Interviewer: Your take, and here’s the tweet from you, “Hate speech is not protected by the First Amendment.” Okay, talk about this, explain this.
Dean: That’s actually true. … First of all, okay, several things to think about. One, the United States has the most far-reaching protections on speech of any country in the world. Two, it’s not absolute. Three, there are three Supreme Court cases that you need to know about. One, the most recent, is a John Roberts opinion that said, the Phelps people, that church out in Kansas, had the right to picket horrible, offensive with signs at military funerals.
Two, in 2002, … the Supreme Court said cross burning was illegal because it could incite violence.
And three, … the Chaplinsky case in 1942 said that speech was not permitted if it included fighting words that were likely to incite violence.
So this is not a clear-cut carrying on the way the Right does. The Right loves to be able to say anything they like, no matter how offensive it is. Well, Ann Coulter has used words that you cannot use on television to describe Jews, blacks, gays, Muslims, immigrants and Hispanics. I think there’s a case to be made that that invokes the Chaplinsky decision, which is “fighting words,” likely to incite violence. And I think Berkeley is within its rights to make the decision that it puts their campus in danger if they have her there. I’ll be the first to admit it’s a close call.