“Hate Speech” and the Risks of Free Speech The Wrong Kind of Climate Control
By Kieran Manjarrez
URL of this article: www.globalresearch.ca
Global Research, January 11, 2011
As sure as rain follows upon dark clouds, the cry has gone up to “do something” about so-called hate speech. Fairly typical of the reactions to the shooting of Congreswoman Gifford and several others by Jared Loughner was ‘ Tikkun’s’ Rabbi Michael Lerner, who rhetorically intoned: “Isn’t it time for us to demand that our government investigate the violence-generating discourse of the racists and the haters?”
The Constitutional answer is: absolutely not! Lerner and those of like mind need to read — thrice and slowly — the words of James Madison on this very issue:
“There are … two methods of removing the causes of [political] faction: the one, by destroying the liberty which is essential to its existence; the other, by giving to every citizen the same opinions, the same passions, and the same interests.
“It could never be more truly said of the first remedy, than it was worse than the disease. Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires. But it could not be less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life, because it nourishes faction, than it would be to wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its destructive agency.
“The second expedient is as impracticable as the first would be unwise. As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed.” (Federalist Paper No. 10.)
What Lerner is urging, in modern form, is the revival of laws against sedition. The “protected values” (or in modern legal lingo, the “cognized groups”) may be different but the principle is the same: words which have a “tendency” to incite violence and/or threaten the security or wellbeing of … [insert your cherished value-of choice here]… need to be outlawed and criminally punished.
Whether enacted in 1789, 1918 or 2011, laws against sedition are inimicable to a free society; and no amount of spurious sociological “impact studies” (so-called) can change that constitutional fact.
What does it actually mean to call for government “investigation” of “violence-generating” speech?
The link above takes you to the full article and I suggest everyone take a look at the “Constitution Class” link in the right column. I did ….