Connecticut Ridicule Law should be rewritten, not repealed
Jackson Volenec – Reporter
There is a lot of discussion centering around Connecticut’s “Racial Ridicule” Law, which prevents people from advertising hate speech against any different class of person, whether that be race, gender, religion, etc. People are debating whether or not it should be repealed, as some people are arguing the law is unconstitutional and impedes the First Amendment.
“At a time when hate and bias incidents are on the rise, it is crucial that the state not remove these types of prohibitions that deter or punish this unacceptable behavior,” said the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities in opposition to the repeal. Those who support it say that the speech the ridicule law is preventing is harmful and worthless and has no place in public conversation whatsoever.
While it is true that hate speech is extremely damaging and harmful to our society, that does not mean it is a good idea to put laws in place that explicitly restrict the people’s ability to say what they want to say based off of the subject matter automatically. The First Amendment does not define any hate speech that is distinguished from everything else, and allows for people to combat ugly, negative speech with positive speech they do like, which will inevitably wash out the hateful speech and prevail over it.
This law states that the person has to be “advertising” their hate speech, which I think is a weird way to describe the action. If they meant explicitly advertising, that would be one thing, but this law has been applied to many situations that had nothing to do with advertising at all. I think this part of the bill could potentially get rewritten so it better describes what kind of speech it is preventing, rather than the presentation of the speech itself.
While bigotry and intolerance of other ethnic groups has unfortunately been a subject that we have arguably moved backwards on in some ways, outright banning the harmful speech that bigots use will not stop the intolerance towards them. In fact, I think it will only make the situation worse, as the bigots will now be resentful towards the government for censoring their point of view, no matter how disgusting it may be. I think allowing ugly, hateful speech out there in the world and making an example of it is a far more effective way to combat it.
In order for real social progress to be made, we need to make people hyper-aware of intolerances and hateful campaigns that some launch against other groups of people. We need to confront those who are the cause of the problem and shut them down, using our First Amendment right to combat their bad speech with our good speech.
Proper education is extremely necessary for our society to operate like this effectively, however. Everyone needs to be highly educated about these social issues so they are aware of how damaging they are and what they can do to fight it. Making sure the general public is informed about things like this will also prevent people from getting sucked into the toxic mindset of a bigot.
Once the First Amendment begins to get compromised by-laws stating that certain things can and cannot be said, you are opening a door down a path that is not in favor of the citizen’s individual power to express themselves freely, but an authoritarian structure that allows for the government to decide what is okay speech to say and what is not. It is up to the people to decide what is acceptable speech, and they do so by defeating hateful speech with their activism.