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I Believethe Aclu Has Every Right to Represent

Essay by   •  February 26, 2019  •  Coursework  •  555 Words (3 Pages)  •  49 Views

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Yes, I do believe that securing the freedom of speech means that even hateful speech must be protected. This may sound a bit controversial but sometimes the term “hate speech” can be very subjective. Sometimes, hate speech could mean attacking someone’s character without the use of racial, sexist or homophobic slurs. Let’s take for example anyone who has spoken out against our current president. Many people have called him things such as “buffoon”, “orange”, “idiot-in-chief”, “asshole”, you get the point. One could make the argument that the insults hurled at President Trump is an example of hate speech because they are using ad hominem attacks towards our president. Therefore, if we use the logic that all kinds of hate speech should be banned, then we ban those people’s opinions from being broadcast, even though they have a right to their opinions. Hateful speech does not have to be speech that pertains to sexism, racism or homophobia. It can be any kind of speech that either directly attacks an individual’s character or has the intent of defaming an individual. As was discussed in class, if one is seeking to ban hate speech, then they must ban all aspects of hate speech.

If one would like to know of a real-world example in which banning hate speech produced negative consequences, let’s refer to the ACLU’S 1997 position paper on freedom of speech. In the first of the essay, the ACLU discusses how the Alien and Sedition Acts led to banning freedom of speech. During the French-Indian War, Congress passed the Alien and Sedition Acts which banned "any false, scandalous and malicious writing" against the government. Anything that is “false, scandalous and malicious” fits the description for hate speech, correct? Unfortunately, these laws suppressed the speech of abolitionists, suffragists, labor organizers and pacifists. In fact, in Virginia, prior to the Civil War, anyone who "by speaking or writing maintains that owners have no right of property in slaves" was in danger of serving a one-year prison sentence.

Furthermore, I believe the ACLU has every right to represent any client they want to whether they are women and minorities or Neo-Nazi and KKK members. The ACLU is specifically branded as a civil rights advocacy group. The First Amendment to the U.S. constitution clearly states freedom of speech is a civil right. The direct quote is as follows: “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech.” The ACLU were simply protecting the civil rights of their clients, not supporting the rhetoric they were spewing. If anyone feared for their safety, they could have called the local authorities to monitor the area. There are several instances where rallies have been monitored by law enforcement. In addition, citizens could have warned their associates stay away from that particular area. The ACLU hold no responsibility for the actions of their clients. They were simply fulfilling their purpose of protecting the civil rights of all American citizens.

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