According to the writer of "Hateful cartoons should be banned" [Letters, May 4], "hate speech and hateful art" should be banned as "crimes against humanity" in a free society. That view is dangerous, abrogates the meaning and intent of the First Amendment and ignores the question of who decides what constitutes hate speech.

Repressive governments or leaders can declare anything that they find offensive as hate speech. Free speech gives us a weapon stronger than arms and stronger than money. The politically correct censorship advocated by the writer, out of fear of violence by Islamists, would allow freedom to dissipate. It's in the fight for the survival of our democratic values that free speech becomes most crucial.

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Americans have the right to discussion in all forms. We can talk, write or draw about religion, morals or ethics, and we must not take on the model of the Islamic world because of threat of violence. To the contrary, that world needs more freedom, we do not need less.

Bernard A. Bilawsky, North Massapequa