Grade 12

Should Online Hate Speech Be Censored?

Should online hate speech be censored?

Hate speech can be both distasteful and offensive, but in many countries it isn't illegal -- it's protected as free speech. But should it be? Many people worry that tolerance of hate speech, especially online, has led to acts of actual violence and hate crimes. But if hate speech is banned, who gets to decide what qualifies or doesn't qualify? Pose these questions for students, and help them think through the importance of both respect for others and free speech.

Students will be able to:
  • Explain whether hate speech is protected under the "freedom of speech" clause of the First Amendment.
  • Identify the pros and cons of censoring online hate speech.
  • Take a position on whether they think online hate speech should be protected or censored, and support it with compelling reasons.
Key Vocabulary: censorship  ·  freedom of speech  ·  hate speech  ·  internet speech
when an authority (such as a person, government, organization, or religion) cuts out or suppresses ideas or speech
freedom of speech:
the right to state one's opinions and ideas without being stopped or punished
hate speech:
making cruel, hostile, or negative statements about someone based on their race, religion, national origin, ability, age, gender, or sexual orientation
internet speech:
a person's opinions, ideas or statements that are posted online through websites, social media posts, or other forms of digital media
Cyberbullying, Digital Drama & Hate Speech
This lesson meets standards for CASELAASLand ISTESee standards

Lesson Plan

55 mins.

What You'll Need

Select resources below, then open in English or Spanish. Unlock free resources

Classroom resources

  • Lesson Slides
  • Student Handout: Free to Hate? Student Version Teacher Version
  • Lesson Quiz Google Form Answer Key

Take-home resources