Free speech is essential to a free society, protecting diverse speakers and opinions. At the same time, our commitment to robust protection for speech is strained by legitimate concerns about hate speech and “fake news.”
In considering proposals to restrict controversial speech, two questions arise: Who decides what speech deserves protection, and where to draw the line? Congress and federal officials once targeted alleged communists and civil rights activists in the name of suppressing “dangerous” speech. Today, the decision-makers might be government officials who would target critics in the media and public.
History counsels caution before compromising fundamental liberties.