WR 122 - 24524
28 November 2011
Regulation of Hate Speech
The idea that the government might cut off hateful or propaganda filled-speech is counter to the idea that America cherishes, that all people are created equal with unalienable rights, one of which is the right to voice unpopular ideas. Racist speech on campus or in the public square is uninviting, but acceptable, under certain circumstances. In Charles R. Lawrence III’s essay, “On Racist Speech,” Lawrence argues against the regulation of speech that he deems inflammatory, however he does seem to play both sides of the fence. He argues against regulation of racist speech by the government that does not contribute to the overall health of the minority community discourages censorship that could lead to a duct taping over certain mouths in America, in effect he would be happy if the majority populations simply let the minorities have a little more of the crumbs. The more unpopular an ideas is the less likely people will view the idea is a net benefit to humanity. Fostering free speech in the America, in the Court room and on college campuses would bring about a new paradigm in relations between minority and majority groups because they may start to understand each other in a more humane way. Lawrence suggests that a community of fair-minded people will self-regulate speech. The question of self regulation becomes an easily misunderstood idea, if it is not rectified with sanctions. Ku Klux Klan members (for instance) have no moral concern over the groups that they belittle and harass. Instead of demonizing the racist groups, Lawrence calls for counter rallies at University to bring the atmosphere of free speech to every citizen. Counter demonstrations are a healthy and necessary activity; however, the community, as a whole, needs to send a message that they strive for is positive, while the racist groups represent negativity. According to Lawrence, a distinction is drawn on campus “between ideas [that] are presented at times and places and manners that provide an opportunity for reasoned rebuttal or escape from immediate injury,” and ideas that are used as “assault weapons” (64). If counter demonstrations alone were sufficient to combat racism, then laws or university regulations would not be needed. Kermit Roosevelt III in his article “States as Speakers” offers another opinion somewhat piggy backing on the matter of restricted free speech, he suggests that “the concept that government may restrict speech of some elements of our society in order to enhance the relative voice of others is wholly foreign to the First Amendment” (62) If one were to intentionally violate the university’s regulations, then one voluntarily gives away his or her privilege to free speech; however, by forbidding the expression of racist speech on campus, or in workplaces, responsible authorities do not violate the First Amendment. Institutionalized racism as exemplified by the landmark Supreme Court case Brown vs. Board of Education, and it is a lesson to all Americans. The Supreme Court struck down the concept of “separate but equal,” which states that segregation is socially just as long as whites and nonwhites receive equal resources (Lawrence 62). Not surprisingly, this is not how segregation works. Some members of the dominant class (the white majority) did not like the idea of integrated schools, but they were unable to prevent societal change because the winds of change were blowing against them. Maud Blair illustrates in her article “Whiteness as institutionalized racism as conspiracy: understanding the paradigm” suggests that “Whiteness is an ideology or social creation, a signifier of power and privilege in both global and local terms. Whiteness is not … to be mistaken for White people although the two are of course closely linked. This civil rights movement continued despite the segregationist and supporters of separate but equal and...
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