The primary distinction between hate speech and making terroristic threats lies in the nature and potential consequences of the two types of speech.

Hate speech, while offensive and often contributing to a climate of discrimination and hostility, is generally considered to be protected under the First Amendment in the United States, unless it incites imminent lawless action or is likely to produce such action (Brandenburg v. Ohio, 1969). It’s a form of expression that targets individuals or groups based on their race, religion, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, or other characteristics, and can cause psychological harm and contribute to a culture of fear or exclusion.

Terroristic threats, on the other hand, are not protected under the First Amendment. They involve direct threats of violence or harm to individuals or groups, often with the intent to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, influence the policy of a government, or affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping (see U.S. Code Title 18, Section 2331). Such threats can lead to criminal charges, as they are considered a form of criminal behavior rather than a form of speech or expression.