An anti-immigrant manifesto appeared online minutes before the act of domestic terrorism in El Paso, Texas on Saturday. The hate-filled manifesto was published on 8chan, an online message board infamous for spreading hate speech, and is believed to be authored by Patrick Crusius, the man accused of killing 22 people in El Paso.
Many are saying that President Donald Trump's own anti-immigration rhetoric has incited such acts of violence.
Carol Rose, the executive director of the ACLU Massachusetts, joined Boston Public Radio on Tuesday to discuss the complicated intertwine of freedom of speech and hate speech.
"It's important to defend freedom of speech, but at the same time, it's also equally important that groups and government officials, notably the president, use the power of their words to speak out against hate and against white supremacy and racism," Rose said. "What we have instead is a president right now who is in fact using the bully pulpit to foster hatred, to foster racism, and to promote white supremacy and other forms of bigotry."
While the government does not have the power to censor speech, the law allows companies, organizations and citizens to speak out against hate speech, Rose said.
"The First Amendment says that the government can't come in and decide what is and isn't acceptable speech. Giving the government the ability to decide what speech to censor is really a slippery slope and a dangerous step in the way to go. But that doesn't mean that we can't speak out against it or that there can't be movements to try to ask companies to take [hate speech] down," she said.
Rose warned that Trump's rhetoric has, and will continue to, instigate violence.
"Right now we have a president that's using incredibly dangerous language. It's not that it's a crime or that he's not allowed to do it — it's that it's unwise for him to use words like 'infestations' and 'invasions' and things like that," she said. "That's the kind of stuff that gets people really riled up and leads them to violence."