US Needs Laws Against Hate Speech
I have thought for a long time that the United States could be well served if it joined the rest of the liberal democracies and passed laws against "hate speech". It stands alone in that "hate speech" is protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution. At least this is the general assumptions. There are some some minor exceptions.
In the light of the recent deliberate release of a film that is a hateful and inaccurate attack on Islam is a good example of why there are needs to pass laws against hate speech. This film was a deliberate provocation and should be banned and the authors of it should be held liable of it's content and the predictable consequence of it's viewing in the Muslim Community around the World. This action by a small group of Americans has created a national security problem for the country as well as appearing to represent legitimate view of the American people as being at war with Islam. Sadly it has resulted in the death of American diplomats so far, aand created a lot of ill will toward the United States.
It is time the US debated the limitations on such speech that attacks one group on the basis of religion and puts the country in jeopardy.
In law, hate speech is any speech, gesture or conduct, writing, or display which is forbidden because it may incite violence or prejudicial action against or by a protected individual or group, or because it disparages or intimidates a protected individual or group. The law may identify a protected individual or a protected group by disability, ethnicity, gender,gender identity, nationality, religion, race, sexual orientation,  or other characteristic.
Canada has laws against hate speech. They are not used very often. Just the fact that they are on the books lets all of us know it is not a Canadian value to use hate speech. On the contrary, we celebrate our diversity and the rich contributions; religious, cultural, ethnic and sexual, groups brings to our common culture. Our Charter of Rights and Freedoms
defends this diverse groups as well as protects our freedom of speech. Our Supreme Court is able to balance competing rights and freedoms.
is a good place to begin a consideration of laws against hate speech.
In Europe, they have been trying to balance laws against hate speech and freedom of speech in line with the European Convention on Human Rights. Here
is a source to explore the complexities in decisions by various European legal systems. It is not an easy task but it is not impossible.
Laws in the United States against hate speech would go a long way to lowing the vitriolic tone of extreme views and contribute to the civility of rational fact based discourse.