A Haven for Hate: The Foreign and Domestic Implications of Protecting Internet Hate Speech Under the First Amendment – Note by Peter J. Breckheimer

From Volume 75, Number 6 (September 2002)

The U.S. Constitution is unique even among democratic nations for the guarantees it grants to U.S. citizens. The interpretation of the Constitution further distinguishes American notions of freedom and liberty from every other country in the world. The Internet Age, however, has ushered in a period where national boundaries and guarantees are blurred among the many intersections of the World Wide Web. This uncertainty has raised serious questions relating to the fundamental rights and liberties established by our forefathers: Can the United States maintain its guarantee of freedom of speech for the Internet? Who profits from such a guarantee? What are the implications for other nations if the United States ignores their pleas to rein in such guarantees?

Given the nearly unanimous international institution of regulations restricting online hate speech, the United States stands alone in its support of free speech—including Internet hate speech. Because of such a stance, however, the United States may become a beacon of hope for hate-mongers around the world whose views are stifled by the restrictions on speech in their homelands. Will the United States become a haven for online hate speech by continuing to guarantee such speech near-absolute protection? This Note attempts to answer the above questions and examines the desirability of U.S. protection of hate speech on the Internet.



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