Hate Speech Online

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HateSpeech Online

Hatespeech revolves around saying things that are hurtful towards otherpeople. It is not the same as harassment, violence, discriminationand threats, all of which are rightly criminalized because they arequalitatively worse. Hate speech online is very rampant in the UnitedStates because there are no clear laws governing it. In order toprevent such spiteful speech online, a consensus should exist tosupport vulnerable groups, promote values of respect and equality,prevent hate crimes, and protect human rights, to mention just a few.This essay aims at focusing on whether the first amendment should befavored concerning online hate speech.


Unlesshate speech online extends into the line of incitement to genuinethreats or lawless action, the statement gets protection under theFirst Amendment. In this sense, my opinion is that the FirstAmendment regarding online hate speech should be backed. It is worthto note that on matters concerning free press and free speech, theconstitution does not allow the state to prohibit advocacy of usingforce or violation of law. Such exclude situations which lead to theincitement of people, or to the production of actions, which arelawless and, which will incite such criminal actions.

Firstof all, this means that people do not have the online freedom thatthey should bear, mostly because of issues relating to the safety ofindividuals. This is on the right path because most people use onlinehate speech in a bid to create tension among a particular segment ofhumans who share the same sentiments concerning a specific issue,such as individuals who are homophobic. In the past, there has been apromotion of violence against lesbian and gay people. For instance,in California Richmond, due to online hate speech, a woman wasattacked and raped by a gang of men who assaulted her over and overagain.

Asthey raped her, they kept commenting on matters regarding her sexualorientation and made slurs about how the issue of lesbians wastrending on the internet (Daniels 17). Evidently, this gang sawhateful posts about lesbians, but they were not told to do violentactions. Based on this evidence, a clear line should be drawn betweenwhat kind of online hate speech is viewed as a crime and what is not,so that people know what they are getting into.

Mostindividuals who conduct online hate speech will not dare to crosspast the line of the unprotected category of incitement to actionsthat are lawless because it will not be up to the standards of theimminence (David, ). Nevertheless, in Brandenburg,the possibility of the unlawful actions is not enough to meet thespeech-protective test. Therefore, hate speech online should not becriminalized

Forthis particular reason, several legal commentators suggested that thestandards of Brandenburg should be altered about online hate speech.One such analyst expressed himself and acclaimed that new measuresare required as soon as possible, to tackle the issue of internethate speech, which is meant to instill hate among others, whilegiving information and inciting others at the same time, whicheventually males people to commit acts of violent nature. thesentiments exhibited by the commentator are real in that the alreadydefined aspects of online hate speech spark an adverse reaction. Forinstance, artistic works, online texts and Bible extracts could becovered by what the definitions are.

Someonline speech could spark violence and hatred even though it may beframed in such a way that it seems to avoid the unprotectedcategories of online hate speech (Siegel 375). For instance, therehave been reported cases when direct links could be found betweenactions of violence and online hate speech. A good example is inBenjamin Smith’s case who was a killer. In Indiana and Illinois,this person embarked on a shooting spree on the basis of racialdiscrimination in 1999 (Daniels 17). A filmmaker of documentariesinterviewed him and what he found out what utterly shocking.

Benjaminstated that months before he embarked on the shooting spree, he hadcome across some racial discrimination contents on the internet. Hefurther acknowledged the fact that the web and the online hate speechhe found on the internet made him experience hate towards thatparticular race. Apparently, being racially conscious can take monthsor even years, as it is a gradual and slow process. If regulationshad already been instituted regarding this issue, the offensiveonline hate speech content could be found. Next, the specificperpetrators would have been found and stopped, and maybe Benjaminwould not have come across the content that motivated him to startshooting people solely based on racial matters. Therefore, theregulations should be modified, as this would help avoid severalhate-sparked violent actions in the future.

Anothercommentator also agreed that as much as Brandenburg might suit theoutlets of the traditional media, the emergence of online hate speechas well as several changes which are not foreseen have proved thatsuch standards are currently outdated. It is worth to note that inthe ancient days, the regulations could not be put into place becauseonline hate speech was unheard of. I think that deciding whether astatement made online is aimed at giving rise to brutal actions ornot is vital. This is because a perpetrator may publish some contentwhich is hateful to a particular segment of people, but which doesnot tell people to be violent. In this light, individuals who comeacross such content may be motivated and conduct violent actions.Nevertheless, if the content is viewed early enough, it could be putdown so as to mitigate the risks associated with the posts,therefore the number of people who read the published content willbe limited.

Incidentsof Online Hate Speech

Ibelieve hate speech online should be challenged and discouraged. Itshould not be criminalized, however, unless it is conveyed in aparticular inflammatory, aggressive or sustained manner, in thiscase, it would result in harassment and threats. Hate speech onlineis very subjective, and there is no universal definition of what itconstitutes. There is a thin line between legitimate unpalatableviewpoints and hate speech online, and it is quite impossible to drawwith consistency, clarity, and certainty this line. The internet hasbeen used as a medium of communication where people try to portraytheir views.

Ipromote speeches of all types as long as they do not infringe on therights of individuals and are not meant to cause harm or harassment.Wolf, the chair of International Network Against Cyber-Hate, seeshate speech as a serious problem because he says that the internet isused to incite and recruit like-minded people who go on to cause harmto other people through terrorist acts or cyber bullying (David, hatespeech online). One significant incident that occurred as a result ofhate speech online was the shooting at the Holocaust Museum wheremany people lost their lives.

Theindividuals who committed these heinous acts used the internet tofurther their agenda and receive reinforcement from people theyshared views with and made killing people acceptable and normal. Hatespeech online should be regulated it results in someone losing theirlives because no one should lose their life because of whateverreason.

ChallengingOnline Hate Speech

Hatespeech online is targeted discrimination towards a vulnerable personor a group based on their gender, disability, race, sexualorientation and so forth and this form of expression should becriminalized because it would be counter-productive not to(Gerstenfeld et al. 36). Hate speech online should not go unpunishedbecause if it does it shows that we live in a society that invitesviolence and tolerates discrimination.

Hatespeech online according to Banks (236) is a precursor to violence andit should not in any way be tolerated to have a spot in themarketplace of ideas as it has no redeeming value. People supposethat hate speech online should be criminalized butwhat I think is one cannot fight fire with fire. According to myopinion hate speech online should be challenged through debate andeducation as long as the people involved do not put whatever theywrite on the internet to practice. If it were to be criminalized,then the prisons would be filled with individuals that have engagedin hate speech.

Iam of the opinion that so long as hate speech online does not lead tocriminal acts, then it should not be criminalized. The state shouldnot be allowed to have powers on how to decide on what is termed ashateful and not offensive. I do not believe that people who provideabortions are killed because of online hate speech. These crimes arecommitted because they believe that abortion is immoral. However, itis disgusting to abuse abortion doctors, and I do not in any waysignal that it is okay to kill them. Hate speech online is a badthing as agreed by most people including me, however, what we do notagree is how it should be tackled.


Despitethe fact that internet communications, which are hateful do not crossthe boundary into incitement to actions which are lawless, they getfirst amendment protection. From all the evidence above, my opinionis that the first amendment on online hate speech should be approved.Additionally, regulations surrounding this issue should be modifiedor changed because of all the violence related issues that haveemanated from online hate speech this is an extension of the firstamendment, whereby people should be protected from individuals whodon`t cross the line of suggesting wrongful actions through hatespeech. The community would benefit as a whole because if themodifications had already taken place, some cases of violence wouldhave been avoided.


Banks,James. &quotRegulating hate speech online.&quot&nbspInternationalReview of Law, Computers &amp Technology&nbsp24.3(2011): 233-239.

Daniels,Jessie. &quotRace, civil rights, and hate speech in the digitalera.&quot (2014).8-23

David,Hudson. HateSpeech Online.&nbsp13thSeptember. 2012,http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/hate-speech-online.Accessed 16thOctober 2016.

Gerstenfeld,Phyllis B., Diana R. Grant, and Chau‐PuChiang. &quotHate online: A content analysis of extremist Internetsites.&quot&nbspAnalysesof social issues and public policy&nbsp3.1(2013): 29-44.

Siegel,Michael L. &quotHate speech, civil rights, and the Internet: Thejurisdictional and human rights nightmare.&quot&nbspAlb.LJ Sci. &amp Tech.&nbsp9(2013): 375.

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