David Cole writes:
In reality, Governor Slaton acted well within his proper legal authority when he commuted Leo Frank’s death sentence, and SCOTUS acted well within its proper legal authority when it issued a stay of Ed Johnson’s execution. But the mob didn’t care, because the mob—encouraged by local politicians and community leaders—managed to convince itself that its actions were legal and just. And so it is with today’s millennial anti-free-speech lynch mobbers, who storm campuses, set things on fire, make death threats, beat people up, and employ all manner of violence and intimidation to censor opinions and silence opponents. These fanatics have been convinced by leftist professors and politicians that “hate speech” is illegal, and therefore, when it’s allowed on campus, it’s the university that’s violating the law. The mob is only trying to see that the law is respected and enforced; the mob is using force to prevent the commission of a crime. This twisted mindset is the direct result of the misinformation spread by people like Dean.
This is how rights can be lost, even in a nation with a constitution that protects all political speech, no matter how controversial or offensive. If enough people begin to believe that “hate speech” (itself a subjective and vague term) is illegal, it will, in a way, become outlawed, in a de facto sense, by the people themselves, who will come to fear violating a law that doesn’t exist. This is how you bypass the need for anti-speech laws; just convince everyone that we already have them. Keep repeating the mantra “hate speech is not protected speech,” keep purposely confusing political speech with speech that can be regulated (like pornography), and keep telling lies about the meaning and scope of the legal principle of “fighting words.”