Don’t empower the silencers
Re “We regulate slander. Why not hate speech?” Opinion, June 21
Lawyer and sociologist Laura Beth Nielsen ignores the obvious: the mischief that would result from allowing government to determine what is hate.
On many college campuses, students and professors stifle anyone who disagrees with them by unfairly accusing them of being hateful. Giving them a legal weapon to slam opponents would be catastrophic.
Is it so surprising to see that Nielsen is a sociology professor? Nope — they’re at the forefront of suppressing free speech and intellectual diversity. Jerry Glass Lakewood
Nielsen gets the law wrong right out of the gate.
She says, that“judges must balance benefits and harms” of speech. That’s not the law. In 2010, in the case U.S. vs. Stevens, the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 that the government could not create new exceptions to the 1st Amendment:
“The First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech does not extend only to categories of speech that survive an ad hoc balancing of relative social costs and benefits. The First Amendment itself reflects a judgment by the American people that the benefits of its restrictions on the Government outweigh the costs.”
I have no quarrel with people arguing what the law should provide. But when legal educators misinform the public about what the law is, I object. Ken White La Crescenta The writer is an attorney.
Nielsen laments that “people can yell the N-word at a person of color” and frat boys can chant hate speech at women. She wants this speech to be regulated.
She makes no mention of rap lyrics that often demean women and use the N-word. Does putting hate speech to music make it OK?
Perhaps Nielsen could read some lyrics aloud in class and see if anyone “suffers.” Then she can discuss how to create speech restrictions in an unbiased, unhypocritical way. Barbie Rogers Los Angeles