by: francopoli

comment by
francopoli
badged comment

So, this is going to be long, and you and I are not going to see eye to eye on this matter. That's fine. We can disagree and have a back and forth; that is how we grow as people. So below is my argument why "hate speech" laws are bad.

But first, what is hate speech, anyway and how do we deal with it?

In Germany, you cannot wear Nazi symbols, you cannot do the Nazi salute, Hitler memorabilia is illegal to display and it is illegal to deny the Holocaust. As a Lefty-Liberal type, this sounds GREAT! Those types of people were malevolent and anti-humanity so good, keep them out of the public debate, right? Only, that never works. Instead of tamping down on the hate from these groups, they retreated to the shadows and formed tight-knit groups, brotherhoods, who have a real persecution complex. The banning of the Nazi stuff ended up fetishizing it. Nazi stuff is on the rise in Germany, and the migrant crisis is only fueling the inclusiveness of these groups, making them stronger and bolder. Now, take what the rest of us have done. Hitler is a joke, a gag, a punchline. Danger 5 is hilarious in that the Nazis are a punchline. The term "Master Race" once made whole continents tremble, now it is best known as a reddit circle-jerk. The Nazis are being defeated, 70 years later, with snark, comedy, and satire. If someone here says they like the Nazis, they get laughed at. The fear the Brown Shirts imposed on the globe has been reduced to mockery and amusements.

But that sidesteps the original question, doesn't it. What is Hate Speech?

In Thailand, any criticism of the king and his position in society is considered a hateful act and they throw people in jail for such acts. The authorities will even demand foreign media hand over data on Thai citizens who they SUSPECT of this hate speech. This law is not being used to protect the fragile ego of a throwback to an ancient time; this law is being used by a military government to stomp down on dissenters and trouble makers.

But that sidesteps the original question, doesn't it. What is Hate Speech?

There is a sizable group of people online who think that any and all critique of their ideas is hateful. This debate comes to its ugly terminus in blasphemy laws. There are still nations in the modern era that state in their laws that criticizing the dominant religion is an act of hate that deserves punishment. Hopefully, nobody here on Hubski is going to defend anti-blasphemy laws, but there are still people in the US who think we need to protect faith and religion and even political ideals from any harmful speech. Saying "I do not believe in God" or "I am a Christian" or "I am Jewish" or even "I am a Muslim" in the wrong country and you do time in jail, or worse. Blasphemy is hate speech in the eyes of these people.

But that sidesteps the original question, doesn't it. What is Hate Speech?

So we've seen the hard right in action, now let's look at the other side of the horseshoe and look at the left. There are groups in Norway and Sweden that tried to pass laws in 2013 to make criticism of Feminism a crime as hate speech. Anita Sarkesian went to the UN and said that hate speech and harassment was as simple as saying "You Suck" and calling her a liar in a response video. Is pointing out someone's falsehoods 'hate speech?' Talk to some of the feminists from the 70's, however, who had their clinics firebombed, lost their jobs, had their husbands run off etc and ask them if this is hate speech. Or talk to the women fighting to end genital mutilation if being called a liar is hate speech.

But that sidesteps the original question, doesn't it. What is Hate Speech?

So, to answer the question, hate speech is not an ends, it is a means. No matter where you are on the political spectrum, someone out there is your opposite. That is the way we hairless apes seem to work (oh, and in some Catholic circles, acknowledging that humans are descended from apes and evolution is real is considered a hatred of Gods divine creation). Any time you limit a voice in the conversation ,no matter how foul, you don't make those thoughts go away and instead they go underground and fester into a malignant tumor that ends up damaging the host (the rest of us). As I have said elsewhere on hubski, I want my racist assholes out, loud and proud. I want them to have marches, wave their flags, have parades the whole bit. Because when they are talking, I'm mocking them. I'm also showing other people that we have a long way to go towards a humanist ideal where the accident of the ticket we punched at birth defines everything about us. And it gives me, as a private nobody, the right to know who the racist assholes are and not associate with them.

Living in a society with liberal free speech laws and protected speech like we do can be frustrating, annoying and make you angry. There are people here who say things that I think are offensive and wrong, but I don't shut them down I either engage if there is a conversation to be had, or let them have their say and see if I can get some insight into why someone would believe that crap. As I am certain that there are people in here who think I'm an asshole who should shut his keyboard. We all have experiences to bring to the table. You don't have to agree, you don't even have to engage, and you certainly don't have to associate with people whom you have major disagreements with. Nobody is saying that the Black Lives Matter people and the KKK have to friend each other on Facebook... yet.

So, what do I mean when I say that hate speech laws are a means, not an end? People in power are all terrible people, that is what. The hate speech laws that you pass to ban the thoughts you don't like will eventually ban YOUR thoughts as well. Think of something that you believe, a religion, a political action, that someone out there finds unpleasant. Now imagine they have the power to shut you up, or worse. The end of this ramble is that all of this concept is just circling the drain of one word; Feelings. Feelings and emotions do not belong in law. My dad once told me that when men get emotional, people get hurt and die, and that has sort of stuck with me all these years. A bit harsh, but there is a significant nugget of truth there. Did the bad words do harm? If the answer is "I feel like they did" then toughen the hell up and repeat after me 'Sticks and stones will break my bones; words will not hurt me.' If the words did actual harm to you, lawyer up and use the slander and libel laws we have in place here in the west to defend yourself. Yea, it sucks that lawsuits are expensive and all, but the reality of the internet is that every dumbass with an opinion now has a megaphone. And I do science outreach in and area with a real, honest to god flat earth contingent.

Does this mean a free for all in the speech front? No. There are rules. Threats should be looked at; the people blowing off steam let them go, the guy who says "I'm gonna kill XXXX" then goes to the gun store? Maybe he should get a visit from the cops and a restraining order. Don't lie about people. Stuff like that. Shouting "fire" in a building to cause a panic is illegal already and I agree with that in full. But spouting racist garbage on the internet does nothing but show that you are an idiot.

This gets to the next thing I want to touch on. I disagree with the term "Cyber Violence." There is no such thing (cue incoming hatred, I can take it but hear me out first.) Maybe because I grew up in the rough an tumble of real fights and real violence, but words on the internet don't impact me. The Chinese have a word, and it fits so perfectly: Strawberry Children. These are people who wilt in the faintest criticism, bruise easily and can't take the hard knocks of life. And it is not just the Millennials. I've dealt with 60 year old strawberries who cannot deal with people who are not exactly the same as they are. If you are getting shit-on in an online space, then either learn to fight back or turn the computer off for a day or two. This is the internet, people! most nonsense has a shelf life of hours and as long as you don't Streisand yourself into Infamy, you will be fine. Or, 'git gud' and fire back and become a legend and earn the respect of your adversaries.. or at least stop being a doormat so you don't get so much crap flung at you. (remember kids, bullies tend to be cowards and the only real way to deal with them is to not be a victim) Hell those assholes might even end up being your friends later down the road.

And finally, a note on what I think and education SHOULD be. The purpose of an education should be to expose you to the wider world, give you the skills to deal with people outside your comfort circle and give you a cultural center so that you can communicate to other people in your country/state etc. Part of growing up is learning how to deal with people who are different than you. People who look different, go to different churches, live in different parts of town etc. A good education will build within you an empathy for others. This is why segregation and filter bubbles are bad and why they need to be fought. A Great Education will even instill character, honor and strong sense of self. The kids at Oberlin and I walk in different worlds and almost certainly will never meet. So why do I care? You don't go to a place like Oberlin for an education, you go there to meet the kids of other rich and powerful people and network with them. People who go to schools like this end up writing legislation, working on campaigns, sitting on the Boards of big companies and have a big impact on how us peons in the muck live and work. That is why I care what they are learning and how they are organizing themselves. And one of the first things that show up in hate crime legislation tends to be the language poor people use. Having a generation of kids go to college and come out with the idea that free speech is a bad thing is not healthy for the long term survival of a democracy in my mind.

You and I are probably not going to see eye-to-eye here. And that's fine. I follow you because you have a neat outlook on life and have had interesting things to say in the past. I'm looking forward to seeing where this conversation goes. Thanks.