College students want national hate speech legislation… but are unsure about what that means.
In 1964, the Supreme Court was faced with a dilemma during Jacobellis v. Ohio case in which they were asked to decide whether or not a film by Nico Jacobellis was deemed too “obscene” to be Free Speech protected under the First Amendment.
The court ultimately decided that the all speech was protected, with the exception of “hard-core pornography.” When explaining what fell under that category, Justice Potter Stewart wrote,
“I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.”
The “I’ll know it when I see it” test became a landmark ruling that opened the door rulings based on perceptions rather than measurable facts. One person’s definition of obscene might be entirely different from another’s.
Which brings us to “hate speech” legislation. Who is to define what exactly is considered hate speech? For some on the Left, using the wrong pronoun, telling someone to smile, or voicing support for a Republican presidential candidate are all micro-aggressions that they feel need to be banned. Others, who just happen to work in Silicon Valley, feel that re-Tweeting stories about Hunter Biden’s laptop and the alleged corruption that extends to his father should be suppressed. Still others feel that saying something as logical as crossing the border illegally is a bad thing is racist, hateful, and those who dare say such things should be put on ‘lists.’
Hate speech legislation is a slippery slope that can, in the end, only be used as a cudgel to silence, suppress, or criminalize those who are expressing their personal opinions and ideas.