Hate Speech

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 822
  • Published : April 18, 2006
Open Document
Text Preview
Hate Speech Essay

In the first amendment of the United States constitution, American citizens are guaranteed the right to free speech. This is a fundamental right of American law, and one of the foundations of the U.S. Constitution. It is also the breeding ground for one of the most widely debated issues in America: What, if any, measures should be put into place to regulate hateful language? Most people will agree under one definition or another that hate speech is a socially deviant activity and worthy of some form of punishment. However, each person's definition of hate speech is different from the next. Some might say that there is no such thing as hate speech, and that because of the first amendment any and all speech should be allowed. However, there are laws against slander and libel, which make it a criminal action to defame any person in speech or writing. Some might say that any and all speech that is negative in any way towards any group is hate speech. However, many religious groups are opposed to homosexuality because of their religion, and are allowed to speak out and protest against it in the United States. Hate speech is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary as "Bigoted speech attacking or disparaging a social or ethnic group or a member of such a group." Under this definition, any person with strong and unyielding views on a subject that is speaking against another group in a hateful way is actively committing hate

speech. At what point should speech of this nature be considered against the law? This question raises many philosophical, moral, and legal issues.
The French philosopher Voltaire once said "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it." From a philosophical standpoint, the right to free speech is fundamental. Most philosophers' viewpoints and famous works were considered very far from the status quo of the times during which they were written and expressed,...
tracking img