T Nation

Do You Think America Should Do More to Limit Hate Speech?

I was listening to a podcast this morning and typed up a short synopsis I have to share with my AP Government class, but I wanted to talk about it some more on this forum.

Almost everyday, the typical American encounters some form of conflicting rights. That’s American life now. One of the most frequently brought up issues regarding this is the First Amendment, which grants Americans the freedom of religion, the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, the freedom of assembly, and the right to petition the government. The podcast begins with the speaker talking about the recent case called Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which ruled that it’s unconstitutional for the federal government to make laws prohibiting corporations and unions from spending money tied to federal elections. This discussion led to the presentation of a previous debate answering the question, “Should the government do more to limit free speech?” Two opposing arguments ensue regarding the standards of the First Amendment, one argument saying that we should basically nip hate speech in the bud before it evolves into actual violence…the other saying that nipping in the bud can lead to abuse of power within America. The next conversation asks whether or not corporations should do more to limit the First Amendment. One side says that such control is dangerous, merely a simple solution to a complex problem. The other side says that lack of censorship allows hate groups to organize and radicalize online.

No. The ability to speak what you want should definitely not be limited by government and it shouldn’t be limited by companies.

However, you wanna shit on someone after they say something hateful, be my guest.


I’m 100% not in favor of the govt putting restrictions on free speech in any form, and 100% in favor of allowing companies to do just that if they so choose.

Supply and demand would shake out the rest. I prefer the old days where we just shamed racism into their moms basements instead of legislating it away.


I can’t imagine that anyone other than a powderpuff would actually make a strong arguement for limitting free speech (even on the grounds of ‘hate’ speech). This seems to be very popular in other regions of the world (western europe in particular). My rebuttal would be based along the lines of “who get’s to define hate speech?” Justice Potter’s decision that “I can’t define it but I know it when I see it” just doesn’t hold water with me especially when it comes to something as basic and fundemental as speech.
Any person should be free to say anything they want as long as they are not impinging on the rights of another person.

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Agree on government.

Somewhat more okay with “companies” doing it (I assume that you mean companies having some sort of social media policy about what their employees are allowed to say publicly?)

Generally agreed with this.


No. The term hate speech is new and is completely subject to interpretation. Plus it is never applied equally (i.e. its considered “hate speech” to speak derogatorily about the Muslim faith and/or Mohammed, however, it is considered “free speech” to speak derogatorily about Christianity, Judaism, Mormonism, etc.) The whole “hate speech” movement has created a list of protected groups that any speech that does not agree with and support is considered hate speech.

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Agreed. The BoR and Constitution are limitting forces on the Federal governement and do not apply to corporations. A corporation should be free to place any limits it chooses on its employees and the free market will decide if it’s reasonable or not.

No. There is plenty of case law regarding profanity and violent language, and how it can or can not be used.

It (the law) generally speaks to intent. So if you say off the cuff “I’m going to kill…” and have no actual intent, nothing to demonstrate intent, etc. it is simply empty words. On the other hand, you say it while drawing a knife or gun on somebody- That is a crime.

If you say “Fuck You” to a cop with no actual intent of fucking him/her, same as above.

By extension if you cal someone the “N” word- you have no actual ability to make that so. You may believe that it is true, but that does not make it a crime.

Furthermore, because peoplle are now calling hate speech anything that they disagree with, you would basically be criminalizing any and all language that doesn’t tickle the ears of the person or people hearing it.

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Wouldn’t go that far.

Please expand on that thought. Specifically, why not? Should I, as an employer not be able to limit (pick any topic) smoking amoung my employees? What about restrict their choice of dress?

There are reasonable restricts a corporation can make to protect their bottom line. For example, firing someone for telling a Holocaust joke during a sales conference.

There are also unreasonable restrictions. For example, making it a fireable offense to file a harassment complaint with HR.

At the end of the day, most companies are going to be somewhat reasonable.

We’re moving well beyond speech here…, but while they’re working, sure. While they’re on break, no, I don’t think so.

What does the law say? In MD, the law requires a 15-minute break for 4-6 consecutive hours worked, 30-minutes for 6-8, and an additional 15-minute break for every 4 hours worked past 8. I would say it’s unreasonable for you to limit smoking unless it will affect their job performance, ie, they’re a nurse in the NICU.

I think it’s reasonable and appropriate to have a dress code that applies to everyone.

Thank you. I agree that at the end of the day most companies will decide on reasonable policies (which is precisely why I have no issue with allowing them to set any policy they wish).
And of course any policy made that is found to run counter to any law (federal or local) would be invalid.
Since we disussed smoking what are your feelings on this justification for restricting it? Employer provided healthcare costs…“in order to provide quality, low cost health care at ACME WIDGETS we have decided that all employees shall not smoke…” (I fully understand that this opens up a slippery slope situation where diet and other lifestlye decsions come into play but considering the amount of money spent on care for smoking related issues it begins to come into play)
I come from a state that is an employment-at-will environment (just to set the playing field)

Just curious as to your thoughts

In a perfect world I’d mean any control they try to put on their employees.

Also should have said this caveat before. I support not restricting corps in this way in the universe where they’re not allowed to exert the control necessary to avoid the free market passing judgement.

Agreed under the conditions of the caveat above

Generally, I believe it is within a company’s right to limit certain activities during business hours while also believing that, generally, they shouldn’t. You basically explained why. For example, you create a no smoking policy because smoking increases your healthcare costs. If I was a smoker I’d point to my 300lbs co-worker that spends $15/day at the vending machine. So, you create a policy requiring employees to only eat approved foods. Okay, how about employees that ride motorcycles? How about employees that participate in dangerous activities like skydiving or even powerlifting? There are a lot of what abouts…

In my opinion, it’s better to let employees enjoy their vices if they’re within the law and reasonable (having a smoke pit for smokers, for example) unless there is a specific reason to prohibit the activity (not allowing fork truck drivers to drink on their lunch break, for example).


The tone for a lot of workplace behaviors is set by health and liability insurance companies.

At one small co. I worked at, the owner basically opened the door to anything goes, and even said he doesn’t care what anybody does as long as the work gets done. Just don’t cry if you chop a hand off and the insurer doesn’t cover it/you.


No, but Congress should clarify that money ≠ speech.


Good old Citizens United. If only we could go back to the days where Unions and rights groups could buy politicians, but not businesses. Because that was fair.

I saw a concept out of some people that worked at a local hospital chain that has a no tobacco policy for employment.

What if you segregated your employees into “high risk” and “normal” based on things like smoking, obesity, etc (would obviously have to be a well defined set of criteria). Employees can choose to smoke/eat McD every day, but end up getting GUTTED on their insurance premiums. On the flip side, you’d have a pool of people that aren’t high risk and their average risk level would decrease, resulting in lower premiums.

The scenario this guy proposed included a once a year mandatory checkup, in which you would be tested for tobacco, placed into the obese category if needed, etc

Thoughts? I’m kinda torn

While we’re in the neighborhood, Congress should clarify that corporations ≠ people as well.


It sounds okay in theory, but it would never fly. I can see some stuff being okayish, stuff related to choices, like diet, for example. It wouldn’t jive with Da Feelz, but I can see it being legal.

That said, there’s just no way a lot of stuff would pass the sniff test. You’re born with a genetic disorder, high risk. You have type I diabetes, high risk. You have a little bit of muscle mass = BMI Obesity, high risk. You’re over 35 having a kid, high risk. So on and so forth.

It’s hard to fathom the volume of discrimination lawsuits this would cause, lol.