Originally a comment by quixote on Hey the chant was on a school trip, so obviously no biggy.
Bigotry is harmful. Bigoted drunken chants are no exception. Bigotry uses speech to hurt, not to express a train of reasoning. It’s weaponized speech, and as such it stops free speech. It is the antithesis of free speech. The clearest example is not in racist speech but in gendered mobs aimed at women on the web, which is nastily effective at both hurting and silencing women while expressing no thoughts at all. It’s just plain old hatred and plain old hate speech.
This concept seems to be difficult mainly for some white males who are almost never the targets of weaponized speech.
To give an example of ideas that could be considered racist that are not weaponized, researchers (this was many years ago) wanted to study whether blacks were more violent than whites. They almost got shut down for racism, but ultimately managed to do an acceptable controlled study. (The short answer is no. Blacks as a group were actually slightly less violent than whites matched for age, gender, and income.) The difference was on the order of 13% vs 15% or something like that.
Of course, the great gaping chasm of difference was between males and females. 85% of violent attacks were committed by men, a little bit over 5% were not-directly-provoked attacks by women, and 10% were violence by women in response to attacks by men. I believe the numbers are still very similar.
And the fact that this vast difference was not being studied, while the piddling non-difference between races was studied woke up the sociology community to the fact that, yes, it really was a racist question. But my point is that you do have to ask the obnoxious question to see the answer. That kind of speech is and should be protected. There is an idea behind it. That is different from abuse and hate speech.
If we — meaning people like I’m-all-right-Jack Volokh — don’t wake up to the difference between abuse and speech, there’s not going to be any free speech for anyone except the Volokhs. Maybe that’s why he’s okay with it.