There are many, many ways a concerned American could respond to the repulsively racist and nativist "Send her back!" chant at President Donald Trump's rally last night in Greenville, N.C., during which the crowd cheered for the forceful removal from the U.S. of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D–Minn.), a Somali-born American citizen.
Joy Behar of The View, who is in many ways a professional journalist, somehow managed to articulate one of the least informed responses.
The ladies of The View started their show today by unanimously expressing contempt for the behavior at Trump's rally. Then Behar asks, "Why can't he be brought up on charges of hate speech? Why can't he be sued by the ACLU [American Civil Liberties Union] for hate speech? I don't get it. How does he get away with this?"
In the clip, available here at The Hill, you can nearly hear co-host Sunny Hostin start to explain something about hate speech, but then co-host Megan McCain introduces a new clip.
For the benefit of Behar and other Americans asking themselves the same question, here is why Trump cannot be brought up on charges of hate speech:
- "Hate speech" is protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution. Yelling for Omar to go back to Somalia (or to be forcibly sent to Somalia) is gross, but falls under free speech protections as an opinion.
- In the event we did have laws against "hate speech," they'd be enforced by the government, not by the ACLU. Given that Trump runs the branch of government that would enforce such laws, and that he regularly declares the media to be the "enemy of the people," we should be reassured, not upset, that there is no law against "hate speech."
- The ACLU opposes laws against hate speech. In the free speech position paper on their site, the ACLU explains that "we should not give the government the power to decide which opinions are hateful, for history has taught us that government is more apt to use this power to prosecute minorities than to protect them. As one federal judge has put it, tolerating hateful speech is 'the best protection we have against any Nazi-type regime in this country.'"
And an aside to Joe Concha and The Hill: When somebody like Behar says something obviously inaccurate like this, feel free to use your platform and your journalism skills to help her understand how the First Amendment works. After all, it's why you and I have jobs.