"Hate speech is not protected by the first amendment," so said Howard Dean in a tweet posted Thursday night.
That, from a former governor, DNC chairman, and presidential candidate, is a baffling statement. Dean is patently incorrect and has not since corrected his claim. It is the type of misinformed legal analysis one might expect to hear during a high school debate tournament, or on Salon.com, but not from a prominent politician with a political science degree from Yale.
The Washington Post's Eugene Volokh, a UCLA law professor, debunked this misconception about the law, writing in 2015, "there is no hate speech exception to the First Amendment. Hateful ideas (whatever exactly that might mean) are just as protected under the First Amendment as other ideas."
"To be sure, there are some kinds of speech that are unprotected by the First Amendment," Volokh clarified, "But those narrow exceptions have nothing to do with 'hate speech' in any conventionally used sense of the term."
"One is as free to condemn Islam — or Muslims, or Jews, or blacks, or whites, or illegal aliens, or native-born citizens — as one is to condemn capitalism or Socialism or Democrats or Republicans," he noted.
Dean's statement came in response to a tweet resurfacing banned Berkeley-lecturer Ann Coulter's old quip that her "only regret" with Timothy McVeigh is that he did not go to the New York Times building. It serves as a reminder that liberals genuinely wish to sanitize public colleges of disagreeable speech.
They do not want to engage it, or teach students to rebut it, they want to silence it. And, like Dean, many are relying on distorted conceptions of our rights to do so.
So long as we're discussing exceptions to the First Amendment, maybe we should ban screaming on the campaign trail.
Emily Jashinsky is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.