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How To Classify Speech

1466 words - 6 pages

The United States is a unique country that has a law called the First Amendment to protect its people’s freedom of speech. It was created to make an environment where everyone can express his or her ideas and opinions without any limitations, especially when it comes to political speeches. However, some people have often misused this opportunity and instead perform hate speeches towards a particular group of people. In his article, Tuman defined hate speech as written or spoken words directed towards a particular group (typically although not exclusively a minority group) with the purpose or effect of verbally harassing and harming them (Tuman 383). The issue of whether or not we should prohibit hate speech has been debated over for decades and has no legitimate ending as some people argue that hate speech can be considered as a form of free speech, which should be protected by the First Amendment. On the other hand, the rest of the people, like Lawrence, believe that “Racial insults are particularly undeserving of First Amendment protection because the perpetuator’s intention is not to discover truth or initiate dialogue but to injure the victim.” (Lawrence 375). Basing my judgment on these two opposing arguments, I believe that hate speech should be prohibited whilst maintaining the liberty of free speech.
Some people might think that prohibiting hate speech and protecting free speech at the same time is impossible. In his article, Lawrence writes, “It will be impossible to formulate a prohibition so precise that it will prevent the racist speech you want to suppress without catching in the same net all kinds of speech that it would be unconscionable for a democratic society to suppress.” (Lawrence 376). Lawrence is saying that it is impossible to make clear rules, illustrated as a net, to prohibit hate speech and protect free speech at the same time. While some people might answer that is not too hard to make it happen, Tuman wrote in his article, “Many forms of racist and sexist speech, for example, are oftentimes far more subtle, although their impact is no less devastating.” (Tuman 384). In other words, Tuman realizes that sometimes, hate speeches are delivered implicitly rather than obviously; nevertheless, the impact is still painful for the victims. It creates a gray area in the middle of those two different types of speech. Therefore, sometimes it is hard to distinguish an expression is free speech or hate speech. However, I believe that we can create that perfect net by regulating standards that are applicable in distinguishing whether something is considered as a hate or free speech.
Like Lawrence said in his article, “Racial insults are particularly undeserving of First Amendment protection because the perpetuator’s intention is not to discover truth or initiate dialogue but to injure the victim.” In other words, Lawrence believes that by focusing on the intention of the perpetuator, we might be able to distinguish free speech...

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