Earlier this week President Trump tweeted out a thread that suggested four United States Representatives go back to where they “originally came from” and solve the problems there instead of complaining about America. The four women of color are American citizens, and only one was born outside of the United States.
Trump’s remarks were abhorrent, and it is disgusting that the sentiment was picked up by his supporters at a campaign rally in North Carolina. It has been encouraging to see people on both the right and the left condemn these remarks.
The response to Trump’s comments has illustrated one key thing: it is better to fight hateful speech with more speech, not less speech.
Many are quick to call for restrictions on the First Amendment in response to events like this. “Let’s ban hate speech,” they cry. Besides the obvious infringement on the Constitution, there are other problems with this idea.
One very important issue is that banning speech is a never-ending downward spiral. What constitutes hate speech? Is it speech that threatens violence? If so, there are already certain legal protections in place.
Is it speech that contains certain words or is aimed toward certain groups? What if there is disagreement over those qualifications? What happens then?
An attempt to ban hateful speech would lead to complete restriction of the First Amendment. The spiral would continue until people were too afraid to say anything at all. There is no good boundary line in place to say, “This far and no further,” when it comes to speech regulation.
Regulation and banning of speech is not the answer, so what is? Once again, two words: MORE speech.
Instead of government restriction of individual speech, the rest of the population should be free to condemn speech as they see fit (which would become increasingly difficult as speech restrictions were moved into place). It is the public condemnation of an individual’s hateful sentiments that will have the most impact, not the ban of those sentiments from a public forum.
One of the great things about America is living without fear of being imprisoned or penalized because of our ideas and sentiments. That means that we also have the great ability to condemn hateful ideology where we see it.
Fight hateful speech with more speech, not less speech. Such speech will be diminished faster in a country where more, not fewer, words fly.