Problems With Hate Speech

Throughout the years there has been a major battle between hate speech and the right to free speech. My stance on the issue is that hate speech is morally wrong and it can cause issues. First off, let’s define the two. Hate speech is language (oral or written) that expresses strong hatred, contempt, or intolerance for some social group, particularly  social groups classified according to race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, disability, or nationality (Timmons 139). The definition of the First Amendment is guaranteeing the rights of free expression and action that are fundamental to democratic government (Dictionary.Reference). Note the key words in the last sentence FUNDAMENTAL. So, how can hate speech be fundamental when clearly it is not? 

      Hate speech is morally wrong because someone practicing hate speech has the intention to dehumanize and degrade a group of people. There is NO WAY that someone saying speech through racial slurs is fundamental to us and to the government. Looking at the Utilitarian point-of-view hate speech is not for the great of amount of good for the greatest amount of people. Coming from a Kantianist , it is definitely not treating people with respect.  A Natural Law Theorist would certainly agree that it is immoral.

       Next, hate speech can cause social issues and possibly violence. For example, Timmons included a summary an incident that occurred in St. Paul, Minnesota where a group of white teenagers led by Robert A. Viktora placed a burning cross in front a home where a black family lived in a predominantly white neighborhood (Timmons 139). People may argue that it is not hate speech because it was not oral nor written but it still sent a message to intimidate the family. Vikota argued that it violated the First Amendment, but how? The burning cross portrayed strong hatred and contempt against black people. Again, this cannot be fundamental to anyone according to the definition of the First Amendment.  A Utilitarian would say this is doing neither the black nor white race the greatest amount of good because it is not positive. A Katianist would say it is disrespectful. A Natural Theorist would think it is not in human nature for people to commit such a thing.

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