Hate Speech Laws: Ratifying the Assassin’s Veto

Recent criticisms of religion have been met by violence and threats of violence. The assassin’s veto is the killing or threatening to kill those who insult you or your way of life. Corn-Revere asks, “How much expression must a free society tolerate?” The U.S. Supreme Court has generally restricted government limits on speck, but some speech, however, does not receive protection, including expressions closely tied to violence. In the past, such messages were judged unprotected by the First Amendment. Corn-Revere contends that American jurisprudence is built on the assumption that protections for freedom of expression will not persist if they can be discarded when the message is particularly repellent or its target especially sympathetic. The United States, therefore, faces a choice to defend the right to offend or to champion a right not to be offended. In his research, Corn-Revere observes that the United States has experience in losing freedom of expression when outrageous and offensive speech is not protected.

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