Just Merveilleux

Life at № 42

Hate Speech vs. Free Speech

After a discussion this week with an American blogger regarding free speech, I decided to do a little research. Apparently the US is the only developed nation which does not have laws protecting its citizens or groups of citizens from hate speech. To me, it’s a mystifying notion.

If you want to leave a comment on the internet on any French site, you get a little warning. Here’s Yahoo’s:

warning

Meaning: Any comment contrary to current regulations (notably all comments of racist, anti semitic or defamatory character) may lead to your account being terminated. 

When appropriate, certain comments you post may also result in judicial prosecution. 

The American model of absolute free speech is incredibly outdated- not to mention irresponsible. A civilized society is one in which our freedoms are balanced with those of our fellow citizens. To be allowed to say anything, no matter its veracity, is incredibly dangerous and only actually benefits people who want to defame, and who know they’re slandering.

If you look up cases of people tried in Europe for hate speech, there’s a very clear pattern. And the names are no surprise. DieudonnéLe Pen, the Imam who advocated wife-beating, Christine Boutin, the deranged twitter troll who advocated killing Jews, Muslims, Christians, Prostitutes and just about anyone who crossed his path. The pattern is, of course, that all of these people are using their speech to advocate (in one form or another) the restriction of rights of fellow citizens. That is in essence taking away another person’s citizenship.

They’re using othering, almost universally based in slander, to propose sociocultural groups which hold different views be punished and/or excluded from society. In the context of the anti-lgbt debate, and hiding behind free speech, various American groups have taken defamation to extraordinary heights.

Because they’ve always known that saying that homosexuality is a “sin” according to their particular religion would have very little impact on society considering the many different views and sects within religion- they’ve felt and feel the need to appeal to a whole range of other tactics to further their political goal: power attained by othering. If you look under the hood, what you’ll find is really quite disturbing. The association of LGBT individuals to pedophilia and child abuse, calling homosexuality an illness that can and should be treated- and claims as wild as (the) “Nazi Party recruited gay men because of their inherent savagery and that gay men largely orchestrated the Holocaust.” That was by Scott Lively, the man largely behind Uganda’s Kill the Gays bill. Needless to say that all these claims are demonstrably false.

And my question is, how can any civilized society put the right to slander above another citizen’s right to dignity? Dignity being one of the core principles of the Enlightenment and human rights as we know them today.

So the next time you hear someone making a free speech complaint, consider this:

hatespeech-W

It’s never in the context of compassion, empathy, respect or dignity. 

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89 comments on “Hate Speech vs. Free Speech

  1. makagutu
    June 5, 2016

    Pink, I don’t know if I understand you, are you suggesting we limit what can be said? And who do we give this power to decide?

    Liked by 1 person

    • We already do in most developed countries. Free speech is balanced by laws restricting hate speech and slander 😀
      Denmark, for example, has a concise policy that goes like this:
      They prohibit hate speech, and define it as publicly making statements by which a group is threatened (trues), insulted (forhånes) or degraded (nedværdiges) due to race, skin colour, national or ethnic origin, faith or sexual orientation.
      Seems reasonable, no?

      Like

      • makagutu
        June 5, 2016

        Seems reasonable. My only concern is the possibility of abuse of these laws by some despot. Maybe a Catholic despot who doesn’t want any criticism of his Church or Erdogan having journalists arrested for any manner of crimes

        Like

      • A despot will be a despot and write his own laws anyway…
        The possibility of abuse always exists, but careful wording can go a very long way to stop that. I still haven’t seen any real life examples of people trying to use these laws to silence genuine debate. Do you know of any?

        Like

      • makagutu
        June 5, 2016

        I don’t know whether this can be classified as an attempt at silencing debate; when religious leaders in this country pressured the AG to suspend registration of atheist society

        Like

      • That’s a very odd case. I don’t quite see how it relates? Unless the atheist group in question was making demonstrably false accusations against another group.

        Like

      • makagutu
        June 5, 2016

        Not at all.
        Yeah I am not sure it relates

        Like

      • darthtimon
        June 5, 2016
  2. silenceofmind
    June 5, 2016

    Hate speech is a mystifying notion to anyone who appreciates liberty and hates tyranny.

    The concept is simple:

    Who determines what is hate speech?

    The State.

    Therefore, any speech critical of the State is hate speech.

    That is the very definition of tyranny.

    And that is what the good Cardinal meant with his comment about the Gay Empire.

    LGBT is simply tyranny.

    97% of the population has to bend over and take it up the nether parts so less than 2% of the population can play house and pretend they are normal.

    And the 97% can’t say a word, otherwise it’s a hate crime.

    Such bullying is itself, hateful psychosis.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Are you commenting without having read the post or my previous comment?
      Hate speech is speech that incites prejudice and/or violence based on a citizen’s identity.

      Liked by 2 people

      • silenceofmind
        June 5, 2016

        Pinky,

        Who determines what is prejudicial or what constitutes a citizen’s identity?

        You guested it, the State.

        So even though “hate speech” laws feel good, they are raw tyranny and the essence of fascism.

        You’d think after bleeding out from two world wars, the people of Europe would have gotten fascism out of their system.

        Like

      • darthtimon
        June 5, 2016

        Silence, why would it not be wrong to commit acts of prejudice against people?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Who do you think the government is? An alien power? The government is the people. We put them there.

        Liked by 1 person

      • silenceofmind
        June 5, 2016

        Pink,

        Indeed, the government is an alien power, even in republics.

        The Trump Revolt in the United States and the Brexit in Europe are examples of citizens finally coming to the understanding that government is really alien by nature and very dangerous.

        Like

      • silenceofmind
        June 5, 2016

        Darth,

        Free speech is not an act of prejudice.

        Like

    • agrudzinsky
      June 5, 2016

      Does anyone force you into a homosexual marriage?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Linn
      June 6, 2016

      What the??
      It’s not 2 %. It’s closer to 6-8% (with more male homosexuals than female) and with an unknown number of bisexuals (with more female bisexuals than male). Then there’s also a number of heterosexuals that have had same-gender sex at some point in their life.

      How the heck are you being fucked over by someone else being allowed to have sex with who they want?
      I prefer men, but can also be attracted to women in certain circumstances. How am I being oppressed by others preferring to marry a woman?
      Should I also feel oppressed by the fact that someone chose to have sex with Trump since I would never be attracted to him.

      Liked by 1 person

      • silenceofmind
        July 8, 2016

        My 2% statistic comes from the Center for Disease Control and the Gallup poling organization.

        But even if we accept your state of 6-8%, that is still tyranny by a very small minority.

        Like

  3. inspiredbythedivine1
    June 5, 2016

    Ah, America! We’re at the forefront of everything! Anyway, we’ll soon have a tyrannical, maniacal, ball of orange flesh and dyed hair as our president who uses hate speech the way an infant uses bile: he spews it everywhere when wanting attention. Fascinating post as usual, my friend.

    Liked by 2 people

    • silenceofmind
      June 5, 2016

      Divine,

      If I referred to President O’Bama as, “the magic negro,” would I be engaging in the same sort of hate speech as you are by referring to Donald Trump as “a maniacal, ball of orange flesh and dyed hair”?

      Why is hate speech okay when you do it, but against the law for anyone who disagrees with you?

      Such thinking is fascist.

      And that is why “hate speech” is an assault on free speech and religion, the very foundations of liberty.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You don’t understand the difference between using racism and making fun of a fake tan?

        Liked by 1 person

      • silenceofmind
        June 5, 2016

        Pink,

        The term “magic negro” was coined by a black editorial writer who works for the Los Angeles Times newspaper.

        Like

      • silenceofmind
        June 5, 2016

        Pink,

        What is fun for you, is hate for someone else.

        Why is your kind of hateful fun okay, but someone having the same kind of hateful fun at the expense of homosexuals, not okay?

        Like

    • silenceofmind
      July 8, 2016

      Where have you been during the last 8 years of the Obama Regime?

      THE Donald hasn’t even been elected yet and all you can do is make fun of his hair..

      Like

  4. darthtimon
    June 5, 2016

    My view is that with freedom of speech comes the responsibility to use it wisely. Free speech is not a lease to be as nasty, abusive and hateful as possible.

    Rules on hate speech don’t mean you cannot criticise something. It stresses the difference between a considered, thoughtful argument and acts of bigotry, racism etc.

    Liked by 3 people

    • silenceofmind
      June 5, 2016

      Darth,

      “Nasty,” “abusive,” “hateful,” are in the eye of the beholder.

      Fascism is the practice of the State defining what is nasty, abusive and hateful.

      That’s what laws against “hate speech,” are.

      Like

      • darthtimon
        June 5, 2016

        If I were walking down the street and started hurling abuse at someone for whatever arbitrary reason I could think of, hassling them, bullying them, refusing to leave them alone – what do you think the consequences would be?

        Like

      • silenceofmind
        June 5, 2016

        Darth,

        That isn’t hate speech it’s harassment and disturbing the peace.

        There are already well defined laws against harassment and disturbing the peace.

        There is no need for hate speech laws.

        Liked by 1 person

      • darthtimon
        June 5, 2016

        When people think they have the right to behave in whatever fashion they choose, without consequences, it can only lead to trouble.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I forgot to ask if you’re related to Aleksandr Orlov? He’s my third cousin once removed 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      • darthtimon
        June 5, 2016

        We don’t talk anymore. Not after the ‘Ferret’ incident.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Why doesn’t your blog have a *follow* button?

        Like

      • darthtimon
        June 5, 2016

        Erm, I don’t know! It should have.

        Like

      • It does sort of make life easier for people who want to read what you write… unless you’re writing so people don’t read what you write?

        Like

      • darthtimon
        June 5, 2016

        As I far as I know it did have a follow button, because people have been following me lately. No idea where it went.

        Liked by 1 person

      • OMG. I just noticed the word Liverpool on your blog! Are you of the North??? Like that nanny from the Catherine Tate show?

        Like

      • darthtimon
        June 6, 2016

        Haha, alas no, I hail from Essex. Supporter of Liverpool FC though!

        Like

      • States do this all the time. That’s why there’s no sex on television in the middle of the day. That’s why we don’t hear swearing on television in the middle of the day.

        Liked by 1 person

      • inspiredbythedivine1
        June 5, 2016

        And that’s why I don’t watch television in the middle of the day. 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

      • silenceofmind
        June 5, 2016

        Pink,

        There is sex and swearing all day and all night long on television here in the States.

        Like

    • Exactly. We have intense debates about all sorts of things in countries with laws against hate speech. It’s not like France or Scandinavian countries are authoritarian dictatorships.

      Liked by 1 person

      • silenceofmind
        June 5, 2016

        TV sex and bad language are not examples of hate speech and have nothing to do with hate speech.

        Like

      • darthtimon
        June 5, 2016

        Absolutely agree! To suggest we are held to account for what we say is not the same as clamping down on free speech, despite the fear-mongering that goes on. It’s usually those that want to have the right to make bigoted and racist remarks (which is what qualifies as hate speech) who suggest laws to prevent it are ‘draconian’.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. darthtimon
    June 5, 2016

    If it’s abused to harass, incite violence or condone discriminatory practices it is.

    Liked by 2 people

    • silenceofmind
      June 5, 2016

      Darth,

      The topic of this post concerns hate speech, not discrimination.

      The fascists attempt to equate the two in order to destroy the authentic human rights of freedom of speech and religion.

      Like

      • darthtimon
        June 5, 2016

        Like I said before, with free speech comes the need to use it responsibly. Making bigoted remarks then hiding behind ‘freedom!’ and or religion is not using free speech responsibly. The increasingly popular act of trolling people for the sake of it is not using it responsibly. Plus, people use free speech as justification for discrimination all the time (I refer back to crying ‘freedom!’ whenever they are called out on it).

        Liked by 1 person

      • silenceofmind
        June 5, 2016

        Darth,

        Why not create a concentration camp for trolls and name it “Trollblinka.”

        Maybe you could even build it in Poland.

        You are a pure fascist and liberty loving people like me find fascism most dangerous.

        Like

      • darthtimon
        June 5, 2016

        Talk about taking the slippery slope fallacy to the extreme. Why not invoke Godwin’s Law whilst you’re at it?

        Liked by 1 person

  6. darthtimon
    June 5, 2016

    http://wp.me/p4V4lR-Lu I fleshed out some thoughts on this the other day.

    Like

  7. darthtimon
    June 5, 2016

    Pink, do you mind if I reblog this?

    Like

  8. john zande
    June 5, 2016

    Free speech… overseen by common sense. It’s really not that complicated.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Cara
    June 5, 2016

    Here in the States, we do limit free speech…we tell you you can’t yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater (unless said theater is actually on fire) because there will be a stampede and people would get trampled, and that’s not a good thing.

    But no, we don’t have any laws regulating hate speech. You can (and people here do) insult & degrade each other based on race, sex, sexual orientation, class, ethnicity, and any other reason that can be dreamed up.

    We have something called political correctness here though, and while it’s not a law, it’s this school of thought that says there are certain things one shouldn’t say, and other things that are better to say instead. For instance, it’s politically correct to say Irish-American, and less correct to say Mick. And so on & so forth. Some say political correctness has gone too far (ok, I’ve said that, after hearing a friend order “an African-American Russian” at a bar) while others say it hasn’t come far enough.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Sirius Bizinus
    June 5, 2016

    I’ve been looking up statistics for the past hour, and so far I’ve been unable to find decent comparisons between the rates of hate crimes in the U.S. versus Europe. One concern I do have is that there might be more under-reporting in Europe, but that might be different based on discrimination.

    From the outset, the only difference between making hate speech illegal and having unrestricted free speech is that it will just keep bigots away from making certain kinds of public statements. You could still have dog-whistling, private gatherings where such speech is promoted, and other inflammatory misuse of facts. Therefore, even with these protections, it would still be a big problem (in the U.S. at least).

    With regards to the perceived benefits/drawbacks of unrestricted free speech, it’s probably time that countries start actually trying to collect meaningful data to evaluate it. Until then, we’re all just guessing as to who is right.

    Liked by 2 people

    • “From the outset, the only difference between making hate speech illegal and having unrestricted free speech is that it will just keep bigots away from making certain kinds of public statements.”

      Bingo! The thing is that goes a very long way. Hate speech laws seem to piggyback on the concept of defamation- as I understand it truth is a valid defence in cases of defamation in all western legal systems. So there’s no risk whatsoever for people expressing any opinion based on verifiable facts.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Sirius Bizinus
        June 5, 2016

        I get what you’re saying with defamation. My point is that hate groups have actually adapted in the U.S. to the point that making hate speech illegal wouldn’t work all that well. They’re already under a lot of social pressure and stigma to not be bigoted (with regards to race and to a lesser extent gender; LGBT is getting closer), so these groups already modify their language to include jargon and pseudo-facts.

        This is because the government has gone after groups because of hate speech. In the 70’s and 80’s, hate speech was crucial in identifying domestic terror groups. In the 90’s and early 00’s, the SPLC basically sued the KKK into the ground. In a lot of ways, these actions punished hate speech way more than a specific statute ever would have.

        It’s also why Christian groups are livid with the SPLC over anti-LGBT groups getting labeled as hate groups. They are afraid they’re going to be next, and quite frankly they should be.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Just to expand on my last comment a bit… for example saying Nazi’s comitted mass murder would be an incitement to hatred were it false. As it’s true, it’s simply a statement of fact- and not intended to generate animosity towards nazis.

      Like

      • agrudzinsky
        June 5, 2016

        Why then Turkey doesn’t like it when Europe calls the Armenian deportation a genocide? When you accuse a group of people of committing heinous crimes, how can that not generate animosity towards that group? Not only it does, but it is often used with that purpose. I am not saying that we should hush and forget these crimes.

        Like

      • Because Turkey wants to go around laws. It’s political rather than legal. As the genocide occurred, they should have no legal recourse against people who say it occurred.

        Like

  11. agrudzinsky
    June 5, 2016

    Perhaps, the US doesn’t have hate speech laws per se, but there are rules and policies that have the same effect. Many people ruined their careers by racist public remarks. They didn’t go to jail, but that makes little difference

    Liked by 1 person

    • inspiredbythedivine1
      June 5, 2016

      “Many people ruined their careers by racist public remarks.” Mel Gibson comes to mind.

      Liked by 2 people

    • True, but in that sense it’s a bit of a Wild West. Mobs don’t always know all the facts.

      Like

      • inspiredbythedivine1
        June 5, 2016

        “Mobs don’t always know all the facts.” Those voting for Trump prove this statement daily.

        Liked by 1 person

      • agrudzinsky
        June 5, 2016

        Mobs don’t always know all the facts.

        Isn’t it the very argument used to justify limiting democracy in general? There is one step from this statement to the belief that political decisions must be made by the “informed” or “educated” or “enlightened” elite.

        I think Trump will make a good case for the freedom of speech as every hate statement out of his mouth takes him farther from becoming a president. Let him say what he says and do what he does and watch the results of the November elections.

        Like

      • inspiredbythedivine1
        June 5, 2016

        “I think Trump will make a good case for the freedom of speech as every hate statement out of his mouth takes him farther from becoming a president.” You’d think this would be the case, but so far, it is not. Trump has said he could literally kill someone and his popularity would increase. I agree with him. The phenomena around this man and this election is mind-boggling to me. I love freedom of speech, as I like to know what whack-jobs like Trump are thinking. You’d think his hate-filled rants would alienate him, but, like I said, they have not. This guy’s followers simply do not care what he says or does, and that’s a bit frightening. Recently, now that Trump has clenched the Republican nomination, much of his rhetoric has mirrored the GOP elite almost word for word. In other words, Trump has become a robot and a mouth piece for Paul Ryan and others atop the GOP elite. He needs their support to win the Presidency. His minions, who claim he’s great because he’s “different” and doesn’t follow party lines, are blind buffoons not see just how much this ass is like every other ass in the GOP. At least we have the freedom to point out to those who’ll listen what a slime this guy is. It may not change anything, but it makes me feel good to do it.

        Liked by 2 people

      • agrudzinsky
        June 5, 2016

        I still think that Trump is a political corpse. He is a showman. He says and does things to attract a certain crowd and he is very good at it. If you think of it, his success is not surprising. He acts by the text book on how to make a successful reality show. The crowd may seem large and active, but I think this crowd is far from making a majority of Americans. He may be at the top of GOP politics, but it reflects not his greatness. It reflects the misery of the GOP if Trump is the best they can offer. He is the foam on a surface of boiling shit.

        Liked by 1 person

      • inspiredbythedivine1
        June 5, 2016

        I definitely hope you are right. Common sense dictates you are, but, I’m really beginning to think common sense and the American voting public are two things that simply will never mix. I simply despise Trump. I can’t stand the sight of him or the sound of his whining, privileged, narcissistic voice. He’s not only the foam on boiling shit, he’s the steam and the stench the drifts from it and infects the nostrils of decent people the world over. Next time you blow your nose, note that 98% of what comes out of it is there because you’ve had to breath air permeated with the vile stench of Donald Trump.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I agree 100%. He is like the Le Pen’s, and when they almost had a chance at the last election, most French people realized the danger and made sure they didn’t have a chance.

        Liked by 1 person

      • agrudzinsky
        June 5, 2016

        Hate speech is a tool of political manipulation. Hate speech makes people angry — on all sides. I would say that anger is the most contagious of emotions. It’s extremely engaging. When you see a brawl, you feel compelled to stop and look — find out what’s going on if not to take sides or to stop it in some way. And people who try stopping a brawl get engaged and eventually become a part of it. Just watch this video and watch your reaction. Even if you have no idea what the brawl is about, your heart will still pump faster. I don’t know what is written on the protester’s sign in the video. It could be a hate message. It appears that the calm guy holding the sign and not so calm guy throwing people on the ground work together for the very purpose of making people angry. This perfectly explains Trump’s popularity. Getting angry about Trump means to succumb to his charms. I think, the real way to oppose Trump is to take a laid-back attitude. Obama’s reaction to him is perfect.

        Liked by 2 people

  12. agrudzinsky
    June 5, 2016

    I don’t think that what you propose will be effective. The bigots will be the first people trying to use these anti-hate speech laws to hush their opponents for “defamation”. Se SOM’s comment above. A mere statement of true facts can be construed as defamation.

    Like

  13. carlalouise89
    June 5, 2016

    Reblogged this on The Melodramatic Confessions of Carla Louise and commented:
    Yes!! Someone who actually understands what free speech, hate speech and censorship actually means – and the consequences of it. Thank you to Ben, from Meerkat Musings, for passing this on!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. acflory
    June 6, 2016

    We have laws against hate speech here in Australia as well, yet Australians lose none of their individual rights because so-called ‘free’ speech is not enshrined in our Constitution. Freedom in a vacuum means absolutely nothing. Freedom only has meaning, and value, within the framework of a society, and as Pinky said, all society have rules to make it possible for individuals to live together. To me, the right to free speech is about as useful as having the right to bear arms. One leads to hate, the other is based in fear. Neither leads to peaceful co-existence.

    Liked by 2 people

    • They’ve built up this us vs. them mentality so much in America that certain sectors of the population seem to see everything through that lens.
      Just notice how they talk about “the government” as an entity, in and of itself, that they seem to believe wants to destroy them.

      Like

      • acflory
        June 6, 2016

        Apparently the government thing and the right to bear arms both date back to their fight with the British. Prior to Independence, the Brits were ‘the government’, thus the right to bear arms against the Brits evolved into the right to be a militia to keep their own government honest. You know, pop guns against missiles. Or something along those lines.

        Like

  15. searchingforslater
    June 6, 2016

    This is fantastic. I agree with you completely. Unfortunately, we have so many people here in the states who feel very strongly about their rights. Even if they don’t know what those rights are, as laid out in the Constitution. We have had so much damage done to our country by the hate filled right wing talk radio over the past couple of decades. The harm may be unmeasurable.

    No right is without limits, not even the ones granted by the sacred first amendment. A person cannot yell fire in a theatre, a person cannot threaten the life of the President, a person cannot commit slander or libel. Hate speech should be included in this list.

    That little warning in French makes perfect sense, and seems entirely reasonable. Of course, just imagine the reaction from certain americans to the suggestion that we borrow an idea from the French!

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Pingback: Here’s What People are Saying About Hate Speech | Dave Alexander & Company with Ukuleledave and David Edgren — This is the original Artisan Craft Blog

  17. Scottie
    June 7, 2016

    I sometimes feel I should apologize for my country, it’s deeds and its words. My own country when put up to the industrial advanced nations seems to me like a kid before Puberty, refusing to grow up or accept responsibility for its actions, Still thinking stamping its feet and making threats no matter how outrageous will get it its own way. When I read what S.O.M. says I grow weary and wanting our peter pan government and people to grow up, be adult people in a civilized society. Instead they still want to pretend the wild west was the right way, they want to think themselves, with the pretend six shooter will be the hero, the big person no one dares to question, they will not have to accept proper behavior and they and they alone can make the rules. I am some days so sick of this. But no matter how childish our people, we adults must keep trying. Thanks and hugs

    Liked by 1 person

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