by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee has introduced a bill aimed at fighting “white supremacy” by attaching criminal charges to certain forms of hate speech.
The Democratic congresswoman introduced the Leading Against White Supremacy Act of 2023, which aims “to prevent and prosecute white supremacy inspired hate crime and conspiracy to commit white supremacy inspired hate crime.”
The conspiracy addition means people who use hate speech online could face criminal charges under the legislation even if they don’t act on their threats.
That includes a person who publishes “material advancing white supremacy, white supremacist ideology, antagonism based on ‘replacement theory,’ or hate speech that vilifies or is otherwise directed against any non-white person or group.”
The text of the bill specifically lists social media platforms as one area where hate speech could result in criminal consequences — if that hate speech motivates another person to go out and commit a racist crime against others.
“Mass shootings and other hate crimes motivated by white supremacy have been increasing in frequency and intensity,” the bill states. “These heinous and virulent crimes are inspired by conspiracy theories, blatant bigotry and mythical falsehoods such as ‘replacement theory.’ All instances must be prevented and severe criminal penalties must be applied to their perpetrators.”
In the most recent hate-fueled mass shooting, a 19-year-old white supremacist gunned down 10 people inside a Buffalo supermarket in a predominantly black neighborhood which he targeted for its demographics.
Before the May massacre, the teen posted a racist manifesto online planning the attack because he cared “for the future of the white race,” prosecutors said.
He pleaded guilty to the murders in November.
It’s unlikely Jackson Lee’s legislation will pass a Republican-controlled chamber.