While “hate speech” is not a legal category, calls for violence against Israel and the Jewish people on college campuses do not advance the pursuit of truth and thus should not be tolerated.
“The United States in the year 2023 has a perverted understanding of freedom of speech,” Josh Hammer and Seth Leibsohn wrote Monday in The American Mind.
The purpose of our free speech laws and customs are to deliberate policy and our common life, and statements such as “From the river to the sea, Palestine shall be free” do nothing to advance this mission. They are calls for violence, not contributions to debate.
“When purported contributions to the public discourse exceed substantive dissident speech and become unmoored from anything remotely smacking of the pursuit of truth, they are liable to be treated as something less than fully speech qua speech for either moral or legal (e.g., tort or criminal law) purposes,” Hammer and Leibsohn wrote.
“The First Amendment was not meant to protect anything or everything—and certainly not as a suicide pact allowing for the perfectly equal moral or legal claims of, say, a Joe Biden and a Donald Trump on the one hand, and an Ali Khamenei and a Hassan Nasrallah on the other hand,” they wrote. “The Constitution was never meant to yield to a liberal ‘marketplace’ of fascism, communism, or Islamism—or explicit calls to racial or ethnic mass murder.”
Perversely, today on our campuses important questions on how we should govern ourselves are banned as “hate speech,” while administrators tolerate calls for genocidal violence:
When it comes to the war in Israel and Gaza, Americans living under our Constitution might disagree on the merits of a U.S.-prodded ceasefire, whether Hamas-supporting foreign students ought to have their visas revoked, or any number of other public policy issues. But bloodthirsty marches on behalf of genocide must not be confused with morally or legally legitimate “free speech” under our moralistic constitutional order. Our regime recognizes these not as differences in the “degree” of would-be speech, but in the kind of speech.
Such a misunderstanding of our commitments to freedom, speech, and plain decency have led us to this ironic pass. Debates about men being allowed to use women’s locker rooms or arguments about meritocracy are intolerable; marches including incantations to genocide, by contrast, are considered sacred.