The “Team Lead” for the US Agency for Global Media on the Biden transition team apparently isn’t too fond of the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution and has argued that America needs a “hate speech law.”
In a controversial op-ed released last year and titled “Why America Needs a Hate Speech Law,” Richard Stengel argued that Russia allegedly interfering in the 2016 presidential election and the burning of the Quran were examples of how the First Amendment protected speech too much. Stengel claimed, “All speech is not equal, and where truth cannot drive out lies, we must add new guardrails. I’m all for protecting ‘thought that we hate,’ but not speech that incites hate. It undermines the very values of a fair marketplace of ideas that the First Amendment is designed to protect.”
Stengel also wrote about the First Amendment being flawed, saying “Yes, the First Amendment protects the ‘thought that we hate,’ but it should not protect hateful speech that can cause violence by one group against another. In an age when everyone has a megaphone, that seems like a design flaw.”
The op-ed was widely criticized by both sides of the political aisle and both left- and right-leaning journalists slammed the idea of a hate speech law. Critics quickly pointed to the flaw in Stengel’s thinking, asking who would ultimately be the one deciding what should be considered hate speech? They also pointed out that a hate speech law would basically just give the government and politicians license to shut down any ideas or groups they didn’t agree with.
Stengel is a former editor of Time magazine and has also spent time as an analyst for MSNBC.