The Need For Limitations Of Hate Speech On The Internet

Why for the past few decades have people been arguing about whether or not hate speech should be allowed? Why should we allow groups of people to taunt and hate on others because of their skin, sexuality, gender, or even their religion? You might say that all of the groups that hate on certain people, shouldn’t be allowed to say these things, or you might not. “Why does the government allow groups of people to use hate speech?” is a very big question. In my opinion it would be better if the government enforced the penalty of fighting words and have some limitations on hate speech. I also think that the government should allow websites to block certain links and websites that are inappropriate.

First off, hate speech is protected under the First Amendment. Well at this point you might think to yourself, “Well if it’s protected under the first amendment then there’s really no point to this argument. ” I wasn’t finished so stop thinking that if you were. Yes hate speech is protected no matter how offensive it is unless if it’s a direct threat. But the thing about that is that there is a difference between hate speech and fighting words. The difference between the two is that hate speech is when you are, let’s say, protesting peacefully and saying something against a certain group of people. To elaborate, hate speech is when you’re saying mean things against certain people but not causing any physical harm to anyone, or in other words, marching through streets with signs of whatever you’re saying. However, fighting words are when you are saying things that are intending to cause physical harm. “In 1942, the Supreme Court said that the First Amendment doesn’t protect “fighting words” or statements that “by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace”. In later decisions, the Court narrowed this exception by honing in on the second part of the definition: direct, personal insults that are so offensive they’re likely to provoke their specific target to respond immediately with violence. The Court has also said that laws can’t prohibit only some types of fighting words, like those based on racial bias. ” The First Amendment only protects hate speech if it causes emotional harm. An example of hate speech is if people are saying things against people that are gay, people’s religion, gender, etc. but never hurting anyone, it’s considered hate speech and is allowed.

So in past couple decades or so there has been a lot of hateful things people have said, posted, commented on the internet. So the question on this is of course, “Are private companies or search engines allowed to take down, block, or in other words censor, any website they want or don’t like?” The answer to that question is actually yes, yes they are. You might be saying to yourself, “No there not, that’s just stupid? Even then why would they be able to do that?” The answer to that first question is yes they are able to take down any website they don’t like. The answer to as why they are able to do that, is because they are completely within their rights to do that. “A US District Court judge dismissed a lawsuit March 27 that accused Chinese search engine Baidu of illegally suppressing free speech by censoring information about democracy movements in China on the internet”. “If, like Baidu, Google were to decide to censor individuals or companies or their work from the internet for any other reason, they would practically disappear from the public discourse in many countries, killing business, personal and other opportunities. And according to Judge Furman’s ruling, Google would be within its rights to free speech to do so. ” You might say, “Well they shouldn’t have the ability to take down any website they don’t like!” To put it simply if Google started to take down and block a lot of websites, they wouldn’t be as much as a reliable source as other search engines, as quoted above. Also the thing is, is that if Google were to do exactly that, which wouldn’t make them a reliable search engine, well than people wouldn’t use Google as their main search engine now would they. However in the past year, there was the incident with the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, where a girl was protesting against the white supremacy group, and was hit with a car and killed by one of the members protesting for white supremacy. After that the white supremacist group started posting on their website, the Daily Stormer, asking for donations and writing a derogatory story about the girl was killed. Well the response they got was, “In the wake of the violence that occurred there, the Daily Stormer — an online neo-Nazi publication — was blocked by a series of major tech companies. Its domain name was taken away by GoDaddy. Google stopped linking to it. Facebook took down links to any article it published. And it can't use PayPal anymore. ” One of the questions that was asked by one of the white supremacist speakers after the Daily Stormer was taken down was 'What's to stop them from turning around and saying, 'Well, we don't like these people who are advocating gay rights. We don't like these people who are advocating workers' rights'?' he says. ” Well the thing is that people who are advocating gay rights didn’t hit a girl with a car and kill her, which is what I’m thinking and most likely the people who work for these search engines thoughts to. I agree with the actions that the tech companies took in deciding to take down the websites, since there was violence involved with the protests and someone was killed. Next, let’s talk about probably the biggest use of the internet - social media.

So the same rule that applies to the search engines, is applied to social media. So I’m just going to go over the basics of what is also applied to social media. Social media is also allowed to take down links, websites can be blocked or restricted, etc. As it is quoted in the last paragraph, Facebook took down any links that the white supremacist groups, the Daily Stormer, tried to publish. Again in the quote listed above it states that it is completely within Facebook’s rights to free speech. However, there’s one thing about social media that search engines don’t have. That of course is the ability to send direct messages to someone. So if a person is constantly posting things that are mean to a certain gender, race, sexuality, it depends on what is said in the post. If the post contains threats or is trying to start violence, or fighting words, well then it’s not protected under the First amendment. But, if that person is posting things against certain groups that don’t contain fighting words, then it’s considered hate speech, and is protected under the First Amendment. Even though I stated that what they say may or may not be protected under the First Amendment, the creators of the app can take down whatever is said, since it is completely within their rights to do so. I agree that the government should reinforce people’s ability to use hate speech, since a lot of times there ends up being violence involved, but there’s one problem. That one problem is the fact that the government wouldn’t be able to completely reinforce people’s rights of hate speech without changing the First Amendment.

I do agree with how search engines have the ability to censor and block certain websites that are inappropriate. However, I believe that the company that runs the search engine should have a reason for censoring certain websites, or for them to stay the same and not be able to block a random website for some stupid reason or no reason at all. For example, I believe that all the search engines that censored and blocked the Daily Stormer after the Charlottesville incident, was a completely justified thing to do. The only thing that I’m kind of worried about, is that if the government was to almost fully reinforce people’s right to free speech, well what would be considered hate speech. For example, a lot of comedians make about one racist joke in there shows, would that be considered hate speech. The only reason why I’m saying this, is because a lot of people nowadays get offended by everything and complain about how they find it offensive. I’m not saying that these things would end up happening. I’m just wondering if they did reinforce the rights to hate speech, would saying one joke about a certain group of people be considered hate speech? In my opinion it would be better if the government enforced the penalty of fighting words and have some limitations on hate speech. I also think that the government should continue to allow websites to block certain links and websites that are inappropriate.

10 October 2020
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