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Supreme Court of the United States

How Hate Speech Laws Threaten Freedom

By Caroline Roberts posted on:
December 28, 2020

Last year, Richard Stengel claimed that America “needs a hate speech law” in an article at The Washington Post.

During his time working as a government official, Stengel noticed that the United States had exceptional free speech laws. In allowing speech that others could disagree with, America’s free speech laws make us stand out in comparison with most other countries.

“Even the most sophisticated Arab diplomats that I dealt with did not understand why the First Amendment allows someone to burn a Koran,” Stengel wrote. “Why, they asked me, would you ever want to protect that?”

Should the First Amendment protect speech that we hate? Not if it’s “hateful,” Stengel argues. And he’s not alone.

Earlier this year, New York State Sen. David Carlucci introduced a bill that would require social media networks to ban and silence speech deemed hateful, a practice they seem to have already adopted. And university professors across the country increasingly decry free speech as a tool of oppression. Many students agree.

But are laws against hate speech benefitting other countries? Let’s take a look:

Outside of the United States, many people can’t speak freely without fearing punishment from the government.

Take Pakistan, for example. Ten years ago, a Christian woman was sentenced to death by hanging because she was accused of having blasphemed during a conversation with coworkers. She was imprisoned until 2019, when a Pakistani court acquitted her due to insufficient evidence.

Even in the West, the liberty to speak your mind or live according to your conscience is being eroded by “hate speech laws.” Just last year, a Finnish politician was placed under criminal investigation for “hate speech” because she shared an image of a Bible passage on Facebook.

You’d think that these examples would cause proponents of hate speech laws in the U.S. to think twice. But some university professors claim that free speech is used as a tool of oppression and therefore must be reined in by laws against hate. Writers at The New York Times and The Washington Post claim that free speech is tearing us apart and hate speech laws protect citizens from discrimination.

That’s not what the stories from abroad tell us.

Americans have a priceless liberty in our First Amendment: the freedom to speak your mind without fearing that the government will punish you for your opinion. But support for free speech is dwindling.

Help spread the word about the effects of suppressing free speech by sharing this video with your friends and family.

Caroline Roberts, Strategic Communications Writer

Caroline Roberts

Strategic Communications Writer

Caroline Roberts serves as a Strategic Communications Writer at Alliance Defending Freedom.

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