Home Uncategorised “Where do you draw the line between free speech and hate speech?

“Where do you draw the line between free speech and hate speech?

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If free speech is what we want, then is it all right if my speech would hurt a few people’s feelz? If I’m restrained from expressing my opinion, what happened to my freedom of speech?”Determining what is “hate speech” depends entirely on what values the dominant societal ideology approves of. To a “progressive” society, “Homosexuality is sinful” might be hate speech, but to a strongly religious society, “Faith in God is irrational” might be hate speech.
Even if you only defined “hate speech” to include outright slurs, that would only delay the problem, not eliminate it—because polite terms become considered as slurs when their target group gets more sensitive to them (for example, “Negro” used to be a completely neutral term for a black person, but now it’s considered a milder version of “the N-word”, and “cripple” used to be an entirely neutral term for someone without full use of his or her legs, but now it’s considered an “ableist” slur).
The point is that no matter how you phrase it, eventually any “hate speech” restriction will morph into a rule that socially unpopular views cannot be expressed—and what is “socially unpopular” might shift dramatically. A law intended to prohibit racist statements could one day be used to prosecute people for “disparaging” speech against the “obvious truth” that whites are superior. A law intended to prohibit homophobic slurs could one day be used to prosecute a gay person for “offensively and outrageously” disparaging the theology of the Baptists.
Free speech means nothing at all unless it is broad enough to encompass speech that causes offense, because speech which doesn’t cause offense doesn’t need protecting (because no one is trying to restrict it).
There is no free speech without the freedom to be controversial or offensive. If someone didn’t want to shut a speaker up there would be no need to protect the speaker’s speech.

But as Stephen Fry said:
“ It’s now very common to hear people say,
“I’m rather offended by that.” As if that gives them certain rights.
It’s actually nothing more… than a whine.
“I find that offensive.” …
It has no meaning;
it has no purpose;
it has no reason to be respected as a phrase.
“I am offended by that.”
Well, so fucking what? “

“Hate speech” is free speech.

Hate speech is not that “some person is hurt by”. Today it is that is said by white straight man and disliked by somebody else who pretends to be offended. Else, it is not a hate speech. For example, if you are a Muslim and demand to behead those who offend Islam, it is not considered a hate speech in England. The laws against “hate speech” is very selective thing. In Mainstream Media perception it is believed that only people who can commit this thought crime are whites. They can’t define it, but will make you know when they see it.
The line between free speech and hate speech is drawn geographically. Free speech is American concept while hate speech is mostly European and Canadian one.
If you restrained from an expression of an opinion, your freedom of speech is lost like in EU and Canada. The most interesting thing about “hate speech” laws in Canada is that Truth is not a defence. This is most important thing you have to know about hate speech. What does it mean? That is easy. The laws against hate speech defend those who are offended by truth.

There is no practical way to implement “hate speech” laws. Everyone has a different view of what constitutes hate speech. To most, it is any speech that speaks ill of one’s own views.Mocking other people is not right. But neither is trying to make laws against the right for rude people to be rude.
If you Duckduckgo “hate speech” the first definition given is “Hate speech is speech that offends, threatens, or insults groups, based on race, colour, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, or other traits.” That definition seems to come from the American Bar Association. It’s the perfect definition for this question because it literally means nothing. What does it mean for speech to “offend” some one? How offended do they have to be? What does that offense need to be based on if anything? What exactly is encompassed by “other traits”? Literally any other trait? Political party, profession, neighbourhood, anything? If I mock soccer players for wearing silly shorts am I engaging in hate speech? Should I be afraid to criticise racists, abusive spouses, or corrupt politicians because I might hurt their feelings?

Freedom of speech is not freedom of speech at all if it does not include the right to criticise an idea.

9 COMMENTS

  1. I agree with you about hate speech. However, I think there is a big difference online or in print than verbal abuse almost intended to provoke a fight. For example, if I said hey raghead your prophet is a murdering paedophile I believe that should be an offence. I suspect it is probable disorderly behaviour as was the case with the man now charged in Chch. If so, there is no need for any hate speech law like Little is pushing.

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  2. Well said. However, if I exhort people to rise up and start killing people for some reason, I must be prepared to accept that assuming people do rise up and start killing, that I may be an accessory to the crime, as they may not have risen up and killed until I put the thought into their heads. And this is where it gets tricky. I don’t care if people are offended, but I might care if people are killed as a result of free speech. Hate speech, as a concept, is meaningless. Speech that encourages criminal action, on the other hand, is not.

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    • I think the thing your talking about here being “incitement” is already illegal under current legislation and is generally accepted as a reasonable limit to free speech i.e if you go and encourage someone else to kill another person you can be held legally accountable as well.

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    • Surely encouraging violence, or threatening to kill, is already punishable under some existing law? Sort of like the knee-jerk reaction to create ever more laws for guns when murder was certainly illegal! Restriction has to be resisted by all of us- not because i support extremist views, but from what i hear the UK and EU are like these days they have THOUGHT police now! We don’t want do ruin NZ with that PC nonsense. That’s where the Col Govt is going to take “inspiration ” from. We need them out of Parliament.

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