Letter: Free speech needs strict protection
Outside of an academic and constitutional discourse, public interest in any form of speech thought of as hateful is emotionally tied to the fear that it can be and too often is potentially incitement, although, as reported in the Reformer in the recent case of sidewalk messaging, the police department recognized that "you cross over into the area of First Amendment protections involving freedom of speech."
There is, in fact, no ambiguity in the First Amendment regarding free speech. Offensive speech is not only protected against outright restrictions but state and community lesser prohibitions as well.
In 2017, Justice Samuel Alito wrote that restricting speech, "expressing ideas that offend strikes at the heart of the First Amendment. Speech that demeans on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, disability, or any other similar ground is hateful; but the proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express "the thought that we hate.""
In the historical context, humans have no past without "fighting words" over their unproven mythologies. The origin of our consciousness, unlike our cousin animals, has become so unnatural and muddled by fear, ignorance and superstitions that it's a marvel we have even coined a word for "peace."
When you factor in the advent of the monolithic thinking of the Jukrislims several thousand years ago, the infighting between the Jews, Christians and Muslims has never stayed its violent hand upon humanity. The etymology of monolithic means simply "one stone." And, the adherents of the trifecta of monotheism have been throwing that stone at each other since antiquity.
We can't stop hatred any more than we can stop love. We can, however, through universal secular education for all, use reason, proofs and science with no religious or spiritual basis to overcome the psychosis of violent traditions and beliefs recurrent throughout our history.
Brattleboro, July 11
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.