The LA Times prints Hans Bader's letter on "free speech" versus "hate speech."
The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that hate speech is protected by the 1st Amendment. So I was surprised to see a Times article claim there is "a fine line between free speech and hate speech."
Hate speech is free speech. In 1992, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a hate-speech ordinance in R.A.V. vs. St. Paul, and in 2011, it ruled in favor of a hate-mongering church in Snyder vs. Phelps.
Cartoons of Muhammad are protected speech even if Muslims find them offensive. They are not "fighting words" because they are not a "direct" in-person "insult" (see the Supreme Court's ruling in Texas vs. Johnson). Nor can they be banned as "incitement," thanks to the Supreme Court's Hess vs. Indiana decision.