Hate speech should not be protected

Jacob DIllard, Comment Section Editor

by: Jacob Dillard


Freedom of speech and the right to protest are both fundamental rights of our constitution, but is there a limit to what these rights entail?

In a series of U.S. Supreme Court cases in 1960s, the Court ruled that obscenity and legitimate threats are not protected under the First Amendment, but that provocative or offensive political opinions are protected speech.

On Aug. 13, 2017, hundreds of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and Ku Klux Klan members came out to protest the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, Va. Protesting the statue is a viable reason to join together in protest, but the way the group did it was anything but peaceful.

While I am all for allowing anyone to express their opinions, even if they are extreme, there is a line that must be drawn. The group of white supremacists who protested in Charlottesville crossed that line. Bearing assault rifles, Confederate and Nazi flags, the group embodied everything that a protest shouldn’t be.

The Nazi flag not only resembles hate, but is a painful reminder of of the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust. This is where the line is drawn; when a group starts to terrorize the public with violence and brandish symbols of hatred, it should no longer be tolerated.

The white supremacists showed up as though they were ready to fight; clad in military gear and helmets, they gave the impression of  forming rank to attack the counter-protesters. The violence of the group reached a climax when a white supremacist drove a car into a crowd of counter-protesters killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer as well as injuring 19 more.

This was anything but a peaceful protest, and there are several videos showing white supremacists charging into crowds of counter protesters to try to get through. When lives are lost during a protest, it is unacceptable for that protest to continue. Why should this group be allowed to protest when all they do is incite violence?

Even the chants that the white supremacists yelled are not constitutionally or morally   acceptable. According to the Supreme Court, obscenity is defined as “the quality of being repulsive by reason of crass disregard of moral or ethical principles.”

Is it ethical to scream “the Jews will not replace us” outside of synagogues? Is it ethical to remind thousands of Jewish families what happened to their ancestors and show that we as the United States haven’t eradicated that evil yet? If all this group is going to do is celebrate white culture through violence and obscene language, they are against the constitution and — likewise the core values of the United States.

An example of the displeasure for the white supremacists’ protest can be seen in the reaction to President Donald Trump’s press conference after the protest. After Trump’s political statement, “You had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. Nobody wants to say it, but I will say it right now,” political uproar ensued, and the Trump camp was quickly backed into a corner.

While a group shouldn’t be prevented from protesting because society disagrees with it, a protest that risks creating violence and riots due to the intense hatred toward that group should not be allowed to assemble in the first place.

America has long moved past this, and we should not allow such hate groups to get a grip on our country again. As seen in Charlottesville, giving these groups the freedom of speech only leaves the possibility for violence and loss of life. All freedoms have limitations, and those limitations are for the better of society. The obscene words and violence that these hate groups exhibit are not constitutionally protected nor are they morally right in this modern age of equality.

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