Don’t em­power the si­lencers

Los Angeles Times - - OPINION -

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

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