Are KKK flyers threatening violence hate speech or free speech?
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It was on Sunday that dozens of KKK flyers were found in several East Arlington neighborhoods.
The flyers suggested violence against Jewish people and African-Americans.
The question is: Are the pamphlets that suggest violence free speech or hate speech?
John Rando's wife found the racist KKK pamphlets on Sunday. They depict Jewish people as caricatures, associating them with the devil and say the only "good Jew" is the one with a bullet hole through his head.
They pamphlets also say African-Americans aren't equal to whites and insinuate shooting them and beating them with bats for looking at white women.
"There are first amendment protections on bad speech including speech that's uncomfortable," Adrienne Lerner, Director of Pre-Law at the University of North Florida, said.
In Lerner's mind, there's no doubt this is bad speech; it's hateful, targeted and racist. While hate speech like what's contained in these pamphlets is protected, the question is; is suggesting violence against African Americans protected?
While Lerner doesn't want to go as far as saying 'yes it's protected,' she notes that the U.S. Supreme Court has made it clear that for speech to not be protected, there needs to be the threat of "imminent lawless action," not just the possibility of lawless action.
An example of imminent lawless action would be inciting a riot from a podium.
"The U.S. Supreme Court has said that it has to be imminent lawless action right not the possibility of or that happening sometime later and that's a hard standard for most people," Lerner said.
So it's not clear-cut. Things like the pamphlets, along with harassment on social media, are at least two things that still need to be addressed in the near future, Lerner said.
"I think that this is certainly an area of the law that we will see the courts grapple with more," she said.