Angry Howard Dean Makes Error Regarding First Amendment

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By Joe Simonson | 11:46 am, April 21, 2017
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Looks like Howard Dean might have had a little bit too much fun with the 420 festivities Wednesday night.

In a display of inexplicable ignorance, the former Democratic National Committee chairman, best known for belligerently screaming at a campaign rally in 2004, took to Twitter to weigh-in on the controversy surrounding Ann Coulter’s scheduled appearance at the University of California, Berkeley. Like some stupid uninformed college sophomore, the MSNBC contributor dipped his toe into Constitutional law, retweeting hard left former New York Times labor reporter Steven Greenhouse:

I know Heat Street readers are intelligent folks, so I realize it’s unnecessary to point out that hate speech is obviously constitutionally protected.  After Dean’s tweet, however, it seems like even presidential candidates need a refresher. Just in case any are reading: The Supreme Court has ruled on a number of occasions, most notably in R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul, that laws punishing individuals for bigoted language violate the First Amendment.  American Civil Liberty Union Legal Director Steven Shapiro concurs:

“The First Amendment really was designed to protect a debate at the fringes. You don’t need the courts to protect speech that everybody agrees with, because that speech will be tolerated. You need a First Amendment to protect speech that people regard as intolerable or outrageous or offensive — because that is when the majority will wield its power to censor or suppress, and we have a First Amendment to prevent the government from doing that.

Many argue that language labeled as hate speech is some of the most importantly protected speech.  The nebulous nature of “hate speech” means it’s easily thrown around to dismiss opinions or positions with which others disagree. It’s bad enough that ignorant college kids use it as an excuse to protest speakers they don’t like. We don’t need the government to start intervening too.

Looks like the Dean from January agrees:

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