No two words in America’s constitutional law are more everyday, more commonplace and even more pedestrian, than “free speech.” But the significant role they play in the public debate — protecting people’s right to impart and receive ideas — also makes them sacrosanct.
The law, however, draws a distinction, attenuated though the distinction may be, between free speech and hate speech, or, if you wish, between vilification and the protections afforded the vilifier by the First Amendment.
What do we do, in other words, when there are individuals in our community who are so demented, mean-spirited or racist that they are wily enough to use one of the country’s most cherished freedoms in order to insult, slander and mock others in pursuit of promoting a reprehensible cause like Islamophobia in America?
Clearly, the answer is self-evident: We must do everything to deter them from successfully leveraging the First Amendment privileges as a defense of their right to incite others to violence.
You probably had not heard of a disturbed woman — and this columnist is not the first political commentator to identify her as such — called Pamela Geller, who heads a group called Stop the Islamization of America, that is, till late last week, after she sponsored an incendiary anti-Muslim event in Garland, Texas, an event that she effectively wished would conclude in an act of violence. Well, her wish was granted…
There is no ‘hate speech’ exception. The writer suggests ‘we must do everything’ to prevent ‘hate speech’. Does that include using violence?
The idea that Pamela Geller was hoping for violence is absurd. How could she be so certain that she herself wouldn’t be the target (she likely was) and that the killers wouldn’t succeed?