Comments about ‘In our opinion: Why government can't tackle hate speech without shredding First Amendment’

Return to article »

Published: Sunday, May 4 2014 12:00 a.m. MDT

  • Oldest first
  • Newest first
  • Most recommended

Much speech is disconcerting and uncomfortable. However, the First Amendment was established to provide for the right to express our thoughts - even the ones that sting and reveal ignorance. It is unfortunate that there are those that advocate restriction of speech - for to do so leaves the empowered to decide what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. Objective standards would go out the door and the subjective would become the rule. Subjective opinion is subject to change at the whim of the governing. The right to speak is much more important than the right not to be offended by speech. I agree with this editorial that basic understanding of these principles are not be understood, because they are not being taught. Rather, political correct thinking is the flavor of the times - leading to less principled thought.

Cedar Hills, UT

How many think we actually still have freedom of speech in America? Better pay attention to current events to note that the first amendment is dead in America. We are closer to Communism than our Constitution in 2014.

Gene Poole

Plain and simple - the restriction of Free Speech and the abuse of First Amendment rights is a step toward the legalization of all forms of control in the country by government. Whenever this has happened in history, the citizens have been enslaved. Many who read this will be familiar with the quote: "We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they tend to exercise unrighteous dominion."

This characteristic of "almost all men" is why the founding fathers were pressed to include the "Bill of Rights" as an addition to the framework of the Constitution. With insight from the freedoms so vigorously fought, they knew that our Rights must be guaranteed by an immutable governing document. And so it is. Those who seek to change it, are traitors to all of us who seek to maintain the freedoms of this land. There are those in government who are seeking to exercise unrighteous dominion in so many venues that it boggles the mind that people are so willing to stand idly by and observe this unrighteous demolition of our freedoms.

Kings Court
Alpine, UT

The problem is that those who perpetuate hate speech also want to shield themselves from the consequences of that speech. You have a right to say what you want, but you don't have a right to control the reaction of others.

high school fan
Huntington, UT

The implications of being punished for having said something in the privacy of your own home ought to scare everybody. As for the NBA, this has all the appearance of an old western with judge, jury and executioner all being the same guy and happening the same day. They could have got to the same spot but could have appeared to be more fair by imposing a temporary punishment and then letting the dust settle just a little. After time and a more thorough evaluation would have given off the appearance of fairness instead of what we got.

Thid Barker
Victor, ID

"Hate speech" is arbitrary and is politically driven. It depends on who says it and about whom it is said. For example, disagreements with liberal ideology is called "hate speech". When liberals disagree in the most vile terms with any conservative its NEVER called hate speech, only free speech. For example, when Harry Reid lied about Mitt Romney that was "free speech". On the other hand, just honestly criticize Obama's policies and it gets called "hate speech" everyday. Therefore liberals invented hate speech to denigrate and silence their critics!

Florien Wineriter
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Freedom of speech is a cherished right but leaders of authoritative organizations must make it clear to their followers that their uttered thoughts are not ‘the law’, neither secular nor religious. Their thoughts are subject to evaluation, discussion, and criticism the same as thoughts expressed by everyone.

Burke, VA

In 2010 my son graduated from Syracuse University. World renowned biologist (and Utah native) Craig Venter gave the commencement speech that included those words:

"We just celebrated the 10th anniversary of our first decoding of the human genome, and from that, we learned some rather simplistic things—we learned we have about 20,000 genes instead of the hundreds of thousands that people had expected. And from our reading the DNA from an African American, two Hispanics, two Caucasians and a Chinese individual, we learned that we’re all extremely similar to each other, and that race is a social, not a scientific concept."

That statement should be part of our dialogue relating to race and whenever we hear anyone making derogatory remarks about anyone, we should quote this gifted scientist.

St.George, Utah

Some old adages still apply in this day and age.
When the hate speech, particularly from the older, bigoted population of our society gets out of control, simply, consider the source.
That explanation helps put the problem into perspective.

Tooele, UT

Re: "The natural inclination of most people in power is to suppress dissent and put an end to ideas that might threaten their power."

And that's particularly true of liberals. They know they'll never win using their foundational, existential "liberal man's burden" doctrine, so they attempt, instead, to suppress any dissent, calling pretty much anything they don't disagree with "hate speech."

Even when they know there's no hate involved in it.

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah

Freedom comes from God. Restrictions on freedom come from government. Therefore, God and government are at odds with each other. God commands us to worship Him before doing anything else of importance. Government tells us that we cannot even pray in school. Not only has government restricted free speech but it has legislated our right to be religious. Both freedoms, the right to worship and the right to pray (speech) are clearly guaranteed in the 1st Amendment.

Freedom of speech allows all ideas to percolate until the "truth" is found. Honest debate causes people to think. Unfortunately, many people follow the example of "leaders" who attack the person instead of discussing the message. We learned in kindergarten that only an insecure bully attacks others. We learned in high school debate to study both sides of an argument.

If ObamaCare had been openly discussed - in full detail - it would never have been passed. Because speech was restricted our freedom and responsibility to care for our personal welfare is in jeopardy.

If NSA spying had been discussed, no complex would have been built and our email would be secure.

Cleveland , OH

@Thid Barker: "For example, disagreements with liberal ideology is called "hate speech"."

And disagreements against right-wing ideology are called heresy and blasphemy and unAmerican and socialist and a whole range of other condemning words and phrases designed to shut down thought instead of engaging in discussion.

The right uses religiously coded words to identify "unacceptable" speech. As society moves away from religion those code phrases have lost general impact.

The left uses "hate" which is more universally recognized and gets a visceral reaction across more segments of society.

Neither is accurate, both sides use code to identify actions they want shut down. Currently, the left is more successful in the general deployment of their code phrases. Not all that long ago the right was ascendant by labeling every disagreement as part of the "godless communist conspiracy."

For reference see: HUAC, Red Scare, Hollywood Blackball list, and the history of conservative religious leaders during the civil rights. See also the condemnation of the anti-war movement during Vietnam.

Lots of code words there, and all couched in religious and pseudo-patriotic terms.

Provo, UT

No "liberal" wants to do away with free speech. The government should not control speech. However, it doesn't violate anyone's First Amendment rights if I say I don't like what you said. In fact, I am exercising my First Amendment rights when I do. I don't know if you understand the Constitution, procuradorfiscal. It only applies to government suppression of speech. So who cares if a liberal says something is hate speech. Maybe they are being rude and hurting your feelings when they tell you your speech is hateful, but they are not violating your First Amendment rights, which is what this discussion is about.

South Jordan, UT

Every one of us has said things that we regret or do not honestly reflect our true sentiments. If every conversation in our lives was recorded, then all of us would be condemned. How long until people start coming after you?

Dietrich, ID

Fortunately enough people abhor racism that it is not socially acceptable to be supremacist of any kind. The NBA is a private organization so they can censure what people say. Same as this newspaper can. The 1st amendment does give people a right to be foolish though. Private organizations can do what they want disciplining them as well.

Dammam, Saudi Arabia

Years ago there was an employee at the University of Utah who would use the student newspaper to state the most close-minded intolerant views. He thought their should be quotas on Mormons because he felt they were stealing from others. He thought that the Jews deserved what they got in the Holocaust because the Old Testament condemns homosexual behavior, etc, etc. In today's climate he would have been fired immediately. But I thought that it was beneficial for him to have his freedom of speech and the freedom to say what he did.

If not, I would not have learned that such views exist and that when looking over a cultural divide that we should be open-minded and not misinterpret based on our own cultural paradigms.

Dammam, Saudi Arabia

"When the hate speech, particularly from the older, bigoted population of our society gets out of control, simply, consider the source."

How about hate speech from the younger bigoted population gets out of control, should we consider the sourcwe of that too.

Just because you throw out the term 'bigot' about others, doesn't mean that you are not a bigot in your own opinions. Don't TELL me. SHOW me.

Cleveland , OH

@Mike Richards: "Government tells us that we cannot even pray in school."

Government does not restrict you from praying in school. It does restrict you from forcing me to be part if your prayers. It also says that if you are going to insist that your prayer be part of a public spectacle that you have to make room for others to also pray - not just Baptists and Methodists, but also Muslims and Wiccans and others.

Too often, Christians seem to think first amendment religious freedoms are only for Christians, and maybe for Jews. Not for those of other faiths and who are not religious.

Sandy, UT

@Florien Wineriter
“Freedom of speech is a cherished right but leaders of authoritative organizations must make it clear to their followers that their uttered thoughts are not ‘the law’, neither secular nor religious.”

I beg to differ. If I understand your point, I agree that indeed, religious leaders’ uttered words are not secular law, but in the case of the General Authorities of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints, their statements are spiritual law in that they spell out God’s will and commandments.

Their words and revelations may not be binding in the same way as secular or man-made law that man can enforce in the ways he feels fit. But if you want to have the spiritual blessings of obedience and avoid the consequences of disobedience, they are just as binding or more. To both members and non-members, the consequences of breaking these laws are spiritual but just as real.

If man can issue laws, why can’t God. And the closer the society’s laws are to the Lord’s, the happier the society will be. I don’t claim it as gospel, just my opinion.

Mister J
Salt Lake City, UT

re: Mike Richards

"Freedom comes from God. Restrictions on freedom come from government."

What about commandments (the big 10, the word of wisdom, chastity, yada yada yada) Mike. Where do they come from?

re: Stormwalker

"Too often, Christians seem to think first amendment religious freedoms are only for Christians, and maybe for Jews. Not for those of other faiths and who are not religious."

Why am I thinking of Ned Flanders & Apu from the Simpsons?

to comment

DeseretNews.com encourages a civil dialogue among its readers. We welcome your thoughtful comments.
About comments