Does free speech have limitations?

Free Speech Sign- https://www.vox.com/2019/3/4/18197209/free-speech-philosophy-politics-brian-leiter

Dr. David Childs, Ph.D.
Northern Kentucky University

First Amendment
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.

Introduction
Today’s post will focus on the exercise of free speech. Does the free speech clause cover any type of speech one feels at liberty to share publicly? What are the limitations to free speech? In the times that we live in it seems that the bounds of free speech are constantly being tested. Many white supremacist and other hate groups are creating propaganda, websites and giving speeches that disparage racial minorities; but they are often protected by the constitution. What should be the limits on freedom of speech? On the one hand, it is a great privilege to be able to express one’s opinion on any political or social issue without fear of repercussions (I.e. Being jailed, tortured or killed). True freedom of expression is one of the great fundamental rights people of the United States enjoy that those in many other countries do not. Indeed, our freedom of speech is one of the factors that make us not a totalitarian dictatorship. But on the other hand, that free speech should not be used as a license to harm others or incite violence. Can recent acts of violence perpetrated by hate groups in public spaces be somehow traced to the free flow of hate speech and political rhetoric in the public arena?

On Hate Speech
As it stands, hate speech is protected under the US Constitution. Currently, the United States “does not have hate speech laws, since American courts have repeatedly ruled that laws criminalizing hate speech violate the guarantee to freedom of speech contained in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.” In other words, legally a person cannot lose their rights, livelihood or their life at the hands of the government because of something they say. Although, these things have happened to people throughout American history unofficially, officially it is supposed to be illegal. Yes, in the United States, political assassinations have taken place. That is, people who know or say too much or political opponents have been black balled or imprisoned by the hands of local, state and the federal government. Here is a partial list of assassinated American politicians. Think of all of the individuals during the Civil Rights movement who were killed because they spoke out or took a stand. Here is a list of Civil Rights martyrs compiled by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Many domestic terrorist groups in the United States such as the KKK have long been protected by free speech rights. Having said that, the Supreme Court puts forth instances where free speech has limitations.

United States Free Speech Exceptions
There are certain categories of speech that are not protected by the First Amendment. Due to various precedents set forth by the Supreme Court and their interpretation of the First Amendment, the Court has articulated instances where there are limitations on free speech.

“Categories of speech that are given lesser or no protection by the First Amendment (and therefore may be restricted) include obscenity, fraud, child pornography, speech integral to illegal conduct, speech that incites imminent lawless action, speech that violates intellectual property law, true threats, and commercial speech such as advertising. Along with communicative restrictions, less protection is afforded for uninhibited speech when the government acts as subsidizer or speaker, is an employer, controls education, or regulates the mail, airwaves, legal bar, military, prisons, and immigration.”

Conclusion
As our country becomes more and more divided, a lot of the ideological battles play out in public spaces such as k-12 schools, college campuses, on television and movies, and in Washington. But in recent times, debates and public expression has been taking place on websites and on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Snap chat, Instagram and Pinterest. Much of the social media freedom of expression and debate is promising as it gives people a voice who may not have otherwise had one. But on the other hand, there seems to be a troubling rise of speech that advocates violence and hate. These factors cause Americans to think deeper about what type of speech is protected and what is not.  

Resources/Lesson Plans
Freedom of Speech and of the Press Lesson Plans for the Classroom
Freedom of Speech? A Lesson on Understanding the Protections and Limits of the First Amendment Image
The dilemma of protecting free speech – Lesson Plan
You Can’t Say That in School- Lesson Plan
Respecting Freedom of Speech

References
Why Is Freedom of Speech an Important Right? When, if Ever, Can It Be Limited?
United States Free Speech Exceptions
Hate Speech
Freedom of Expression
Your Right to Free Expression
The Ongoing Challenge to Define Free Speech
Free Speech and Its Present Crisis
Hate Speech and Hate Crime

Discussion Questions
What are the benefits of free speech in a democracy?
Should there be any curb on free speech?
Are there dangers to calling something hate speech?
How does one determine what is classified as hate speech?
Can the notion of hate speech be used as a political weapon?

Questions for Educators
How might you generate positive and meaningful discussions in your classroom about free speech?
What might be challenges to a free speech discussion in your classroom?   

58 Comments

  1. Free speech is a tricky right, how far can free speech go before it crosses into the realm of endangering someone else’s rights. Dose hate speech cross the line of threatening someone else rights, or dose threatening someone else well being cross the line? Social Media becoming the primary form of political discussion has created a larger presents of hate speech. Online platforms have made it easier for individuals to say negative things that they would not say in real life, this is evident in the spread of online hate speech and cyber bullying.

    • Unless you incite panic with your free speech you are protected under the first amendment. It’s not tricky or thorny or anything else legally speaking . Truth or lie or opinion or feelings your right to say what ever is protected under the first amendment of the constitution of the United states of America. The greatest document created by man since the magna carta

  2. Last semester I wrote al paper on Hate Groups, and the accessories they have that aid them today to still thrive, in a overall progressive age. Social media platforms were one of the main focuses of my paper, exploring how the posts by individuals who subscribe to these hateful ideas are protected. The First Amendment is essential to preserving our rights as Americans, but at what cost? There have been many cries for the founder of Twitter to intervene in instances of hate on the website, and little effort has been done, which has lead to terrible publicity for the website and the founder, Jack Dorsey. I feel as if something should be done to curve hate speech, but it is a very thin line to tread between infringing on the First Amendment and ensuring domestic tranquility.

  3. I agree that this is a fundamental problem facing our country, especially in a time when politics and social issues have become so divisive. But I have always taken that stance that the government should continue to protect every citizens freedom to say what they want, because that is their constitutional right. However, the First Amendment is supposed to protect your freedom of speech from the government, not your fellow citizens. And so while I do not believe it is the place of the government to prosecute others for what they say I believe it is our responsibility as fellow citizens to negate and prevent hate speech.

  4. The freedom of speech has always been something I have known to cause debate in the classrooms I have been in. On one hand it allows for all people to speak and have a voice when it matters, but on the other hand, it can incite violence or hatred. There really is no clear way of distinguishing what speech to limit to doesn’t relinquish someone’s liberty. Laws need to be black and white. There needs to be right and wrong, because grey areas lead to interpretation that maybe unconstitutional or may limit personal liberty.

    Is social media really limited to following free speech laws and the First Amendment? Many are publicly available platforms, but they are owned by private companies, and users must agree to their terms of service?

  5. On the subject of Hate Speech, I beilieve it is difficult to define what exactly it is. What is considered hateful within the limits of free speech is almost entirely subjective and dependent upon what society deems it to be. The intentions behind words are what is important, and it is the acts that come from these intentions that we prosecute and punish. If speech itself is limited, those who are willing to act will still do so, and those who provide discource around subjects of hate speech will find themsleves silenced. Context means everything in free speech, and social media has eliminated this aspect and reduced to bite-sized chunks of information that can be altered massly distributed. Hate speech and free speech is a paradox that might not have a legislative solution, but the people can limit its danger through discourse.

  6. While I am a big proponent of the freedom of speech, I do believe there are necessary limitations on it. Like mentioned above, situations like threats, child pornography, obscenity, etc.. I believe hate speech should be added to that list. We have seen many social media sites ban, block, or at the very least remove posts containing hate speech, as it excludes, offends, and at times can even infringe upon others rights. I think it is time for the government to take that same stance.

    • What then is hate speech? Something you don’t agree with? That makes you feel a certain way? That challenges your world view? The crux of what is and isn’t allowed under A1 is that you are entitled to say whatever it is you want to say as long as isn’t causing physical harm or denying liberty to someone else

  7. Freedom of speech is highly controversial and debated for a reason and I think the laws themselves remain vague for the same reason. I think that to loose our freedom of speech and self-expression is one of the most feared infringements of freedoms in the United States and thus remains vague and debatable (Save the mostly universal agreements and precedents you mentioned like obscenity, fraud, child pornography, speech integral to illegal conduct, speech that incites imminent lawless action etc.). As far as my own opinion on the matter, mostly in reference to freedom of speech on social media, we must understand we are given freedom of speech, not freedom of consequence. What you say online can be met with retaliation, what your neighbor overhears can lead to them never speaking to you again, none of these things infringe on your freedom of speech, you can have freedom of speech, but so do those around you and I think that distinction if often forgotten, especially online. As for hate speech, I think it’s just so hard to draw a line, as privileged as that may sound, do I think the police should protect KKK rallies? Absolutely not, under any circumstance, as again you can say what you want, but you can and often should also be met with the consequence of it. And obviously the KKK is an extreme example that I think most if not all people would be okay with getting shut down, I think it’s when things get less extreme feelings get more hazy and that fear of losing your own freedoms begin to kick in and that slope effect comes to mind. I remember hearing a poem called Somewhere in America by Rhiannon McGavin, Belissa Escobedo and Zariya Allen and it said “there’s a child sitting at his mother’s computer, reading the homepage of the KKK’s website, and that’s open to the public, but that child will never read “To Kill A Mockingbird” for its use of the N Word” of course this is not true in all schools, as I read “To Kill A Mockingbird” but it definitely is true in some places and I think this is a great example of the delicate and confusing nature of freedom of speech in the U.S and to be honest I don’t have any kind of solution or clear cut answer, but I do think it is important that we continue to talk and have difficult conversations about it, so we never lose that freedom, but also do our best to make sure people feel safe in their own neighborhoods.

  8. People definitely take their freedom of speech and stretch it to the absolute limits. When they are using their freedom of speech to discriminate against groups of people that is not okay. However, I think the solution to stopping hate speech is very tricky. While I do not agree with people who use it, I am not sure if not having it protected by the first amendment is the way to go. While people who use hate speech may not be punished legally, they still face consequences. If they post hate speech online, or someone has proof of them spewing it, they may lose the job they have or may not get a job that they apply for because that is not up to company standards. If others hear it or see it they may decide not to associate themselves with that person anymore. It is very difficult to change what is and what is not protected by the first amendment but I am certain people will still face some form of repercussions, as they should.

  9. I agree that freedom of speech is an important right when it comes to U.S Citizens however, when freedom of speech begins to cross into hate speech this is when problems arise. I feel that hate speech needs to be addressed although not too much can be done about it without hindering our right of freedom of speech. We can moderate and put laws on hate speech like the laws on child pornography, obscenity, and true threats etc. There is always a “gray area” on these restrictions, leaving the interpretation open for each individual. For example, obscenity has different meanings to different people; is it curse words, slander, or discrimmination? It is open to interpretation on all sides.

  10. Freedom of speech means many different things to many different people, there is no true set law saying that you can or cannot say certain things because i can say anything i wanted to when im by myself where no one else can hear and i can get away with whatever it was that was said. Now that being said if i decided to speak my opinion to others and put it out there that i said it, would be protected under the first amendment depending on the severity of what was said. How things are said and perceived may vary depending on what it was, freedom of speech does not give one the right to go around yelling there’s a bomb when there really isnt, its being able to express what your beliefs are whether it be religious, political or opinions. There are no limitations on what can be said about about ones beliefs and there should be no change to that even if it is a racial slur against someone else (dont get me wrong im not for it, just an example) but you cant just stop people from speaking their thoughts and change how they were raised because people are raised to hate others for their religion or skin color, so to them they believe it is right and to other who wasnt raised like that it wouldnt be right, which again its their right to say it because freedom of speech allows personal opinions. So there are no limitations on what can or cannot be said as long as its not putting anyone or anything in immediate danger or making threats.

  11. I have always thought that you should have the right to free speech but that doesn’t mean you should use your right to bring people down. I believe in what the Bible says and it states that you shouldn’t use your words to bring people down, and hateful things shouldn’t come out of your mouth. Therefore, I think you should have your rights to freedom of speech except for the exceptions that were stated above in the article. Hate speech is sadly always going to exist. It is something that will never go away. However, as people, we can change what comes out of our mouthes and guard our tongue. We have the power as individuals to change what we say. We can bring happiness, positivity, joy, and light to the World.

    I believe that we should always be able to keep our right to freedom of speech. Though, we can be the generation that raises children to speak words of kindness and acceptance. We can teach our kids to stand up to the people who choose to spread hate. We can choose to raise children that will bring awareness to hateful words and how it harms people. We can raise children to be the change.

    But it needs to start with us. We need to be the change that the world so desperatley needs.

  12. Personally, I generally believe that people should have a right to express their opinions with little to no repercussions up until their opinion infringes on the rights of others. The United States Supreme Court has tried many cases where people have claimed that they were just using their right to free speech whenever they were conducted whatever activity got them sent to court in the first place. Throughout the trying of these cases, the Supreme Court often used the clear and present danger test and later incitement to imminent lawless action (also called the Brandenburg test) to determine whether they remained in the rights given to them by the Constitution. Basically, these two tests indicate that someone has the right to say whatever they wish to say, until what they are saying indicates that they are clearly going to cause some sort of danger/harm or participate in a lawless action. I think that hate speech would fall under this category. Hate speech is often threatening others for something that they can not control (such as skin color or religious beliefs). Generally, these threats cross the line of being a lawless action- because they often involve threatening to assault or kill someone (both of which are illegal and therefore lawless). I don’t understand why people are still able to get away with hate speech. I understand people not wanting to have their Freedom of Speech limited, but I think it is necessary to combat the current state of affairs of our country, and even our world, where hate is causing a large number of unnecessary deaths.

    The First Amendment Encyclopedia, Middle Tennessee State University, 2009, mtsu.edu/first-amendment/.

  13. Freedom of speech is something America was built on and something many citizens hold with pride. The article brought up good points in how we are supposed to have the right to say what we want, but sometimes that amendment seems to use favoritism. The article mentioned how people have been assassinated and some thrown in jail for not having the popular opinion, even though this is technically against the law. The government showing favoritism does not make freedom of speech equal. The article also brought up how people use a lot of hate speech on social media. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I think there is a way to show how you feel with being negative or aggressive.

  14. Free speech is a very important part of democracy. How could people vote and have a say in their government if they are not free to express their opinions and learn about the opinions of others. Without free speech, the government would have full control over what information is aired and published making it impossible for citizens to get an unbiased look at what’s going on politically. However, some speech can create panic and make people fear for their lives. Take the classic example of yelling fire in a crowded movie theater for example. Speech must be limited on some level or people can cause panic and fear that could impede the safety of others.

    Hate speech is defined by Google as “abusive or threatening speech or writing that expresses prejudice against a particular group, especially on the basis of race, religion, or sexual orientation”. Hate speech can absolutely cause panic and make people feel unsafe but, it can also absolutely be used as a political weapon. Some people may label anything they disagree with politically as “hate speech”. Lawmakers and enforcers must decide very carefully what is hate speech and what isn’t. People may stretch and abuse the term, or it may be used to help maintain the peace and safety of others, it can be looked at in a case by case manner.

    Overall, I believe that freedom of speech is very important to democracy, but should have some limitations to ensure safety and prevent panic.

  15. I believe we all have a right to free speech. I also believe there’s an excessive amount of people who make racist, misogynistic, and sexist comments and use the first amendment as an excuse to share such hateful statements. While it is their right, I don’t believe that is /is/ right. As a country, we are lucky to have such freedom to say whatever we want without fear, but we don’t put it to good use half of the time. I believe our “freedom” of speech should be exercised, but shouldn’t infringe on any other persons thoughts/beliefs/opinion

  16. Free speech is being tested almost on a daily basis now for anything you say. Freedom of speech should not include threatening someone in any way, however having your own opinions should be not be shunned. With that being said, you must be wary of what you say and where. I do believe employers have a right to hold what you say against you especially if it is out in the happen on social media. I would not say it is necessarily limiting freedom of speech, but I see it more as holding the people in these higher positions to be more responsible and held more accountable with what they may say. Now these are in more of terms of hateful, abusive or threatening speech. If it is something as simply stating how you think on social media platforms I see no wrong in that.

  17. Freedom of speech is something that people can easily abuse at times. We often hear first and second hand about racist and sexist jokes/comments that can offend and/or threaten a person. I believe that sometimes it is our society that makes comments acceptable, however that does not make them right. Personally, I whole heartedly agree with the article that free speech is a fundamental issue that continues throughout the country.

  18. I find it concerning that such an important amendment such as the first can be perceived in various ways. After reading the same wording of the amendment, two individuals might show two completely different views. I believe that is why hate speech even exists today. I personally, cannot believe that an individual would find it appropriate to harass other individuals by threating their life and maybe even their family. I wonder if the founding fathers intentionally made this amendment so vague? The founding fathers were not saints. Some were notorious for their negative views and attitudes regarding people of other races.
    As future educators I believe it is important to understand that we cannot contribute to hate speech. The stopping of hate speech starts in our classroom. We should teach students to realize that even though we may disagree with someone, we should be respectful of their views. Children are the future and by teaching them to respect each other and their beliefs we are helping to minimize hate speech as a whole.

  19. Your article brings up some good points. I have many thoughts and opinions on this topic, like: Is there even really free speech anymore? Everything you say is put under a microscope and criticized, and some people take things the wrong way. I am heavily addicted to the show 13 Reasons Why, and in this show a group of girls that were raped, storm onto the football field during a football game (in which one of the rapists were playing in) to make it a topic that the whole school needed to talk about. They got carried off the field by police. What. In. The. Heck. Sometimes I just think about how I believe that the freedom of speech and expression is so heavily limited and watched that you can’t ever say the correct thing, even if it’s your opinion.

  20. Whether good or bad, words are powerful; words are inerrantly designed to hold authority. Biblically, The Word (and words as a whole) are compared to a sword, and interestingly, that is the only weapon of metaphorical offense used in the Bible. Who can fight without their weapon? The subject of what should and shouldn’t be protected/ acceptable regarding freedom of speech in the first amendment brings upon lots of ambivalence in me. While it does hurt me to see people be afflicted or harmed under the arm of hate speech, I do think that the good outweighs the bad. I can’t imagine living in a country with tighter reigns held on speech alone. Some of the most progressive moments in American history were bred under the rights to freedom of speech. Personally, I strive to use my voice to be constructive in any way I can, and while I wish my fellow citizens would make that same choice, that is almost inevitably impossible. I agree with the statement made in the article about America being set-apart and different than other governmental systems because of these rights and how at the same time people abuse this right to promote violence. This article definitely brought up some new ideas I haven’t thought about and I would be interested in learning more about how directly words are related to points of action.

  21. I think the thing that is stopping the supreme court from banning hate speech is, what is hate speech? Something that I find perfectly acceptable another person could find offensive and vise versa. This is why i can never support a law that limits word because the potential harm vastly out ways the current problem. People all around the world are arrested and imprisoned or even killed for things they say about the government or a group of people. While I know this is America and people can freely speak about whoever they want with a law like this things could quickly escalate.

  22. Freedom of speech can be such a wonderful thing, but it can also be a toxic right. The majority of the time I see no issue with freedom of speech, people are just trying to express themselves and their beliefs, so what is so wrong about that? Well, sometimes people abuse their right to freedom of speech and say horrible things. I understand that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but is saying hurtful things, or threatening others really the best way to express that? Social media has made quite an effective shield for people who decide to spew hate. Screens, whether phone or computer, have made it easier than ever to say horrible things to and about other people. I think that maybe certain things should be monitored, for example threatening others lives, or just talking hatefully about others. Although I also know that if that were to start happening that a grey area would be formed and make it difficult to navigate what would follow those guidelines. Like I said before freedom of speech is such a wonderful thing, it is a shame that others have to ruin and taint that right.

  23. Freedom of speech has always been very important to me especially in high school and college. In high school I was the founder of the debate team at my first high school and we loved to debate hot button topics, but we had rules to keep us from crossing those boundaries of hurting other people. I feel like everyone should have the freedom to say what they want but when it comes to hate speech and purposely attacking who someone is it becomes more like bullying.

  24. Freedom of Speech is a big topic in the United states right now because of the big divide that is taking place. People should be able to form their own opinions on things that they believe in, even if not everyone will agree with it. However, I do believe that if the opinions they are speaking can cause harm to an individual it should be limited. For instance, look at the Michelle Carter case. Her words and opinions cause a person to take their own life and she is now dealing with the consequences. Those who participate in hate speech should have to deal with the same or similar consequences.

  25. Having the freedom of speech is something that we, as Americans, can often take for granted. Especially in today’s society when we use it to spread hate or violence. Having the freedom to speak is so important in our country today, which is why we must use our voices to advocate for what’s right. Speaking out in acts of violence and hate is not what our freedom is for. I think we should take a closer look into hate speech because that is not what the first amendment should be protecting in my opinion. Especially in education, when it comes to bullying and everything we see on social media.

  26. Free speech is a concept that I have struggled with ever since i was young. i mean, what exactly falls under free speech? Surely there’s a point where what you’re saying is rude and can be stopped? But then, what if my rude isn’t some one else’s? There are people in my life that i would die for. These people happen to fall under categories that a lot of people discriminate against. It’s hard listening to hate speeches or reading terrible posts, but then i wonder what it’s like for them? Surely there has to be a way to address and stop the hate without taking away our freedom. Even if there isn’t, I wonder if it wouldn’t be that big of a deal to shorten the leash on our speech.

  27. Freedom of speech is one of the most fundamental rights for citizens in America, however the extent to which ones speech is free has its limitations. Things like obscenity, child pornography and other forms of speech have lessor or no protection under the law whereas hate speech does? Why is that? Hate speech has threatened and caused more harm to the citizens of America, than any other form of speech today and yet it is still one of the most protected forms of speech. That is truly baffling to me, I think one of the issues with putting limitations on hate speech would be trying to define it. There is no one definition for such a broad concept that can be interpreted and construed in many different ways. I also think it has a big part in politician advantage. Many public officials, politicians, etc. have turn to “hate speech” as a winning strategy and since they run the government, why would they limit a freedom that benefits them? As an educator, free speech is a topic that should be discussed with kids. However arguing free speech can take a turn for the worst in the classroom as well. I think it would be beneficial to have a discussion about respecting others opinions before such a discussion. It would be challenging though, because you cant have an open forum on free speech and ask students to make sure they aren’t hurting others with their words, etc because essentially, that is against free speech.

  28. The very core of our nation was built on freedom, and from that, the freedom of speech. It is a powerful right that most Americans take for granted every day as they rant about current issues over social media or in public. However, just as the article says, there is a worrying amount of hateful speech seeming to rise above the rest which begs the question should there be limits? Like many subjects regarding freedom, there is no clear line in this matter, but I hardly believe putting limitations on American’s freedom is hardly the answer, as this would cause an even larger uproar. Instead, we as individuals need to make the conscious decision to tune out the negative, as the voices behind it all simply feed on the responses people give back out of anger. While this action may seem simple or small, it is in my best experience that I have learned that sometimes the biggest changes come from the smallest beginnings.

  29. I believe that in this country we have lots of freedom. One of those freedoms is the freedom of speech. Today, this is taken advantage of by slandering people on social media, the news, etc. I believe that we all have the right to speak freely and that cant be taken away from us but we need to watch more carefully on what we say and how we say it.

  30. Free speech in the United States is an interesting topic in that it was the main ideal that the U.S. was founded on yet the broad scope of the amendment leads to discussions of how free free speech really is. In an ideal world it would be great for hate speech to be excluded from free speech with all the other forms that were limited. Where the problem arises is the same as where the problem is with free speech in that hate speech is a broad idea. It’s defined as abusive or threatening speech or writing that expresses prejudice against a particular group. This is a very broad definition and is not suitable for legal use. After an official definition of hate speech is created for legal use then it will be easier to discuss the specifics of how to limit this form of speech.

  31. Limitations for freedom of speech have always been a big question for me, how far can you go before there is repercussions? Is there a freedom of speech spectrum that someone can judge and justify if they are able to take action upon something that is said?  Also, do we take everything as seriously as the next when it is being said? There is no question that hate speech is becoming easier to spread because of social media and online access. I do think that speech should be acted upon the degree of hatred, threat, and obscenity being used. As long as people are able to get their points across in a mature non-threatening way then the constitution should still be able to protect that right. But, whose to judge on what others say? 

  32. Personally, I have always thought that the idea that people are allowed to voice their feelings, opinions and stances on things they feel passionate about is important. However, I do believe that this is not a completely black and white situation and in order to avoid chaos and things like hate speech there 100% should be ethical limitations on this right. This would create less occurances of people taking advantage of their freedom of speech to hurt others. Our freedom of speech is one of the most beautiful things about our country until the individual uses it with the intent to harm others.

  33. When thinking of free speech, the first example that comes to mind is the groups of people or individuals that come to college campuses to spread their own thoughts and opinions. These people often times come looking for a fight or to have an argument with students. Here at our own university it is seen multiple times throughout a semester. Although these people are technically covered under the First Amendment, I still don’t think they have a right to verbally attack students who are just trying to get around campus. At times, I have heard grown men yell terrible things to female students for a simple article of clothing. I am aware that the campus is a public university and anyone is allowed on, however, it seems weird that they are also allowed to harass and make the students feel uncomfortable, but yet still be protected by the First Amendment.

  34. Free speech, as you said, is an integral part of our constitution and as you also said it allows the freedom to express our opinions on all factors of life, from social to political, without fear of repercussion. This is all opinions of everyone, including those that speak out against others in a hateful manner. Under this definition, I believe hate speech falls under the protection of the first amendment, unless it is specifically a call to physically harm people. This doesn’t mean that we have to accept hate speech however, we can help educate others on what is hurtful to others and consider what we are saying as well. We can help to influence others to be nicer to everyone, and help people express their opinions in a way that is constructive to everyone.

  35. Freedom of Speech is something that is easy for people to fall back on. People believe that they can say anything and be completely protected by “Freedom of Speech,” but as we know now, that is not the case. People who voice their opinions on politics or various issues have led to assassination. This definitely is wrong considering what freedom of speech means. Social Media and the media have made it very easy for people to express their opinions. Since it is so easy for people to post online or say it to a camera, I think often people do not realize how strong their opinion may come off or how vindictive they may be. I think it is important that there are limitations to what is freedom of speech. I did not know that there were restrictions, prior to reading this article. I believe that Americans should think more before posting or voicing their opinions.

  36. Unfortunately, our nations freedom of speech is an often tested and vague concept. I wish there was a law for human decency where this freedom wasn’t abused to hurt or hate on others, but sadly, we need to be unbiased and tolerant because it is a slippery slope to define what types of speech are allowed or not. I did not know about the free speech exceptions, but it makes since that these boundaries exist. As the country does become more divided on various fronts, it turns out to be difficult than ever to know what types of expression are acceptable, and it is important to remember the wise old advice we all know: “Think before you speak.”

  37. The line, “As it stands, hate speech is protected under the US Constitution.”, really stood out to me. Its mind boggling to think that in some ways this is true. Often, freedom of speech can be taken advantage of and is used in a negative way. Freedom of speech can be used to harm others. This has become a huge issue in our society today, especially with social media. People often don’t know what boundaries they should follow when sharing opinions and views. For example, it’s hard to think how groups such as the KKK have been protected by freedom of speech. In another sense it’s nice to think about how we are able to share our political views without fear of punishment. In conclusion, there is a good and bad side to freedom of speech. It is used for good but can also be taken advantage of.

  38. I found this article to be very relevant in the current political climate. I think that not enough light is shed on those who have been killed at the hands of people trying to stifle freedom of speech, and I would even go one step further to say that there are many people in history who may not have been killed, but were certainly blacklisted or shunted into the background because of their beliefs. One person in particular that comes to mind is Bayard Rustin, who was an integral contributor to the March on Washington and made countless contributions to the Civil Rights Movement. However, he was a gay black man who had extremely liberal views for the time, and was accused of being a communist and a pervert because of his views and lifestyle. Because of this, most people do not know how important he was to the Civil Rights Movement, or who he even was period. I also always think its interesting when I read about the caveats of the first amendment, because a couple of those caveats is that speech that “incites imminent lawless actions” and “true threats” are not protected under the first amendment. Hate speech, particularly in this day and age, often leads to violent and “lawless” actions, such as the attacks in South Carolina or countless shootings at bars or grocery store or night clubs, and certainly true threats that can be clearly seen on social media such as Facebook or Twitter. It seems odd to me that those posts or websites can often be protected under the guise of “freedom of speech” when it so regularly does what the first amendment warns about.

  39. This article touches on a very controversial topic, freedom of speech. The constitution has protected citizens’ rights in America for a very long time. It has allowed citizens to share their true thoughts without fear of retaliation from the government. Recently, with new social media platforms, it has become easier to see how this right is being taken advantage of with the spread of hate speech. Many people want there to be limitations on freedom of speech to not protect language which is hateful towards others. I wish that there were an easy way to achieve this, however I worry that asking for this limitation could lead the government to seek retaliation on any speech that goes against their political platform. For example would they seek out members of the Black Lives Matter movement and prevent them from speaking out and gathering because it involves race?

  40. Freedom of Speech is one of those hard concepts in our government to handle. If you give 100% free speech like the First Amendment states, there are plenty of people who get off the hook when it comes to things that should be considered crimes and have jail time (this would be like the KKK). If you limit the freedom of speech that people have though, you end up with people going to jail for expressing their opinion to the public. This can lead to hate crimes happening even more frequent. There would probably be many riots that occur too. It will always be a hard balance and I don’t know if we will ever get it right.

  41. I really enjoyed reading this article and the comments posted by other students. In today’s society social media platforms have a huge impact on how we all interact with one another. Thankfully, this often times means that some of the hate speech and/or more graphic material is censored for the general public. Similarly to what Kyle Owens said, I believe there needs to be a point where the government steps in as well. Hate speech is a serious topic and can lead to horrific consequences if not monitored. Our government should have some of this control and protect its citizens in such instances.

  42. I enjoyed reading this article because I agree with much of what is stated. The freedom of speech is one of the many rights we have and we make use of it. It is a right however we tend to abuse. When we use it to make threats against each other we are abusing our freedom of speech. I think of the freedom of speech as more of a privilege than a right. It’s a privilege that should be used to communicate with each other in terms of support to maintain peace. If it is being mistreated and abused, then our government should have the ability to step in before lifelong consequences take place.

  43. I believe our right to free speech is extremely important. The right to stand up for what we believe in or to simply just share our opinions about things is very important. However, I do believe there is a line that some people cross on both sides of politics. Usually, in life there is a small group of people who ruin it for everyone else. I believe the issue of free speech is one of topics. I believe that when the First Amendment was written and put into place, the intentions were appropriate and good for that time period. However, our biggest issue today is social media. Social media is where everything gets controversial and tricky. Technology makes it very easy for someone to say something that others may not agree with and allow for others to be offended by it. Being offended is not the issue, however. Everyone disagrees with someone about everything. No two people will ever agree on every single thing. That being said, with social media is also much easier for someone to hide behind a computer and incite violence. This is where the issue lies. Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing that can be turned into something terrible by angry people who only want to spread negative words and promote violence.

  44. Freedom of speech is such a tricky topic to completely nail down. Whole there is laws of what can and can not be said even with tries in place there are lots of questions on what’s allowed an not allowed. I think it’s very important to remember that freedom of speech is the freedom to tell your opinions to the world, not talk down on groups or publicly shame others. This is when Hate speech comes in. There is a huge difference between voicing your opinion and voicing hate. Social media has allowed more people to voice their opinions but it has also allowed a lot of people to hate on one another. With the added procreation of the screen people feel more comfortable voicing their option (or hate) because their persona can be whatever they want on the internet, they are a username instead of a person. Prior to reading this article I didn’t know about the limitations on freedom of speech. I think it should be monitored more on social media platforms to better protect citizens.

  45. Freedom of speech is a very touchy subject for many reasons. Our first amendment is freedom of speech, however we aren’t always allowed to say what he we really want too. I believe that freedom of speech causes a lot of unwanted fights in today’s world. When someone has a strong opinion on something they will say how they feel, however if someone doesn’t agree with it they too will then voice their opinion on the matter. Everyone is always going to have an opinion on certain topics, and it’s up to us to use our freedom in speech the right way to minimize the arguments which could result in using our first amendment freely.

  46. This has always been a hot topic for me. As someone who likes to think that constitutional rights are to be held at a high pedestal, I must concede that the constitution isn’t perfect, much less can it stand the test of time. The first amendment does give you the right to free speech. Without any boundaries though? or consequences? Or who is to say what is okay and what isn’t? Most importantly, we need to have the conversation about hate speech. There is no place for it, we can’t continue to let people hide behind the law as their excuse for their actions.

  47. Freedom of Speech and the First Amendment are so important and everyone is legally entitled to say what they think or feel. With that comes the thin line of what should be said and what is said. I do not believe the First Amendment was put in place or intended for hate speech or any kind of negative words or slang to be used. I believe that people have used their rights to blur the line into what they wanted their freedom of speech to mean; causing hate speech. I wonder if Congress would put more limitations and guidelines to the First Amendment knowing that hate speech and violence could be an outcome of people having a right to say what they feel. With freedom of speech being so important I believe as individuals it is important to monitor how the things we say come across and as future educators we teach our students that there is a line between right and wrong and that can be included in our words and speech.

  48. The benefits of free speech in democracy include putting ideas on the table and starting important conversation that would not otherwise be there. It unifies the country because people feel connected through common ideas, topics and opinions. I do not think there should be a curb on free speech because knowing the boundaries of what to speak about and how to present ideas should be a common ground. People should know how to respectfully talk about issues and such. There are dangers to calling something hate speech because a person could be offended by such an assumption. Sometimes the way people present ideas are not how they intend it to be. One usually determines what is classified as hate speech by the words the person uses and the tone, they hear it as. The notion of hate speech can be used as a weapon because it provides a negative thought or act against someone to make them feel lesser and that will only tear our country apart and deviate from what this country was founded upon- unity.

  49. Freedom of speech is one of the integral parts of the freedoms that come with being an American citizen. We are able to openly criticize other citizens, celebrities, corporations, the government; we are able to put our thoughts and opinions into the world without fear of federal prosecution. However, doing such things and having freedom of speech does not protect us from backlash and judgment from those around us and anyone else who may hear our words. Social pressure and “cancel culture” affects people’s freedom to be able to say what they want due to the fear of offending others and having things in your life be effected due to the backlash.

  50. Freedom of speech is quite a touchy subject. I think we as Americans take advantage of the rights we have. We have the privilege to speak without being thrown in jail and punished, instead of appreciating that and using it for good some people use it to spread hate. It is sad how we take our rights for granted. The freedom of speech is so important but there is a line people cross. Just because you are allowed to say it and won’t be punished for it doesn’t mean you should say it. People don’t realize how much their words hurt and affect others.

  51. I find it interesting that though our constitution & court judges say one thing, the American people have ‘said’ another thing throughout their actions over the years. The fact that people have been assassinated & martyred for something that they’ve said makes the point that Americans are not respecting one another’s right. If that’s the case—I believe it’s up to the government to create new bounds for us to speak under the law. At the same time, I admit it is a quite difficult thing to monitor because you must at times interpret people’s words, and sometimes their is no concrete proof of an individual’s words.

  52. I remember my fifth grade teacher explaining the freedom of speech with the history behind it. She talked about being a colony and how individuals were punished for having their own opinions and simply speaking them aloud. When the Constitution was written, the Founding Fathers wanted to guarantee that people during that time and in the future were protected in this way.She explained it that you could say anything as long as it wasn’t threatening toward someone else’s well-being. She gave examples that sound inappropriate for young learners but we knew guns or bombings existed. I didn’t realize the many complications that exist just between the First Amendment and what many courts will rule. Most common decisions make sense but to stop and compare the two catches your attention to the norm.

  53. Freedom of speech is a tricky thing because while I feel like it is necessary that people should be allowed to say what they want sometimes that speech can harm others. The issue I think is that it would be hard to have hate laws because there can be so many different things that could fall under hate speech and what would we allow and disallow. I don’t think we can limit one group of people from being able to say what they want and not limit the other. I think that hate speech is too broad of a term to limit unless you take away hate of all kind and to be honest the people that speak hate are not necessarily going to be stopped just because there is a law on it. I think our jobs as teachers is to have the discussion with our students and show them the effects of hate speech so that they have the knowledge to know that what they say can be hurtful and that they need to be mindful of others when they use their First Amendment right.

  54. Hate speech is becoming more and more normalized in today’s world, especially with the boom of social media sites. I know many sites that monitor and to an extent, control what is posted, but people feel way too comfortable putting others down behind a computer screen where they feel “safe”. I do believe as Americans we should have a right to freedom of speech and we should protect that amendment, but I feel as a future educator around a community of other future educators we have great influence on the next generation of kids that come through our classrooms. I believe we need to take advantage of that and teach these students that freedom of speech is a good thing, but that we should not abuse that right with hate speech, etc.

  55. I have always enjoyed the idea of having the freedom to speech. I believe people deserve the right to speak up for what they believe in. However, I agree that there are times when people abuse this right. I agree that there is a fine line that separates a person speaking their thoughts and a person attempting to cause damage. I have noticed on a few social platforms that there will be one person who voices their personal opinions, and there will be comments that follow that are just cruel. The comments were not being used to speak up for one’s belief; they were being used to purposely cause conflict. These are the instances that overstep the line and abuse our right to freedom of speech.

  56. The idea and controversy of hate speech being included in our 1st amendment rights is a very fine line. As the article mentions, do we risk interrupting the flow of our 1st amendment rights or do we put legal and specific limitations on hate speech? There is little doubt that either way can cause ripple effects that shape our country. If you are asking me, I say we put limitations and take legal action against hate speech. There is a distinct difference between hate speech and regular speech and the former has no place in society. There is no law against believing what you believe and much of what you want to say may be done within your private domicile, even with a group of others who believe the same thing. Threating the livelihood of others based on sex, race, religion, etc. is not appropriate and causes more harm than good. I do not believe we should quiet beliefs and protest that fight for a cause, I just do not see a need for the KKK or any other group to be able to publicly announce their hate towards others.

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