(ConservativeInsider.org) – The First Amendment of the Constitution protects the right of the people to speak freely without worrying about the government making laws to silence them. It’s arguably the most important section in the Bill of Rights. The Supreme Court has imposed some limitations, like you can’t scream “FIRE!” in a crowded theater, but overall it’s pretty broad.
However, some Americans believe that right shouldn’t extend to hate speech. They think the high court should outlaw it, and the government should be allowed to fine or even jail citizens for expressing their opinions.
That’s a dangerous proposal.
Supreme Court Rulings
You may have heard of Westboro Baptist Church (WBC). It’s a religious group that strictly adheres to the Old Testament of the Bible. The group also believes it’s their duty to spread their word to others.
However, they do it in a way that many Americans believe is offensive and hateful — and the organization was sued for that. The family of Matthew Snyder, a deceased Marine, took the Phelps family, founders of WBC, to court after the group protested his funeral with signs that had phrases like “Thank God for dead soldiers.”
The case, Snyder v. Phelps, went before the Supreme Court in 2011, and it’s considered a landmark decision. In an 8-1 ruling, the justices upheld WBC’s right to protest. The majority found speech on issues of public concern, even when it’s offensive, is protected.
Six years later, in 2017, the high court once again ruled on hate speech. In an 8-0 ruling in the case of Matal v. Tam, the justices held ““speech may not be banned on the grounds that it expresses ideas that offend.”
Why We Must Protect Hate Speech
The Founders knew the right of the people to express their opinion was vital to the foundation of the American experiment. How else would a government made and run by the people work? When the First Amendment was written, it didn’t impose limits on speech because then it wouldn’t be free, would it?
If our government begins censoring people because they don’t like what a person says, our democracy is in danger. Sure, some speech is incredibly offensive to many people, but if they’re allowed to impose their restrictions on someone else’s beliefs, the US will no longer be a free country. And who gets to decide what is and isn’t hate speech? Think about that for a moment.
George Washington put it best while speaking to the Army in 1783 when he said,” The freedom of Speech may be taken away, and, dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep, to the Slaughter.”
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