Legal protections from racial and discriminatory harassment

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On January 23, 2021, Gina Brashear of Lehigh Acres, FL launched a racist verbal attack at two Black men who were working on unloading a truck. She was unprovoked and declared "I can use the word n***** all g***** m************ day." She also said "Listen, when they pass a law that I can't say n*****, please bring it to me in writing." 

This was not the first racist attack and will not be the last, terrifyingly. Racial harassment is not protected by the First Amendment, according to the NCAC (National Coalition Against Censorship).

According to the National Coalition Against Censorship: 

"Harassment is distinct from “hate speech” because it goes beyond mere expression of opinion and targets a particular person for harm. The threshold for speech rising to the level of illegal harassment is generally quite high. Anti-harassment laws often refer to speech directed at a particular person, based on the victim’s race, religion, or other group characteristic, and which has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with, for example, a student’s educational performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment. 

These exceptions to the protections of the First Amendment are very narrow, but they are well established. Civil libertarians and supporters of free expression–including protest, writing and art–can and should support the right to express hateful opinions, but can draw a clear line that no one has a right to incite a riot or to harass another person."

We need to pass a law that will classify racial harassment as one of the existing exceptions to the First Amendment and make it punishable by law. 

There are many complex institutional problems facing social justice advocates today. One of the easiest and most obvious things that can be done to protect Black Americans, as well as people of all ethnicities, religions, and sexuality, is to specify that racial and discriminatory harassment is an exception to the First Amendment. Victims of racial verbal attacks MUST have access to a legal channel so that they may seek justice. Racists and white supremacists must understand that they have lost the right to verbally attack others with racial slurs. 

National Coalition Against Censorship: https://ncac.org/news/when-can-speech-be-punished-a-primer-on-unprotected-incitement-to-violence

Cornell Law School, Legal Information Institute: https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/first_amendment