March 6, 2014

In her March 4 letter, “No protection for discrimination,” Donna Cleverdon wrote: “[T]he guarantee of freedom of speech does not protect ‘hate speech,’ such as the spraying of swastikas on public buildings.” Ms. Cleverdon confused hate speech with vandalism. Spray-painting a swastika on a building that does not belong to you is just as illegal as spray-painting a peace sign or heart on it. The fact that it’s a swastika is irrelevant.

Conversely, in the United States you can walk around with a swastika on your T-shirt or jacket, and that is perfectly legal. Hate speech is absolutely protected by the First Amendment. In fact, I would argue, it’s why the First Amendment exists. Unpopular speech is typically the kind that most requires protection.

Andy Walko, Springfield

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