Readers Defend Free Speech After Texas shooting
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.