Howard Dean, the former Governor of Vermont who tried to yowl his way to the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination, recently tweeted, “Hate speech is not protected by the first amendment,” in response to a statement made by Ann Coulter -“My only regret w/ Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times building.”
This tweet comes in light of the cancellation of Ann Coulter’s scheduled speech at the University of California, Berkeley, where the free speech movement began in the 1960s, an idea which now has been betrayed by hundreds of Berkeley students and protesters who try to stop any speaker they deem too “offensive” from speaking on campus.
Of course, what Coulter said was highly repugnant and she was never much of a comedian to begin with. I personally never much understood some of the political Right’s sense of humor.
However, the first amendment does not place a specific adjective before the term “speech”: “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.”
Hate speech is abhorrent. Period.
But it is a small price to pay to ensure that all Americans can speak their mind without fear of state-imposed censorship. YEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!