Howard Dean: "The U.S. Has The Most Far-Reaching Protections On Speech In The World"


Former DNC chairman Howard Dean appeared on MSNBC on Monday to defend a tweet he posted over the weekend declaring that Ann Coulter's 'Free Speech' Is Not Covered By The First Amendment. Coulter had planned to speak at UC Berkeley before she was cancelled citing 'security concerns.'

"That's actually true," Dean said about his tweet, which said: "Hate speech is not protected by the First Amendment."

"One, the U.S. has the most far-reaching protections on speech on any country in the world," Dean said. "Two, it is not absolute. Three, there are three Supreme Court cases you need to know about. The most recent is a John Roberts opinion that says [the Westboro Baptist Church] had the right to picket with offensive signs at military funerals. Two, in 2002 there was a Supreme Court that said that cross-burning was illegal, because it could incite violence. And three, [Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire] 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 can not use on television to describe Jews, blacks, gays, Muslims, immigrants, and Hispanics. I think there is a case to be made that that invokes the Chaplinsky definition which is 'fighting words,' likely to incite violence, and I think Berkeley is within its rights with their decision that it puts their campus in danger if they have her there," Dean said.

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