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Fort Lewis College Threatens Free Expression by Banning ‘Hate Speech’ on Campus

Fort Lewis College Threatens Free Expression by Banning ‘Hate Speech’ on Campus

“a ban on hate speech could prohibit anything from a Black Lives Matter poster to a Blue Lives Matter message, depending on your views”

The question that must be addressed every time this happens is sinple. Who gets to decide what is hate speech?

From the FIRE blog:

Unconstitutional policy in Colorado bans posters with ‘hate speech’

There is no blanket “hate speech” exception to the First Amendment. But Fort Lewis College, a public school in Colorado, maintains a policy that bans students from posting materials on campus that include “unprotected expressions” such as “hate speech.” The policy is inaccurate and misleading, earning its spot as FIRE’s Speech Code of the Month for March.

Fort Lewis’ Campus Posting policy states, “Regardless of the medium used, the following materials are not allowed for posting . . . Materials that contain unprotected expressions such as libel, obscenity, or hate speech.”

Libel and obscenity actually are two of the narrow categorical exceptions to First Amendment protection carved out by the Supreme Court, and have exacting legal standards. But “hate speech” doesn’t have a set definition, and while hateful speech could be included in expression that meets a categorical exception to the First Amendment, not all speech that could be seen as hateful necessarily meets those legal standards.

After all, a ban on hate speech could prohibit anything from a Black Lives Matter poster to a Blue Lives Matter message, depending on your views. (FIRE has seen both targeted by campus censorship demands.)

The Supreme Court has made clear that the government can’t limit speech just because it’s subjectively hateful. For example, in Snyder v. Phelps, the Supreme Court upheld the overturning of a damages award against the Westboro Baptist Church for picketing with signs at a military funeral. Most people would find holding signs at a serviceman’s funeral with messages like “God hates you,” “Fag troops,” and “Thank God for dead soldiers” hateful, but the Supreme Court explained that our nation protects “even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate.”

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Comments

“Libel and obscenity actually are two of the narrow categorical exceptions to First Amendment protection carved out by the Supreme Court, and have exacting legal standards.”

Exacting? Isn’t the Supreme Court definition of obscenity (quite famously), “I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it”?

    The Gentle Grizzly in reply to henrybowman. | March 16, 2022 at 11:33 am

    Potter Stewart said it. Not the court.

    Who named a kid Potter? (Yes, I know it is his mother’s maiden name, but still. I thought maybe he got the name because she was frightened by a gardener during her pregnancy.)

Is the American flag next? What about pronouns…he, she. him. her? Are they hate speech also? Maybe it’s time for refusing college and get a Trade.

“Hate speech” consists of words and ideas that the people in power “hate.”

Right now, in Russia, “Hate speech” includes calling the Ukraine invasion a war or showing any photos of the war. “Hate speech” in Russia gets you 15 years in prison.

All FLC has accomplished is to set itself up for a big fat lucrative 1A lawsuit.

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