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The Internet, Hate Speech, and The First Amendment

Domestic terrorist, Patrick Wood Crusius posted a hate-filled manifesto on the messaging board, 8Chan.com before tragically opening fire in an El Paso Walmart. 8Chan creator and former owner Fredrick Brennan, says that the messaging board and social networking sites alike, are breeding grounds for extremist and that the website should be shut down immediately. I agree that something should be done to monitor social sites for hate speech however, I don’t think shutting down 8chan will stop extremist from networking or posting future manifestos on the web. The Internet is a vast place, with a lot of dark corners, so if 8chan is shut down they will just go elsewhere. Additionally, I think messaging boards and social networking sites provide an avenue to monitor and look out for domestic terrorist. I do believe enhanced monitoring should be done to red flag such hate speech. Of Course, monitoring the web for hate speech, will challenge our First Amendment and might pose a slippery slope for what hate speech is.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” – The First Amendment. Legally, no law can be established that could limit free speech. However the question still stands, was Patrick’s hate-filled manifesto in fact free speech? Congress does have limitation to free speech, if the speech incites violence than it constitutes as hate speech. Based on this premise, I think Patrick’s manifesto was in fact hate speech. Now this begs the questions, if monitoring of the Internet is put in place for hate speech, who should be responsible of monitoring the Internet/websites, will Americans sacrifice a bit of their rights for this activity, better yet,should they forfeit some of their rights, and what constitutes as free speech? As you can see, these are tricky questions to answer. What are your thoughts?

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