Hate Speech

Yes, 'Hate Groups' Can Hold Meetings in Libraries, Too

The American Library Association is facing criticism for reaffirming First Amendment rights.


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The American Library Association (ALA) is refusing to back down from its stance that "hate groups" have the right to meet in public libraries.

Last week, the ALA revised its interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights to note that library meeting rooms should be open to all kinds of organizations. "If a library allows charities, non-profits, and sports organizations to discuss their activities in library meeting rooms," the revised interpretation says, "then the library cannot exclude religious, social, civic, partisan political, or hate groups from discussing their activities in the same facilities."

While the revision is new, the ALA's policy is not. In fact, under a section titled "Hate Speech and Hate Crime," the organization's website explains that as "sanctuary spaces for First Amendment ideals," libraries must protect hate speech and "symbols of hate." Hateful conduct, however, "is not tolerated."

Still, some people were upset that the ALA would reaffirm the First Amendment rights of "hate groups." Many took to Twitter to express their displeasure:

The ALA responded by explaining that while it doesn't endorse hate groups or speech, the First Amendment leaves no choice in the matter. "Publicly funded libraries are bound by the First Amendment and the associated law governing access to a designated public forum," read a statement from James LaRue, director of the ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom. "A publicly funded library is not obligated to provide meeting room space to the public, but, if it chooses to do so, under law cannot discriminate or deny access based upon the viewpoint of speakers or the content of their speech."

It's encouraging to see that even in the face of criticism, the ALA is reminding libraries that the First Amendment protects everyone's right to free speech. As the Supreme Court has held on numerous occasions, hate groups can express themselves just like anyone else. What they say might be despicable, but they still have the right to say it.

LaRue may have put it best on Twitter. "Are we so afraid of hate speech that we'd give up all the rest?" he wrote.

NEXT: ACLU Asks Police Not To Attend a D.C. Community Meeting on Policing

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  1. Control freaks lose again. Excellent.

    1. The notion that inappropriate meetings should be allowed to take place in our great nation’s libraries is almost as naive as the claim that “free speech” somehow allows anyone to send out “parody” emails in the name of a distinguished New York University department chairman and representative to the Vatican of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America. Everyone knows that certain forms of “speech” must not be tolerated, especially in our bold new system of ordered liberty. See the documentation of America’s leading criminal “satire” case at:


      1. The new user name is as apropos as your persistence is perversely admirable.

        1. Trollificus, welcome to my anti-Troll campaign. Perhaps you can help me with the next step. We need to do everything we can to stop people from reading outrageous “opinion” pieces like this one, by one of those left-wing “free speech” adversaries of the honorable Eugene Volokh:


          1. Still facing the two months? Just serve it, spend the full two months, 16 hours a day, complaining about NY PL ? 190.25(1) and ?170.05. If, at some point it occurs to you that a more focused, less parodic approach might have benefitted your fathers’ career more, the added bonus of enlightenment.

  2. “Not my hate group… those other guys!”

    1. Everyone hates those guys.

      1. Coz they be haters, amirite?

    2. Hate group unspecified, I’m going to assume this is a clash between Star Wars fans and Trekkies, Magic: The Gathering and Pok?mon players, or Warhammer and D&D cults.

      1. Hm. What if I hate all of those groups?

    3. Brian:
      Excuse me. Are you the Judean People’s Front?

      Fuck off! We’re the People’s Front of Judea

  3. Haters gonna hate.

  4. How many hate groups actually meet at libraries though? People who subscribe to the opinion Teh Jooos Did Starbucks don’t strike me as big readers.

      1. Well unlike you, some people actually want to know which GILF site they’re visiting on the library’s computer before they unzip.

        1. Bunch of pussies too afraid to use “I’m Feeling Lucky”.

          1. I did that once years ago and my optic nerves still haven’t recovered.

    1. It’s probably a nicer meeting space than the Grand Wizard Dragon (or whatever’s) mom’s basement. I’m sure that gets old after a while and they need a change of scenery every now and then.

    2. Normal Person: What’s a hate group?

      Hugh Akston: Ron Paul and anyone to the right of Hillary Clinton.

      1. Glenn Greenwald and Ralph Nader are known to have associated with Grand Wizard Ron Paul. Which makes sense, because they are both Russian bots now or something.

        It is amazing though, how nefarious bigot Ron Paul has made more inroads with the principled Left than his detractors within libertarian circles who pander so much to a progressive Left that despises them

        1. What level magic-user do you have to be in AD&D 5.0 to earn the title ‘Grand Wizard’?

      2. Or, you know, troll commenters he’s specifically linking to?

        Ron Paul is never going to sleep with you, you know.

        1. I don’t see the comment being referenced.

          That’s a shame. Maybe Rand?

      3. Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili is to the right of Hillary Clinton

    3. When the definition of “hate group” has become “anyone who believes something different from me” up to and including one of the major political parties in the US, the answer is that lots of those groups meet at libraries.

      This attempt to label all controversy as “hate speech” is nothing more than a pretext for censorship.

      1. Yes,

        But they see nothing wrong with censorship.

    4. Ha ha ha ha!

      You think they mean groups like the KKK or Nazis. Oh, that’s funny.

      They’re talking about pro-life groups and local GOP and libertarian groups. Local Tea Party groups. Things like that.

      The kind of hate groups that meet in the current year.

      People who support school choice–or the Second and (more and more these days) First Amendments.

      Those deplorable people.

      1. Oh Zod, its much worse than I thought

        Those teabaggers spit on a guy that time

    5. The meeting rooms at libraries are mostly used the hate groups, that is the problem. When I go to a library many of the rooms have white people in them, that is the very definition of a hate group.

  5. Do we have a case of a hate group being denied access to a library or are people pre-emptively shaming the ALA just for thinking that white supremacists should be allowed to access literature of any sort?

    1. Hate groups as in “actual hate,” or hate groups in the sense of “people who think Affirmative Action is racist?”

  6. Well, to be fair, hate groups, homeless people, and Tony when his mom gets pissed at him and changes the WiFi password are probably the only people who still frequent libraries.

    1. My local library has 3 3-D printers, VR helmets (a couple, I believe), a laser cutter, several sewing machines, two X-boxes on 60″ HDTVs, a shit-ton of iPads, a dozen touchscreen computers (in addition to the regular terminals), a slide, a 5-ft. tall light bright, a shadow wall, and an 8×15 wall of Legos.

      I don’t literally or personally thank the taxpayers for subsidizing my kids’ afternoons, but I thank the taxpayers for subsidizing my kids afternoons.

      1. I forgot the robots. There are like half a dozen different varieties of robots and related electronics kits that the kids can play with in specified areas.

      2. My libraries near me are mostly places for people to OD on heroin as far as I can tell.

        1. My libraries near me are mostly places for people to OD on heroin as far as I can tell.

          That was our local library, until it was burned down by a homeless person.

          1. I bet all the other homeless people were passed he ruined their place to jerk off to weird porn in public.

      3. Christ, how much money does your town waste on the library?

      4. Hmmm. Now I know where I’m going to print a new gun.

    2. A hate group, some homeless people, and Tony walk into a bar…

      1. And it was just him.

      2. Is the punchline that Tony should’ve ducked?

        Or is this just the beginning of the story of how he caught the yet untreated syphilis that ravages his brain to this day?

      3. The bartender looks up and says “What is this, a joke?”

  7. Can people with masks meet at the library?

    1. Can people with masks meet at the library?

      Considering every librarian I’ve seen over the age of 30, yes.

  8. “Are we so afraid of hate speech that we’d give up all the rest?”

    Superficially, the Left would appear to be. In practice, they desperately need ‘Hate Groups’ to justify their persecution of even the mildest forms of ‘wrong think’.

    1. As someone who used to work in a library (2 year veteran of the children’s section, TYVM), the response doesn’t surprise me in the least. Back in my day, it was mostly socons demanding certain books be removed from the shelves. Now it’s the left berserking over the non-censorship of libraries.

      Both sides have their notion of thought crimes.

      1. I was hoping the ALA would connect this to book burning – if that doesn’t silence the “libraries should be safe spaces” people, nothing will.

  9. I’ve belonged to a few libraries with librarians who seemed to hate the patrons. Would they ban themselves?

  10. You could tell them that “neutrality” is the best way to prevent a “Me today, you tomorrow” scenario, but they never buy into the notion that it could possibly be them tomorrow.

    1. It’s interesting how they can’t comprehend that even as their political enemies, who they view as downright fascists, control almost every branch and level of government.

      1. The only time I ever changed the mind of a Net Neutrality supporter was when I pointed out “you remember when Trump was asking the FCC to review ABC’s broadcast license because he didn’t like what they were saying about him? You’re advocating giving him that same power over the entire internet.”

        That legitimately had not ever crossed his mind before.

        1. In fact, this seems to be a basic disconnect in what you might call “Progressive Thinking:” stopping at “it should be the case that” rather than going all the way to “this agency should.”

        2. I’ve pointed this out plenty of times on the NN issue–the NN supporters legitimately believe that a federal organization which has been limiting the content of over-the-air media for close to 100 years won’t do the same thing to the internet if given the same control. Pai should have used NN rules to shut down HuffPo and MSNBC for a week just to make that point.

      2. They have a teleological view of history. They believe that in the end, they’ll win; its inevitable, like the good guys winning in the movies.

        It’s kind of sad, almost don’t want to burst their bubble that in a couple hundred years the political tribes of today won’t even exist, and will be regarded as evil relics of a horrible past no matter what. Or will be as relevant as the conflict between Guelphs and Gibellines.

        1. This is why they do shit like invite millions of refugees from very oppressive cultures into the country. It never occurs to them that things could ever go back to the way they were or that “progress” could ever stop.

          1. Yeah. Look what happened when the WASPs let the Quakers in. In a short 200 years the slaves were emancipated, Jews stopped being thrown down the well and the crime rate soared to it’s current (historically low) levels, notwithstanding the outrageous success of the little Korematsu experiment that ended WWII.

            1. Yeah, the crime rate soared to a level multiples of our current low rate. At which point, I have heard, a few Quakers were thrown down the long-unused Jew wells, and only then did the crime rate decline.

              A kind of unsympathetic magic, I suppose.

              1. Those Quaker’s are badass motherfuckers

    2. When you are irrevocably convinced of your moral superiority, why would it ever occur to you that you might be on the wrong end of the autocracy?

  11. “In terms of safety, I’m thinking about *our* responsibility to our community rather than the law. Maybe the answer is simply not to provide meeting spaces to the public at all.”

    This statement is fucked up on so many levels. I know its par for the course, but jesus christ.

    1. “fucked up on so many levels”

      That’s actually the middle name of people like this.

  12. I’m just glad Reason excludes hate groups from the comments sections here, or I would feel unsafe.

    1. Go and (bleep) a (bleep).

  13. http://twitchy.com/dougp-3137/…..tchywidget

    Strzok apparently managed to live down to all expectations today.

    At 3:19 of this video Strzok explains what he meant in the “We’ll stop it” text
    At 3:47 of this video Strzok says “I don’t recall writing that text.”

    1. Well , to be sure, it was 28 minutes later, so maybe he did forget.

      1. Fun fact: Christopher Nolan went back in time and made Memento while inspired by this guy’s story.

    2. “I have no recollection of those events as you have described them Senator.”

  14. I, of course, agree completely with the ALA on this position, but it does present some amusing images.

  15. I like the tweet that implies it’s ok to ban certain groups because they can meet elsewhere. What they always fail to mention, of course, is that if they tried to go somewhere else, they’d try and ban them from that place too.

    It’s a common tactic of such people to say that you can exercise your rights, but only in certain ways, and you should be ok with that.

    1. What they always fail to mention, of course, is that if they tried to go somewhere else, they’d try and ban them from that place too.

      Yup. They’re A-OK with getting rid of libraries and letting Starbucks and McDonalds provide 3rd spaces for everybody right up until Chik-Fil-A tosses a gay couple out for necking, then we’ll need publicly protected equality spaces again.

  16. Just so long as they don’t talk about Laura Ingalls Wilder!

    1. She has been moved into the “white supremacy column, so any book clubs reading the work of that 19th century Midwestern fascist should be on the exclusion list for sure.

      1. The members of such book clubs are suspect as well, also anyone they follow on Twitter, or are friends with on Facebook…it’s white supremacy all the way down!

  17. To the pro-life crowd, a pro-choice group is a violent hate group, and vice-versa. To a far-Right Republican, Democrats are a hate group, and the far-Left holds similar views of Republicans. So who defines hate? I guarantee you that no matter what you say or believe, someone somewhere considers it hateful.

    Taking away someone’s rights because you disagree with them means it won’t be long before someone takes away yours. Either we all have rights, or no one does.

    1. Very true, but as I commented above, “When you are irrevocably convinced of your moral superiority, why would it ever occur to you that you might be on the wrong end of the autocracy?” Social media certainly plays a big part in this, by providing a readily available but not less strictured echo chamber.

      1. The funny thing about it is that it doesn’t even take conservatives taking over for liberals to rue the day they endorse this stuff. What happens is they immediately kick out everyone who is not liberals but then needing and enemy, start making the rules more and more strict until finally, everyone becomes a “hate group”. They always think being a loyal member of the party will save them. It never does.

        1. Any political group that cannot tolerate heterodoxy will eventually eat their own.

        2. I’m pretty sure they’re all confident they’ll get a lakeside dacha in the Urals and a beautiful young “service girl” for their loyalty. First one to mention that they’re not actually IN Russia and BAM! straight to the non-gulag.

  18. The American Library Association has been in the news a lot lately. I wonder what it is that’s making them thrash about these days.

    1. Public libraries are obsolete. Yeah, go ahead and hate on me for that, but it’s true. They were very useful in a day when books and book distribution were scarce commodities, but we live in a digital age now when entire virtual libraries are instantly available on your phone.

      No, it’s not necessarily free, but there are cheaper ways to deal with that problem than building massive edifices to local government.

      p.s. As a kid my hometown’s wonderful Carnegie funded library building was torn down to make way for a brutalist architectural paeon to government. So there was about two years in my formative years where the library was located in an old main street storefront. So it never really got jammed into my brain that public libraries required edifices to operate, that simply having shelves with books was sufficient.

  19. Wait, there are more tweets than there is article.

    1. Yeah, you can always find some random idiot saying stuff on the Internet. I mean, present company excepted, you guys aren’t random.

      1. I will say this, Twitter has been a miracle elixir for the agoraphobic journalist.

        1. Its sad that twitter has become the medias barometer of public opinion.
          But copy>paste>cocktail is easier than think>write>cocktail.

          And they wonder why journalism is dying?

          1. A compound error, combining their own laziness (a great boon for newspersons!) with the conflated misconceptions that a) Twitter is a single thing and b) Twitter is a (or evenTHE) significant indicator of public opinion. I stop reading anything as soon as it includes “Twitter reacted swiftly” or “Twitter was outraged, and lashed out.” or “Twitters’ eyelids lowered and it raised its hands to run them through its luxuriant hair, in the process letting the sheer robe fall open…”

            (okay, well I suppose there are some circumstances)

    2. My HyR experience has vastly improved since I added the “twitterwidget” tag to my Stylish blocklist a few days ago. That shit was getting out of hand.

    3. You don’t consider twits a reliable source?

  20. The only hate group I know is the Democratic party.
    They are racist and sexist, and truly hate Trump.
    They also refuse to accept the results of the 2016 Federal election, so they qualify as terrorists.
    But they never go to a library, so I guess it does not matter.

    1. GitMo is still open…….

  21. When white supremacists are given a space in your library, you signal that every group/person they target is not welcome

    But, this guy would probably be perfectly happy if his local library allowed Nation of Islam to hold meetings there. What an idiot!

    1. Hell, he’d be perfectly happy if Feminists for ISIS met there. Young Republicans? Not so much.

  22. “SAN FRANCISCO : Man-Boy Meetings Provoke Protests

    Meetings of the North American Man-Boy Love Assn. at a city library are being protested after news reports that the group had gathered there under close monitoring for two years. About 60 people turned out at the Potrero Hill branch library to demand that NAMBLA be ousted. In the past five years, about a dozen people associated with NAMBLA have been arrested on child molesting charges, according to San Francisco Police Inspector Tom Eisenman. “We can’t really attack the organization NAMBLA because the organization isn’t molesting children, it’s the individuals,” Eisenman said. But librarian Marcia Schneider said: “We may think that they are despicable in terms . . . of the stands they are taking. However, they do have the right to use our meeting room as a First Amendment issue. It’s a public open space.”

    This was 1992, and some of the foot-work around the issue would have made Fred Astaire proud.

    1. Let them have their meetings. As the public library is just that, public, there is no legal expectation of privacy. So people should quietly kibbutz their meetings and record them in video. Making sure to clearly get video footage of all the attendees. Then post the videos on YouTube.

      1. quietly kibbutz their meetings and record them in video. Making sure to clearly get video footage of all the attendees.

        That would probably be done much more effectively if we put a government agency in charge of this donchathink?

  23. Free speech: It’s not dead yet! Hush up! Bonk!

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