Henry Louis Gates, Jr. argues in his article War of Words: Critical Race Theory and the First Amendment that there exists a tension between civil rights and civil liberties with specific emphasis on the freedom of speech and hate speech or freedom from expression. In the description for fighting words and group defamation with the citation of court decisions in 1942 and 1952, Gates explains that fighting words refer to the words used in their very utterances to inflict injury or tend to initiate an immediate breach of peace. He additionally describes group defamation as designed to prohibit public expression that slander a group of people (p. 23). Gates is also keen to highlight that defamations affects the life of the members of the society through reducing their opportunities, demeaning their standing in the community, their self worth, their freedoms of enjoyment as well as their ability to speak and be heard.
In my opinion, Gates’ argument is still relevant in the present moment because both fighting words and group defamation are still witnessed, and achieve similar results in the community. Gates argues that both for and against free speech. In support, he argues that as a fundamental civil right, people should be allowed freedom of speech to express their ideas. On the contrary, and which has formed a basis for several debates, he argues that hate speech should be regulated to protect people from acts of defamation. In the present day, the inclusions and exclusions of the freedom of speech have been greatly debated to include the freedom of the media. Despite the political and racial minorities have been victims of hate speech and need protection. After reading this article, I have realized that freedom of, or from expression is important in any societal setting.
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Gates, Henry. War of Words: Critical Race Theory and the First Amendment. The Negro and the First Amendment (1965).