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Berkeley law prof: ‘All ideas and views can be expressed on a college campus. Period’

‘Hate speech is protected by the First Amendment,’ instructor points out

A law professor from the University of California – Berkeley’s law school recently urged students to “protect all speech,” including speech they find offensive and hateful.

“All ideas and views can be expressed on a college campus. Period,” Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of the university’s law school, told students at Cornell University, according to The Cornell Daily Sun. “It’s very important to make the distinction between discussing what the current law is as opposed to discussing what we think the law should be.”

While allowing that there are exceptions to free speech—including ” inciteful language, fighting words and words that present a true threat”—Chermerinsky nevertheless told students that “hateful speech is protected by the First Amendment,” and that universities—public and private alike—“should allow the same level of free speech as their public counterparts.”

The dean suggested that students should “shift away from the common rhetoric of the term ‘hate speech’.”

“It’s important to separate the colloquial use of the term from the legal test that’s going to decide it,” he added.

From the report:

“Many scholars argue that hateful speech should be beyond the pale and outside the scope of the First Amendment,” Chemerinsky said.

Disagreeing with those scholars, Chemerinsky said that he does not think one should be able to pick and choose which voices and opinions are heard.

“Hate speech is protected by the First Amendment, because it expresses an idea. It [may be] a vile viewpoint, but as I said, under the First Amendment, all ideas have use,” he said.

Ultimately, Chemerinsky urged the audience to put aside individual feelings on the topic of protecting free speech both on campus and beyond.

“The reason we protect free speech is not for the speech we like,” Chermerinsky pointed out. “…[T]he only way I’m going to be able to speak tomorrow is to allow the speech I don’t like today.”

Read the whole report here.

MORE: UC-Berkeley chancellor doubles down on pro-free speech position

MORE: Three universities honored for strong free-speech policies in a single week

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  • John_In_Michigan

    At last, a professor who knows the law and is willing to defend liberty.

  • Maximus300

    Bet that stunned them.

  • david smith

    He’s off the Marxist Christmas Card List.

    • mike mace

      You mean the Marxist “Happy Holidays” list, right?

      • david smith

        Of course 😉

  • gmartinz

    Erwin is as leftist as they come, and always the go-to guy for the California media on Supreme Court decisions. He also has one of the most annoying ways of speaking. All that criticism being said, he got this one right.

  • SmartProf

    There’s no such thing as “hate” speech.
    There’s only two kinds of speech:
    Free Speech, and
    Government-regulated Speech

    • DrDean

      That’s true for rational people, but progressives aren’t rational.

      Progressive canon has two forms of speech, that which is acceptable-speech is PC-compliant, enforced by government power and unacceptable, non-PC speech which is punished by government power.

  • observer52

    Finally, and adult in the room! I give him a day or two before he’s run out of town on a rail.

  • jjmucr

    I thought he was Dean of UC-Irvine Law

    • Gromit

      He was. He keeps hopping schools. Irvine, USC, Berkeley …

      • AD_Rtr_OS

        Can’t keep a job…..that’s got to say something about his ideology.

        • Gromit

          More like, a job can’t keep him. He’s very bright, but if I were UC Irvine Law or USC Law, I’d be annoyed that he’d obviously used those schools as brief stepping stones.

  • billyhollis

    This will wash off of most UC Berkeley students like water off a duck’s back. They *feel* that they are so smart and good that they should have the right to prohibit “hate speech”. Nothing’s going to change that.

    They may eventually be forced to realize that world isn’t going to give them that control, but they’ll never stop believing they deserve it.

    • roadgeek

      Because it’s all about the feelz.

  • JimB

    I forget who it was…Disraeli?…who said, “I disagree entirely with what you say, but would fight to the death for your right to say it.”
    And…It is about time that the snowflakes saw the real world.

    • Gromit

      Usually attributed to Voltaire, although there’s no documentary evidence that Voltaire ever actually said or wrote it.

      • Button Gwinnett

        It’s literally apocryphal, as in hidden. One of the few times that word can be properly used.

    • Pyrthroes


  • Dan Morgan

    Is this guy really from Berkley? And if so, how much longer before he gets the boot?

  • Deserttrek

    no such thing as hate speech, hateful speech or hate crime

  • Direwolf

    Anything may be said on a college campus? Sheer madness! I hear the screams of a million snowflakes being triggered across the galaxy.