Last week’s shooting during a Muhammad cartoon competition in Texas led to the media bringing up the often-misunderstood topic of hate speech and its level of protection under the First Amendment.
“[T]here is no hate speech exception to the First Amendment. Hateful ideas (whatever exactly that might mean) are just as protected under the First Amendment as other ideas.”
Volokh went on to explain the difference between hate speech and some forms of unprotected speech, such as fighting words, true threats, and incitement. He pointed out that hate speech may be frowned upon by society, but it is still protected under the First Amendment:
“U.S. law has just never had occasion to define ‘hate speech’ — any more than it has had occasion to define rudeness, evil ideas, unpatriotic speech, or any other kind of speech that people might condemn but that does not constitute a legally relevant category.”
For more on the intersection of the Texas shooting and the First Amendment, check out these articles:
- The Texas Tribune: Abbott: Shooting Strikes at Heart of First Amendment
- CNN: We don’t shoot people for bigoted views
- The Guardian: Texas attack shows how US protects free speech – no matter how offensive