Extents to Freedoms: Hate Speech & Commentary

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CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg (Mercury News)

In the United States, the first amendment protects the right to freedom of religion, freedom to assemble, freedom of the press, and the freedom of speech. However, surrounding these liberties are regulations and limitations. The question we must ask is to what extent are our rights to free speech and press protected?

A recent issue as to whether Holocaust denial comments on facebook should be taken down has grown very controversial over the past week. CEO of facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, argued against doing so while Jewish groups, anti defamation societies, and Holocaust experts insisted upon it. Currently, a petition is being signed to support the deleting of anti-semitic Holocaust denying posts.

Anti-semetic comments on Facebook (The JC)

n American society today, there are minimal restrictions to free speech. Yelling fire in the middle of a crowd when there evidently isn’t one, is strictly illegal; this would be known as “to incite actions that would harm others.” However, in regards to hate speech, there are no laws in the United States respecting this matter. Although the right to free speech and press is extremely valuable, it also has the power to destroy.

In the early 1930’s Hitler began speaking in pubs among other public areas preaching the ideas mentioned in his book, Mein Kampf. He slandered the Treaty of Versailles, blamed the Jews and communists for all Germany’s problems, and passionately expressed the purity and greatness of the “pure Aryan race.” In Mein Kampf, Hitler wrote that “…the personification of the devil as the symbol of all evil assumes the living shape of the Jew.” In various speeches, he asserted messages such as: “Even when we have driven the Jew out of Germany, he remains our world enemy” or “The Jew…. works unproductively using and enjoying other people’s work. And thus we understand…’The Jew is the ferment of decomposition in peoples,’ that means that the Jew destroys and must destroy…he completely lacks the conception of an activity which builds up the life of the community…” (archive.org). This hateful rhetoric entertwined with the installation of fear in German society resulted in the brainwashing of most of the German public– the transmission of racist ideals being passed through generations.

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