Why are Hate Speech Laws Dangerous?

The United States Constitution was ratified by the states in 1787. Soon after its ratification, there was a very large movement for the constitution to be amended. Many within the country had quickly come to realize that while the constitution limited government power somewhat, there were many guarantees to its citizens that were noticeably absent. And so, in 1791, the Bill of Rights was born. Ten amendments were introduced which would guarantee the civil liberties of every citizen under the law.


These amendments were introduced to protect the citizens of the United States from tyrannical and powerful governments that sought to undercut a person's God-given human rights. Among the most important of these guarantees, was the first amendment. This amendment gives Americans the right to peaceably assemble, to practice religion freely, to petition the government, and to speak freely.


There is an argument that laws should be passed in order to restrict free speech, so that hateful and offensive speech is no longer protected by the first amendment. This type of speech has been deemed "hate speech" and is said to be damaging to society. There are certain words or actions currently not protected by the first amendment. Slander, Libel, and death threats are some examples. But many on the left seek to extend these laws in order to also ban intentionally rude or offensive speech and even the misuse of a person's preferred gender pronouns.



The problem with this concept is that no man or woman should ever be imprisoned for being rude or offensive. Something as objective as to how a person feels about a certain word or phrase can simply not be passed through legislation, without seriously infringing on free speech. After all, this very blog post is bound to be offensive to some people. Does that mean it should be taken down in order to protect those who wish not to see it? Of course not! The very nature of public debate these days means that every topic will be offensive to someone.


Governments all throughout history have used the pretense of "hateful speech" as an excuse to censor material. Hitler's Germany, Napoleon's France, and nearly every absolutist monarchy that ever existed are just some examples. By giving our government the right to determine what its citizens are allowed to say, we would be ensuring a far less free nation for ourselves, and our children who follow us.


So use your rights responsibly. Be kind, polite, and gracious when you can, and be grateful for the rights afforded to you by our incredible constitution.



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Sources:


Washington Post's argument in favor of hate speech laws: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/10/29/why-america-needs-hate-speech-law/

USAToday's rebuttal of hate speech laws: https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2019/11/08/no-us-not-need-european-style-hate-speech-laws-column/4157833002/

Definition of hate speech from Miriam-Webster: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hate%20speech

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