States constitution which defines hate speech as speech that maligns a person based on the parameters earlier mentioned receives the protection of the First Amendment. The upshot is that while the government restricts hate speech, it has a clear understanding that the most effective way of combating the vice is through tolerant and effective strategies to counter the hate speech. It therefore deploys an ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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