FIRE President and CEO Greg Lukianoff appeared on Fox News’s The Kelly File with Megyn Kelly last night to discuss calls for a crackdown on “hate groups” in the wake of last week’s tragic murder of nine African-Americans in Charleston, South Carolina.
When Kelly asked Greg whether prosecuting “hate groups” was the appropriate course of action, he replied that all opinions, no matter how hateful or unpopular, must be protected:
There’s a lot of misinformation on this, but hate speech is protected speech in the United States. What you go after is violence, what you go after is conspiracy to murder. But if you go after just opinions and expression of opinions we dislike, you’re not only doing something that’s flatly unconstitutional, you’re doing something that is deeply unwise.
As Popehat’s Ken White recently pointed out, the media has been known to implement subtle pro-censorship rhetorical devices when covering controversial free speech issues. Greg and Kelly’s discussion, however, was candid and productive, establishing a clear line between speech that expresses hateful ideas and speech that directly incites a violent crime, which is not protected by the First Amendment. “Free speech is an alternative to violence,” Greg explained. “It’s a way of resolving disputes without resorting to violence.” Kelly also made an excellent point: that hateful speech should not be censored because it “may be beneficial to know exactly where the haters are.”
Be sure to check out the full interview at FoxNews.com.