Share to Google Classroom

Should hate speech be protected by the First Amendment?

One of the most important parts of the U.S. Constitution is the First Amendment, which includes freedom of speech and religion, freedom of the press, and the right to assemble. People often refer to their right to free speech when they talk about bullying and other sensitive topics, but just how much speech does the First Amendment protect?


Free Speech Or Hate Speech: When Does Online Hate Speech Become A Real Threat?

Additional resources to think about

The Thin Line Between Hate Speech And Real Threat
One of the biggest challenges for the police is distinguishing between protected free speech and speech that threatens and endangers people. In this report, journalists explore that distinction in the case of an attack on a Sikh temple.

Protesting Funerals: The First Amendment Put to the Test
Is all free speech protected? In this episode of Constitution USA, Peter Segal puts the First Amendment to the test.

Free Speech Or A Threat? Vermont Supreme Court Decision Highlights Continuing Tension
This VPR clip hears from ACLU and Black Lives Matter representatives react to the Vermont Supreme Court’s decision to overturn
charges against a man who posted KKK flyers.


Who created this message?

  • What kind of “text” is it?
  • How similar or different is it to others of the same genre?
  • What are the various elements (building blocks) that make up the whole?


What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?

  • What do you notice (about the way the message is constructed)? 
  • What’s the emotional appeal?
  • What makes it seem “real?”
  • What's the emotional appeal? Persuasive devices used?

How might different people understand this message differently from me?

  • How many other interpretations could there be?
  • How could we hear about them?
  • How can you explain the different responses?

What lifestyles, values, and points of view are represented in, or omitted from, this message?

  • What type of person is the reader/watcher/listener invited to identify with?
  • What ideas or perspectives are left out?
  • How would you find what’s missing?
  • What judgments or statements are made about how we treat other people?


Why is this message being sent?

  • What's being sold in this message? What's being told? 
  • Who is served by or  benefits from the message
    – the public?
    – private interests?
    – individuals?
    – institutions?

5 Key Questions of Media Literacy used with permission from the Center for Media Literacy.
Copyright 2002-2021, Center for Media Literacy,


Should hate speech be protected by the First Amendment?

How was your Thinkalong experience?

We actively use feedback to provide better resources to students and educators, so please take 1 minute to provide feedback and help us improve.