RhetoricLee Speaking

Free Speech Hate Speech Counter Speech

April 20, 2021

The first crossover episode between May it Displease the Court, which looks at corruption in the courts from judges through dark money anti-democratic far-Right donors, and RhetoricLee Speaking, banishing banality one speech at a time. Your co-hosts, Mary and Lee, look at censorship, free speech vs. hate speech, and counter speech. Here are the highlights:

1) as much as we may want the law to recognize hate speech sometimes when truly vile opinions (in our opinions) are being circulated, the law does not recognize a hate speech exception to the first amendment that guarantees the right to free speech and 

2) if there were such an exception it would be used to suppress minoritized people and their fight for civil liberties more often than it would be to silence transphobic, racist, sexist, and other kinds of exclusionary speech.

We take you through a few cases that have been instrumental in establishing the “no hate speech” exception including Snyder v. Phelps SCOTUS 2011 (Westboro Baptist Church) and Clark v. Community for Creative Non-Violence 468 U. S. 288 

We also look at some personal examples. Mary discusses an experience at the Anne Frank House right after 9-11 and Lee discusses a current campus event where the free speech of a racist and transphobic student is being protected. They also discuss potential alternative terms to replace hate speech, including “racist erasure” and “transphobic erasure.”

Finally, Mary explains the issue of “school-sponsored speech,” in which first amendment rights come up against the purpose of educational institutions and the need for more counter-speech on the Left as the corrective for hateful-speech-that-isn’t-hate-speech by the anti-democratic far-Right funded by pro-corporate dark money donors.

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