Hate Speech

Hate speech (in the United States) is legally defined as - Language unprotected by the First Amendment due to its intent to incite hatred against people or groups of people based upon their: race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, or other "improper" classification.[1]

The First Amendment to the United States (US) Constitution reads as follows, "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."[2] It is unconstitutional to prohibit or regulate speech, of any kind (hate or otherwise) outside of fighting words, true threats, incitement, obscenity, and defamation. [3]


The concept of race is one that does not have any scientific backing. It is regarded by John H. Relethford as, "a group of populations that share some biological characteristics....These populations differ from other groups of populations according to these characteristics." Since humans live in a wide array of environments and regularly traverse amongst them around the globe, there is a high rate of "gene flow" that prevents a clean process for distinguishing the populations of humans into races. That said, skin color tends to be the defining characteristic of a race, even despite the blurring of lines between the "races."[4]

The differences in skin color lead to racial discrimination which is related to racism. When discrimination and racist beliefs conjoin a difference in mentality can be observed where a "majority" and a "minority" are established. This can result in a power struggle and oftentimes results in one group being oppressed.[5]

An Example of Racial Hate Speech

The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) is a group who has a history of oppressing a population of individuals based upon race.[6] This group visited the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) in November of 2009 and were met with an unwelcome crowd of passersby (seen in the above video). The Klan's presence was in retaliation of the decision made by Chancellor Dan Jones to ban the playing of "From Dixie With Love." Chancellor Jones' decision was prompted by the chant "The South will rise again" being yelled in place of the actual last verse of the song.[7]

Students of the University combated the Klan's visit by staging their own protest in which the Creed was read aloud and t-shirts with the phrase "Turn Your Back on Hate" were worn. University graduate, Kevin Cozart, summarized his observation of that day,
"Under an overcast sky and greeted with a wall of boos and calls to leave, a few members of the Mississippi Chapter of the Ku Klux Klan rallied on the campus of the University of
Ole Miss Constituents Reading the Creed
Ole Miss Constituents Reading the Creed
Mississippi this morning... for less than ten minutes. Little could be heard of any message they attempted to convey. Dressed in the highly recognizable robes, the ten Klansmen that showed up simply stood and waved their banners of hate and ignorance from the portico of Fulton Chapel, a fitting place since it is the home of the Theatre Department's productions. The sizable crowd that had gathered to see them was extremely hostile regardless of color, race, creed or university affiliation. After all of the fanfare, bravado and planning (including the use of bomb sniffing dog around the area), the brief appearance by the Klansmen is the very definition of anticlimactic.

The real story of the day was the students, faculty, staff and alumni who gathered peacefully and read the University's creed in unison repeatedly a few hundred feet from where the Klan had gathered. Organized by One Mississippi, a student group working towards greater social integration at Ole Miss, protesters wore shirts that said 'TURN YOUR BACK ON HATE... (I live by the UM Creed)' and stickers with one simple word: 'Unity.' Before and after the rally, they talked to fans in town for the game about their message and plan to make their way through the 10-acre, park-like Grove, passing out copies of the UM creed to fans.

Today, the members of the real Ole Miss family were not afraid to show their faces. They were not afraid of the Klansmen. They stood with their backs to them. They stood together to say with one voice that Ole Miss 'believe(s) in respect for the dignity of each person.' They stood as the leaders of a new Mississippi, a Mississippi that her citizens and a nation can be proud of."


Religion is a system of beliefs that dictate a cultural understanding of the World. It is a belief in a supernatural entity (or entities) that is (or are) attributed as the fashioner (or fashioners) of the universe. Humans adopt religion to explain the meaning of life, origin of life or universe. Morality, ethics, religious laws, lifestyles, ideas about nature, and more are each addressed by dictates of a religion.[8]
Symbols of World Religions
Symbols of World Religions

Examples of Religious Hate Speech

"Imagine No Religion" Inspired by the Proposition 8 Vote
"Imagine No Religion" Inspired by the Proposition 8 Vote

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) has become famous for posting the billboard with the text "Imagine No Religion" in a number of different states across the U.S. Co-President Annie Gaylor had the following to say about the purpose for these billboards, "We're taking our liberating message of freedom from religious dogma in government to show solidarity with people who have now had a taste of the power of religion as a repressive force." FFRF advocates for the separation of church and state and is composed of upwards of 13,000 members, all belonging to no religious denomination.

Gaylor further explains, "Without religion, Prop 8 would not have passed. It is a fact that organized religion was responsible for revoking marriage equality in California. Proposition 8 was conceived by the megachurches and church leaders, bankrolled by donors from denominations such as the Mormons and religious-right groups, and vociferously promoted from the pulpits of Roman Catholic, fundamentalist Protestant and Mormon churches." She states this with the knowledge that over 2,000 members of FFRF reside within California.

Her Co-President Dan Barker notes, "Those of us who are free from religion like to imagine a world where instead of wasting our best efforts on some unprovable afterlife, we humans could concentrate on leaving this world a better place for future generations. We should strive for 'heaven' here on earth." Dan is also the author of, Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists.

The billboard campaign was launched in 2008, traveling the country. As of January 2009, the campaign had reached 13 states. In November 2009, the billboard in Rancho Cucamonga, CA (shown in the above video), was removed within one week of its erection. FFRF filed a federal lawsuit against city officials "alleging intent to censor and officious interference."[9]


The social construct of gender refers to the maleness (masculinity) and femaleness (femininity) typically associated with the biological man and woman, respectively.
Male/Man and Female/Woman
Male/Man and Female/Woman

Sexologist John Money created the distinctions between sex and gender (as a role) in 1955.[10]

Sex and gender often get confused with one another. Sex speaks to the differences in the biological processes; specifically the chromosomes (X and Y), sex organs, and physical features of a person. It is scientifically identifiable. Gender however, speaks to the characteristics that a society or culture delineates as masculine or feminine as they relate to a person. It is not scientifically identifiable.

"While your sex as male or female is a biological fact that is the same in any culture, what that sex means in terms of your gender role as a 'man' or a 'woman' in society can be quite different cross culturally. These 'gender roles' have an impact on the health of the individual."[11]

Since gender is a social construct, the roles of men and women have changed over time and are not the same around the World.[12]

Examples of Sexist Hate Speech

These two videos show a man named Bill exercising his free speech. His speech is geared specifically at women and appears to be inspired by an experience of being jilted. In his videos he espouses many thoughts and experiences, one of note is his "justification" for women getting raped and murdered. These are prime examples of stereotypes believed by at least one in society with regard to gender roles.

Sexist Advertisement Showing Place
Sexist Advertisement Showing Place

Sexist Advertisement Showing Gender Roles
Sexist Advertisement Showing Gender Roles

Sexist Advertisement Showing Expectation
Sexist Advertisement Showing Expectation

Sexual Orientation

Louisville, KY, September 16, 2008
Louisville, KY, September 16, 2008
The term for describing romantic, emotional or sexual attraction toward another person is called sexual orientation. The attraction can be toward an individual of the same sex, opposite sex, both sexes, neither sex (asexual), or another sex (pansexual). Those attracted to the same sex are termed gay or lesbian (homosexual). Those attracted to the opposite sex are termed straight (heterosexual). Those attracted to both sexes are bisexual. Sexual orientation is not the same as gender identity (internal sense of maleness or femaleness).[13]

Sexual orientation is now believed not to be a choice,[14] but rather brought about by a combination of environmental, emotional, hormonal, and biological factors. This means there are numerous factors that contribute to sexual orientation and that those factors may be as diverse as the people in the World.

It should be noted that homosexuality and bisexuality are not developed as a result of child rearing by his or her parents, or by the sexual experiences during development. Nor is homosexuality or bisexuality a mental illness.[15]

Examples of Sexual Orientation Hate Speech

The video above (left) speaks about same-sex (gay) marriage. In the US, same-sex couples can marry in five states and one district (Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and the District of Columbia) and receive state-level benefits.[16] Thirty-one states constitutionally restrict marriage to one woman and one man.[17] The video above (right) shows a gay man being interviewed by his cousin. The director of the video also provides mention of the gay suicides that have struck the US recently.[18]

National Origin

National origin (or nationality) is defined as membership or belonging to a specific nation by either birth or naturalization. It can sometimes be determined by the ethnicity of an individual aside from their citizenship. The people composed of a certain nationality have common traditions and culture.[19]

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (in Article 15) reads, "Everyone has the right to a nationality," and "No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality."[20]

The discrimination of individuals based upon their national origin entails treating those individuals in an unfavorable way due to their belonging to a particular country or continent, their ethnicity or accent, or their appearance to be of a certain ethnic background. Like discrimination can also be the negative treatment of spouses/partners to individuals of another national origin than their own. Discrimination can also occur when the victim and the instigator are of the same national origin.[21]
English Speaking Only
English Speaking Only

Examples of National Origin Hate Speech

The video above mentions the discrimination met by individuals of Arab descent after the September 11th, 2001 attacks on the US.

"At 8:45 a.m., September 11th, 2001, the first of two airlines struck the World Trade Center in New York, in the first of a series of coordinated terrorist attacks on the United States. At 9:03, a second plane crashed into a second World Trade Center tower, and exploded. With both buildings ablaze, hundreds of rescue personnel rushed to the scene.

At 9:43 a.m., a third passenger plane crashed into the Pentagon, in the world’s largest office building. At 10:05, the south tower of the World Trade Center collapses, plummeting into the streets below. A massive cloud of dust and debris forms and slowly drifts away from the building. Five minutes later, a portion of the Pentagon collapsed. At 10:28, The World Trade Center's north tower collapses from the top down, releasing a tremendous cloud of debris and smoke. At 10:48 police confirm that a fourth passenger jet had crashed in western Pennsylvania."[22]
  1. ^ http://law.yourdictionary.com/hate-speech
  2. ^ http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html#Am1
  3. ^ Melear, K.B., Alexander, L.B., Hendrickson, R.M., and Beckham, J. (2010). Student free speech in public higher education. Dayton, OH: Education Law Association.
  4. ^ http://racerelations.about.com/od/understandingrac1/a/WhatIsRace.htm
  5. ^ http://www.pbs.org/race/000_General/000_00-Home.htm
  6. ^ http://kkk.bz/
  7. ^ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/11/21/kkk-rally-at-ole-miss-kla_n_366475.html
  8. ^ http://www.solcomhouse.com/religion.htm
  9. ^ http://ffrf.org/news/releases/sanfranbillboard/
  10. ^ http://www.northeastern.edu/womensstudies/graduate/courses/course_material/men_women_social/documents/Udry_Nature_of_Gender.pdf
  11. ^ http://www.med.monash.edu.au/gendermed/sexandgender.html
  12. ^ http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/longterm/gender/gender22a.htm
  13. ^ http://www.healthyminds.org/More-Info-For/GayLesbianBisexuals.aspx
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aAsubiL17wkQ
  18. ^ http://www.southfloridagaynews.com/editorial/publishers-editorial/2210-five-gay-suicides-shock-america.html
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^ http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/modules/sept11th/index.cfm