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May 8, 2015

EUGENE VOLOKH: No, there’s no “hate speech” exception to the First Amendment.

I keep hearing about a supposed “hate speech” exception to the First Amendment, or statements such as, “This isn’t free speech, it’s hate speech,” or “When does free speech stop and hate speech begin?” But there is no hate speech exception to the First Amendment. Hateful ideas (whatever exactly that might mean) are just as protected under the First Amendment as other ideas. One is as free to condemn Islam — or Muslims, or Jews, or blacks, or whites, or illegal aliens, or native-born citizens — as one is to condemn capitalism or Socialism or Democrats or Republicans.

To be sure, there are some kinds of speech that are unprotected by the First Amendment. But those narrow exceptions have nothing to do with “hate speech” in any conventionally used sense of the term.

“Hate speech” is a made-up term used to justify censorship. It’s an un-American idea, used by anti-American people. It’s a marker for fascism.

Related: Council on Islamic-American Relations Dallas chapter head wants discussion about restricting speech. Of course they do. CAIR is an anti-American organization.