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  • Writer's pictureJewish Examiner

It Can't be Both Ways

We need to have a conversation about hate speech.

As I write this, I have over 11k message requests on my personal Facebook page. Each one of these messages is filled with the most hurtful things you have ever read.

I am being told that Hitler should have ended my family back in World War II. I have people saying they hope my children (I don’t have any yet, but that doesn’t matter) would be sexually assaulted. Others are asking where I live because they want to come and cause me physical pain. There’s more, but you get the idea.

Have I called the police? Yes, I have. But, because it is speech, and there is more than a few anti-Semitic remarks, and threats, they can do nothing unless someone decides to knock on my door and act it out.

Funny, because I have had to call the police twice in response to incidents where I live. Those incidents may or may not be connected. As someone thought it would be a good idea to share my address with the world, who knows.

In June of last year, the United States Supreme Court reaffirmed that there is no “hate speech” exception to the First Amendment. Because of this one is free to say all kinds of hateful things to someone based on religion, race, sexual orientation, and seemingly no one can do anything about it. The United States Supreme Court has said:

“[The idea that the government may restrict] 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.”

Justice Kennedy wrote:

“A law found to discriminate based on viewpoint is an “egregious form of content discrimination,” which is “presumptively unconstitutional.” … A law that can be directed against speech found offensive to some portion of the public can be turned against minority and dissenting views to the detriment of all. The First Amendment does not entrust that power to the government’s benevolence. Instead, our reliance must be on the substantial safeguards of free and open discussion in a democratic society.”

These are from the Courts decision or reaffirmation of “The Slant” case. In this case, Simon Tam, the lead singer of the rock group “The Slants,” decided to pick the name to “reclaim” the term and remove any hurtful connotation it may have held towards Asians.

Then, we have the rather odd case of the Nationalist Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie.

In this case, we had a group of Neo-Nazis that want to march through the Village of Skokie, Ill. At the time, over half of the town was Jews. Among those numbers were individuals who survived the Holocaust.

The residents of the Village of Skokie rightfully argued that such a march would “incite or promote hatred against persons of Jewish faith or ancestry.” How could it not? You have a group of individuals who feel that they are the “Master Race,” and that anyone that does not fall into their idea of racial purity are inferior.

The Supreme Court, in the end, upheld the Nazis’ right to hold the march, swastikas and all.

“Constitutional protection is not needed so much for someone saying, ‘I like you,’ ” said lawyer Harvey Silverglate, a staunch defender of First Amendment rights. “But it assuredly is needed to protect someone who says, ‘I hate you.’ ”


Why must we allow hateful, hurtful remarks that go against someone’s race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, disability, or any other idea that is hateful? How can we allow this, and proudly say that it’s okay, it’s protected by the First Amendment?

So, under the First Amendment, it’s okay for someone to call me Jewish scum? It’s okay for someone to say that Hitler should have killed my family before I was born? It’s okay for someone to say they will murder me, as there is no crime until they try.

It’s okay for people to say all manor of hurtful things towards African-Americans, and now worry about the emotional pain you may cause anyone. Hey, it’s protected by the First Amendment.

I want to circle back to the Slants case, and the hypocrisy of the Government, before I address the personal hypocrisy of individuals.

In the Slants Case, Simon Tam wanted trademark registration for the name, “The Slants.” It was denied claiming it just might be demining to Asians and Asian Americans. This is a government office saying this.

The US Supreme Court, in this, said that this is “viewpoint” discrimination which includes “allegedly” racially offensive viewpoints, is unconstitutional.

The IRS can deny tax exempt status to a group, like any Neo-Nazi group because they are a hate group, but the US Supreme Court says that is wrong.

Um, how?

Hypocrisy at it’s finest.

Then we have Michelle Wolf and the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

Okay, maybe Ms. Wolf went a bit too far, but most individuals do. That’s what comedians do at such events. Guess what, get over it. It’s protected speech, under the First Amendment. The same Republicans who are calling for her to be censured, to be held accountable for what she said, for the White House Correspondents’ Dinner to end because of what she has said…


You can’t have it both ways. You can’t run and cry that she was bashing Sarah Huckabee Sanders simply because Sanders is a woman, and then say that anti-Semitic remarks are protected.

You can’t cry that John Oliver has bashed Trump, and he should be taken off HBO because of it, and then try to tell me that making a racial remark to a kid who is African-American and from some inner-city is okay.

“Sanders is a woman,” said a friend of mine, who is a lawyer and Trump supporter. “She is considered a protected class.” Sure, a protected class under employment law. Under the First Amendment, she was fair game.

Even Donald Trump was roasted by Comedy Central. Sure didn’t hear anyone complaining back then.

It doesn’t work that way, and that’s what we all must live with. But I won’t. I will not sit down for this one.

If you make a racial remark, you are less than human to me. If you make jokes because someone is gay, or trans-gendered, you are the lowest of the low. If you like to crack jokes because someone is disabled, then you should find a rock and crawl under it.

One day its jokes and comments, and it’s protected by free speech. The next day, it’s Kristallnacht all over again, and I’m wearing a yellow star on my sleeve.

Think about that. Let that sink in for a bit.

Think about that. Let that sink in for a bit.

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