The New York City Commission on Human Rights just outlawed the use of the term “illegal alien”. The Commission will fine you $250,000 if you use the term.
Here’s how their Guidance document justifies the new rule: “‘Alien’ — used in many laws to refer to a ‘noncitizen’ person — is a term that may carry negative connotations and dehumanize immigrants, marking them as ‘other’..... The use of certain language, including ‘illegal alien’ and ‘illegals,’ with the intent to demean, humiliate, or offend a person or persons constitutes discrimination.”
As the Commission admits, the term “illegal alien” is used in many laws. It appears in six places in the U.S. Code. (See here and here.) I bet you never knew your Congress was a bunch of haters. They wrote the term into law six times. They just couldn’t help themselves.
I jest, but let’s play along and make-believe the term “illegal alien” really is hate speech. So what? Hate speech is protected by the First Amendment. You can say all the hateful things you want. The Supreme Court has been very clear - you have the right to say hateful things, no matter how much they offend people. Remember the Westboro Baptist Church that showed up at funerals picketing against homosexuality? Their speech was hateful, but it was protected. Remember the Slants trademark case where an Asian-American rock band was allowed to get a U.S. trademark even though ‘slants’ is a derogatory term that offends people? Protected.
In the Slants case, Justice Alito wrote for the Court:
The New York City Commission has a history of running roughshod over the First Amendment. It previously mandated the use of preferred gender pronouns despite the obvious constitutional problems of forcing people to use terms contrary to their beliefs and in support of a government-mandated ideology.
The Commission is out of control. They admit the term “illegal alien” is used in law, but they don’t care. They know their new rule is unconstitutional but damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead! You just have to fall in line or they’ll crack your head with a $250,000 fine.
Here’s what needs to happen. Somebody in New York needs to challenge this travesty. When the Commission sues them, they need to fire back just as hard as they possibly can. Counter-sue the government officials involved personally for acting ultra vires - beyond the law. Sue them for damages for denying people their civil rights. And go after the Commission’s lawyers’ law licenses - haul them up on ethics charges for filing baseless claims to enforce a directive they know is completely unconstitutional.
Either this, or more civil rights commissions will issue more speech codes and we will watch our freedoms slip away.