“That people find free speech offensive is not a sufficient reason for suppressing it. If Indeed it is the speaker’s opinion that gives offense that consequence is a reason for according it constitutional protection”: By Chief Justice William Rehnquist FCC v Pacifica Foundation
Chief Justice William Rehnquist delivered the above statement for the case Hustler Magazine v Falwell in 1988. These famous lines are instrumental in our right to free speech regarding illustrations, cartoon drawings, magazines, social media, blogging websites, etc. But what happens when what is being said/ drawn is hate speech or anti-Semitic? On Saturday 27 October, 2018 a man entered a synagogue and killed 11 people. According to NPR and other media websites the killer used Gab a small social media website to air his dislike towards Jews. The Suspect accused HIAS, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society of brining Jews into the U.S. to kill his people. Authorities have charged the suspect with 29 criminal counts. Gab issued a statement saying “That they unequivocally disavow and condemns all acts of terrorism.” I searched to link Gab to this post and the website is no longer live.
Based on the incident on Saturday, who would want websites like Gab to exist? We could blame them for promoting hate speech. But what if speech was to become censored? There could be a push to prevent newspapers or anyone from airing an opinion by censoring newspapers, social media websites, blogging site, Facebook, twitter, WordPress, and Instagram. Judges incorporated the right to post an opinion without any restraint in the constitution called Prior restraint. The decision to implement Prior Restraint into the constitution resulted from a case involving an anti -Semitic newspaper and the state of Minnesota., Near vs Minnesota. The owners of the newspaper took their case to the Supreme Court fighting for the right of free speech. According to the Chief justice who delivered the opinion for the case Near v.Minnesota, he said, “free press equals free state.” Everyone has a right to say what he pleases. What took place on Saturday was horrific. However, because of free speech we are able to create counter-narratives, speak truth to power by silencing the negativity and hate that is being spread without big brother controlling what we say.