Following Vermont’s governor for life’s pronouncement on the twitters that hate speech isn’t free speech, a rain of lawyers and scholars poured down on his head. But Howard Dean was not to be silenced.
For WAPO and others raising issues about hate speech not being constitutionally protected, read “Chaplinsky v New Hampshire SCOTUS 1942
— Howard Dean (@GovHowardDean) April 22, 2017
So what if Eugene Volokh, and every other lawyer with even minimal knowledge of First Amendment law, banged their head on their desk?
I’m pleased to say that I have read Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire (1942), which is usually cited as recognizing a “fighting words” exception to the First Amendment — personally addressed face-to-face insults that are likely to start an imminent fight are not constitutionally protected. But that has little to do with “hate speech” as most people tend to use the phrase….
But who reads Eugene except us pointy-headed lawyers? Of course, Politifact said so too, but still too nerdy. These sources require the interest and knowledge to understand law, and everybody knows that real law is learned on the twitters (which is why Howard Dean twitted in the first place). After all, if it’s in a twit and makes you feel validated, it must be the law.
With faux “twitter lawyers”* running around the internet telling people that Dean was right, they sought to create the myth of law that would prove that hate speech wasn’t free speech. How many people will believe what confirms their feelz and repeat the same nonsense, absolutely certain that Chaplinksy proves their point because, well, IT DOES!!!
The expectation was that the internet would bring law to the ignorant masses, if only they could have access to the source of information. They have access. Not only do they not understand law any better now than they did before, but they’re far deeper into Dunning-Kruger than ever, certain they know when they are utterly clueless. It’s just like shouting fire in a crowded theater.
People aren’t getting any more knowledgeable about the law, but they’re surely getting what they want out of social media: confirmation of their ignorance. And really, isn’t that good enough?
*Just because someone on the twitters claims to be a lawyer does not mean he is. On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.