In addressing the question, reader Alycee seems to draw a line between free speech and speech that incites violence—a line that’s difficult to determine sometimes:
At some point we have to face up to how our 1st Amendment protections of hate speech undermine the spirit and purposes of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection clause and, in so doing, undercut what we mean—or should mean—by a “free society.” Trump’s campaign brings this problem into sharp relief, and I shudder to think how he’ll translate, as POTUS, his hate speech into substantive policies.
Having said that: my take here is that Jonathan Chait’s analysis [excerpted earlier] is wildly off the mark. It is not so much the “morality of a tactic” that is at issue. What is at issue is the morality of the speaker against whom the tactic is employed as well as the morality of those who employ the tactic. Ultimately, the tactic is given meaning by those who use it.
Thus, in 2008 Barack Obama was calling for hope, not hate. In not one of his speeches speech did he denigrate a broad swath of the American public. He never characterized immigrants as rapists, murderers, thieves, and terrorists. [CB note: Nor did Obama denigrate the white working class—and even his Bittergate comment, distorted by his opponents, wasn’t said on the stump.] He did not yearn for the good old days when “we” would use thuggish, brute force to deal with dissenters. He did not promise to uproot a million people and ship them off to another land. He never embraced, however subtly, the support of an organization whose history includes such heinous acts as lynching ...