How the First Amendment Protects Free Speech

Hateful or offensive speech may be annoying but does not limit the productivity or well-being of the offended. According to Schmalleger, the First Amendment protects free speech by clearly defining under what conditions communication can be regarded as a threat. Words that constitute threats have the effect of making the affronted fear for their life or threaten the life of his members.

The offended must be affected in a way that they are not able to live peacefully. For example, if during a political rally, a politician refers to his or her opponent as one coming from a background of a less privileged community or from the less literate class, this may be referred to as hateful speech. This is because the person has the liberty to overlook the sentiments, however demeaning they may be and yet live at peace. The offended can choose to turn a deaf ear and yet cope with life or take action by confronting the offender and demanding an apology. If the same politician says that his or her competitor needs to merge with him on conditions if he is elected in that political area, this may constitute a threat.

For example, if he threatens his or her opponents that they will have to bow before him for his family to excel, the offended will not only feel belittled but will be threatened as well. The words of threat spoken will deny the person the ability to live in peace. The loss of serenity may cause the affronted person to relocate or live in a depression, not knowing the plans the opponent may unleash against him or her. The hurt that is caused by words of threat is, therefore, worse with far-reaching effects.

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