Joy Behar: Why can't Trump be brought up on charges of hate speech for last night's rally?

Actual quote: “Why can’t he be sued by the ACLU for hate speech? I don’t get it.”

Must everything be so stupid all the time?

Why can’t it be stupid only 90 percent of the time?

As you likely know and Joy clearly does not, there’s no such thing as “hate speech” in American law. There is in Europe, and of course there are laws against hate crimes here. But, thank god, our lousy government hasn’t yet gotten around to trying to criminalize hateful words. I’m not sure how that would have worked for last night’s rally even if it did. Trump didn’t try to stop the “send her back” chant — and why would he, since it was a logical progression from his love-it-or-leave-it tweets about the Squad last weekend? — but he never joined in. Maybe he will at the next rally.

What she’s getting at here, I think, is incitement, not “hate speech.” You can be prosecuted for inciting a crowd but only in the narrowest circumstances, if you’re trying to cause violence and if violence is likely to result *imminently.* God only knows what Trump’s intentions are with the “go back where you came from” talk but there was no risk of imminent violence against Ilhan Omar from the crowd. Even the chant, as ugly as it was, wasn’t violent. They wanted her deported, not harmed. Again, we’ll see how that develops at the next rally.

Don’t be too hard on ol’ Joy, though. A majority of her party (and a large minority of Republicans) thinks criminalizing hate speech is a swell idea. You can see why she might be confused. And although it may seem absurd to imagine the ACLU suing someone for hate speech rather than defending them from such a lawsuit on First Amendment grounds, it’s less absurd than it used to be now that the organization has gone fully woke.

Here’s a longer clip from today’s show on the rally, with Meghan McCain making the point that attacking an obnoxious pol like Omar on obnoxious love-it-or-leave-it grounds is stupid strategically since it divides righties and draws attention away from her radicalism and onto Trump’s demagoguery. Whoopi also notes at one point, correctly, that an average person who told a colleague at work to “go back where you came from” might be in legal trouble; that’s textbook unlawful workplace harassment according to the EEOC handbook. If the Mueller investigation taught us anything, though, it’s that the rules are different for presidents. They can’t be indicted for obstruction of justice. And, I guess, they can tell you with impunity to go back where you came from, even if where you came from is the same American city he did.