Hate Speech or Free Speech?
June 11, 2008 11:52 AM   Subscribe

Out of Step With Allies, U.S. Defends Freedom to Offend NYT article

Wikipedia describing different approaches to freedom of speech by country.
posted by lalochezia (140 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Free speech can be hateful. I prefer the broadest possible interpretation of free speech.
posted by Mister_A at 11:56 AM on June 11, 2008


One's feelings aren't protected by law - and that's fine with me.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 12:03 PM on June 11, 2008


As always, it's funny how the first to ask for universal tolerance and respect are often the first to ban the open expression of ideas they don't approve of.

I hope I will never see these kinds of hate speech laws in the US.
posted by vorfeed at 12:05 PM on June 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


I'm with the US on this one; lots of things that are common today would have been censored under the laws that Canada seeks to impose. Heck, there are plenty of MeFi comments that would be dangerously close to actionable under hate speech laws (see the comments in the Ask.Me holocaust thread) but that we consider a valuable part of the debate.
posted by Leon-arto at 12:08 PM on June 11, 2008


There are few things more noxious to the concept of freedom of speech than this 'hate' idea. People should be able to have and express any opinion they want, as long as it's not an actual threat.

The antidote to speech you don't like is more speech. If your position is really correct, then you don't need violence to win the argument. By using laws to try to stifle speech it doesn't like, the Canadian government is, in essence, pointing a gun at these people and telling them to shut the hell up.
posted by Malor at 12:08 PM on June 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


Hate Speech or Free Speech?

I'm not sure what this question is asking. The linked article describes speech that is both of these things. So the answer is apparently "yes".

Unless you hold that the label "hate speech" is equivalent to "prohibited speech". Overloading terms in this way makes it more difficult to communicate. So I'm sorry if it seems like I'm deliberately misunderstanding you - when people say vague things, I assume the most basic meaning of their words and ask for clarification.

It's good that in spite of other troubles in the U.S. lately, this pillar still stands. It's a good measure of the respect that lawmakers and the courts still afford the Bill of Rights.
posted by yath at 12:09 PM on June 11, 2008


"Some prominent legal scholars say the United States should reconsider its position on hate speech."

Some prominent legal scholars should shut the fuck up and go back to their third-world shitholes where law degrees are sold for twenty dollars by gibberish-speaking religious fanatics who wear bedsheets for hats.
posted by optovox at 12:09 PM on June 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


This thread will end well. I was going to contribute participating ideas, but then I considered the fact that 1 Link to Op-Ed + 1 Supporting Wikipedia Link has more of the goal of creating 'spirited' discussion for its own sake than it does of elucidating the topic at hand, so I'll pass on the bait.

But, you know, don't let me trample the free speech of others. Feel free to make the assessment of the crapiness of this FPP for yourself.
posted by Brak at 12:10 PM on June 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


As an ancillary observation: the whole meme about 'freedoms from' is noxious and horrible. 'Freedom from want' means the goverment should give you stuff; 'freedom from fear' means the government should shut people up you don't like.

These ideas aren't about freedom; they've hijacked the word. They're about putting other people in chains for your benefit.
posted by Malor at 12:13 PM on June 11, 2008 [12 favorites]


Some prominent legal scholars should shut the fuck up and go back to their third-world shitholes where law degrees are sold for twenty dollars by gibberish-speaking religious fanatics who wear bedsheets for hats.

This is either a really stupid or a really witty comment depending on the intention of the poster.
posted by Falconetti at 12:20 PM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I am against any form of legal action that focuses attention on Mark Steyn.
posted by Mocata at 12:23 PM on June 11, 2008


They're about putting other people in chains for your benefit.

Well, you know, that is kinda what government does best.

That and putting you in chains for other people's benefit. They do that too.
posted by Avenger at 12:23 PM on June 11, 2008


Wow. I wanted to comment but this thread got real ugly real fast.
posted by Sangermaine at 12:24 PM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well, I laughed.
posted by elwoodwiles at 12:25 PM on June 11, 2008


I think the US position on this is correct - if speech is not inciting violence, it's covered by the first amendment. Trying to shut down hate speech is ultimately counter-productive. When you attempt to ban certain speech, you give that speech power. Those who make such statements are almost hoping for the government to step in and further marginalize them - feeding their various complexes that led to their positions in the first place.
posted by elwoodwiles at 12:30 PM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


If I am not free to say things that others find offensive, I am not free at all.

I like the First Amendment just fine the way it is. And I don't care if that puts my country "out of step" with the "rest of the world". Fuck 'em.

It's more important what you stand for than who you stand with. Even if the entire rest of the world disagrees with us on this, that doesn't mean we're wrong.
posted by Class Goat at 12:30 PM on June 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


FIRE!!!
posted by you just lost the game at 12:32 PM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is the dumbest piece I've ever seen in the New York Times. Wow.
posted by stinkycheese at 12:34 PM on June 11, 2008


And that includes the Emily Gould thing.
posted by stinkycheese at 12:38 PM on June 11, 2008


Stay classy, optovox.

Though there's been some attrition in the last decade or so, there are still some things that the U.S. is pretty kickass about. First and foremost, open (or at least, not statutorily prohibited) discourse in all things. I can't for the life of me figure out how other liberal democracies have gotten this one so wrong.
posted by Mayor West at 12:38 PM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Here's the piece in question.

A word from one of the complainants.

Some debate.

More detail from the CBC.
posted by stinkycheese at 12:51 PM on June 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


This is the dumbest piece I've ever seen in the New York Times. Wow.

I thought this article was quite good, at least as an introduction to comparative free speech law in the western democracies. Are you objecting to the quoted sources' characterization of Canadian speech law? It seemed spot on to me, but you should explain if it's wrong.
posted by grobstein at 12:52 PM on June 11, 2008


Canada, England, France, Germany, the Netherlands, South Africa, Australia and India all have laws or have signed international conventions banning hate speech. Israel and France forbid the sale of Nazi items like swastikas and flags. It is a crime to deny the Holocaust in Canada, Germany and France.

I'd love for MeFites from Canada, the UK, Germany, etc., to come in here and defend these laws and others that ban certain forms of speech.

yes I know about the "yelling fire in the theater" and other similar tests, but that's not what we're really talking about here...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:52 PM on June 11, 2008


In the United States, that debate has been settled. Under the First Amendment, newspapers and magazines can say what they like about minority groups and religions — even false, provocative or hateful things — without legal consequence.

Without legal consequence does not mean without consequence. A decent respect for the opinions of others is not a legal requirement, but it is none the less a requirement.

I can't for the life of me figure out how other liberal democracies have gotten this one so wrong.

It's known in these parts as World War II.
posted by three blind mice at 12:55 PM on June 11, 2008


“It is not clear to me that the Europeans are mistaken” is no argument for restricting hate speech.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:55 PM on June 11, 2008


Grobstein, what's wrong is that it's clear that the author of the piece wants Americans to give in to peer pressure and to conform to what older-and-wiser Europeans do in this area. The headline is a dead giveaway.
posted by Class Goat at 12:57 PM on June 11, 2008


Yeah. For all the crap that the U.S. (rightfully) gets for its actions in the world today, it's important to remember the things that we actually do right; the strength of the first amendment is one of those things.

Thanks, founders! You did something even the current buffoons haven't yet been able to screw up.
posted by Justinian at 12:58 PM on June 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


I'd love for MeFites from Canada, the UK, Germany, etc., to come in here and defend these laws and others that ban certain forms of speech.

Everytime that they plant that seed, kill it before it grows. It's not more complicated than that.
posted by three blind mice at 12:59 PM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Here's the part that gets me:

“Innocent intent is not a defense,” the lawyer, Roger D. McConchie, said, in a bitter criticism of the British Columbia hate speech law. “Nor is truth. Nor is fair comment on true facts. Publication in the public interest and for the public benefit is not a defense. Opinion expressed in good faith is not a defense. Responsible journalism is not a defense.”

Coming as I do from Joe Howe's home town, where he spoke for over 6 hours in his own defense to establish truth as a defense in libel cases (for the first time anywhere in the British Empire), it bothers me that we've taken this attitude. Yes, speech needs limits, but the fewer the better. The American system has its flaws, but I prefer it to what's in Canada now.

On preview: Cool Papa Bell, I'm a Canadian MeFite, and quite liberal. I think hate speech is wrong, but I don't think it should be illegal. Certainly not to the extent it's become now, at least.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 12:59 PM on June 11, 2008


A decent respect for the opinions of others is not a legal requirement, but it is none the less a requirement.

No, it is not. I don't have to respect anyone's opinion, and there are a lot of people whose opinions I don't respect in the slightest.
posted by Class Goat at 12:59 PM on June 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


If you say something objectively false and damaging to my reputation about me, I can sue you. If you say something false and damaging about the Coca-Cola Corporation, you'll have to answer for it. It's not so crazy for people who say something false and damaging about Jews to have to pay.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 1:01 PM on June 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Grobstein, what's wrong is that it's clear that the author of the piece wants Americans to give in to peer pressure and to conform to what older-and-wiser Europeans do in this area. The headline is a dead giveaway.

Really? I didn't get that impression, and I also don't share the belief that the US should conform to the general anti-speech trend.

But I don't think it much matters if you're right, as long as the reporting is good. And the reporting is good: it fairly summarizes the law across a lot of countries; it gives the facts of a reasonably newsworthy and interesting Canadian case; and it quotes important experts with interesting views.
posted by grobstein at 1:02 PM on June 11, 2008


PS Eugene Volokh follows comparative speech stuff on his blog. It's interesting. Scary recent example.
posted by grobstein at 1:03 PM on June 11, 2008


It's not so crazy for people who say something false and damaging about Jews to have to pay.

Especially with all those Jew lawyers, amirite?
posted by uncleozzy at 1:05 PM on June 11, 2008


The point is ultimately that hate speech isn't like yelling fire in a crowded theater, those protected by hate speech laws don't normally need protection, while those who are denied protection are the most vulnerable. Courts are only human after all (and they cost money).

Almost any actual threat level speech in Canada, France, or England today will fall into one of two categories, terrorism and gay bashing. Terrorism is handled by other more traditional laws (and often some excessive new ones). Gay bashing falls under hate speech protection but only because gays have made major progress.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:09 PM on June 11, 2008


So how do these governments keep you from accessing illegal speech or articles online?

Unless they've constructed Chinese-style firewalls -- which doesn't seem politically feasible in a liberal democracy -- any citizen with a decent connection is only a few clicks away from banned content.
posted by jason's_planet at 1:10 PM on June 11, 2008


Maybe the problem is that Hate Speech has become the only kind of Free Speech that is OK to do in the U.S.

Taking pictures of public buildings? Nonononono...

Taking video of police on duty? That's a paddling.

Whistleblowing on government corruption and waste? Leave that to the BBC.

I may be out of step here, but I'd give up all rights to use ethnic slurs and make insincere death threats if I could get that "no unreasonable search or seizure" right back. Yeah, different Amendment, I know. And I'm saying that as a person who gets paid to "speak".

But if this has become the only area where the U.S.ofA. is freer than any other country, I say Death to America.
posted by wendell at 1:11 PM on June 11, 2008 [9 favorites]


I'd love for MeFites from Canada, the UK, Germany, etc., to come in here and defend these laws and others that ban certain forms of speech.

But I don't want to defend them. I think they're wrong. I am completely against censorship. I reserve the right to call someone out on their hate, expressed in their speech. I'm okay with shaming them, telling them they're wrong, and so forth. But I don't agree that it should be illegal.

It is different, in my mind, if you make a specific threat, or say things with the intent to defraud someone. But we already have laws against that.
posted by sandraregina at 1:12 PM on June 11, 2008


RMOOM: American libel law is very strict and very, very limited by world standards.

First, under American law the truth is protected speech. Telling the truth about someone is never actionable.

Second, opinions are protected speech. Saying what you think about someone is never actionable.

Third, making false claims about someone is only actionable sometimes.

If you say something false and damaging about the Coca-Cola Corporation, you'll have to answer for it.

Not necessarily. Coke is a "public figure" for purposes of libel law, and that means that what I say would have to rise to the level of "actual malice" for Coke to successfully sue me -- and "actual malice" (a legal term of art) is very difficult to prove. (It can be done. Carol Burnett sued the socks off the Enquirer.)

But that isn't the case in the British Empire. In the UK, revealing damaging truths about someone can get you sued into the ground. Expressing opinions can, too.

And up in Canada, expressing offensive opinions can get you fined and ordered to publicly recant. I think that minister is a jackass and I emphatically disagree with his opinion, but I am horrified at how he was treated by his government.
posted by Class Goat at 1:13 PM on June 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Free speech: you get what you pay for! (or do you?)
posted by davemee at 1:15 PM on June 11, 2008


Also, the U.S. has hate *crime* laws. If you vandalize someone's store expressing racial slurs, you will receive a far more serious penalty than if you merely vandalized their store. If your caught instigating a mob for religious reasons, you often will receive criminal charges more severe than merely some sort of "conspiracy to assault".
posted by jeffburdges at 1:15 PM on June 11, 2008


We have enough trouble defending free speech in this country.
posted by caddis at 1:15 PM on June 11, 2008


But if this has become the only area where the U.S.ofA. is freer than any other country, I say Death to America.

Fortunately, it isn't.
posted by Class Goat at 1:17 PM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Persecution for the expression of opinions seems to me perfectly logical. If you have no doubt of your premises or your power and want a certain result with all your heart you naturally express your wishes in law and sweep away all opposition...But when men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations of their own conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas...that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out. That at any rate is the theory of our Constitution."
-Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. 1919
posted by Benny Andajetz at 1:19 PM on June 11, 2008


A decent respect for the opinions of others is not a legal requirement, but it is none the less a requirement.

Nope. We don't have to respect anyone's opinion - we are only required to allow them to have it.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 1:24 PM on June 11, 2008


I'd love for MeFites from Canada, the UK, Germany, etc., to come in here and defend these laws and others that ban certain forms of speech.

Well, get comfortable because you'll be waiting a while.

Human Rights Commissions are not bad in and of themselves as people do sometimes have their rights violated and they need a means of redress. That the provinces separate these complaints into their own system separate from the criminal or civil leagsl systems is, again, not inherently bad either. Labour code violations have their own complaint process as well for example.

These particular cases are, however, a gross abuse of the system. Macleans publishing an article about your religion is not the same as being refused service because you're a minority. If the Human Rights Tribunals had any sense they'd flat out refuse to hear these cases, though I think they may be required to hear every complaint brought forward. But it's nothing more than straight-out harassment.
posted by GuyZero at 1:24 PM on June 11, 2008


the title of the piece offends me.

It seems to me that it's not merely the freedom to offend that's the issue here.

The Hutus were free to pollute the airwaves in Rwanda with hate speech, calling the Tutsis cockroaches and calling for their extermination and that worked out really well.

That's the kind of hate speech that concerns me,
not the strawman hate speech that makes the issue seem simply black and white.
I believe what Brandeis said about more speech being the way to counteract speech we don't like...but it's not the speech I don't "like" that worries me.
posted by mer2113 at 1:26 PM on June 11, 2008


The Hutus were free to pollute the airwaves in Rwanda with hate speech, calling the Tutsis cockroaches and calling for their extermination and that worked out really well.

Oh come on. An actual threat or incitement to violence is NOT protected by the 1st amendment.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:33 PM on June 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


But if this has become the only area where the U.S.ofA. is freer than any other country, I say Death to America.

Fortunately, it isn't.


Actually, Class Goatse, there are a few countries where the Right to Bear Arms is freer than here. But those countries are not safe to travel to.
posted by wendell at 1:36 PM on June 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


I believe what Brandeis said about more speech being the way to counteract speech we don't like...but it's not the speech I don't "like" that worries me.

If you can ban speech that disgusts you it makes it that much easier for others to ban speech that disgusts them. And they are probably disgusted by speech that you think is fine or even necessary. Do you think it would be okay to ban, say, information about terminating pregnancies? How about banning information about birth control? There are people disgusted by that every bit as much as your disgust with regard to hate speech, and with just as much motivation to have it banned.

I'm not usually a big fan of slippery slope arguments but this is one instance where I think it applies in spades.
posted by Justinian at 1:39 PM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Actually, Class Goatse, there are a few countries where the Right to Bear Arms is freer than here. But those countries are not safe to travel to.

You mean, like Switzerland, where every adult male is legally required to own a rifle and legally required to fire it a hundred times per year?
posted by Class Goat at 1:41 PM on June 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


The Hutus were free to pollute the airwaves in Rwanda with hate speech, calling the Tutsis cockroaches and calling for their extermination and that worked out really well.

That's sort of precisely it. To those who would say that the alternative is more speech.. that's a lovely philosophical position, but it doesn't work in the real world. Hate speech laws--which I emphatically support, for tolerably obvious reasons--protect those who are more at risk of violence or other suffering due to the hate speech in question.

FWIW, I think the Maclean's thing is pretty dumb.. yes, the journalist went a bit too far, but it didn't seem to me that it ventured into hate speech territory.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:42 PM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


The Hutus were free to pollute the airwaves in Rwanda with hate speech, calling the Tutsis cockroaches and calling for their extermination and that worked out really well.

I counter that the Hutus were able to use radio this way precisely because Rwandans did NOT enjoy freedom of speech and independent media. Radio was controlled by political parties that squelched other voices through threats of violence and used radio as a pure propaganda tool, which was extraordinarily effective in a country where few could read or write.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:44 PM on June 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


If you can ban speech that disgusts you it makes it that much easier for others to ban speech that disgusts them.

*sigh*. This is a typically American thing to say in this context. It's not about speech that is disgusting, it is about speech that incites hatred. There is an important difference between the two. For example, I find the polemics of antiabortionists disgusting. But they are not inciting hatred.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:44 PM on June 11, 2008


Rwanda is definitely a bad example. The use of the radio to disseminate disinformation and hatred about the RPF and the Tutsis was part of a coordinated campaign to slaughter Tutsis.
posted by Mister_A at 1:53 PM on June 11, 2008


To those who would say that the alternative is more speech.. that's a lovely philosophical position, but it doesn't work in the real world.

do you mean that the u s of a isn't part of the real world?

It's not about speech that is disgusting, it is about speech that incites hatred.

so a person who feels hatred is never responsible for their own hatred if he's heard someone else express it?
posted by pyramid termite at 1:54 PM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh come on. An actual threat or incitement to violence is NOT protected by the 1st amendment.

Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Michelle Malkin, and their ilk seem to get away with it on a basis so regular that individual incidents hardly bear mention.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:56 PM on June 11, 2008


The thing I wonder about the Canadian hate speech law (not knowing the text) is whether it is theoretically possible to say something that is objectively true but still banned. Anyone know? I suppose it is, since it tends to concern points of view that cannot be strictly proven or disproven. To me there is something truly noxious about a law that can ban someone from speaking the truth (unless one way to think all "hate speech" must be false by definition).
posted by Edgewise at 1:59 PM on June 11, 2008


posted by drjimmy11 Oh come on. An actual threat or incitement to violence is NOT protected by the 1st amendment.

I think it depends on the threat and the person or group at whom it's directed.

posted by dirtynumbangelboy I find the polemics of antiabortionists disgusting. But they are not inciting hatred.

Well, the Supreme Court has ruled otherwise.
posted by optovox at 2:04 PM on June 11, 2008


so a person who feels hatred is never responsible for their own hatred if he's heard someone else express it?

Ah, and we begin with people putting words in my mouth. I never said that, I never implied that, and I categorically do not agree with it.

To those who would say that the alternative is more speech.. that's a lovely philosophical position, but it doesn't work in the real world.

do you mean that the u s of a isn't part of the real world?


No. You're being deliberately obtuse, as usual. There's really no point in trying to actually engage you--you'd rather just sit and snipe with ridiculous bullshit. I won't be having any further part of it.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:09 PM on June 11, 2008


...Switzerland, where every adult male is legally required to own a rifle and legally required to fire it a hundred times per year?

You confuse "having the right" with being "legally required", but then, America's Right to Bear Arms is basically controlled tightly by the commercial entities that make money on certain kinds of weaponry, to the exclusion of others (there have been far tighter restrictions on pepper spray and tasers than shotguns, both of which are better defensive weapons - and less effective offensive weapons - but that's getting better as their commercial value increases). Sorry I grabbed the bait and contributed to the derail, but my attitude toward guns is that I will NEVER acquire one unless I specifically plan to shoot someone, because there are better tools for every other purpose.
posted by wendell at 2:10 PM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think freedom of speech is fantastic and do think America got it right. However, I happen to also value the freedom of press, which strangely the countries that have anti-hate speech legislation tend to do better in than America. Swings and roundabouts. No one gets everything 'right' in a democracy.
posted by slimepuppy at 2:14 PM on June 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


I agree that there are forms of speech that are dangerous, without being immanently dangerous. However, I cannot for the life of me come up with any way to restrict that speech without sliding down a slippery slope, that would no doubt be enthusiastically greased by the likes of George W. Bush and associates.
posted by bashos_frog at 2:15 PM on June 11, 2008


To those who would say that the alternative is more speech.. that's a lovely philosophical position, but it doesn't work in the real world.

Yes, it does, unless you're not counting "America" in "the real world". For example, the "more speech" alternative has pretty much single-handedly changed this country's culture from one in which racial insults were common in mixed company into one in which they are strongly frowned upon; it is, even now, changing this country into one in which slandering gay people is frowned upon. And it has done this without banning either side of the debate. Even the widespread use of the word "gay" (as opposed to slurs like "faggot" or "queer" or the like) is a direct result of our "more speech, not hate speech" approach.

If the goal really is to provide an equal and free atmosphere for all marginalized groups -- as opposed to providing a legal excuse to protect some marginalized groups while prosecuting others -- then I think the more speech system clearly works.
posted by vorfeed at 2:15 PM on June 11, 2008 [5 favorites]


The thing I wonder about the Canadian hate speech law (not knowing the text) is whether it is theoretically possible to say something that is objectively true but still banned.

Yes, of course it is. Say that you honestly believe that all members of $ethnicity are scum and should be murdered.

If you were then to say "I think that all $ethnics are scum, and I think you should go splat one in the head with a brick," that would be an entirely true state. You do think that about $ethnics, and you do want the listener to bash one's brains in. Presumably, directly urging violence would fall under the Canadian laws.

To those who would say that the alternative is more speech.. that's a lovely philosophical position, but it doesn't work in the real world.

s/the real world/third world shitholes with long histories of deeply divisive ethnic conflicts
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:18 PM on June 11, 2008


I'd love for MeFites from Canada, the UK, Germany, etc., to come in here and defend these laws and others that ban certain forms of speech.

UK here. I think these laws are fucking stupid. Apparently our juries do as well.
posted by xchmp at 2:27 PM on June 11, 2008


I'd be much more solidly in favor of free speech if it weren't so frequently misused for corrupt ends.

For example, the idea that trying to ban corporate donations to PACs "restricts their right to free speech" and thus campaign finance reform is unconstitutional.

Because apparently, as all good americans know, money = speech?

Monstrous.
posted by aramaic at 2:28 PM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ah, and we begin with people putting words in my mouth.

come back when you learn to debate honestly, without playing the part of the victim - unless i've actually quoted you as saying something you didn't, i haven't put words in your mouth

No. You're being deliberately obtuse, as usual. There's really no point in trying to actually engage you

because you'd actually have to defend such exaggerated and stupid rhetoric as "but it doesn't work in the real world."* when you know you can't - seeing as there's a country where the alternative of "real speech"^ HAS worked, and damned well at that

* see? that's an actual quote, where i've actually "put words in your mouth" - the footnote is so you can tell the difference and perhaps learn it

^ another example of me actually quoting you - note the quotation marks - that's generally a dead giveaway


now, do you believe that people are responsible for their own hatred, or can they shift the blame over to people who incite it?
posted by pyramid termite at 2:29 PM on June 11, 2008


DNAB didn't say you were misquoting him.
posted by stinkycheese at 2:38 PM on June 11, 2008


To those who would say that the alternative is more speech.. that's a lovely philosophical position, but it doesn't work in the real world.

I think Nazi symbols are equally abhorred on both sides of the Atlantic. But here in the U.S., we manage to have that abhorrence while at the same time allowing things like the Nazi march in Skokie, Illinois.

By your logic, the Nazis should have already taken over. But as I said, I think Nazi symbols are equally abhorred on both sides of the Atlantic. So somehow, we have indeed made it work in the real world.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:39 PM on June 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


For example, the idea that trying to ban corporate donations to PACs "restricts their right to free speech" and thus campaign finance reform is unconstitutional.

Are corporations not made up of people? If all the shareholders got together outside of the corporation and donated en masse, you'd be fine with these donations, if at least in spirit. But when they band together within the legal framework of a corporation to do the same thing, that's when you have an issue? That's tortured logic.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:42 PM on June 11, 2008


But when they band together within the legal framework of a corporation to do the same thing, that's when you have an issue?

Correct.

The reasons are fairly complicated, and mostly revolve around accountability, individual responsibility, and how corporate personhood relates to actual personhood. The short bastardized version is: Fiduciary responsibility is a laughably meaningless phrase & thus corporate PAC donations are simply too ripe for corruption.
posted by aramaic at 3:05 PM on June 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


I'd love for MeFites from Canada, the UK, Germany, etc., to come in here and defend these laws and others that ban certain forms of speech.

I'm from Australia and I think those laws are dumb and would not attempt to defend them, ever. Having said that, I've not seen any evidence of any speech being suppressed over here. There was that whole nude underage photography exhibition thing but I got bored of hearing about it, and anyway I think it was resolved in favour of those who like nude underage photography exhibitions. So, a victory for the people.

People run their stupid mouths here just as well as they do in America, and what I primarily hear when somebody complains about this sort of thing is "shut up". It's all good wholesome stuff.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:14 PM on June 11, 2008


And no one's mentioned anything about "Free Speech Zones" yet?

I was under the impression the original intent of Freedom of Speech was to protect a citizen from government persecution when expressing politically unpopular ideas/beliefs/what have you.

Or maybe politicians have a right to be free from hearing things they don't like?
posted by Talanvor at 3:57 PM on June 11, 2008


pyramid termite, what part of "I never said that, I never implied that, and I categorically do not agree with it." is unclear to you? I know that things like comprehension and honesty aren't, let's be charitable, numbered amongst your greatest strengths, but even for you that was pretty breathtaking trolling.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:16 PM on June 11, 2008


*sigh*. This is a typically American thing to say in this context.

And this is a typically non-American thing to say in this context.
posted by Justinian at 4:28 PM on June 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


pyramid termite, what part of "I never said that, I never implied that, and I categorically do not agree with it." is unclear to you?

the part where you stop playing victim, and start actually addressing the issue at hand with something other than stale, weak rhetoric - the part where you realize that if people ARE responsible for their own hatred, then someone else "inciting" it is not an actual accusation of having CAUSED said hatred, but a mere trick of semantics and not a real argument

you know like saying that something "doesn't work in the real world", an argument i noticed you dropped like a hot potato when several of us called you on it

I know that things like comprehension and honesty aren't, let's be charitable, numbered amongst your greatest strengths, but even for you that was pretty breathtaking trolling.

well, if weak logic and weak pc propaganda don't work, you can always try weak flaming - or whining

whatever
posted by pyramid termite at 4:39 PM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


*sigh*. This is a typically American thing to say in this context.

We are pretty exasperating, aren't we?

When you add our big fat asses to the gas-guzzling SUVs to the First Amendment . . . well, I'd be annoyed too.

Moving right along . . .

The Soviet Union had very strong laws against "hate speech"

The current state of race relations in the former Soviet countries does not suggest that those laws did a bang-up job of promoting racial/ethnic harmony. Quite the opposite, in fact.
posted by jason's_planet at 4:45 PM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Michelle Malkin, and their ilk seem to get away with it on a basis so regular that individual incidents hardly bear mention.

I was incredulous at first, and was going to call you out to give some examples. But a google search for "rush limbaugh incite" does bring up plenty of results related to at least one incidence of him inciting riots.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 4:46 PM on June 11, 2008


"Free speech" as defined as the legal right to put whatever you want, without the slightest regard to its veracity, into the public discourse isn't a good thing, it is the thing that is wrong with American "journalism". If people are just allowed (legally, or more importantly, through social mores) to just say whatever they want to the public as a whole, they start realizing that, hey, they might as well start telling lies that benefit themselves. And if told "shut up, you self-serving idiot, you are wrong for this, that, and the other reason", they say "I don't care. Freedom of speech means I can keep saying this. And I will." And they do. And sometimes them having money and political power means they get to say it louder, and more often, and the lie becomes significantly more widely believed than the truth, which is a vile and intolerable state of affairs. Truth is, in the end, the only thing worth caring about in public discourse. All good things follow from a desire for truth: truthfully, we all desire good things.

A lack of respect for the truth leads to the ludicrous situation we have now where journalists present "here is the argument from a scientist" and "here is a counterargument from some guy who thinks that carrots are a mammal" to the viewer, who is invited to make up his/her own mind between these equally valid points of view. Because, in the absence of responsibility to veracity, all points of view are equally valid, and equally invalid.

I'm still in favor of freedom of speech, but I don't like it without the responsibility of veracity. A responsible, decent human being, if proven wrong, changes his/her mind. Stops spreading bullshit. At the very least, adjusts it to acknowledge the facts. That is the responsibility that goes with the right. Complete legal freedom of speech for the public is safer, because a court with the power to tell a liar to shut up, might act in error or corruptly, and tell a truth-teller to shut up for political reasons. But there is a place for social mores enforcing veracity beyond the legal right to speak: liars should be exposed, mocked, and known for what they are. The American public discourse had that, up 'til only a few decades ago. There's nothing preventing that interest from being rekindled.

The argument for legal protection is far weaker when applied to persons in political power. A theoretically corrupt court would obey them. Politicians in power, and their minions and employees (and to a lesser extent, those in opposition) have a far greater responsibility of veracity than ordinary members of the public, and veracity needs a greater place in the system.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 4:50 PM on June 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


Even the widespread use of the word "gay" (as opposed to slurs like "faggot" or "queer" or the like) is a direct result of our "more speech, not hate speech" approach.

I presume you are aware that the social changes you mention, like this one, have also taken place outside the US? In those nasty countries with hate speech laws?

I could take it or leave it. I don't think these laws make a huge amount of practical difference to peoples actions or attitudes either way. I don't regard countries with hate speech laws as being fascist Orwellian backwaters, because things seem to be working fairly well for them most of the time, but I think the US's attitude is probably preferable from a philosophical standpoint.

I'm much more concerned about laws related to libel, because they have a much greater practical impact. And laws regarding freedom of information, whistleblower protection etc. These things can really make a difference. Hate speech - not so much. Now, hate crime legislation sounds like a great idea, I'm all for that.
posted by Jimbob at 4:52 PM on June 11, 2008


Fiduciary responsibility is a laughably meaningless phrase & thus corporate PAC donations are simply too ripe for corruption.

I'm not sure you know what "fiduciary responsibility" means, because it has no bearing on whether or not a private corporation could fund a PAC. The only fiduciary responsibility a corporation has is to its shareholders. Which are people.

It helps to break these things down.

Let's say your city council is going to vote on whether it will build either a new park or a new sewage plant. A group of people get together and want to lobby for a park. So they form a group -- "Concerned Citizens for the Park" -- in order to have a consistent message and to allow people to make donations to the group, instead of making donations to a single person. This group will put its name and message on flyers, bulletin boards, signs, etc. In other words, they will lobby the townspeople and the city council.

This is, essentially, a PAC, if not for the weird tax rules.

Now, the town doctor who runs his practice -- "Dr. Jones Dermatology, Inc" -- wants to give money to Concerned Citizens for the Park, because Dr. Jones likes parks. He'd like to write them a check from Dr. Jones Dermatology, Inc., of which he's the sole shareholder, because not only does Dr. Jones like parks, he wants to promote Dr. Jones Dermatology, Inc., as a lover of parks, too, because it will be more likely for people to come get their mole looked at if they knew it was being done by someone that loves parks as much as they do.

However, you're saying he shouldn't be able to do that, because that's a "corporate donation" and it'll be "corrupt," whatever that means to you.

But on the other hand, it's perfectly fine for Dr. Jones to whip out his own checkbook and write a personal check.

This is the height of tortured logic.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:55 PM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


But a google search for "rush limbaugh incite" does bring up plenty of results related to at least one incidence of him inciting riots.

well, the riots haven't actually happened yet - i prefer to think of them as oxycontin fueled hallucinations on his part
posted by pyramid termite at 4:59 PM on June 11, 2008


But there is a place for social mores enforcing veracity beyond the legal right to speak: liars should be exposed, mocked, and known for what they are. The American public discourse had that, up 'til only a few decades ago.

Interestingly enough, the American public discourse is getting that back again. Bloggers are doing it. (And the MSM doesn't like it. They're used to being the scrutinizers, not the scrutinized.)
posted by Class Goat at 5:06 PM on June 11, 2008


The only fiduciary responsibility a corporation has is to its shareholders

Bingo. You have grasped the straw. Congratulations!

Now, spend more time looking into the history of corporate PAC donations, the extent to which shareholders had any influence on that, and the extent to which they were able to recoup the monies expended out of corporate coffers without their say. By the time we can say no, the money's gone. All the Board restructuring in the world won't get it back.

...hint: I, and my fellow shareholders, will not be getting our money back. Coulda been a nice little dividend or a plant expansion, but oh no, Bossman felt like bankrolling his son-in-law. Awesome.
posted by aramaic at 5:38 PM on June 11, 2008


It is very obvious that many of you do not know how the law works in Canada. It is very obvious that the complainants in the case don't, either. Here:

http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/resources/legislation/canadian_law/federal/criminal_code/criminal_code_hate.cfm

Under the law, "hate speech" is not defined as saying nasty things about a group. It is defined as functionally attempting to have people harmed by saying nasty things about a group. Yeah, it's illegal to try for another Krystallnacht or Hutu massacre. I sure feel oppressed!

Incidentally, the US' lack of effective legislation is why Nazis typically opt for American web hosting and printing, and why international racist movements generally like the US.

Now as an exercise, I would like someone to find one person -- just one -- who was convicted under hate speech legislation like the above (not like the strawman, Soviet bullshit alluded to earlier) who did not in fact intend to incite real harm to an identifiable group. Just one. No bullshit about chilling intellectual climes. Real people. A real person.
posted by mobunited at 5:42 PM on June 11, 2008


...hint: I, and my fellow shareholders, will not be getting our money back.

I'm very sorry your investment choice has clouded your view to the point where you seem to be claiming that people that don't share that view are simply naive.

I mean, you had to invest in that company. You had a gun to your head and everything.

Oh wait...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:02 PM on June 11, 2008


posted by mobunited It is very obvious that many of you do not know how the law works in Canada . . . Incidentally, the US' lack of effective legislation is why Nazis typically opt for American web hosting and printing, and why international racist movements generally like the US.

It is very obvious that you do not understand free speech.
posted by optovox at 6:10 PM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Incidentally, the US' lack of effective legislation is why Nazis typically opt for American web hosting and printing, and why international racist movements generally like the US.

Criticizing this as a "lack of effective legislation" is like criticizing a vagina as a lack of a penis. Yes, in the US you can get web hosting and printing services no matter how vile your beliefs are to most people. That's such a terrible thing! Beliefs are not actions, and it's impossible to effectively legislate belief, in the absence of mind control.

I would like someone to find one person -- just one -- who was convicted under hate speech legislation like the above (not like the strawman, Soviet bullshit alluded to earlier) who did not in fact intend to incite real harm to an identifiable group.

What does intent matter, if the ability to incite real harm doesn't actually exist? If it does exist, we do have legislation against that.

As an ancillary observation: the whole meme about 'freedoms from' is noxious and horrible. 'Freedom from want' means the goverment should give you stuff; 'freedom from fear' means the government should shut people up you don't like.

These ideas aren't about freedom; they've hijacked the word. They're about putting other people in chains for your benefit.


You know, you're a smart guy and all, but I'm going to go with FDR and Aung San Suu Kyi on this one, thanks anyway.
posted by me & my monkey at 6:22 PM on June 11, 2008



It is very obvious that you do not understand free speech.


You mean the thing that is limited when you try to start riots and yell fire in a crowded theatre? That is limited in *exactly* the same context with the law as written? Is your ability to form mental models of other human beings so damaged that you cannot understand someone trying to get people to harm members of an identifiable group without saying, "Go and harm X?" Or is this a desperate rhetorical gambit of yours, born from the fact that you cannot in fact find the one example I have asked for, and are reduced to fact-free rhetoric?
posted by mobunited at 6:27 PM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


My google-fu is mostly failing me, but I'd be interested in seeing information about hate crimes per capita, broken out by country. I found this report, which seems to indicate that Germany has a large number of hate crimes (and yet, criminalises certain kinds of speech). From the report:
In December 2006, official statistics showed that the rise in the number of incidents continued, with 10,154 “far-right crimes” registered from January through the end of October 2006, the highest levels for that time period since the current system of monitoring such crimes was introduced in 2001.

The information was published by the newspaper Taggespiel, which cited parliamentarians and leaders of the Jewish community who attributed the rise to the inadequate response of the main political parties to a growing neo-Nazi movement.

The rise in hate crimes in 2006 continued a trend observed the previous year. A 2005 report by Ger- many's domestic security agency, the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz, said “rightist crimes” there rose to 15,361 in 2005, up 27 percent from the 12,051 crimes in 2004.
Apparently, there were 8,000 hate crimes reported in the United States in 2006.

On the face of it, at least, anti-hate speech laws do not seem to prevent bias crimes. And the First Amendment doesn't seem to encourage or condone them.
posted by rtha at 6:31 PM on June 11, 2008


Tell you what--since you're the one who said "the US' lack of effective legislation is why Nazis typically opt for American web hosting and printing, and why international racist movements generally like the US", why don't you explain exactly what you meant by "effective legislation" and then explain your understanding of free speech.
posted by optovox at 6:34 PM on June 11, 2008


Criticizing this as a "lack of effective legislation" is like criticizing a vagina as a lack of a penis.

I know you need to resort to metaphor for lack of evidence, but I'll still point out that I haven't seen any vaginas set homosexuals on fire lately. What's your point?

Yes, in the US you can get web hosting and printing services no matter how vile your beliefs are to most people. That's such a terrible thing! Beliefs are not actions, and it's impossible to effectively legislate belief, in the absence of mind control.

Speech is an action. Amazingly, the police can put you in jail for not just believing you should kill somebody, but having a plausible discussion around how to do it. The law in Canada exists in that context.


I would like someone to find one person -- just one -- who was convicted under hate speech legislation like the above (not like the strawman, Soviet bullshit alluded to earlier) who did not in fact intend to incite real harm to an identifiable group.

What does intent matter, if the ability to incite real harm doesn't actually exist? If it does exist, we do have legislation against that.


Did you read the link? The likelihood of a breach of the peace is a precondition.


You know, you're a smart guy and all, but I'm going to go with FDR and Aung San Suu Kyi on this one, thanks anyway.


I somehow doubt you've discussed this with them, between the probable distance and the fact that one's been dead for a long time. I'm sure you read something and interpreted it to your liking, though, which seems to be a greater effort than you put into reading about the subject at hand.
posted by mobunited at 6:35 PM on June 11, 2008


You mean the thing that is limited when you try to start riots and yell fire in a crowded theatre? That is limited in *exactly* the same context with the law as written?

No, it isn't limited in exactly the same context, and that's the problem. The interpretation of "incitement to violence" is so broad under Canadian law that there needn't be any actual harm possible for speech to be prohibited. Fred Phelps, as hateful as he is, incites violence against gays all the time, but he's not an actual threat to gays because no one is going to listen to him. Prohibiting his speech would not make me, a gay man, any safer as a result.

And if you think hate speech legislation is what you need to prevent Krystalnacht or Rwandan genocide, I suggest you think again - both of those are examples of government-sponsored hatred. For governments to be able to pull off things like this, they must limit your freedoms in the first place.
posted by me & my monkey at 6:38 PM on June 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


My google-fu is mostly failing me, but I'd be interested in seeing information about hate crimes per capita, broken out by country. I found this report, which seems to indicate that Germany has a large number of hate crimes (and yet, criminalises certain kinds of speech). From the report:


OMG! There are more Nazis in the country that gave birth to the Nazis! I bet that even though almost everybody hates Stalin in Russia now, if you had to find some Stalinists, you'd be better off looking in Moscow than Newark. It's not slander against everyone who lives there. It;s historical residue.
posted by mobunited at 6:38 PM on June 11, 2008


Tell you what--since you're the one who said "the US' lack of effective legislation is why Nazis typically opt for American web hosting and printing, and why international racist movements generally like the US", why don't you explain exactly what you meant by "effective legislation" and then explain your understanding of free speech.

I mean situations like members of groups like the Order talking about how great it would be to kill certain people, and then doing it. Yeah, you got them when the bodies cooled down. Way to go, there. The system works!

Still waiting for that one guy who's been imprisoned or fined under Canadian-style legislation who wasn't trying to incite violence.
posted by mobunited at 6:44 PM on June 11, 2008


Mobunited, could you explain what you mean? I'm not grokking you through the sarcasm.

I'm actually interested in knowing what stats out there might talk about hate crime rates in different countries. I wasn't attempting to say "See? NAZIS IN GERMANY!" If you look at the report I linked to, it's one of the countries talked about in the study - it was nearest the beginning of the report.

I wasn't picking on you particularly (or anyone) when I posted the link. Please take a deep breath. The sarcasm and snark do not make it particularly easy for me to understand your point.
posted by rtha at 6:46 PM on June 11, 2008


I somehow doubt you've discussed this with them, between the probable distance and the fact that one's been dead for a long time. I'm sure you read something and interpreted it to your liking

Well, uh, yah. You might want to holster your snark long enough to realize that the bit you quoted was in response to someone other than you. You think this thread's all about you, you're so vain, you're so vaAAAIN ...

Yes, I did interpret the "Four Freedoms" to my liking, as do most modern liberals. Fortunately, I needn't consult an oracle to understand what both mean, since it's written down and clearly understandable. I do believe that the government has a responsibility to redistribute income to some degree to prevent harm to the weakest of its citizens.

Speech is an action. Amazingly, the police can put you in jail for not just believing you should kill somebody, but having a plausible discussion around how to do it. The law in Canada exists in that context.

...

Did you read the link? The likelihood of a breach of the peace is a precondition.


Yes, I did read the link. However, my reading of it seems to be a bit different from yours.
A 1990 decision from the Canadian Supreme Court, for instance, upheld the criminal conviction of James Keegstra for “unlawfully promoting hatred against an identifiable group by communicating anti-Semitic statements.” Mr. Keegstra, a teacher, had told his students that Jews were “money loving,” “power hungry” and “treacherous.”
Now, my reading of the above quote - from the link, you see - is that the likelihood of a breach of the peace from that speech is immeasurably small, unless he also taught Street Thuggery 101.

And "having a plausible discussion" about how to kill someone, at a certain point, may be viewed as a conspiracy, if there's any evidence of actual planning. I'm pretty sure that would be illegal even here in the land of the free and the home of the lawless.
posted by me & my monkey at 6:49 PM on June 11, 2008


I not only tolerate free hate speech in America, I'm COUNTING on it.

Republicans are going to throw all sorts of veiled hate speech at Obama the next few months, and I'm hoping the backlash will be fierce.
posted by fungible at 6:50 PM on June 11, 2008


I seem to recall that these Canadian laws intended to fight violence against women ended up with prosecutions of writers of lesbian erotica, essentially for misogyny, which suggests a serious potential for backfiring if you ask me. I think we have enough laws with which to get real bad guys and there are serious problems with restricting speech without impairing free thought so I'm sticking by the First Amendment thank you very much.
posted by Maias at 6:56 PM on June 11, 2008


I mean situations like members of groups like the Order talking about how great it would be to kill certain people, and then doing it. Yeah, you got them when the bodies cooled down. Way to go, there. The system works!

If we only outlawed this horrific speech, these groups would be forced to organize their crimes in secrecy. That'll prevent them from doing anything bad!
posted by me & my monkey at 6:58 PM on June 11, 2008


No, it isn't limited in exactly the same context, and that's the problem. The interpretation of "incitement to violence" is so broad under Canadian law that there needn't be any actual harm possible for speech to be prohibited. Fred Phelps, as hateful as he is, incites violence against gays all the time, but he's not an actual threat to gays because no one is going to listen to him. Prohibiting his speech would not make me, a gay man, any safer as a result.

Sure, the law can be abused -- about as much as any other law. If there' something exceptional about that section of the Criminal Code it is the degree to which is *hasn't.* Canada does in fact take freedom of speech very seriously. The fact that its domain is defined differently does not change that. I mean, Americans can go to a federal prison for the even more vaguely defined crime of threatening the president. That's wacky. I can rattle off a list of hippies, satirists and teenagers who've been visited by the Secret Service for that. Can you list one person who recieved the same kind of undeserving attention from Canadian authorities?


And if you think hate speech legislation is what you need to prevent Krystalnacht or Rwandan genocide, I suggest you think again - both of those are examples of government-sponsored hatred. For governments to be able to pull off things like this, they must limit your freedoms in the first place.


That's a fair point, but I was referring to the fact that these are violent acts directed against a class of persons. And in fact, I *have* seen the law used effectively to curtail violent extremists in the cases of the Heritage Front and Ernst Zundel.
posted by mobunited at 7:01 PM on June 11, 2008


I really dislike a lot of the opinions of Mark Steyn, not to mention the editorial stance of the National Post, the paper where I first encountered his writing. Growing up, I'd see a fresh issue of the National Post on the breakfast table every morning, and if I wanted to be ticked off, all I would have to do would be to open the paper and read one of its ediorials, say, condemning gay marriage or supporting Bush's latest neo-con advenure.

Sexism and racism are not addressed adequately by major media outlets. I'm used to seeing homophobic and transphobic representations everywhere. I am shocked that the way Islam and Muslims are portrayed. It's why I don't watch TV or listen to commercial radio or [insert major corporate media giant here].

At the same time I am against all forms of censorship, unless of course speech is made to directly incite hate and cause harm. IANAL, but I think that is already handled by other laws.

More troubling to me is the lack of dialogue that addresses discrimination, challenges stereotypes, and promotes understanding.
posted by radiocontrolled at 7:05 PM on June 11, 2008


Americans can go to a federal prison for the even more vaguely defined crime of threatening the president.

This is arguably a bad law. Its existence does not justify other bad laws.

Can you list one person who recieved the same kind of undeserving attention from Canadian authorities?

Nope. But that could easily have as much to do with my ignorance of Canada than anything else. After all, I'm a dumbass insular American.

these are violent acts directed against a class of persons.

That's where we'll have to agree to disagree. To me, speech is never a violent act. Violence is a violent act. Speech is not violence.

I *have* seen the law used effectively to curtail violent extremists

Laws against violence will effectively curtail violent extremists. Laws against speech will effectively curtail offensive speakers who may become violent extremists or may not. I'm not comfortable punishing the potential.
posted by me & my monkey at 7:07 PM on June 11, 2008


It is very obvious that you do not understand free speech.

Can you tell me how long I'll keep an office job in the US if I insist on referring to colleagues as niggers, kikes, and bitches?

Also, while you're at it, tell Mike Diana about America's shining example of free speech. You could tell Bill Gaines, but he's dead.
posted by rodgerd at 7:08 PM on June 11, 2008



I'm actually interested in knowing what stats out there might talk about hate crime rates in different countries. I wasn't attempting to say "See? NAZIS IN GERMANY!" If you look at the report I linked to, it's one of the countries talked about in the study - it was nearest the beginning of the report.


It's not the greatest example. I mean, your link is a cache search where you were looking for Germany. What were you thinking?

Anyway, Canada reported 892 hate crimes in 2006. The FBI received reports about 7,772 incidents and 9080 offenses (http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/hc2006/incidents.html, http://www.statcan.ca/english/research/85F0033MIE/2008017/findings/incidence-en.htm ). These figures are similar per capita, but not, however, particularly amenable to comparison because of differences in collecting statistics and law.
posted by mobunited at 7:15 PM on June 11, 2008


Can you tell me how long I'll keep an office job in the US if I insist on referring to colleagues as niggers, kikes, and bitches?

Sad to say, it really depends on the office. I'd hope you'd get fired that day, and if I ran an office I'd fire you on the spot for that behavior. But in any case, the government is not going to come to your office and arrest you for doing so.

Also, while you're at it, tell Mike Diana about America's shining example of free speech. You could tell Bill Gaines, but he's dead.

Neither were prosecuted by the government for hate speech. One was pursued by the keystone kops because of what he wrote, and the other was hounded by the Senate, but I repeat myself. The Comics Code that resulted from the Senate investigation was self-regulation by the comics industry, not regulation by the government.

It appears obvious to me that you do not understand free speech either.
posted by me & my monkey at 7:17 PM on June 11, 2008


Can you tell me how long I'll keep an office job in the US if I insist on referring to colleagues as niggers, kikes, and bitches?

a private company is not the government and is not required to follow the 1st amendment on its property
posted by pyramid termite at 7:18 PM on June 11, 2008


What were you thinking?

I was thinking that Germany has a lot of experience with keeping track of hate groups, and that they probably had good, consistent numbers available. It was a weird, left-handed compliment, perhaps, but it wasn't because I leapt to the conclusion that you seem to think I leapt to.

Thank you for the links.
posted by rtha at 7:26 PM on June 11, 2008


If it makes you any happier, mobunited, hate crimes for Britain, in 2006-07:

Nationally, in 2006-07, police reported 5,619 hate crimes in which someone was injured, 4,350 hate crimes without injury, and 28,485 cases of racially or religiously motivated harassment.

There were also 3,565 cases of criminal damage related to hate crimes.


You seem to be insisting that lack of anti-hate speech laws must equal greater numbers of reported hate crimes. I'm wondering if that's true. If anti-hate speech laws are more effective than the system here in the U.S. in preventing hate crimes, then why do there appear to still be so many in places like Germany?

(I say "appear" because the U.S., Canada, Britain, and Germany may all use different metrics for determining what a hate crime is.)
posted by rtha at 7:35 PM on June 11, 2008


he part where you stop playing victim, and start actually addressing the issue at hand

You put words in my mouth. I pointed out that I neither said nor implied those things, and in fact disagree with them. So you then... ask me again? Seriously, dude. Grow the fuck up.

Of course people are responsible for their own actions. This includes acting in such a way as to..

No. Nevermind. I can't be fucking bothered to deal with a pinhead like you. You call me weak? You're the one who couldn't even respond to what I said without putting words in my mouth, without being condescending. But I am the weak one. Okay. Man, it must be nice to live in your little world, you arrogant fuck.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:44 PM on June 11, 2008


If all the shareholders got together outside of the corporation and donated en masse, you'd be fine with these donations, if at least in spirit. But when they band together within the legal framework of a corporation to do the same thing, that's when you have an issue? That's tortured logic.
I'm firmly in the pro-free-speech camp, but I don't think that stance is as "tortured" as you're making it out to be. There are lots of things that natural persons are allowed to, and corporate "persons" aren't. E.g., voting. The employees of Ford Motor Company all get to vote, but the chairman of FMC doesn't get to go into the booth twice, once to vote "as" the company itself. If we restrict voting to natural persons, I'm not sure why it's not perfectly legitimate to restrict campaign donations to candidates to them as well. (Especially since there's no legitimate reason for corporations to have any say in a democratic government outside the votes that the people who make up them have as individuals. If a corporation is working to different ends than all of its employees are as individuals, that end is inherently a bad thing.)

Now, where I get off the campaign-reform bus is when it starts to get into actual outright censorship. While I can see the point of restricting cash donations to candidates, I'm a lot less enthused about the idea of telling individuals or corporations that they can't make certain types of political speech, for any reason, regardless of the good intent of the restriction. I just fundamentally don't trust government enough to want them restricting any kind of political speech, by anyone, natural or corporate. That just seems like a dangerous road to go down, and I think the USSC was correct when it rejected certain parts of McCain-Feingold for being too censorious.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:10 PM on June 11, 2008


me & my monkey Fred Phelps, as hateful as he is, incites violence against gays all the time, but he's not an actual threat to gays because no one is going to listen to him. Prohibiting his speech would not make me, a gay man, any safer as a result.

Arguably Phelps may make you safer (as fungible pointed out in the context of racism), as his sheer repulsiveness taints discrimination against homosexuals, by association with him. Someone who has a mild dislike for "teh gayz" is much more likely to see Phelps and think "geez, am I like that asshole?" than to see him and think "preach on, brother". Perhaps the same case can be made for the KKK and white supremacy, or neo-Nazis and anti-semitism. If advocates of a viewpoint are obvious assholes, fools, and liars, it tends to weaken the popular support of that viewpoint. (Which is part of why it's so important to call out that things are bullshit, as bullshit.)

Sad to say, it really depends on the office. I'd hope you'd get fired that day, and if I ran an office I'd fire you on the spot for that behavior. But in any case, the government is not going to come to your office and arrest you for doing so.

Rodgerd's point isn't very well expressed, but it has significant merit in the context of this debate. Many rights cannot--and should not--be exercised freely, because they impinge on other people's rights (as is mostly the case in his example). On the other hand, many rights cannot be exercised freely because (as might be the case in a better example), economic factors deny them to people. "The rich and poor alike are forbidden to sleep under bridges."

Similarly, freedom to speak where your speech might be against the economic interests of your employer (and the distinction between "employer" and "master" is greyer than it looks), is more a theoretical than practical right. Sure you can go and get a new job, but implicit in that (often-sneered) advice, is the assumption that it is you, and not you employer, who must greatly inconvenience themselves to accommodate your exercise of your "right", and the assumption that, if it isn't practical for you to get a new job, then we're all perfectly OK with you not having the "right" (or perhaps privilege) of free speech.

Because money is involved in jobs, damn it, and money changes everything in moral questions. Which is why "but it's my job!" is a perfectly valid defense to accusations of wrongdoing. Or maybe not.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 10:48 PM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


a private company is not the government and is not required to follow the 1st amendment on its property

Aaah the sweet catch-cry of the American first-amendment flake.

This is some kind of Godwin-like point - "In any discussion of free speech principals on the internet, someone will mention that it doesn't apply on private property."

They never bother to go into why that might be a negative thing. They never start to consider that a system of government or a constitution that really defended freedom would make damn sure it applies everywhere. It would make sure freedom of speech trumps capital.

Yank: "Yay, we've got free speech, it's in the Constitution motherfucker, amendment numero uno!"
Furriner: "Yeah, but what if you're at work, or in a shopping mall, or you're publishing something on the internet, hosted on a web server owned by a private company, or you're in a privately run university, or you want to say something on television or in a newspaper...?"
Yank: "Free speech doesn't apply then. Yay for us, isn't our Constitution fucking sweet?"
posted by Jimbob at 5:48 AM on June 12, 2008


Oh and all you rah-rah-rah-FIRST AMENDMENTZOMG people.. you don't have free speech.

Uttering death threats is illegal.
Libel and slander are illegal.
Talking about State secrets is illegal.
Swearing on TV is illegal (depending on the channel).
Boobs? Illegal.

Shall I go on? You don't have free speech, by your definition of the word. So stop acting superior.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:19 AM on June 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


First, under American law the truth is protected speech. Telling the truth about someone is never actionable. (by Class Goat)

This is a very good rule. If a law-breaking corporation takes me to court for criticizing them, I should be able to defend myself by showing that I have been telling the truth. But even though I agree with it, I can foresee that it will not always be easy to prove (or disprove) in court that a certain statement is true. Take a few of the things that Mark Steyn says in the Maclean's article for which the magazine is now on trial:

Europe is turning into "Eurabia"

Islam has "serious global ambitions"

How would you prove to the court that he is or isn't telling the truth? Convincing the court is not like convincing a magazine audience.
posted by Termite at 6:30 AM on June 12, 2008


The presence of hate speech laws in Europe is an important facet of the controversy about the cartoons of Muhammed in Denmark that goes almost completely unacknowledged in the United States. Danish law does not forbid people from insulting Islam, Mohammed, and all Danish Muslims, but Danish law strictly forbids denying the Holocaust and other anti-Semitic statements. From the point of view of Danish Muslims, most of whom had no connection to the European Holocaust in World War II, the idea that Jews have sacred cows enshrined in Danish law, but that Muslims do not have the same protection is probably a great source of anger for them. This is one reason why I think a religiously neutral commitment to free speech, as embodied in the First Amendment, is such a good thing.
posted by jonp72 at 6:33 AM on June 12, 2008


Shall I go on? You don't have free speech

...just freer than everywhere that makes stating some opinions illegal because they are bad opinions that must never be uttered.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:03 AM on June 12, 2008 [3 favorites]


So stop acting superior.

How about you go first?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:44 AM on June 12, 2008


Libel and slander are illegal.

Yes. Lying about people is illegal. The horror.

No place is perfect on balancing matters of free speech and the need to protect people against lies and threats. Canada's anti-obscenity laws have been most famously used against a gay and lesbian bookstore, Little Sister's, in Vancouver, BC. They've been fighting Canada Customs for more than 20 years, because Canada Customs has chosen to interpret the anti-obscenity laws in a way that lets them confiscate gay and lesbian books being shipped from the US (and other places) at the Canadian border. Little Sister's sort of "won" the fight, but it's a thin victory, considering they don't have any money left to continue one part of it. The Supreme Court determined that Canada Customs has been acting in a discriminatory manner: ""Given that 70 per cent of Customs detentions are of gay and lesbian material, there is unfinished business of high public importance left over from Little Sisters No. 1," they said. "Systemic discrimination by Customs officials and unlawful interference with free expression were clearly established in the earlier case and numerous Charter violations and systemic problems in the administration of Customs legislation were found."" (emphasis mine)

More links here. The folks at Little Sister's are all good friends - my partner and I got gay married in the store a few years ago - so the subject is near and dear to me.
posted by rtha at 9:17 AM on June 12, 2008


Yes. Lying about people is illegal. The horror.


Ugh. Way to miss the point.

As for Little Sisters... yes, Canada Customs have been monstrous douchebags. But that's obscenity laws, which are a far cry from hate speech. Obscenity laws are largely ridiculous. Hate speech laws are not. As three blind mice said: don't give the seed a chance to grow. That is a good thing.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:26 AM on June 12, 2008


How would you prove to the court that he is or isn't telling the truth?

The thing is that a Human Rights tribunal isn't a court. As much as it pains me to say it, I kind of have to go with Ezra Levant on this: it's a kangaroo court.

Historically all they got were valid human rights complaints - someone wouldn't rent an apartment to a Hindu, that kind of thing. So it's run by bureaucrats who basically rubber stamp whatever comes in. Which is why these cases are such an abuse of the system; unlike courts no one really has to prove anything here.
posted by GuyZero at 9:32 AM on June 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


It is never a good thing when the government tries to censor the content of speech based upon ideas. Hate speech laws do just that. I like what the ACLU has to say on the matter:
How much we value the right of free speech is put to its severest test when the speaker is someone we disagree with most. Speech that deeply offends our morality or is hostile to our way of life warrants the same constitutional protection as other speech because the right of free speech is indivisible: When one of us is denied this right, all of us are denied. Since its founding in 1920, the ACLU has fought for the free expression of all ideas, popular or unpopular. That's the constitutional mandate.

Where racist, sexist and homophobic speech is concerned, the ACLU believes that more speech -- not less -- is the best revenge. This is particularly true at universities, whose mission is to facilitate learning through open debate and study, and to enlighten. Speech codes are not the way to go on campuses, where all views are entitled to be heard, explored, supported or refuted. Besides, when hate is out in the open, people can see the problem. Then they can organize effectively to counter bad attitudes, possibly change them, and forge solidarity against the forces of intolerance.

College administrators may find speech codes attractive as a quick fix, but as one critic put it: "Verbal purity is not social change." Codes that punish bigoted speech treat only the symptom: The problem itself is bigotry. The ACLU believes that instead of opting for gestures that only appear to cure the disease, universities have to do the hard work of recruitment to increase faculty and student diversity; counseling to raise awareness about bigotry and its history, and changing curricula to institutionalize more inclusive approaches to all subject matter.
posted by caddis at 10:22 AM on June 12, 2008


mobunited, it's becoming harder and harder to figure out what you're getting at.

If you are really saying that you can't be prosecuted under Canadian speech law unless you are inciting violence, then you are flat wrong, and come off looking either very ignorant or very dishonest. Let's look at two of the most important Canadian speech cases under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms: Keegstra (mentioned in TFA), and R. v. Butler.

In Keegstra, the Canadian Supreme Court upheld the hate speech conviction of a teacher who'd indoctrinated his students against the Jews. This is odious behavior of course (and even in the US he could have been fired for it). But Keegstra wasn't inciting violence -- he didn't advocate physical attacks on Jews, he didn't denounce specific Jews, he didn't lead rallies or mobs anywhere but restricted his poisoning to the classroom setting. Accordingly, the government didn't assert that Keegstra had caused any violent incidents or near-misses anyway. Keegstra was just spreading opinions -- peacefully, even.

In Butler, the Canadian Supreme Court upheld the "obscenity" conviction of a merchant who sold "degrading" pornographic videos. Although the opinions of the justices suggested that the law was justified because it prevented harm, there's nothing resembling a direct link between the speech involved and the harm. Essentially the Court embraced the philosophy that (bad) pornography spreads bad (harmful) attitudes, and censorship is justified to combat those bad attitudes. A US appeals court has called the same theory "thought control" (American Booksellers v. Hudnut). Call it what you will, this is miles beyond policing only incitement to violence.

These cases set the constitutional parameters for speech regulation in post-Charter Canada. Neither of them comes close to requiring incitement of violence. The notion that there has to be incitement is pure fiction.
posted by grobstein at 11:01 AM on June 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


(Is Butler beside the point because it's about pornography rather than hate speech? No. According to the Canadian Supreme Court, they can both be banned for essentially the same reason: they promote bad ideas and attitudes. No, I am not making this up.)
posted by grobstein at 11:05 AM on June 12, 2008


I understand that obscenity laws and hate-speech laws are different. And there's a whole lot about Canada's legal system and laws that I don't really understand.

But I do remember a conversation I had with one of the owners and the manager of Little Sister's. This was years ago, when the fight was still relatively young - it would have been about 1992 or 93, I think - and at the time, they and their lawyers were very concerned that Canada Customs would use not only the obscenity laws to keep books out but also the anti-hate speech law. Their speculation was that since Canada Customs used the obscenity laws in a discriminatory way against the glbt community, it wasn't a far stretch to think they'd be willing to censor, say, gay SM books with graphic depictions of "beatings" or "whippings" or "violence" by using the ani-hate speech law to argue that these depictions somehow advocated, or could incite, violence against glbt people.

I don't think that ever came to pass - their court case against Canada Customs has been so long and convoluted - but their attorneys seemed to think it was worth planning for.
posted by rtha at 11:06 AM on June 12, 2008


University of British Columbia Prof. Sunera Thobani, a native of Tanzania, faced a hate-crimes investigation after she launched into a vicious diatribe against American foreign policy. Thobani, a Marxist feminist and multiculturalism activist, had remarked that Americans are "bloodthirsty, vengeful and calling for blood." The Canadian hate-crimes law was created to protect minority groups from hate speech. But in this case, it was invoked to protect Americans.^

Nice.
posted by caddis at 11:18 AM on June 12, 2008


But that's obscenity laws, which are a far cry from hate speech.

This isn't really true in Canada. Canadian obscenity laws and jurisprudence draw strongly from the Dworkin / MacKinnon perspective that pornography is itself violence against women. In Canada, obscenity law isn't different from hate speech, it's a particular kind of hate speech.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:08 PM on June 12, 2008


They never start to consider that a system of government or a constitution that really defended freedom would make damn sure it applies everywhere.

what kind of freedom is it if the minute you open up a business and hire some people, the government makes you keep them on no matter what they say to your customers or each other? what about MY freedom to make sure the people i hire are pleasant and professional?

It would make sure freedom of speech trumps capital.

another person who substitutes rhetoric for thought - because you're not advocating freedom of speech over capital, you're advocating one person's freedom of speech over another person's freedom of association

---

Shall I go on? You don't have free speech, by your definition of the word.

it's obvious to me that neither jimbob or dnab have ever thought about the matter of free speech in any more sophisticated manner than of an 8 year old telling his teacher that it's a free country and he can call her an old hag if he wants to

thousands of lawyers and political philosophers have written library shelves about this complex and often litigated subject - noting that there are no such things as absolute rights in all cases and that other rights, such as an employer's, may offset that of speech - and then there's the peanut gallery

Oh and all you rah-rah-rah-FIRST AMENDMENTZOMG people

throwing the intellectual equivalent of spitballs

So stop acting superior.

who's acting?
posted by pyramid termite at 12:53 PM on June 12, 2008


Wow! Nice refutal rtha (and ROU_Xenophobe on the Canadian jurisprudence).

I strongly suspect that hate speech serves as a pressure valve allowing these idiots to distract themselves from beating up the object of their affections. It also reminds the rest of us that they are indeed idiots.

Also, please remember that we're talking about the U.S. here people. If you pass a hate speech law here, it will be used to (1) restrict discussion of gay issues and (2) restrict criticism of corporations.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:51 PM on June 12, 2008


So stop acting superior.

How about you go first?


He can't. He's Canadian.

(Offended? I'm one step ahead of you.)
posted by oaf at 3:02 PM on June 12, 2008


it's obvious to me that neither jimbob or dnab have ever thought about the matter of free speech in any more sophisticated manner than of an 8 year old telling his teacher that it's a free country and he can call her an old hag if he wants to

I raised the point to indicate that people tend to be completely uncritical in their assessment of freedom of speech in the US, ignoring that as public spaces and public ownership is replaced increasingly by private spaces and private enterprise, free speech is being eroded without anyone having to lift a pen to the Constitution. Increasingly, the only place most people have free speech is in their own living rooms, so one starts to wonder what the benefits of it are.

you're advocating one person's freedom of speech over another person's freedom of association

The natural limits on freedom of speech as a result of conflicts with other freedoms seem to be stacking up, don't they? One wonders how much difference a "hate speech" law really makes, in comparison to the limits imposed by private property, freedom of association etc.
posted by Jimbob at 3:50 PM on June 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


If you pass a hate speech law here, it will be used to (1) restrict discussion of gay issues and (2) restrict criticism of corporations.

Not to mention, conservative Christians. If you can't poke fun at conservative Muslims (the Netherlands cartoons) then you certainly won't be able to poke fun at more powerful extremists like the fundies. Where does legitimate criticism end and unacceptable speech start? Hate speech laws are just wrong. People who favor them think borders can be drawn like black lines. They can not. That ambiguity gives some oppressors an unacceptable power to suppress dissent. More speech is better than suppressed speech.
posted by caddis at 4:07 PM on June 12, 2008


Increasingly, the only place most people have free speech is in their own living rooms, so one starts to wonder what the benefits of it are.

ignoring, of course, that you are in fact speaking freely to people all over the world on the internet - there are plenty of public spaces and ownership left, not to mention private individuals who are interested in giving you and me a platform to say things

in fact, your likelihood of being heard by people is actually greater today than 100 years ago, or even 20

The natural limits on freedom of speech as a result of conflicts with other freedoms seem to be stacking up, don't they?

natural limits, whatever they may be, are not caused because of deliberate law-making, which hate-speech laws are

One wonders how much difference a "hate speech" law really makes, in comparison to the limits imposed by private property, freedom of association etc.

you're comparing apples and oranges most disingenuously here - if you're arguing that employer x can't prevent his employees from saying certain things on his property, why shouldn't i be allowed to come on to your property and say anything i want? why can't i walk into the newspaper office and make them put my picture on the front page? it's the same principle and the same conflict of rights - you're deliberately confusing the issue at hand - the issue is PUBLIC speech, not private speech, and the limits of private property have nothing to do with PUBLIC speech - i e - what can be said in public, either in a public space, through one's own media, or through the media of those who are WILLING to allow it

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

that's congress that will make no law - it says nothing about what you allow in your living room or what joe blow allows in his factory - it never has, it never will, and any person who's actually understood the meaning of this amendment knows this

it's not only stupid to bring this argument up in the way you have, it's hypocritical because the countries who are so proud of their hate speech laws also recognize the same kinds of distinctions and limits

and for you to ask "well, what's the difference?" - well, what's the difference i steal your wallet right after someone's stolen your car? what's the difference if i rip you off for a buck if someone rips you off for a thousand? - that's a dumb argument, too

but aside from the dangers of using such prohibitions to stifle speech that might actually have a decent public purpse, there are others - if you put people in jail for what they say, you turn them into political prisoners - you make them into martyrs - you enable them to claim that your society has no real answer to their statements so they have to suppress them to keep the people from hearing them - you drive them underground and instead of speaking in public, they plot in private and plan other crimes instead of mere hate speech crimes - in fact, you give them the dangerous idea that if society isn't going to allow them to speak to an audience with words, then they can always do it with bombs and guns

not only that, but these laws don't work - the countries that have them still have hate crimes, still have hatred and still have people actually saying the things that they are prohibited from saying

but, yeah, you know, go ahead and make fun of the american idea of free speech - it's always funny until you're the one that someone's trying to take it away from
posted by pyramid termite at 4:54 PM on June 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


If you read my earlier comments, I said the US system is preferable. I also said that I feel hate-speech laws haven't made much difference, positive or negative, where they exist, but I think the US system without restriction on "hate speech" is better. I just get shitty when people start regarding it as an absolute - "We have freedom of speech, you don't!" I know I don't have freedom of speech. But neither do Americans, if one looks into things a bit deeper. The link between capital and freedom of speech is not to be dismissed so lightly. Rupert Murdoch has more freedom to say what he wants than you do, because he the microphone, he has the audience, and he has the money to defend any accusations of libel. It's not an absolute when you get down to practical terms, and the practical, pragmatic realization of rights is more important than philosophical or legal discussions of them.

Someone made a comment here recently that the only place we have free speech is probably on the high seas.
posted by Jimbob at 5:37 PM on June 12, 2008


Rupert Murdoch has more freedom to say what he wants than you do, because he the microphone, he has the audience, and he has the money to defend any accusations of libel.

you're confusing the right to speak with the right to an audience - you have the former, you do not have the latter

It's not an absolute when you get down to practical terms, and the practical, pragmatic realization of rights is more important than philosophical or legal discussions of them.

i think it's pretty clear i haven't called it an absolute - and the "practical, pragmatic realization of rights" is either a) your responsibility or b) rhetoric for a social change that you want the government to make for you, in which case it would probably be better to discuss whether the government owns a certain resource, or rupert murdoch does - in the case of the airwaves, you actually can make a pretty strong case - newspapers, no
posted by pyramid termite at 6:08 PM on June 12, 2008


Not on my ship you don't! ;)
posted by caddis at 6:08 PM on June 12, 2008


it's obvious to me that neither jimbob or dnab have ever thought about the matter of free speech in any more sophisticated manner than of an 8 year old telling his teacher that it's a free country and he can call her an old hag if he wants to


You are familiar with the term 'projection', pyramid termite? If not, I suggest you look it up.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:36 AM on June 13, 2008


caddis. Yes, it's obvious that fundamentalist christians will use hate speech laws to target scientists defending evolution or non-theists. I imagine anyone supporting hate speech laws has already accepted the idea that these groups will occasionally be sued for indelicate remarks, although the reality is potentially much worse.

Instead I pointed out that companies will also use hate speech laws against environmentalists consumer rights activists because this fact is less obvious, despite this course being almost 100% certain based upon past U.S. jurisprudence. Moreover, rtha made the more interesting observation that Christian groups can use hate speech laws to more directly target groups like homosexuals & feminists.

Our point is that hate speech laws are made for very quiet but racially homogeneous nations that want to accept some foreign minority for political reasons, but don't have the U.S.'s tradition of either extreme religious fervor or such defensive-offensive legal flexibility. Hate speech laws are just clearly very very wrong for the U.S.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:42 AM on June 16, 2008




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