24 October 2005

Free Speech?

Does the display of an effigy of a U.S. soldier with a noose around its neck constitute free speech or hate speech?


123txpublicdefender123 said...

Are those two mutually exclusive now? I thought hate speech was still free speech.

Anonymous said...

What are you talking about ? "Hate speech" doesn't really have any legal meaning, anyway. As far as I know it is only used by lay people, and we know how bad they are.

Ken Lammers said...

Yes, I have to agree this qualifies as both.

FrontierLawStudent said...

First Amendment issues aside, I posted this link to illustrate the double standard we all display sometimes when “offensive” or “hate” speech is present.

I agree that all speech is Constitutionally protected, however- don’t think for a minute if, instead of a U.S. soldier, there was the image of a naked woman hanging that the National Organization of Women wouldn’t be protesting in full force.

What if these exercisers of “free speech” were white supremacists? What if instead of a U.S. soldier being hung in effigy, it was the representation of an African American male dangling by a noose? Would everybody still be feeling supportive of the speech? Maybe, but chances are, we’d all be holding our noses while doing it.

Anonymous said...

FLS, You still don’t seem to get it. No matter how distasteful the images or words are, it is protected. You seem to be under the impression that there are lawyers out there that differentiate between “patriotic” and “non-patriotic” speech (and think the “non-patriotic” is protected.) This just isn’t the case. It is all protected, and the courts have so said.

There really isn’t a way of saying “First Amendment Issues aside.”

I don’t support either message, but if, for one second we think that the government can decide that some thoughts are so bad that they can’t be countered with another message, or that it can decide what thoughts are not worth having, then everything the US stands for is moot.

Likewise, I don’t see what you are talking about regarding NOW. NOW can protest about whatever it wants. (And I don’t think they would care if some idiot drew some bawdy pictures, but maybe I am wrong.) That doesn’t make what it is protesting against “hate speech” it means that they are participating in the dialogue that is protected by the constitution. So, to the extent that there is a double-standard, I think that you made it up.

You don’t need to support speech to support the right to express oneself. You need to simply understand that if you turn your back from the right to express one idea, there is a good idea that ideas that you consider to be uncontroversial will be next.

I think you are really listening to too many talk-radio programs. These constitutional issues, believe it or not, are pretty-well settled. People are not getting sued for “hate speech” and only a few crazy prosecutors will ever charge people with expressing themselves in a peaceful manner (and, of course, it will all go to waste.)

Anonymous said...

Ease up on the kid: he's still a law student. Anyhow, hate speech ain't protected speech if the hate speech constitutes fighting words.