Attorney Gen. Loretta Lynch on Monday backtracked on a suggestion she made last week that her Justice Department would look into prosecuting people who engage in anti-Muslim hate speech.
"Of course, we prosecute deeds and not words," Lynch said during a press conference, Politico reports
Lynch was criticized by free speech advocates after saying to a Muslim Advocates Dinner in Arlington, Va. on Thursday, "Now obviously this is a country that is based on free speech, but when it edges towards violence, when we see the potential for someone lifting that mantle of anti-Muslim rhetoric or, as we saw after 9/11, violence against individuals… when we see that, we will take action."
The First Amendment protects speech even if it is hateful, though it does not protect speech that is intended to spur people to violence.
"We always have a concern when we see the rhetoric rising against any particular group in America, that it might inspire others to violent action — and that violent action is what we would have to deal with," Lynch said on Monday.
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