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Column: Hate speech isn’t protected speech


Is a malignment of the first amendment providing “free speech” causing gun violence ?

By Andrew Harris

I love Meet the Press with Chuck Todd. This Sunday I rushed to my Siruis/XM radio because I knew the tragedy in Buffalo would be the focus of the show. Chuck Todd asks some of the best questions in the business and his guests today were Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and New York Governor Kathy Hochul.

Each being fervent and accomplished Democrats I expected to hear the same rants we’ve heard after every mass shooting in America. Gun control is always the first thing that comes to the forefront, and no matter where you stand on the issue, guns are the weapon of choice. We aren’t having mass stabbings or poisonings or suicide bombings.

Today’s reaction by the two elected officials who are overseeing the aftermath of this horror was a little different. Sure they called for sensible gun control at a national level, and banning loopholes for gun shows, and stronger efforts to remove weapons from the streets. But they also both called for something that gets to the root of the problem: hate speech in its many forms. Governor Hochul went directly at the social media companies who allow the proliferation of hate speech that inspires violent actors.

“I will be speaking to them directly,” said the Governor, indicating that Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms should expect a call. Hochul, a Buffalo native, seems ready for a new phase in the war against mass killing in America. “This hurts like hell.”

This mass murder in the Buffalo grocery store seems to be a new level of overt hate, by a very young person, who was clearly inspired by online groups with platform for hate. Premeditated murder of minorities using a high capacity weapon clearly designed for man-killing. Going so far as to live-stream in order to garner attention on social media, or perhaps to win a martyr status amongst peers. Analysts who study mass killings are noting the celebrity status amongst peers enjoyed by those who commit the atrocities. A nightmare game of copy-cat, fostered by dangerous minority in this country.

Remove the online gaming in imaginary war zones, remove the hate groups, remove all the disinformation, and of course, remove the guns: Would this very young person have still decided to drive three hours to kill strangers he didn’t even know with an assault rifle?

Something is driving Americans crazy, it has been happening my entire adult life and at a rapidly accelerating pace. The core reason is the dark side of humanity, hate. It will never go away but we have to stop feeding that beast by ending a misinterpretation of the US Constitution’s First Amendment.

Hate speech is not protected speech and big tech must make some major changes to protect both our people and our freedoms from radical hate groups of all stripes. It is far to easy for a frustrated, disenfranchised 18 year old to get the inspiration, support, logistics, and even the weapons from radical websites.

Facebook and Tik Tok and Twitter have the technology to monitor our every move on their platforms, in order to profit from us. Some say, social media understands the users better than their family members, better than we know ourselves. They can immediately turn of the lights for racist bigots who for all the wrong reasons choose to spew hate and the “share” it. Change the algorithm.

A 2015 headline reads, “Big Tech firms are too slow to remove hate-speech.” Dozens of mass murders have occurred in American since and nothing has really changed.

It is time the United States adopt policies which foster protected free-speech, and banish hate speech with extreme prejudice. The first amendment depends on that protection, and so do all the amendments which follow.

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