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Untangling the Web of Hate: Are Online “Hate Sites” Deserving of First Amendment Prot ...

Chapter 1:  Introduction
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Untangling the Web of Hate:

Chapter 1


Freedom of speech is a glorious right. As Americans we routinely exercise our freedom of speech to express our views on issues ranging from the trivial to the important to the controversial. Unfortunately, however, since Americans are accustomed to being able to speak freely they often take for granted that they have the freedom of speech, forgetting that this freedom is often denied to persons in other parts of the world.

Fortunately, however, the men who drafted the Bill of Rights did not take freedom of speech for granted. After all, many of these men came to America to escape the governmental censorship that was commonplace in England at the time. The Framers of the Bill of Rights recognized that a fundamental characteristic of a free society is the ability of its citizens to exchange ideas without fear of governmental reprisal. Accordingly, the first amendment that the Framers made to the Constitution included a guarantee that Congress would “make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.”

Many scholars have observed that the Framers’ First Amendment conception of free speech was based on the belief that all viewpoints should compete for acceptance in a “marketplace of ideas” free from government interference.