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Should Free Speech Apply To "Hate" Speech?

513 words - 3 pages

"Hate" speech refers to any expression that conveys derogatory views about groups or individuals identified by such characteristics as sex, race, ethnicity, gender, religious beliefs, and sexual preference. This type of speech poses a conflict between two important values, freedom and parity. Most people may be reluctant in this situation to concur with the side of free expression; some may even argue it's immoral. However, the law opposes any legal limitations on, or control of, hate speech, and the reasons for extending legal protection to it are very strong.First of all, there is the simplistic defense that although hate speech may communicate ...view middle of the document...

Consequently, to be completely free it is necessary to allow any expression, however immoral or degrading it may seem.Furthermore, the unpopularity of hate speech is irrelevant to its protection. Imagine in today's society someone imparts an unconventional, yet true, idea parallel to the fact that the Earth is round. If freedom of expression is restricted based on the content's popularity this idea's importance would never be comprehended and its use would be lost. Giving relevance to popularity forces conformity and can have grand negative repercussions.One might raise the objection that in the above example the person's idea was true but that most opinions expressed in hate speech can be proven false, and for that reason, hate speech should be prohibited. The problem here is that not all ideas or opinions can be proven true initially, within a reasonable amount of time, or sometimes even at all. For example, when the idea first came about that the sun was the center of the universe (or correspondingly that the Earth was not the center) very little proof was available if even considered fact. Thus, the measure of truth in an opinion cannot be a means of deciding if it is permitted. In addition, this goes further to mean that the untruths in hate speech are irrelevant to its protection.Finally, it can also be said that the freedom to hold any opinion is meaningless without the accompanying freedom to express it without restriction.

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