Sunday, April 22, 2018

Nazi speech must be permitted.

“As much as I wouldn’t tolerate hate speech in my own personal life, it is protected,” said Sean J. Young, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia.

“There may be many kinds of speech that it seems everyone would agree is considered hate speech,” Young said. But deciding certain kinds of speech are no longer protected because you don’t like them can open the door to many types of speech being banned.

“If you allow the government to ban hate speech, you’ll give them the power to ban phrases like ‘black lives matter.’ I bet there are a few people who would consider that hate speech,” Young said. “I can think of many examples. You just cannot open that door for the government to determine what is hateful or not. That is a dangerous road to go down."

Ever since word broke that a neo-Nazi group, the Nationalist Socialist Movement, would be holding a rally in Newnan on April 21, many Cowetans have spoken out against the city granting a permit for the event, saying the permit should have been denied – or revoked after the fact. Some have said that NSM’s hate speech should not be protected as free speech.

The Newnan TImes-Herald asked two First Amendment experts to weigh in on the issues.

“The best response to bad speech is more speech,” Young said. “If you don’t agree with the things some people are saying then you should consider responding. “But using the government… to punish people you disagree with or to silence other people’s views is unconstitutional.” 

Local governments can put some minimal restrictions on speech, but most types of restriction on content are “almost always unconstitutional,” said Fred Smith, professor at the Emory University School of Law. “The safe thing for a government actor to do is not to engage in any kind of content regulation,” Smith said. “Even when people are going to say something most people in the community would find odious, our constitutional tradition is that people absolutely nonetheless have to be able to say those things."


1 comment:

ScienceABC123 said...

Sean J. Young got it right. I agree with him, 100%.