I was reading The Washington Post’s article about how Portland’s mayor Ted Wheeler is incorrect in stating that hate speech isn’t protected by the First Amendment. The article has cited several Supreme Court rulings that give “credence” to this opinion, bolstered by an official statement by the ACLU. However, if such speech rises to the level of threats or insults directed to a specific person then it is unlawful.
Justice John Robert’s Opinion is as follows: “Speech is powerful. It can stir people to action, move them to tears of both joy and sorrow, and — as it did here — inflict great pain. On the facts before us, we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker. As a Nation we have chosen a different course — to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate.”
I mean. That’s nice and all. But are the times supposed to be subservient to laws? Trump has opened the portal, letting the alt-right and its not so coherent ideology come flowing through unabated for some time now. These “get out of my country” people. How do you adapt to individuals that lack empathy and abuse laws that were crafted without considering specific contexts? “You can’t account for that. You simply have to follow the law,” comes the rejoinder.
Is all “free speech” created equal?
“A person says one thing. I say the other. Neither is punished, thus a free world remains.”
But sometimes speech with specific content coupled with a complementary environment packs an extra “punch” that makes it not equivalent to other types of speech. Fact is we’re living in different times. The social atmosphere has shifted. That should count for something, right?
It’s been said that the Supreme Court uses precedence to help determine its rulings. But precedence does not a lawful virtue make.