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Protecting Hatred Preserves Freedom
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The tragedy of a mass murder in Charleston, S.C., last week, obviously motivated by racial hatred, has raised anew the issue of the lawfulness of the State expressing an opinion by flying a Confederate flag at the Statehouse, and the constitutionality of the use of the First Amendment to protect hate speech and hate groups. The State has no business expressing opinions on anything, and it is required to protect hate. Here is the law.

Let’s start with the proposition that hatred of persons is a profound disorder, and it is no doubt motivated by far deeper errors of thought and judgment than admiration for a flag. I recognize that to some in our society, the Confederate flag represents resistance to federal authority enforced by military aggression; while to others, it represents racial oppression under color of law bringing about the worst violations of the natural rights of born persons in American history — namely slavery. To me, it represents both. Yet, the government has no business flying it.

In a lawsuit brought against the State of Texas seeking to compel Texas to offer automobile license plates bearing the Confederate flag, the Supreme Court in dismissing the suit ruled just two weeks ago that the government enjoys the same freedom of speech as do persons. This is a novel and dangerous idea. It places government — an artificial creature based on temporary consensus and a monopoly of force — on the same plane as human beings, who are natural creatures with immortal souls endowed by our Creator with natural rights.

Natural rights, foremost among which after life itself is freedom of expression, are gifts from God. They are not manmade and hence cannot be transferred to a manmade entity. They are as natural to us as are the fingers on our hands. We don’t need a government permission slip in order to exercise them.

In the case of speech, it is especially dangerous to accord the natural rights of persons to the government because the state can use its monopoly of force to silence, drown out or intimidate the speech of any persons it hates and fears. When the state speaks, its expressions have an aura of legitimacy and can be used for narrow, sectarian, even hateful purposes. But the whole purpose of the First Amendment is to keep the government out of the business of speech.

If I were in the South Carolina legislature, I’d vote to remove the Confederate flag from the Statehouse because I’d silence all government speech except that which is universally accepted (like the American flag), utterly innocuous (like the library is closed on Sundays) or absolutely necessary for governance (like speed limits on state roads). Otherwise, who cares what the government thinks?

The First Amendment to the Constitution also protects the rights of every person to embrace hatred. It guarantees all persons the freedom of thought, expression and association. Thought and association are guaranteed unconditionally. Imagine the dangers of the government telling us how to think.


The rule on speech is that all innocuous speech is absolutely protected, and all speech is innocuous when there is time for more speech to address it before the violence it suggests may come about. Stated differently, the First Amendment absolutely bars the government from interference with a person’s thoughts or associations, and permits interference with a person’s expressions only if necessary to prevent immediate lawless violence when there is no time for more expression to do so first.

But the government may never, consistent with the First Amendment, interfere with expression because it despises or fears the views animating the expressions. This temptation is another danger of according the government the freedom of speech.

Hatred, though invariably destructive to those it animates, is a protected mode of thought and expression and may form the basis for association. Groups may be formed based on hate, and the government may not interfere with them because it hates and fears their hatred. Some hate groups are merely a vessel for folklore and group comfort; some are willing to use violence to advance their nefarious beliefs.

But the willingness alone to use violence is not criminal; it is only the actual use of violence that is. Thus, it is the manifestation of hatred as lawless violence that may be prosecuted, but the manifestation of hatred as a unifying idea is protected and may not be prosecuted.

The remedy for hatred is reason. Hatred of persons is always unreasonable. It takes a characteristic of birth — color, ethnicity, religion, for example — and unreasonably ascribes mythological and unitary traits to it. Those ascribed traits usually appeal to the base fears and biases of the hater, feed his weaknesses, and provide him with a mental haven for his failings. Yet, reason and overwhelming opinion to the contrary can dilute hatred.

Hatred sometimes provides a dark place of comfort for the weak, and it can be addictive. We must guard against its allurements. Lord Byron in “Don Juan” warned of hatred’s irony:

Now hatred is by far

The longest pleasure.

Men love in haste, but they

Detest at leisure.

Yet, God, too, hates. He hates sin, and we, as well, must hate sin. But like the families of those murdered in Charleston, we must imitate our Creator: We must love the sinner and the hater.

Copyright 2015 Andrew P. Napolitano. Distributed by

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  1. Your use of the word “hate” and “hatred” is a perfect instance of the straw man argument. You have appropriated a word, a term that indicates a fleeting state of emotion, personified it, stood it up on a gallows, projected the shooter into it, shot it full of arrows as in one of those medieval painting of an immolated Saint and then hung it as an effigy.

    Your error lies in your attribution of the motive of hatred to Mr. Roof, this in spite of the fact that he repeatedly states in his manifesto that he is motivated by a desire for Justice. He is angered by the injustice he sees in the Media’s glossing over black-on-white violence and he aims to correct those wrongs by striking a blow against the perpetrators and apologizers for those injustices. Mr. Roof is a rebel; he is neither a terrorist nor a “hater”. He believes that he is reacting against an intolerable injustice in the society in which he lives and that by pushing back against lies and violence around him he is creating a saner, nobler society.

    Until you clean up your biased, illogical presentation and take on his real stated arguments your opinions merely provide a further example of what frustrated Mr. Roof and insure that there will be more Mr. Roofs in the future.

    • Replies: @Eustace Tilley (not)
  2. Your Honor: You are 100% correct.

    If we allow the government to censor “hate speech”, our First Amendment freedoms will be held hostage to its ever-expanding interpretation of that phrase (just look at the Interstate Commerce Clause, which the government claims gives it the right to keep raisins off the market to keep the price high). Before you know it, an “Impeach Hillary” button will be defined as “hate speech”.

    Anyone who trusts the government to act with reason and restraint over the long term is woefully ignorant of history. The Founders knew this, so they bound the politicians with “the chains of the Constitution”. The Monster State, aided by well-intentioned millenial SJW’s who don’t even know rock ‘n’ roll history (a young man I spoke with a fortnight ago thought “Strawberry Fields Forever” was by REO Speedwagon), is now bursting its chains. It will soon, Godzilla-like, be rampaging through what’s left of Western Civilization.

    God help us.

  3. @Threecranes

    Three Birdbrains are Thrice More Baneful than One :

    You are naive in thinking Roof’s stated motives and his real ones. He is in fact a terrorist and a hater. He lacks the self-awareness — as you lack the insight — to see that there is a powerful psychological force called “self-delusion”. Look at what that confused drug addict “achieved” politically: Would you call him an intelligent young man?

    Charles Manson also (apparently) thought himself virtuous. So what?

  4. As for whether I would “call him an intelligent young man”, I offer[ed] no opinion one way or the other.

    You say “He is in fact a terrorist and a hater”. What do these words mean? How has imputing them to Mr. Roof added to the conversation? He is IN FACT a murderer. How do you know that he was motivated by “hate”? On the basis of what evidence do you deny his stated motives as having been his real motives? You attribute his actions to “hate”. How does the introduction of this vague term clarify or add precision to the discussion?

    For what it’s worth (admittedly not much) , my own views on the subject place him in the category of previous anarchists and rebels who sought (usually in vain) to change the social order through bombings and political assassinations. If by terrorist you mean someone whose tactics are designed to strike Terror in the population, then I deny that–on the basis of his own words–you can label him a terrorist. He picked a specific target and went after it.

    • Replies: @SolontoCroesus
  5. J1234 says:

    There are some logical flaws and problematic real life situations that plague the judge’s argument. About three or four years ago, a South Carolina chapter of the NAACP, before one of it’s public events, built a shroud around a statue of George Washington that stood on the steps of a state building in Columbia, as Washington’s slaveholder status was offensive to them.

    That would make Washington’s legacy and historical legitimacy “controversial” to some, and, therefore, the the placement of his statue on state property a “statement” by the government, whether intentional or not. Same would hold true of the Lincoln Memorial (if you’re a Southerner) or a statue of Andy Jackson (if you’re an Indian) or of the MLK memorial (if you’re a white nationalist.)

    In fact, any and every historical figure, flag or symbol has an element of controversy surrounding it. From the Republic of Texas to the Stars and Stripes itself. And any governmental acknowledgement of it would be “taking sides,” in somebody’s opinion. Where and how does the logical principle reconcile itself with reality?

  6. Tom_R says:


    Thanks for the great article, Sir. You are very right, of course. The govt. has no businesses deciding what speech it likes and will allow and what speech it does not like and will disallow (except for narrow exceptions such as pornography, fraud, conspiracy to commit violent acts). That is why the 1st amendment is first on the list—speech is the sine qua non of democracy. No free speech = No democracy.

    About “hate”, there is nothing wrong with hating something, per se. The “hate speech” racket is really about protecting some groups of people from criticism and abomination, that’s all. It is really disguised censorship.

    Some people hate anchovies and love pepperoni pizza—what is wrong with that?
    There are some people who hate loose women and love people who promote morality—what is wrong with that?

    Love and hate go hand in hand just like the 2 sides of the same coin. A person who hates nothing, loves nothing—he is a zombie.

  7. @Threecranes

    What if the case of Dyllan Roof is compared to that of Herschel Grynszpan, a perfectly appropriate comparison, especially in light of the fact that the Confederate flag has been compared to the NSDAP swastika by numerous pundits and politicians (although in my opinion latter is an inapt comparison).

    Grynszpan was motivated by the quest for justice — he was incensed that Polish Jews in Germany were being sent back to Poland (even as Poland was sending Polish Jews into Germany while Germans in Poland were being abused and denied minority rights guaranteed by Versailles Treaty, but that might be too much truthiness for bumper-sticker SJWs to absorb). Grynszpan might or might not have been intent on starting a “race riot;” it is certain that that was the outcome.

    But Grynszpan had numerous champions who defended his acts, among them the very popular journalist Dorothy Thompson, the “second-most popular woman in the USA after Eleanor Roosevelt.” If one grants first-chair popularity to Michele Obama, Thompson’s position is roughly the equivalent of Hillary Clinton defending Dyllan Roof.

    Thompson was whiplashed by the historical times that she lived in and the causes she championed —

    In 1938, Thompson championed the cause of a Polish-German Jew Herschel Grynszpan, whose assassination in Paris of a minor German diplomat, Ernst vom Rath, had been used as propaganda by the Nazis to trigger the events of Kristallnacht in Germany [Although this assertion is propounded as gospel, imo it is tendentious: documentary evidence, the full context of events at the time, and most especially the cui bono question argue against the deliberate use of the event by NSDAP to “trigger” Kristallnacht. It is far more likely that zionists and Mossad el aliyeh-bet, which were active in Germany at the time with the mandate to shepherd German Jews into Palestine, played a crucial role in setting off Kristallnacht. – ed.]. Thompson’s broadcast on NBC radio was heard by millions of listeners, and led to an outpouring of sympathy for the young assassin. Under the banner of the Journalists’ Defense Fund, over $40,000 USD was collected, enabling famed European lawyer Vincent de Moro-Giafferi to take up Grynszpan’s case.

    . . .[Time magazine named Thompson] the second most popular and influential woman in the country behind Eleanor Roosevelt. She was one of the most respected women of her age. This same article explained Thompson’s influence: “Dorothy Thompson is the U. S. clubwoman’s woman. She is read, believed and quoted by millions of women who used to get their political opinions from their husbands, who got them from Walter Lippmann.” [in other words, she megaphoned propaganda. some things never change -ed]

    She was a keynote speaker at the Biltmore Conference, and by war’s end was regarded as one of the most effective spokespersons for Zionism.

    She switched her views round radically after a trip to Palestine in 1945, and ran into difficulties,including accusations of anti-Semitism, which she strongly rebuffed, after being warned that hostility toward Israel was, in the American press world, “almost a definition of professional suicide.”

    She eventually concluded that Zionism was a recipe for perpetual war “

    As warned, Thompson’s career hit the skids after she chose to criticize the reality of zionism that she saw with her own eyes in Palestine.

    Here is an excerpt of Thompson’s defense of Grynszpan. Are there any parallels to the case of Dyllan Roof?

    “I am speaking of this boy. Soon he will go on trial. The news is that on top of all this terror, this horror, one more must pay. They say he will go to the guillotine, without a trial by jury, with the rights that any common murderer has …” *

    Who is on trial in this case? I say we are all on trial. I say the men of Munich are on trial, who signed a pact without one word of protection for helpless minorities. Whether Herschel Grynszpan lives or not won’t matter much to Herschel. He was prepared to die when he fired those shots. His young life was already ruined. Since then, his heart has been broken into bits by the results of his deed.”

    “They say a man is entitled to a trial by a jury of his peers, and a man’s kinsmen rally around him, when he is in trouble. But no kinsman of Herschel’s can defend him. The Nazi government has announced that if any Jews, anywhere in the world, protest at anything that is happening, further oppressive measures will be taken. They are holding every Jew in Germany as a hostage.”**

    “Therefore, we who are not Jews must speak, speak our sorrow and indignation and disgust in so many voices that they will be heard. This boy has become a symbol, and the responsibility for his deed must be shared by those who caused it.***

    * The German government did, in fact, plan for a trial of Herschel Grynszpan, and as stated above and as other evidence and commentary discloses, the alleged murderer was swiftly represented by the most sophisticated jurist available. Events surrounding Grynszpan from a time shortly after his apprehension to this day are shrouded in murk and mystery.

    ** Thompson’s rhetoric appears to outpace the facts and evidence. Authors Breitman and Lichtman wrote in “FDR and the Jews” that from a time shortly after Hitler was named to the chancellorship until just after Kristallnacht, NSDAP had quelled violence against Jews, and that no German Jews had been sent to concentration camps.

    *** If Thompson was arguing that the chaos at the Polish-German border caused Grynszpan’s actions, then the “responsible parties” must be British and Polish officials who created roadblocks against NSDAP’s efforts to resolve those problems nonviolently. Maj. Gen. Gerd Schultz-Rhonhof details these efforts in 1939: The War That Had Many Fathers.
    If Thompson’s declamation is that the German government caused Herschel Grynszpan to shoot Ernst vom Rath, or that the Munich Agreement caused Grynszpan to murder the German diplomat in Paris, her arguments challenge the chronology of events.

    But if one is to parallel Thompson’s claim with the situation in the United States, the argument would be that the behavior of US political leaders and the elites who influence them, with their pronounced tendency to resort to violence and killing, or at very least weaponizing governments or entities in a situation of conflict, are primary causes of Dyllan Roof’s actions: the US Congress with its frequent calls to “destroy” amorphous enemies and the behavior of the president who has a kill list of those who offend him, set a cultural atmosphere for Roof’s actions. The responsibility for his [Roof’s] deed must be shared by those who caused it.”

    Hillary Clinton is generally on-board with those calls to weaponize and to kill, a suitable champion for alleged murderer Dyllan Roof.

    • Replies: @Threecranes
  8. @SolontoCroesus

    Your argument is interesting but convoluted and I can’t quite get my head around it. It touches at numerous points with the current situation but though two things may touch at numerous points that does not necessarily mean that they fit together like a mold and the object being cast. I will reread and attempt to comprehend more fully.

    Meanwhile, I find an analogy to today’s mob behavior in the historical example of the actions of the Athenians after their naval victory over Sparta at which the surviving Generals were unable to rescue the shipwrecked sailors because of a storm. The Athenians were so incensed over the Generals supposed dereliction of duty that they tried them en masse–which was a violation of their Laws. Socrates presided over the government on that fateful day and refused to allow it. The mob proceeded with their plan, illegally found the Generals guilty and condemned them to death.

    In just the same way the mob today is passing judgement over a jumble of issues along with Mr. Roof. In this case the accused’s names are: General Hater, General Confederate Flag, General Lee, General Racist, General Terrorist, etc.

    By some sort of primitive, magic ritual, they believe that they can exorcize their demons by projecting them into Mr. Roof and righteously flogging him from their village.

    You can see how Edward Bernays was correct and how our Rulers have implemented his strategy. The mob is being guided by a deliberate public relations campaign in the Press.

    I won’t stand between them and their desired ends though. It is dangerous to even call it out. They will turn on anyone who does so with a vengeance.

  9. Realist says:

    You’re kidding right? You’re talking about freedom in the United States? Too funny.

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