In order to reduce the astonishing number of hate crimes in the United States, the Federal Government should restrict hate speech, and the expressions of hateful ideas, in all its forms, in all places, both public and private. However, it is imperative that hate speech be defined first. Contrary to some opinions, it is possible to accurately define hate speech, because hate speech does not actually have many elusive forms. Hate speech includes fighting words as defined in Chaplinsky vs.
New Hampshire, and words that incite violence or aggression towards a specific group based on sex, sexual orientation, race, creed, or political orientation by the provision of information that is not valid against all members of the group. The wording must encourage a violent or physically aggressive action based on false information. For example, if one encourages violence towards those who worship Satan because all those who worship Satan sacrifice humans, he should be prosecuted under a hate speech code, because there is no way to prove that the information is applicable to all those in the group. However, if the same person encouraged political action, he would be perfectly justified, even if the information were still false.
The basic reasoning behind hate speech codes is that they will protect people from violence.At the same time, to stop the infringement upon the first amendment, no organization should place any restrictions on public or private hate speech, including the expression of hateful ideas. This is because hate speech can not be defined well enough for use in the law. One can not define the intentions of hate speech because every situation is different, and speeches may be misinterpreted in such a way that the benign intention of the speaker may be overlooked. In this case, the speaker could be prosecuted for a perfectly legitimate speech.In order to resolve the issues of hate speech, one should address the necessary balance between personal liberties and public safety. However, some restrictions must be placed on hate speech, including the expression of hateful ideas.
It is imperative that hate speech is limited in some cases, such as those where it could pose a serious threat to the surrounding environment. The only way hate speech can be controlled is with strict guidelines and probable hate speech situations left up to a case-by-case basis. The Federal Government should restrict hate speech on all college campuses.
This is due to a variety of reasons. Under the first point of analysis, one can observe that hate speech codes have a tendency to foster a more tolerant environment by teaching a difference between right and wrong (Sommers 1). Often times, college students do not realize the impact that their words may have on others (2). The problem is rarely identified in primary and secondary schools, and it worsens as the students approach the college level (1).Additionally, the problem of morally confused college students can inhibit education. This is especially true when words are integrated into speech that have a significant meaning to one person, but not another (Dalton 2). For example, many people use the word ‘nigger’ profusely.
However, too many of them do not realize that some words carry with them a history of malignant oppression (2). There are a variety of people foolish enough to crack jokes that allude to black slavery in front of a culturally diverse audience. Granted, some in the audience may only be offended, but that kind of speech may actually cause a sincere feeling of inferiority among others.
This is miscommunication at its finest, because the speaker may not have any hard feelings towards those he demeans. However, because of the speaker’s ignorance, a group of people may have less self-esteem. This has been proven to lead to decreased academic performance in people of all ages (Pajares 1). It has also been shown that bigotry is often the cause of below average self-esteem because bigotry attacks the feeling of equality, creating inferiority (Pajares 1). As the Roman poet, Virgil, pointed out, “They are able who think they are able.”In assessing the issue at hand, one must conclude that colleges have every right to educate, but at no point does hate speech become educational.
Therefore, one may also see that if the Federal Government were to step into the college environment in order to increase the educational value, no harm may be done. This is due to the convenient argument that Federal Government may turn colleges into centers devoted more successfully to education by removing the tasteless, alienating substance known as hate speech. For example, hate speech may be discussed, but not used in a social situation. Therefore, there will be no slippery slope, because the government would only be limiting speech with a negative educational value. To conclude the point, the only mission of colleges and universities is to educate (Dalton 1).
On the contrary, one of the fundamental liberties that our Constitution protects is the freedom of speech. The intent of the First Amendment is not to stop at the door of private property. In the case of Giltow vs.
New York (1925), the Supreme Court ruled that freedom of the First Amendment could not be limited by the states (Legal 2). Rather, free speech should have the same code of standards every where. Therefore, public and private universities have to follow the confines of the First Amendment (Campus 1). Often the question is, should the government censor speech that is found objectionable? The correct answer is no, because colleges and universities are an open place of learning and enlightenment (Hate 4).
Therefore, all ideas should be expressed and debated, whether popular or unpopular (4). Basically, who is to say what is acceptable speech and unacceptable speech, especially since every person holds their own opinion. “On a campus that is free and open, no idea can be banned or forbidden. No viewpoint or message may be deemed so hateful or disturbing that it may not be expressed” (On Freedom 1).
In the college campus environment, greater diversity is gained if all ideas are expressed. The person who is spouting bigoted speech can be refuted with positive counter speech. Otherwise, simply telling the bigot not to use such language sends a message of disapproval, but not understanding of the wrong.
As John Morley once said, “you have not converted a man, because you have silenced him.” This is true on a college campus. The government or any other organization should not have the right to deny one the right to express himself freely.
Free expression leads to learning, which is important when tempered individuals need a sink for their opinion. As S. Douglas Murray of Villanova University School of Law points out that “Banning hate speech may exacerbate the very problem it seeks to cure. Censorship of hate speech can have the effect of glorifying the speaker, whose speech then receives far greater attention and publicity than it would have received otherwise.
Speech codes may have increased campus intolerance by making martyrs and heroes of crude fraternity brothers and obscure groups with extreme views. Therefore, these codes may have backfired by creating an even more hostile environment for the victims of hate speech (Murray 1).”Also, some colleges and universities have found that the only way they can ensure protection of all students is to place restrictions on hate speech. The problem is that many of these codes, as found in the John Doe vs. University of Michigan case, are vague and do not express directly the goals of the speech code (Campus 4). The Supreme Court found that the Michigan speech codes were “general and elude precise definition (4).
” As found in the UWM Post vs. Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System case, speech codes often described the type of speech, but not whether the speech intended to harm or cause a breach of peace, which is against the law (5). In other words, it is hard to come up with an exact definition of what exactly entails hate speech on campus. The Constitution does not protect speech that causes a “clear and present danger,” and threatening speech is considered harassment.
Moreover, the college campuses are trying to ban speech that they find distasteful on grounds that the speech is oppressive to race, sex, ethnicity, creed, religion, or national origin. Also, that such speech deters the victims from the educational environment. However, trying to define hate speech and its intent become a problem when making rules or laws.Speech codes are: “Unduly vague because it is ambiguous as to whether the regulated speech must actually demean the listener and create an intimidating, hostile or demeaning environment for education or whether the speaker must create such an environment (Hate 5).” All in all, in the case of protecting others rights against hate speech, the government cannot justify an exact definition of hate speech and the speaker’s intent.
Therefore, the government or any other organization shall not make restrictions until hate speech can be accurately defined and that the restrictions shall not infringe upon freedom of expression. In order to resolve the two previous extremes, private colleges and universities should be the only organizations that may limit speech. Since colleges and universities are independent from the government, they do hold the right to restrict what is said on their campuses. However, the way in which universities define and enforce hate speech must follow the guidelines of the First Amendment.
Universities should only ban speech that may be applied to a specific definition. The definition may include hate speech that causes physical violence, or mental instability. However, the codes must be parallel to the First Amendment because of the potential for falling down the “slippery slope.” In summation, the government should not regulate speech in colleges, but the colleges should protect the educational environment by creating codes that allow free expression and deny the right for one person to incite violence using hate speech.Another problem that plagues society is the hate speech regularly found in the workplace. There are already laws regulating harassment in the workplace, so the question really becomes, why is there a law about harassment, but not hate speech? The answer is found somewhere in the fear that the government will begin sliding down the slope of speech restrictions until no one is safe to open one’s mouth.
Fortunately, the slippery slope does not exist. This can be proven using at least one historical reference. For example, the Smith Act, which allows prosecution for the knowing acquisition or holding membership in any organization which advocates the overthrow of the government of the United States by force or violence, has been used in the past to suppress terrorist activity in the United States (Scales 1). However, the only people affected by this statute were those who had intentions of causing harm, not the average person who merely wants to protest government action (2). Also, one could argue that freedom of speech, expression, and organization, have been limited by this law.
True, the freedoms of some were limited by the law, but there is no substantial need for terrorists to be able to organize, just as there is no substantial need for hate speech in the workplace.By eliminating hate speech, the Federal Government will not be attacking one’s right to have an opinion. Instead, the government will be protecting others from being molested by that opinion. It is safe to assume that positive environments in the workplace will not only improve work efficiency, but it may even lead to a greater integration of ideas (Wood 3). New ideas are more readily accepted if they are introduced to a positive environment (3). Therefore, hate speech is detrimental to the work environment and must be controlled by national laws.
Also, due to the intense emotions that are elicited by hate speech, counter speech is not effective. Hate speech manipulates false information in order to attack groups of people. However, it is apparent that while counter speech may be effective on the personal level, it is not effective on any higher levels.
In the case of speech that is used to incite violence, there are few words that have the power to halt bullets, fists, or baseball bats.A third major point in the argument for government restrictions of hate speech is the fact that not all employers will react the same way to hate speech codes. If left entirely to the employers, hate speech codes will be useless. This is due to the fact that mostly white Christians have control of corporate America (Minority 1). When there is this kind of distinction between the different levels of society, one may conclude that those at the top may not be concerned about their own policies regarding hate speech.
Therefore, it is impossible to rely on them to enforce any of those policies. For example, Texaco faced a multimillion-dollar lawsuit in 1996 for not enforcing its policies regarding minority advancement in employment. This is the final reason why the government must be called upon to restrict hate speech in the workplace.In order to refute the previous argument, one must observe that even after the civil rights movement and the fights for women’s equality there still lives much prejudice in the private industry.
Such social stigmas do affect the quality of work that a person completes when being persecuted. The government is asked much of the time to step in and play a role when speech is thought unacceptable in the work environment. However, the question lies in how far the government can regulate the practices of private business and protect the rights of the employees. The answer comes when the government is able to define the difference between hate speech and harassment. In the case of private business, harassment in the workplace occurs against one small group or individual where hate speech is on a grander scale so that no one person is singled out. Harassment is illegal whereas hate speech is still legal. For instance yelling fire in a crowded theater or inciting violence are already illegal (Leo 2).
Once again the government is in a dilemma of deciding what is acceptable and unacceptable speech. Censoring speech does not stop workers from holding grudges or feelings toward other co-workers. In fact, the ability to express one’s opinion lessens the chance for built up tension to lead to violence. Professor of Law Nadine Strossen states that, “first there is no persuasive psychological evidence that punishment for name-calling changes deeply held attitudes. To the contrary, psychological studies show that censored speech becomes more appealing and persuasive to many listeners merely by virtue of the censorship” (Strossen 1). In effect, restraining individuals from expressing their feelings is more dangerous than having them express hateful ideas.
Even if the other workers are offended they have the right to use counter speech. If the speech tends to attack one individual that individual has the right to sue for harassment, but if the remarks are general hateful remarks not aimed at one person, then that is hate speech.In the arts and entertainment industry, hateful expression is doing two things: giving false impressions to massive audiences, and inciting violence. Even though many will argue that the government has no right to interfere with entertainment, one can see that extreme cases of hateful music has contributed to violent, hateful acts. However, it must be understood that the problem lies only in the case that the music incites violence by creating a false impression of a particular group of people. For example, music that has violent lyrics that describe the beatings of minorities is acceptable.
However, music that creates a feeling of violent hate towards an entire group based on the premise that they sacrifice children to pagan gods is unacceptable. This is due to the fact that by making that statement, it encourages violence based on a false feeling of justice. Therefore, based on that argument, one may support the government regulation of music.The private industry is not only under attack for its treatment of employees, but also for some of the products that it produces. The entertainment industry often is responsible for the production of objectionable material.
For instance, music is often targeted for hate speech and the question lies with whether or not the music is art. An example is the rap singer Eminem, who uses lyrics that are offensive to homosexuals and lyrics that incite aggression towards homosexuals (Medved 2-3). The artist in one particular song says “My words are like a dagger with a jagged edge / and I’ll stab you in the head, whether you are a fag or les…/ Hate fags? The answer’s yes” (3). Basically this kind of language incites not only bigoted opinion, but aggression as well. Although, his language may be objectionable he still has a right to say it. Music is a form of artwork that expresses the deep-set emotions of the artist.
By having the artist express his hatred in words, you are essentially stopping the artist from doing violent acts. However, many argue that violent and aggressive language has no place in music because it can cause others to do violent acts. This idea may be true some of the time, but people are responsible for their own actions, not the artist.
In the case of radio show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger, homosexuals feel that they are given a “false image” in the eyes of mainstream America (1). Homosexuals feel that Dr. Laura’s criticism often gives people the idea of political incorrectness (1). Maybe it does, but Dr.
Laura has the right to do so as protected by the First Amendment. On the reverse side, homosexuals have the right to set up their own radio stations that would allow for counter speech. That is why the government should not censor entertainment, because all ideas should be allowed and expressed. Who is to list what is good speech and what is bad speech?In resolution, the government has two distinct duties regarding private industry. First, the government may extend harassment to encompass hate speech.
According to Kristen Hamilton, the Saratoga County Youth Court director, “harassment is defined as inciting violence, causing alarm, or annoyance” (Hamilton). She goes on to say, “hate speech is considered acceptable on the large group scale. However, when it is directed toward an individual it is considered harassment” (Hamilton).
However, it is up to the individuals, and individual businesses to enforce this policy. Second, the government should be allowed jurisdiction on the minimum age for buying music that contains hate speech. Also, the government may regulate the noise level for all types of music in public, in order to prevent situations where minors are exposed to inappropriate content. In essence, the government may not single out any particular person, group, culture, or society for the purpose of restriction. However, it is acceptable to regulate based on age and societal need.Finally, one must encourage government restriction of hate speech in public places such as street corners.
There are two main reasons for this. First, it is necessary in order to protect the general populous from danger in the form of rioting. For example, many of the race riots of the 1960’s were caused by speeches on street corners. Often times these speeches were based on the premise that one entire race or religion was oppressing another race or religion. However, this was not an accurate statement, because it was not true. If there had been codes preventing hate speech based on the definition in the first paragraph, one may conclude that many of the riots never would have taken place.
Therefore, similar situations may be prevented in the future by government implementation of speech codes.The second reason for government implementation of public speech codes is that it is necessary to encourage political action, and discourage physical action. There has always been the political outlet for opinions. However, hateful organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan have been hesitant to use them in the past.
For example, in the past, the KKK has supported lynch mobs. It is necessary to encourage the political outlet, but that is only possible when the violent outlet will be prosecuted at both ends. In other words, it is not enough to punish the actual perpetrators, but the government must also punish those who incite violent actions.From the many places where hate speech may be found, especially on the college campus and the private industry, it ultimately cannot be restricted. Hate speech is protected speech by the First Amendment. The First Amendment does not only apply to the public environment, but the private environment as well.
By limiting what a person can say based on vague standards of what is objectionable material, the government lends itself to the “slippery slope.” The First Amendment allows for the ability for one to express his disapproval or dislike of the government or other individuals. Restricting hate speech would take away one of the fundamental values of liberty, the liberty of expressing one’s feelings no matter the degree of disapproval on the other side. Not to mention, hate speech can be counteracted by positive counter speech. Groups that are targeted by hate speech have the ability to attack their aggressors with counter speech. Since the government allows the natural right speech for all parties, the government cannot determine what is legitimate speech.
Speech that is acceptable to one group may be unacceptable to another group. Also, “actions speak louder than words.” This means that hate speech promoters are merely expressing their opinions. Therefore, hate speech promoters are only responsible for their own actions in harming others not the actions of others. In the case that violence takes place upon the hate speech promoter, the government must protect the hate speaker’s ability to demonstrate.
At the same time violence that comes directly from the hate speaker should result in the punishment of the speaker not for his words, but for his actions. Conclusively, the government or any other organization should not restrict hate speech in order to instill the liberties guaranteed by the First Amendment.When seeing both sides of the argument, the dividing line comes down to what exactly are hate speech and what part of hate speech needs restriction. The answer is that hate speech can be accurately defined as speech that is not offensive or even degrading, but speech aimed at groups that incites violence towards those groups, or puts those groups in a situation of inferiority, where they may feel threatened and unsafe in their environment. Basically, the only kind of hate speech that the government can restrict is speech that is to the level of harassment, which is already deemed constitutionally unprotected speech. The person who spouts bigoted remarks on the corner of a street is protected by the First Amendment not only on the street corner, but college campuses and the work place. However, the person who incites bigoted remarks aimed at violence or to the level of harassment against an individual, does not have the protection of the First Amendment.
That is where the government must draw the line. In the Smith case it was found that the government does not allow for speech that fosters terrorist activity. This idea is the same when dealing with hate speech.
Unfavorable ideas may be expressed; however, the line is drawn when those ideas are inciting violence toward another group. All in all, the government’s job to protect the fundamental liberties, such as safety and free speech, must be reserved by restricting hate speech.Bibliography:Works Cited“Anti-Semitic Postings Deleted by Web Operators.” News Bytes News Network. 10 Aug. 2000. EBSCO.
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