In a welcome victory for free speech rights, Federal Judge Andrew Carter Jr. issued a preliminary injunction against New York’s new “Hateful Conduct Law,” finding it to be just the latest of a series of unconstitutional state laws passed in Albany.
The law bars “hateful conduct” on social media, defined as efforts “to vilify, humiliate, or incite violence against a group or a class of persons on the basis of race, color, religion, ethnicity, national origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.” It also requires social media platforms to have a mechanism for dealing with such conduct.
The judge pointed out that even the state admitted it might have trouble withstanding a challenge. He noted that words like “vilify” and “humiliate” are vague and open to interpretation, creating the opportunity for widespread censorship, and that free speech protects even the right to express thoughts that other people might find hateful. In short, the best guardian against hate speech isn’t censorship, it’s raising your kids right so they don’t go around hating other people.
Law Prof. Jonathan Turley has a lot more on this law and the case at the link above, along with the depressing news that, as with rulings that New York gun laws are unconstitutional, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s immediate response was to vow to find some way to get around the First Amendment and try again. Also depressing: Turley’s observation that Democrats in places like New York do this over and over because they know that no matter how many times they trample on the Constitution, they will pay no political price for it. It will likely even make them more popular with people who cheer politicians for trying to take away their own constitutional rights.