Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | March 8, 2011

When Is Hate Speech Legal?

The Westboro Mosque Crew's Free Speech

When is Hate Speech legal?  Always.  Ask the current SCOTUS.  I applaud their 8:1 decision in the Westboro ‘Baptist’ Church cult case.  Speech to incite violence, riot, rebellion, slander and libel are illegal.  Disruptions of funerals and other ceremonies can be restricted by state courts.  And, of course, the Federal government prohibits prayer and all other speech within 100 feet of an abortion clinic.  So, no new categories of speech need to be made Verboten.

The father who sued the Westboro trouble-makers can’t claim punitive damages, no matter how disgusting their speech.  If he had been near them and punched them in the face, a jury of his peers could have found him Not Guilty – by reason of “they needed beatin’.”

Yet, no speech should be declared Hate Speech.  No such Hate Speech should be suppressed.  Ever.   Punched out maybe, but not legally criminalized and punished.

Because what is Hate Speech to me won’t be Hate Speech to you.  None of us want Liberal Secular Humanist Judges to decide what speech is criminally hateful – if legislatures are so foolish as to create Hate Speech Laws.   It isn’t a slippery slope from Hate Speech to Thought Crime.  It’s a tiny, sidestep for over-eager, black-robed priest-kings.

Apply moral suasion.  Or, a good right hook.  But, don’t add any new category of speaking crimes.



  1. I couldn’t agree more. All speech is protected. That is what free speech means.
    Of greater concern is the intimidation that suppresses speech. The fear factor is already at work. As we prepare to undergo DADT training, most say “just be quiet, and sit through it, not worth losing your own career over”.

    They learn form their own carrerist leaders. . .no profiles in courage here.

  2. I would like to believe with this decision that prayer and any other speech within 100′ of an abortion clinic, etc, is now (as it should have always been) protected speech.

    If these a$$ ***** from Westboro can wage an assault on a funeral and be protected than this is a victory against the onslaught of all other Hate Speech ‘crimes’ and a weird but important victory indeed.

    With my heartfelt condolences for the families who must endure the Westboro Gansters, their beloved sons and daughters sacrifice for liberty has been exercised in life and in their deaths as well.

  3. I agree with the decision, but I wonder if the courts will be consistent. Will the Liberals on the court protect the speech of who favor God given rights, or will they just protect the speech those people determined to make fools of themselves?

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