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Home > CJ Ethics > Pt 2 Limits of Law  (examples)> Hate Crimes | Buy CJ Ethics

Hate Crimes & Hate Speech

Wisconsin v Mitchell (opinions)

Virginia v Black (2002 cross burning case)

Many of the sites listed on this page cover issues of both hate crime and hate speech. While the two are related, hate crime involves the issue of sentencing enhancement for behaviors such as assault or murder that are already crimes. Hate speech involves regulating or censoring lectures, discussions, posters and 'symbolic speech' like cross burnings. 

In addition to the sites mentioned below, a helpful reference is the hate crime page of

"Hate crime" legislation reflects the collision of two longstanding American traditions. The first is that of bigotry - the systematic subjugation of certain minority groups. This bigotry breeds hate and bias-motivated crime. As a heterogeneous society, we have recently identified a need to provide special civil and criminal protection for certain classes of individuals from the onslaught of hate that we know they frequently suffer. The second tradition is our philosophical attachment to the freedom of speech. As a free society, we strive to protect words and opinions from undue interference and censure.

Legislation against "hate crimes" is an attempt to reconcile these two traditions. Thus, hate crime legislation must always be perched on a razor's edge between the fair regulation of "hate speech" or "hate conduct" and the unconstitutional suppression of speech or ideas. 



The Jurist (Law Professors' Network): Hate Crime The Hate Debate covers a wide range of issues related to sentencing enhancements in different situations and hate speech issues. 

The Anti-Defamation League created model hate crime laws and has an extensive discussion of legal issues

National Victim Assistance Academy (US Dept of Justice): Hate and Bias Crime

Hate Crimes resources from the American Justice Network: Your Gateway to Justice & Social Issues

American Psychological Association: Hate Crimes Today: An Age-Old Foe In Modern Dress 

Misperceptions Cloud Whites' View of Blacks: Whether out of hostility, indifference or simple lack of knowledge, large numbers of white Americans incorrectly believe that blacks are as well off as whites in terms of their jobs, incomes, schooling and health care, according to a national survey by The Washington Post, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard University.


Wisconsin v Mitchell (1993) sentencing enhancement for assault did not violate First Amendment

RAV v St Paul (1992) strikes down a law about displaying a symbol which one knows or has reason to know "arouses anger, alarm or resentment in others on the basis of race, color, creed, religion or gender." (Real Audio version of oral argument available through link above.)

Johnson v Texas (1993) flag burning protected by the First Amendment. (Real Audio version of oral argument available through link above.) More flag burning info

Hustler Magazine v Jerry Falwell (1988) 'parody' of Rev Falwell as having
engaged in a drunken incestuous rendezvous with his mother in an outhouse - lacks 'actual malice' necessary for a public figure suing for libel


Hate Speech Symposium: Comparative American, Canadian & Israeli approaches (long law review symposium).

Canadians hate 'hate speech' discusses radio talk host Dr. Laura and the reactions to her on-air gay bashing in Canada. 

Banning Meanness: Spotlight on Free Speech and Hate Speech from Free-Market.Net. This article discusses the evolution attempts to limit the freedom of speech concerning hate speech.  The article reviews important cases and includes excerpts. 

California city's police begin documenting hate speech (from explores the constitutional issues raised by the new practice of police documenting hate speech even when there is no crime committed. Police specialists argue that this is important because the reports could be used to prove a history of bias-motivated incidents if someone does commit a crime later. Opponents argue that such practices may hinder free speech.

Anti-defamation League: Anti-Abortion & Anti Gay Extremism in Cyberspace

Harm Principle
Google IPO Risks
Wisc v Mitchell
Hate Crime
Virginia v Black
In Re P
Corporate Harm

The Ku Klux Klan Versus the NYPD: Why a Federal Appeals Decision Rejecting a First Amendment Right to Wear Masks is Flawed (Sherry Colb, column)

"The decision in question, Church of the American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan v. Kerik, upheld a New York State statute prohibiting the wearing of masks or facial disguises in public, other than for masquerade or similar entertainment purposes. The Ku Klux Klan had claimed that its members have a First Amendment right to wear masks during its rallies, but the Second Circuit opinion disagreed. Its reasoning left much to be desired. In particular, the opinion was wrong to reject the Klan's First Amendment claim that masks constitute symbolic speech. And it was also wrong to reject the notion that an organization's members have a right to anonymity that might include appearing in public wearing masks."

Hate speech is defined as, 'Bigoted speech attacking or disparaging a social or ethnic group or a member of such a group'. Hate speech and many other forms of communication are protected by the First Amendment. Through the years, the courts have interpreted the First Amendment rights very broadly through cases like Thomas v. Chicago Park, and Crawford v. Britton. The Supreme Court views hate speech as a personís right to speak about whatever issues they choose, no matter how offensive the topic. The only restriction the Supreme Court has indicated is whether that speech advocates violence or not. Therefore, the only forms of speech that are not protected are any communications that advocate violence against another group, and any speech that would put people in unnecessary danger. The court made this clear with Brandenburg v. Ohio in 1969, the Supreme Court held that speech may not be suppressed or punished unless it is intended to "produce imminent lawless action" and it is "likely to produce such action." The defendant in Brandenburg was a member of the Ku Klux Klan and was being prosecuted under the Ohio Criminal Syndicalism Act for his participation in a Ku Klux Klan rally (Stewart, no date). Another example is it would be unlawful to enter a movie theater and yell fire if there was no fire. The court upheld this as recently as this year in a case involving a civilian woman working on an Air Force base that reported a fictitious bomb threat closing down the base for many hours. She received a light prison sentence with an $800,000.00 fine in punitive damages. 

from Matthew Cantrell - Hate Speech. Good discussion and excellent set of links. This page was created by Matthew Cantrell, a Web-based Master's Degree student in the Department of Criminal Justice, New Mexico State University. This web page was submitted in August 2003 as partial fullfillment of the requirements of CJ 532, Civil Liberties in Criminal Justice.

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