Hate speech is free speech, Gov. Dean


Hate speech is free speech, Gov. Dean
Glenn Harlan Reynolds
1:48 p.m. ET April 24, 2017

I tell my constitutional law students that there are a couple of statements that indicate that a speaker is a constitutional illiterate who can safely be ignored. One is the claim that the Constitution views black people as ⅗ the worth of white people (actually, it was all about power in Congress, with slaveowners wanting black people to count 100% toward apportionment so that slaveowners would get more seats in Congress, and abolitionists wanting them not counted at all so that slaveowners would get fewer seats in Congress; the ⅗ compromise was just that, a compromise).

The other hallmark of constitutional illiteracy is the claim that the First Amendment doesn’t protect “hate speech.” And by making that claim last week, Howard Dean, former governor of Vermont and Democratic presidential candidate, revealed himself to be a constitutional illiterate. Then, predictably, he doubled down on his ignorance.

In First Amendment law, the term “hate speech” is meaningless. All speech is equally protected whether it’s hateful or cheerful. It doesn’t matter if it’s racist, sexist or in poor taste, unless speech falls into a few very narrow categories — like “true threats,” which have to address a specific individual, or “incitement,” which must constitute an immediate and intentional encouragement to imminent lawless action — it’s protected.

The term “hate speech” was invented by people who don’t like that freedom, and who want to give the — completely false — impression that there’s a kind of speech that the First Amendment doesn’t protect because it’s hateful. What they mean by “hateful,” it seems, is really just that it’s speech they don’t agree with.

Glenn Reynolds is a Law prof at U Tennessee. In 8, mostly not brief, sentences he explains what the USC protects and refutes two current Lib/Prog conceits. I’m almost surprised that Law professors are “allowed” to speak so plainly and briefly, but Hugh Hewitt has a similar skill.


The far left LOVES the term “hate” because it lacks any real substance other than the meaning that someone or some govt can attach to it. AND that is where the problem lies. If they can strike down the 1st Amend by getting so called ‘hate’ speech exempt from it then the govt can make up any definition it choses. This is the domain of govts, you say something the govt does not like you go to jail, we are well on our way to this.


It is interesting that the ACLU, pillar of the progressive leftist community, still supports free speech on the college campus and has been critical of its restriction. I wonder when the far left thugs will turn on them. If only they would stop clinging to their misinterpretation of the 2nd amendment.


No, the ACLU only occasionally throws a bone to free speech and 2nd Amendment issues to maintain the facade that they’re truely interested in protecting liberties.


Pretty accurate, FC. I remember when the ACLU decided to defend an American Nazi Party’s march through Skokie, Illinois, where many Jewish people lived–including many holocaust survivors. Their “donors” threatened to stop funding it.