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Richard Dawkins And Hate
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March 09, 2010, 10:50 PM
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I was reading The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins and near the beginning, I came across this:

"The Los Angeles Times (10 April 2006) reported that numerous Christian groups on campuses around the United States were suing their universities for enforcing anti-discrimination rules, including prohibitions against harassing or abusing homosexuals. [Christians Sue for Right Not to Tolerate Policies | Many codes intended to protect gays from harassment are illegal, conservatives argue, By Stephanie Simon]As a typical example, in 2004 James Nixon, a twelve-year-old boy in Ohio, won the right in court to wear a T-shirt to school bearing the words `Homosexuality is a sin, Islam is a lie, abortion is murder. Some issues are just black and white!` The school told him not to wear the T-shirt-and the boy`s parents sued the school. The parents might have had a conscionable case if they had based it on the First Amendment`s guarantee of freedom of speech. But they didn`t: indeed, they couldn`t, because free speech is deemed not to include `hate speech`.

Let`s stop right there. Dawkins, who lives in Britain (a country with no First Amendment) doesn`t get it. There is no "hate" exception to the First Amendment. Everyone hates something, and the expression of what people call hate (which is very broad) is part of political discourse. Exceptions to freedom of speech are things like extortion, threats, obscenity, revealing military secrets, libel, and sedition. (A lot of things that used to be prosecuted under the heading of obscenity, revealing military secrets, libel, and sedition are now OK, thanks to the Supreme Court.)

Dawkins, being a painfully arrogant atheist, is horrified at the idea of a religious exemption for anything, and says

But hate only has to prove it is religious, and it no longer counts as hate. So, instead of freedom of speech, the Nixons` lawyers appealed to the constitutional right to freedom of religion. Their victorious lawsuit was supported by the Alliance Defense Fund of Arizona, whose business it is to `press the legal battle for religious freedom`."

But Dawkins is wrong that expressions some people find hateful are only protected on grounds of religion—they`re also protected as political speech.