From the Lips of a Liberal: ‘Hate Speech is Not Protected by the Constitution’

“Clearly, we are at a crossroad in our society. We have created a generation that cannot handle difference in opinions.”

A few weeks ago Howard Dean, former chairman of the Democratic National Convention, showed the true colors of the left. It all started when journalist Stephen Greenhouse commented on an old tweet from Ann Coulter. Ann Coulter, for those who are unaware, is a conservative celebrity who is known for making comments which attack the very core of the liberal mindset. She is direct, loud, and unapologetic for her colorful insults. After being banned from speaking at Harvard, Greenhouse made a comment that questioned Berkley for shutting down free speech, but also stated Coulter was using hateful comments. It was at this point that Dean showed the Democrats’ disdain for the Constitution. “Hate speech is not protected by the constitution.”

Given the fact that I am clearly not as intelligent as the Democratic Party, I quickly turned to the Constitution. More specifically, the first amendment which states,

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

To me it would appear that there is no exception for hate speech. It actually seems as though government isn’t allowed to classify any speech at all.

Even after reading this amendment, I realized that I am not a Justice of the Supreme Court so my ability to decipher such simple language may not be up to par. To assist with this, I researched deeper into what the Justice’s themselves have determined is protected speech. Clearly here I would find some great minds like Justice Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, or Samuel Alito also supporting Dean in his pronouncement. What I found was a list of the following types of speech which are not protected (uscourts.gov):

“To incite actions that would harm others (e.g., “[S]hout[ing] ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.”). To make or distribute obscene materials. To burn draft cards as an anti-war protest. To permit students to print articles in a school newspaper over the objections of the school administration. Of students to make an obscene speech at a school-sponsored event. Of students to advocate illegal drug use at a school-sponsored event.”

Strangely I found no mention of hate speech.

What I did find however was Terminiello v. Chicago. In this case Terminiello, who was a religious leader, gave a speech in Chicago. According to the ACLU it “condemned the conduct of the crowd outside and vigorously, if not viciously, criticized various political and racial groups whose activities he denounced as inimical to the nation’s welfare.”

That sounds like hate speech to me. So here is where Dean is vindicated, correct? Apparently not. In fact, Justice William O. Douglas stated quite clearly that this speech, as hateful as it may be, was…

“protected against censorship or punishment, unless shown likely to reduce a clear and present danger of a serious substantive evil that rises far above public inconvenience, annoyance, or unrest … There is no room under our Constitution for a more restrictive view.”

Apparently, Howard, you are completely and totally incorrect. It would appear that hate speech is protected. In fact, it is the speech that we find most offensive which we must most virulently protect. However, I can understand why you made the statement you did.

Hate, by its very definition, is based upon one’s personal view and opinions. For example, I hate socialism. It leads to a complete loss of freedom and the total destruction of innovation. Yet to a Bernie Sanders supporter, they would find this absurd. After all, free stuff is always great and it is the government that pays for it, not the people.

I believe that the true reason why Dean opposes free speech is much more nefarious. Herbert Hoover once said,

“It is a paradox that every dictator has climbed to power on the ladder of free speech. Immediately on attaining power each dictator has suppressed all free speech except his own.”

And this is, I believe, the true reason why the left is so outspoken against any view that opposes their own.

Politicians are all about one thing – power. Unfortunately, this goes for the majority of politicians, regardless of their supposed political party. The left, with assistance from the majority of those that have a public platform (Hollywood, media, musicians, etc.), have discovered the power of shutting down speech which opposes their views and goals.

This is the same reason why, when democrats can no longer offer a reasonable argument based upon the merits they go to personal attacks.

“You voted against Obama because you are a racist.”

“Anyone who supports Trump is a misogynist.”

The examples go on and on but the results are the same. Those with opposing views are beaten into a fearful silence. Or to put it another way, their speech is labeled hate speech and shut down with threats and personal insults.

In no way am I stating that this tactic is restricted to Democrats. However, what I will say is that the left has perfected the art. With a media that is there to constantly support them in their endeavors, how can they fail. A great example was from MSNBC in 2009.

The reporter was covering some Obama protestors who were armed and described them as, “white people showing up with guns strapped to their waist.”

Unfortunately for that news agency, CNN had the same footage at a different angle and the gun toting white guy just happened to be black.

This, by the way, is why Trump can get away with calling liberally biased media outlets “Fake News.” And what has been their response? Not to change their obvious bias, nor to have better validation or sources. Instead, they attack him for calling them out on shoddy reporting. Sounds a lot like Mr. Dean, doesn’t it?

Clearly, we are at a crossroad in our society. We have created a generation that cannot handle difference in opinions. They view spirited debate as an attack on their core values and beliefs, and respond with unbridled anger and vitriol. It would appear that this fire is being stoked by the democrats and socialists. Truth and honesty no longer matter. Conservatives have become so disdained that they are no longer afforded the equal rights to share their viewpoints.

Author George Orwell stated, “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” However, it would appear that liberty is in more danger today than ever before. There is a reason that Orwell correlates liberty to speech.

It is our freedom of speech which assures our liberty. Once the government can condemn speech, the rest of our freedoms will fall away. This is the reason that the courts have upheld the sacred nature of the first amendment. It is the right and responsibility of every American to ensure it remains.

Matthew Wadler

Matthew Wadler is a Senior OpsLens Contributor and U.S. Army veteran. Matt served in the Army for 20 years as both enlisted and officer before retiring. His service includes time as Military Police, Field Artillery, Adjutant General, and Recruiting. His deployments include Somalia and two tours to Afghanistan. His formal education includes a master’s degree in HR Management. He is a strong supporter of the constitution and advocate for the military and veteran communities. Follow Matthew on Twitter @MatthewWadler.

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