Letter to the editor: No ‘hate speech’ exception


On Sept. 29, The Daily Evergreen published a letter from Tim Charters, WSU alumnus, in which he claims that “Freedom of speech stops at the infringement of others.” Charters is wrong. The Supreme Court, most recently (unanimously) in Matal v. Tam in 2017, has ruled that there is no “hate speech” exception to the First Amendment.

It is important that students learn that the Constitution of the U.S. does not protect them from being offended, nor can public institutions like WSU. The world is filled with people who will disagree with them and with me. The world is filled with attitudes and behaviors in demonstrations, “Trump walls,” writings and speech that will make them, and me, uncomfortable.

Unless these actions rise to the level of promoting imminent violence, the actions and speech are protected. An individual’s perception of a threat does not make it so. Speech that makes others unhappy is protected. In fact, freedom of speech is needed for when people will be offended, especially when what is being expressed does not represent the majority view or even a large portion of Americans.