Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., sent shockwaves on social media on Wednesday, during a Senate committee hearing, for claiming that if you “espouse hate,” you may not have First Amendment protections.
Cardin brought up First Amendment protections during closing statements on ways to regulate speech on the internet through both the private sector and the government.
“It is incredibly valuable part of our fabric and can be used for good, and we know that it can be used for bad. I admire your desire for the private sector to do what’s right. We do hope that’s the case, but I do think there’s a role for government consistent with our First Amendment. For us establishing parameters, if you espouse hate, if you espouse violence, you’re not protected under the First Amendment,” Cardin said.
He added, “I think we can be more aggressive in the way that we handle that type of use of the internet. We know that Europe has done things, I think we have to learn things from each other. I hope we can figure out the strategy that we need everybody united on it.”
Cardin’s comments saw intense backlash for calling for limitations to speech based on “espousing hate.”
Independent journalist Glenn Greenwald wrote, “Everything that @SenatorCardin says here about the First Amendment is a demonstrable lie. But this shouldn’t be surprising since a core plank of the Dem Party – not an ancillary one but a core – is state greater censorship of online political speech.”
“Incorrect,” National Review journalist Claude Thompson responded.
“Well, it’s a good thing we can all agree on what ‘espousing hate’ and ‘espousing violence’ look like!” Pluribus editor Jeryl Bier joked.
Attorney Casey Mattox tweeted, “The First Amendment doesn’t protect political misinformation online. Senator Cardin should be arrested for violating the Lanham Act’s prohibition on RICOs. (same energy)”
“35-year veteran of the United States Congress,” Mediaite journalist Isaac Schorr remarked.
After facing criticism, Cardin defended his comments on Twitter on Thursday.
“For those interested, here is a longer version of the video referencing hate speech from our recent hearing. Hate speech is protected under the #FirstAmendment, unless it incites violence. #context,” Cardin tweeted.
He also reposted a letter exposing on his views of hate speech from Dec. 17.
“But what about the First Amendment? Although the First Amendment protects even hateful speech, if that speech motivates someone to commit a crime, engage in violence, or take action that infringes on someone else’s right, that speech is not protected under the First Amendment and there must be accountability,” Cardin wrote.