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kleinbl00  ·  1806 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Free speech is exhausting

As a minority in the United States, the default question asked of you is "we're in charge and things are hunky dory, convince us there's a problem." Which doesn't sound particularly evolved until you consider that the default position throughout history has been "we're in charge, shut the fuck up."

"Hate speech" is what you call "minority speech" that you find reprehensible. 100 years ago anything you said to attack my privileged position of power and implied superiority would probably be branded "hate speech." That your position is morally and factually superior doesn't matter a whit; my instinct to tell you to shut the fuck up and stop disturbing my Aryan idyll would be numerically superior. That's the issue with base-level democracy: majority rule does not protect minority determinism.

"Free speech" means allowing all dissenting opinions to exist. Quoth Aaron Sorkin:

    America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can't just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the "land of the free".

My wife is helping her state organization rewrite all of their literature in gender-neutral language. The goal is to be inclusive of everyone, regardless of whether or not you are currently the same gender as the one you were born with. By contrast, I stopped hanging out with some of the rednecks in my high school because they considered queer-bashing to be a legitimate Friday night distraction. One of them still wants to be Facebook friends with me. It has never been easy to be transgender, and I doubt it ever will be... but the transgender movement has made strides in no small part because they've been allowed to state a minority opinion. In 20 years, we've gone from beating up the outsider to putting them on the cover of Vanity Fair because we protect the rights of everyone to say what they believe.

We don't make it easy, though. And we likely never will. And both sides will accuse the other side of playing by the wrong rules, or being anti-this and anti-that, and there is often truth to this but that will never prevent the other side from deploying similar tactics.

Hate speech should be protected because every inch of social progress was hate speech to somebody. In 1860, Theodore Parker said that slavery would eventually be abolished because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice. In 1967, Martin Luther King paraphrased him:

    The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

150 years ago, black people were property. 50 years ago, black people were civil rights leaders. Now? black people lead the free world. And us uncomfortable white devils will still try to label everything they say as "hate speech."

Not all minority speech is worth listening to. Lots of it is full of hate and devoid of value. You have to let it stand anyway. Any instrument used to silence hatred can also be used to silence truth.