There is nothing democratically brave about protecting pleasant speech or banning unpopular speech; such actions flow naturally from a policy standpoint. Rather, “[i]t is unpopular speech, distasteful speech, that most requires…protection,” renowned First Amendment attorney Floyd Abrams has said. We draw far and wide the borders of permissible speech, and in the process we have to put up with a few crackpots. But we need not waste time criminalizing crackpot ideas. As John Milton once asked: “Let [truth] and falsehood grapple; who ever knew truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter?”

Justin D. Martin is a journalism professor at Northwestern University in Qatar. Follow him on Twitter: @Justin_D_Martin