Who are we, America? What have we become? According to a new poll, the majority of Democrats and a quarter of Republicans think the government should ban “hate speech.”
From Hot Air:
Note: Hate speech, not hate crimes. YouGov asked people about hate crimes for its poll too and found bipartisan support for the federal law that provides steeper penalties for crimes motivated by hatred of the victim’s race, religion, gender, or national origin. Sixty-four percent of Dems gave thumbs-up to that versus 54 percent of Republicans. A plurality of Republicans also support expanding that law to target hate crimes committed against gays: 44 percent say yes versus 30 percent who say no.
Hate-crimes laws matter in the sentencing phase. If you’re guilty of the underlying offense, then you can be punished more severely depending upon what your motive was. A hate-speech law is different in that it treats hate as the offense itself. All you have to do is verbalize your thoughtcrime against a protected group and you’re facing prison. Our intellectual superiors in Europe cherish their hate-speech laws but the First Amendment makes them anathema in the U.S.
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This should frighten every American. This is the stuff of authoritarian regimes, not free nations.
But for those of you who might not fully understand why this would be an absolutely horrendous move, here are a few reasons:
1) It’s clearly unconstitutional.
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.
It doesn’t get more plain than that.
2) Offensive speech is the only speech that needs to be protected. This is a simple, yet sometimes elusive concept. If what I say offends no one, then my speech is not in danger of being taken away. It’s by this deductive logic that we know that the entire point of the 1st amendment is to protect speech some might find offensive.
3) Who gets to decide what is “hateful”? You? Me? Politicians? Groups with the most money and most powerful lobbyists? If you think that you don’t ever say anything offensive so it doesn’t matter, think again.
4) It will be used as a weapon to punish, or in this case, silence opposition. Governments have done this for as long as they’ve been around—even in the Land of the Free (See Nixon, IRS targeting, etc.). Furthermore, these laws are already in place in several other countries and, so far, have almost exclusively been used to prevent Christians from speaking against homosexuality.
5) Speech, even hateful speech, doesn’t violate anyone’s rights. And a law like this would lead to the imprisonment of people who haven’t violated the Constitutional rights of anyone. It’s not the government’s job to punish those who have never violated anyone’s rights. There would be people in prison who never killed anyone, never stole from anyone, never coerced anyone, never kidnapped anyone, never endangered anyone, never did anything to ever hurt anyone. That’s not America.
Free speech is one of the things that sets America apart from other countries. We should cherish it tremendously.