Free Essay with a Critique of the Article Why We Need to Tolerate Hate by Wendy Kaminer

Published: 2022-08-30
Free Essay with a Critique of the Article Why We Need to Tolerate Hate by Wendy Kaminer
Type of paper:  Article review
Categories:  Human rights
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 991 words
9 min read

The First Amendment guarantees the fundamental right to the freedom of speech and all American citizens should be able to express their thoughts without any fear. These are the sentiments expressed in this article which argues that people are likely to think, say, or act about things that they despise which others may perceive as a crime of hate speech. It is, therefore, not logical for a country that has the right to free speech enshrined in the Constitution yet at the same time go ahead and implement anti-discrimination laws that prohibit the freedom to thoughts and speech. In her article, "Why We Need to Tolerate Hate', Wendy Kaminer (383) argues the 'hate crime laws are generally sentence enhancement laws that impose harsher sentences on crimes motivated by bias.' This article review will critique the arguments that Wendy Kaminer makes for advocating the tolerance of hate speech under the guise of freedom of speech.

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The main idea behind writing this article was to ascertain that, indeed, the freedom of expression and speech is a protected right that ought to be upheld. Wendy Kaminer is right to say that there more pressing matters that should concern the contemporary world other than the regulation of peoples thoughts and ideas. The author makes a case that since the freedom of expression is one of the most cherished American values, then it becomes quite un-American to curtail this right through the legislation of anti-discrimination laws. Mild jokes and satire are things that the state has no business regulating as they are a normal occurrence in life. In fact, Kaminer (384) categorically states that 'It is human nature (and) a few of us (people) will go through life without being insulted or disliked on account of race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or other immutable characteristics.' She genuinely believes that people have and will always harbor bias against others.

In a rejoinder to the author's views, there is no denying that the First Amendment protects the freedom of speech and expression in the United States. However, this ought not to give a free pass to a few individuals to abuse this right by being biased towards others. Granting individuals the freedom of speech is a double edged sword because the responsible ones will use the opportunity to speak about social issues with decorum. On the other hand, there a few bad elements that will misuse this freedom of expression by spewing hatred that will only widen the ethnic, racial, gender, and religious divisions among the people. The freedom of speech and ideas, if misused, can have a detrimental impact on the lives of countless people. That is why there is a need to counteract this freedom through the anti-discrimination laws. Even the American Civil Liberties Union concurs that the freedom of expression should have limitations governing its application (Kaminer). After law, every rule in law has an exception and the freedom of speech is no different as it needs to be jealously guarded by keeping hate speech in check.

The author of this article pinpoints an incident where anti-Semitic sentiments were written in a college hall of residence housing four Jewish students. This act terrified the occupants, one of whom termed the incident as pretty tragic, yet Wendy Kaminer (384) states that 'we should not resign ourselves to bigotry but only tolerate its expression.' She is of the opinion that anti-discrimination laws can single out bias-motivated acts without necessarily having to castigate people for harboring and expressing their ideas of dislike or hatred for other people. She argues that since the First Amendment of the Constitution protects the freedom of speech of all individuals, then it is only fair that is should protect them from the consequences that come with exercising this freedom of speech. The hate speech laws, according to the author, only serve to limit the expression of Americans especially the vocal groups found in colleges and universities.

Critiques are quick to point out there re hazards attached to allowing the tolerance of hatred among the American public. This is because it will encourage unprecedented bias or prejudice towards others, especially the minority communities in the midst of the American society (Blasdel). Even students will be encouraged to verbally abuse or bully others in the name of freedom of speech and expression. Arguing that that hate speech is a small matter that should be ignored because of bigger social problems is wrong because the small issue of hatred will eventually bloom into a full-scale challenge. A meaningless racial slur in the streets may graduate into violence and murder, consequences which can easily be avoided through the responsible application of the freedom of speech. Hate speech makers have no remorse for the things they say or do and this leaves mental trauma to the victims.

I vehemently disagree with the notion advanced by Wendy Kaminer that people ought to be tolerant towards hate speech. The First Amendment is not a good reason to support the freedom of expression where it violates basic human dignity through the promotion of divisions and hatred. Hate speech is no different from verbal abuse or bullying and it comes out as apologist to the people who justify this behavior through the First Amendment. It does not mean that people in the society are oversensitive when they urge others to tone down on their hateful thoughts, words, and actions. People should empathize with others who live among them instead of making their lives miserable. The justice system is right to uphold the anti-discrimination laws that keep the supporters of hate speech in check.

Works Cited

Blasdel, Alex. "How the resurgence of white supremacy in the US sparked a war over free speech." The Guardian 31 May 2018. Internet Resource.

Kaminer, Wendy. "Why We Need to Tolerate Hate." The Atlantic, pp. 382-386. 28 November 2012. Online.

Kaminer, Wendy. "The ACLU Retreats From Free Expression." The Wall Street Journal 20 June 2018. Online.

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