The Difference Between Free Speech and Hate Speech

Here’s a good starting point offered by Project Offspring

Hate Speech (Legal Definition): Speech not protected by the First Amendment, because it is intended to foster hatred against individuals or groups based on race, religion, gender, sexual preference, place of national origin, or other improper classification.

First Amendment: The First Amendment of the United States Constitution protects the right to freedom of religion and freedom of expression from government interference. See U.S. Constitution. amend. I. Freedom of expression consists of the rights to freedom of speech, press, assembly and to petition the government for a redress of grievances, and the implied rights of association and belief. The Supreme Court interprets the extent of the protection afforded to these rights. The First Amendment has been interpreted by the Court as applying to the entire federal government even though it is only expressly applicable to Congress. Furthermore, the Court has interpreted, the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment as protecting the rights in the First Amendment from interference by state governments.

Hate Speech in the online sense is most commonly described as: Speech which attacks or demeans a group based on race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status, and sexual orientation/gender identity.

The real issue here isn’t that these things aren’t already defined legally and in online spaces. It’s that people don’t actually seem to know what each of these things mean. They don’t know that hate speech and Free Speech are not the same thing. They don’t know that the First Amendment has to do with the government not being able to prosecute you for criticizing it. They don’t know that Freedom of Speech literally has nothing to do with citizen to citizen discourse.

Freedom of Speech has become a buzz phrase used by those who believe that they should be allowed to spew hate and have no one speak out against them. Fortunately, freedoms are shared.

It’s hard to blame those that don’t understand the difference between the two. They are not enforced in much of our every day lives. Many things that fall under hate speech are called “Freedom” and left at that. When the rules and guidelines are not enforced or worse, are enforced but not equally, no one ever has to know the rules in the first place.

Also, why do people think calling feminists terrible names and saying bad things about them based on blatant generalizations isn’t hate speech? Racism and sexism should be considered equally discriminatory, ya dopes! Also, protecting hate speech doesn’t infringe on free speech…

Why can’t everyone just be decent…?

5 thoughts on “The Difference Between Free Speech and Hate Speech

  1. I don’t think the founding fathers, or typical Americans up through 1960 were aware of these limitations to free speech. They are just a recent concept supported by a vocal ideological fringe. Naturally, members of this vocal ideological fringe try to portray it otherwise, but most people know what America has always stood for the freedom of speech even when it offends others.

    People used to be proud to say as an American, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”. Most of us still feel this way. So, enjoy your freedom to offend me, but don’t expect me to stand by and support laws that infringe upon my traditional freedoms.

  2. Pingback: Freedom of speech. | RARE QUOTES

  3. So you just want everyone to be nice to everyone an not say anything that might be construed as hate speech even though one might have a reason (wether personal or not) to speak up in opposition of an ideology and its members?

    • Not at all. It’s not that black and white. I don’t want everyone to be sunshines and rainbows all the time, but I think people can be decent. My point was simply that the ‘point’ of the first amendment was to protect citizens against government censorship- to protect our right to disagree, sure. But it is possible to disagree respectfully.
      Hate speech isn’t disagreeing, it’s be explicit and offensive towards a specific group based on personal bigotry and ignorance.

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