I have long argued that the term ‘Hate Speech’ is a rhetorical flourish with no actual meaning. It is a garnish, constructed in the victim factories of the social-justice mullahs of the politically-correct left to control ideas and censor words through intimidation. And while progressives have become fond of adding it to legislation, policies, rules, and the like, it does not exist as a legal term nor can it be used to limit speech the word nazis would like to censor–typically to advance some other political objective.
Ken White, at PopeHat, has a long list of speech tropes deployed by the media or their fawning fanbase, the first of which is hate speech.
Trope One: “Hate Speech”
Example: “hate speech is excluded from protection. dont [sic] just say you love the constitution . . . read it.” CNN Anchor Chris Cuomo, on Twitter, February 6, 2015.
Example: “I do not know if American courts would find much of what Charlie Hebdo does to be hate speech unprotected by the Constitution, but I know—hope?—that most Americans would.” Edward Schumacher-Matos, NPR, February 6, 2015.
In the United States, “hate speech” is an argumentative rhetorical category, not a legal one.
“Hate speech” means many things to many Americans. There’s no widely accepted legal definition in American law. More importantly, as Professor Eugene Volokh explains conclusively, there is no “hate speech” exception to the First Amendment. Americans are free to impose social consequences on ugly speech, but the government is not free to impose official sanctions upon it. In other words, even if the phrase “hate speech” had a recognized legal definition, it would still not carry legal consequences.
This is not a close or ambiguous question of law.
When the media frames a free speech story as an inquiry into whether something is “hate speech,” it’s asking a question of morals or taste poorly disguised as a question of law. It’s the equivalent of asking “is this speech rude?”
Rude speech is free speech, and not just when deployed by Democrats.
Eugene Volokh’s piece, linked in the pull quote above, goes into much greater detail and is worth your attention, particularly if you happen to be a Democrat legislator, university diversity officer, college student, or other class of whiny invertebrate moron.
You should also spend some time browsing Ken’s list. In it, you will find frustrating rebuttals for all the typical speech tropes used to intimidate speakers and advance censorship by a group of people for whom these same limitations never apply. He covers arguments with regard to ‘fighting words,” bullying, and more.