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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Hate Speech and the First Amendment

Michael Barone writes about a recent Economist article:
"The backlash against the changes at Mizzou is likely to continue, led by self-styled defenders of the First Amendment (which protects free speech). Yet the First Amendment does not give people a free pass to go round saying hateful things, points out Mr. Henson."
The Mr. Henson referred to is Chuck Henson, the university's "new interim vice-president for inclusion, diversity and equity," and he and the editors of the Economist are in need of a tutorial on the First Amendment. As proprietor Glenn Reynoldspoints out — and note that the use of the verb "points out" indicates that the author is in agreement with the person quoted — the First Amendment does give people a free pass to go round saying things that other people may consider hateful. Anyone in doubt about this ought to consult UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh's definitive blogpost, complete with citations of Supreme Court case law, on why "there is no hate speech exception to the First Amendment." The University of Missouri, as a state institution, cannot restrict the First Amendment rights of students (who, with only a few exceptions, are adults 18 or older).