I think that the 1st amendment should even protect hate
speech. People should have the right to
say anything that they want to. There
are more than likely more people out there that feel the same way that they
do. That is what makes America such a
beautiful place to live in.
Many laws have been used for purposes for which they were not originally intended. The Patriot Act is used to investigate drug dealers (narco-terrorism in Mexico links U.S.-based drug dealers to terrorism), the ability to search persons entering the country is exercised to search persons exiting embassies (they're moving from what is legally foreign soil to the U.S., after all), and tax evasion laws are used to put criminals in jail when the government cannot prove them guilty of their more heinous crimes. But perhaps the most compelling argument is this: do you believe the government will adhere to the spirit of the law, or the letter of the law?
So why else would an amendment to the constitution exist that protects speech if not to protect speech that is in danger? And the only speech that would be in danger is one that makes people mad i.e. hate speech. The very fact that it makes people angry is the reason why it needs to be protected.
... In the domain of topics which are part of public discourse. If we eliminate speech which is offensive to us individually, the First Amendment will have nothing left to protect. On the other had, hate speech directed at private individuals which defames them or hurts them and which is not part of a broader public conversation should not be protected by the First Amendment.
The first amendment is very clear that freedom of speech of the press should never be abridged. The government has absolutely no right to prohibit speech they consider "hateful". It is absolutely disgusting that this discussion is even taking place. People have a right to say whatever they want, no matter how offensive it might be to other people.
It's far too easy to misconstrue anything mildy offensive to you as a hate speech attack. Interest groups have a tendency to do this all the time because they are by design extreme. Whether or not you agree or disagree with gay rights, it should be everyone's right to voice their opinion. If you have a personal distaste for the culture of a certain group of people, maybe thats wrong, but its not a Constitutional crime to have an opinion. Some people are legitimately scared of black people because they have grown up to think that, but trying to force them to not discuss their feelings won't fix their presumptions, it will only bottle them up so that no one can ever explain to them that they are wrong. Hate speech might be wrong, but allowing it is the only way we can debate the topic and eventually try to change the minds of people who have different views.
The United States is home to thousands of hate groups. These groups are considered "hate groups" and not "terrorist groups" because they do not employ physical violence. The First Amendment protects speech, among other things. Unfortunately for us, our founding fathers were vague about what kinds of speech it doesn't protect. Through the years the Supreme Court and Congress has not been ashamed to elaborating on what they believe the first should contain. This is what freedom of speech boils down to: the first protects every type of speech (verbal and written) except for obscenity (directed in a threatening way to a specific person or group), fighting words, defamation, child pornography, perjury, blackmail, incitement to imminent lawless action, true threats, and solicitations to commit crimes. Hate groups are very good at keeping their distance to protect their speech. An example would be the Westboro Baptist Church protests at military funerals. This hate group represents everything that sucks about the first; however, they abide by all laws while protesting. In 2011, President Obama signed into law the Honoring America's Veterans Act which required protesters to be at least 300 feet from a military funeral. The group has never once broken this law. They also do not make direct threats. So why should they be protected under the first amendment? Because denying even one citizen one civil right could result in the government taking away everyone else's civil rights.
P.S. The WBC may be evil and may deserve to experience very painful things they have challenged many laws and over turned many laws that turned out to be unconstitutional. Example: In June 2007 Shirley Phelps-Roper (the crazy devil-like creature that is the poster child for the WBC) was arrested and charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor when she placed a small boy on an American flag and instructed him to stomp on it, which is illegal under Nebraskan law. Going back to high school civics, we can all recall the case of Texas vs. Johnson. Mr. Johnson burnt an American flag in protest of the Vietnam war and the Supreme Court ruled that burning a flag is "symbolic speech" which is protected under the first amendment; therefore, making the law in Nebraska unconstitutional. Without Ms. Phelps-Roper many people's speech would have been restricted.
It's rather ridiculous to say with any amount of credulity that one can exercise their freedom of speech so long as it comports to what we deem appropriate. If freedom of speech does not entail the freedom to express contempt or disagreement with social mores, then such freedom never truly existed. To think you can simply modify the noun "speech" with the adjective "hate" to avoid the reality of what is expressed in the 1st amendment is asinine.
The western concept of "Free Speech" is a concept created by the bourgeoisies to divided the people freely so there can be an everlasting struggle between the common man while they exploit us all. Free speech does nothing but promote hate, violence, and greed in society and its proven, look at the United States, its filled with racial tension and hate. Then look at the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia where there were some barring of speech and there was no racial tension up until western powers caused it to collapse.
If you poke your stick at an angry lion, it WILL bite your head off if it gets near you. People need to learn their lessons. What many are doing today is that they are abusing people from different faiths, humiliating them, and spreading lies about them, and then defend their case by the first Amendment.
And then people ask questions why some religious extremists killed some folks over a dumb movie? Learn your lessons humanity, because you never do learn from the past. You are responsible for feeding the fire instead of extinguishing it. Act like a civilized human being for once.
If you have no compassion for your fellow brother or sister, you are not a human, you are a homo-sapien as far as it gets.
I can recall one recent particular case in which a white supremacist couple in the U.S. wanted to name their child Adolf Hitler and the state government intervened. The idea being that this child would have to endure ridicule and hatred which is ironic being that he'd be named after one of the most hate-filled dictators in history. I agree "hate speech" is hard to define, but in that particular case it appeared to me to be clearly hateful in that the parents are evoking a murderous figure with the name as well as subjecting their child to society's disapproval, this being a country of mixed cultures with descendants who died due to or fighting against the original Adolf Hitler. In the interest of society and this child, we collectively agreed, albeit indirectly through our government representatives, that the wellbeing of the child supersedes the 1st Amendment rights of the parents.
The first amendment is the greatest law of the land because without a voice the people are powerless and paralyzed against whatever ruling class/party/dictator is currently is in power. But we do live in a more complicated era which the founders of the law never visualized, just look a little further down the constitution which once defined slaves as 2/5's of a free man. It took years before the 13th amendment barring slavery was passed and centuries later for the 19th amendment before women could vote. Fortunately we do not live in a world of absolutes.
To unequivocally protect all speech regardless of the effects is idealist to the extreme. Let's say a (fill in the race) supremacist writes a pamphlet on the superiority of his/her race. It gains a small following who agree and spread the word to their children and neighbors that all other races are inferior and threaten the purity of their race and must be eradicated, enveloped in the gallantry of national pride it devolves into jingoism. People begin to think we should kick them out or inter them in camps, build giant walls to keep them out or simply wipe them off the face of the earth. It has happened and still happens today.
I do still believe in the spirit of the law. I support people like Edward Snowden and his right to freely publish documents he's discovered even when it's critical to the government, I applaud his bravery. But if a less scrupulous person who is hateful gets their hands on some software which can take over our nuclear arm depots and decides to publish them on the internet. I have little problem stifling that instance of free speech. Diluting the 1st amendment is highly dangerous with many ramifications, but we can and already do make extremely specific exceptions, the only thing I feel is more dangerous is declaring absolutes.
The second amendment doesn't protect people who use weapons for any form of criminal assault (murder, mugging, etc). So why should the first amendment protect people who use their words to offend people for simply not being the same race, gender, sexual orientation, political stance, or religion as they are?
No, the 1st Amendment should not protect hate speech. There are numerous lines drawn around our free speech already, and most people feel they are justified. For instance, we cannot falsely yell "fire" in a crowded theater. This is because people can be (and have been) injured and killed by doing just that. Defamation is a crime in most jurisdictions, and rightfully so. Hate speech is another dangerous form of speech that should be limited in order to protect groups from potential violence. If it were all about the free exchange of ideas, I'd be all for a blanket free speech, but we don't seem able to handle that without hurting one another.