ALBANY — After Sunday’s racist massacre, Kathy Hochul blamed social media. The governor, speaking in Buffalo, said companies that own online platforms should do more to monitor their sites and alleged that too many are hotbeds for spreading conspiratorial hate.

On these points, Hochul is probably right.

But she also said this: “I fully understand First Amendment rights. I have no intention of infringing on them. However, hate speech is not protected.”

There the governor is very Wrong.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly and consistently stated that the right to say and publish hateful things is constitutionally protected and that while the government can target speech that explicitly and specifically incites violence, there is no There is no exception to the First Amendment for words that could be considered hurtful, ugly, immoral, unpopular, racist, or sexist.

And that’s not just the opinion of recently elected Conservatives on the ground. Rulings asserting the right to offensive speech have generally been unanimous and consistent over generations, with judges noting that if the right to say something offensive goes away, the whole principle of free speech crumbles.

Here, for example, is Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing in support of a 2017 Supreme Court ruling saying the government cannot act against views deemed hateful: “A law that can be directed against a speech deemed offensive to part of the public can be turned against minority and dissenting opinions to the detriment of all. The First Amendment does not entrust this power to the benevolence of the government.

It should be remembered that Hochul was speaking after a horrific and sickening attack in his hometown. Considering the emotionally overwhelming circumstances and the grief she felt and saw, it is perhaps understandable that she might speak poorly or exaggerate the state’s ability to do something drastic.

But the governor’s office did not correct or contradict his statements about hate speech when I asked about them, leaving the disturbing impression that the governor of New York, a graduate of the law school of the Catholic University continues to have a flawed view of the First Amendment.

More concerning is the Democrat’s suggestion that she plans to take action against online speech.

“The CEOs of these companies need to be held accountable and make sure they’re taking every step humanly possible to be able to monitor this information,” Hochul said during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” adding that the hate speech “is spreading through social media platforms that need to be monitored and shut down the second these words are adopted.”

But again, the state lacks the constitutional ability to “shut down” hate speech, a general term for which there is no real definition. Even if it were possible, the task would be impossible. There are simply too many sites and too many dark corners of the web, many of which are hosted far beyond our state and national borders.

That doesn’t mean social media companies shouldn’t eliminate hateful and racist speech from their platforms. (They should.) It also doesn’t mean the rest of us shouldn’t condemn and fight ugly speech when we see it. (We should.)

And Hochul has every right to cajole social media companies to raise their standards. She has her own free speech platform and she shouldn’t be afraid to use it.

But it’s not the job of the governor of New York — or any other government official — to decide what’s acceptable for the rest of us to read and hear. This is too subjective a task, and the temptation to use such power for political purposes would be too great.

There is a reason, after all, the First Amendment was put on paper. This democratic thing that we have cannot function without it.

The state could take other steps to prevent future mass shootings. The suspected Buffalo killer, after all, openly stated that a murder-suicide was part of his life plans, a statement that presumably should have led to significant intervention by mental health authorities and law enforcement.

Somehow, however, Payton Gendron fell through the cracks — cracks that Hochul moved to close on Wednesday with executive orders that, among other measures, ordered state police to lay down extreme risk protection orders and compelled state agencies to combat domestic terrorism.

While Hochul also asked Attorney General Letitia James to investigate social media’s role in the Buffalo shooting, her executive orders seemed to avoid directly targeting the speech — perhaps a tacit admission that, rhetoric aside, the governor understands his constitutional limitations. Let’s hope so.

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