Honors Sophomore English
February 24th, 2013
Hate Groups in the United States and First Amendment Rights
The First Amendment of the United States Constitution was written to protect the right of freedom of religion and freedom of expression from government interference.
Freedom of expression consists of the freedom of speech, press and assembly, the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances, and the implied rights of association and belief (
First Amendment). The First Amendment prevents Congress from making any law that disrespects a religious establishment or prohibits its free exercise (The Constitution). Indubitably, with these rights comes its disputes. However, even when abused, freedom of speech should not be limited.
When First Amendment Rights have been abused, the result has often been hate crimes. A hate crime is violence stemming from intolerance and provincialism and consists of a group of people intending to hurt and intimidate someone because of their national origin, ethnicity, race, religion, sexual orientation, or disability (Hate Crime: The
Violence of Intolerance). People who are identified with a hate group are usually associated with them because of their belief in dominance. The purveyors of hate groups are known for using explosives, arson, weapons, vandalism, and physical and verbal violence. They use these tactics to instill fear in their victims and seek to get rid of them. Many argue that perpetrators of these crimes are able to partially get away with
it because of the First Amendment Rights give them too much inherit ed trust and power.
Since 2000, the number of hate groups has increased. There are 1,007 known hate groups operating in the United States (
A Visual Database of Extremist Symbols,
Logos and Tattoos).
This outbreak has been fueled by fear and anger about the nation’s economy. In the early 1980s, the strategy of holding violent hate group cases in court proved to be successful with the win of numerous large damage awards on behalf of victims of hate group violence. The cases were funded directly by supporters. In the
Lowcountry Immigration Coalition court case in 2011, a large antiimmigration law was passed in South Carolina. “The law required police to demand ‘papers’ demonstrating citizenship or immigration status during traffic stops when they have reasonable suspicion that a person is an undocumented immigrant (Southern Poverty Law Center).”
This law criminalized many undocumented immigrants and it was an unconstitutional measure that encouraged racial profiling. South Carolina’s law was originally inspired by
Alabama’s antiimmigration law passed in 2010 where there were unlawful searches to
US citizens based on false inferences by government authorities. Ultimately, this case was challenged and lawsuits were filed, causing courts to block major portions of these laws (Southern Poverty Law Center).
It is clear that with First Amendment rights also come hate groups, as well as occasional unjust and unconstitutional decisions made by the government. Limiting
United States Citizens’ rights goes against every principle of freedom this country is built upon. The fact of the matter is, limiting rights won’t stop hate groups. The provocation stimulated by these hate group’s preconceived beliefs won’t end when their
rights are limited. People’s rights should not be subjected to termination because…