For an Audio Version of this article click here:
Contrary to the beliefs of many millennials, there is no “Hate Speech” law in the U.S. today. But as these discriminatory and anti-free speech laws gain prevalence around the world in places like the U.K. and Canada, it won’t be long before the gradual chipping away of the First Amendment becomes a sledgehammer attack.
Presently, the only exceptions to Free Speech are those classed as “fighting words,” which came to prominence in 1940 in the case of Beauharnais v. Illinois; the judgment was well-summarized by Justice Frank Murphy as meaning:
“There are certain well-defined and limited classes of speech, the prevention, and punishment of which have never been thought to raise a Constitutional problem. These include the lewd and obscene, the profane, the libelous and the insulting or ‘fighting’ words – those which by their very utterances inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace.”
Challenges and Cases
That was pretty much it (not including Expressive Acts cases) until 1992 when Justice Antonin Scalia dealt with R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul, which made it even clearer that the only exclusions would be those that can realistically lead to “imminent violence.”
This was put to the Supreme Court in more recent years when in 2017, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote regarding the Matal v. Tam case:
“A law that can be directed against speech found offensive to some portion of the public can be turned against minority and dissenting views to the detriment of all. The First Amendment does not entrust that power to the government’s benevolence. Instead, our reliance must be on the substantial safeguards of free and open discussion in a democratic society.”
The Threat Today
We need only look over the pond to the U.K. to see where the next line of attack and authoritarian enforcement will come from.
During the last week, journalists have been banned from entering the U.K. based on the excuse that they are a threat to national security using anti-terrorism laws. Lauren Southern ( Canadian blogger and journalist) has been informed by the Home Office that she does “not have leave to enter” the United Kingdom under these laws.
Another journalist, Britany Pettibone, was held upon arrival and deported after being held for three days. Her crime? Being “right wing.”
In the U.K., people are being arrested and prosecuted for exposing Muslim pedophiles in sting operations. People are imprisoned for making online comments with around ten arrests being made each and every day, and this is where the Hate Speech laws come into play…
According to the Metropolitan Police Force, a Hate Crime can be:
“If someone does something that isn’t a criminal offence but the victim, or anyone else, believes it was motivated by prejudice or hate, we would class this as a ‘hate incident’. Though what the perpetrator has done may not be against the law, their reasons for doing it are. This means it may be possible to charge them with an offence.”
So even if a crime has not been committed, charges can still be brought.
And this is how it will soon be in the U.S. unless a real effort to defend and strengthen the First Amendment takes place. All it takes is for someone to argue successfully that an individual’s opinion creates a feeling of fear whether or not it is directed against them.
All other rights spring from the right to speak your mind and to express your feelings. Without the First Amendment, there is no value to the others. And this is why it is the biggest threat and target of the radical left.