It’s better to be free to hate than to be free of hatred 7

We are all irrational in our likes and dislikes. We are put off by a face, a feature, a mannerism, something said, something done, a name, an accent. Some tell themselves not to act unjustly towards a person they instinctively dislike. Some do not curb themselves and do act unjustly. That is morally abhorrent, but there’s nothing that can be done to prevent it happening. People are unjust. People insult other people. So it always has been and always will be.

To express indignation over what someone says (as so many public figures are now doing over what  a repulsive old geezer named Donald Sterling said in private against blacks to his black girl friend) is fine, whether you really feel indignant or only want to show what a good person you are. Freedom allows you public display of emotion. Freedom allows you hypocrisy.

Freedom allows the girl-friend to accept a house, a fleet of  expensive cars, and her living from this man, and then to tape a private conversation he has with her and make it public. Freedom allows her to be spiteful, ungrateful, and viciously treacherous,  just as it allows him to hate and despise people for no better reason than that they are of another race.

It should not be the business of the law to monitor and censure personal opinion.

Voltaire declared*, “I hate what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” And he meant it: meant that he would die to uphold the principle of liberty.

It was an idea typical of the age of reason; of the Enlightenment. To contradict it is to fall back into the dark age of dogma.

It is precisely when someone says something you don’t agree with – something  you consider stupid, abominable, ugly, offensive, wrong – that you must uphold his right to say it. Argue with him, call him a cretin and a villain; despise him, hate him, defame him if you will (though the law might stop you spreading lies about him). But do not call for him to be gagged.

When Britain was a free country (ah, yes, I remember it well!), you could insult anyone as much as you pleased short of slander (such as accusing him of a crime). It was called “common abuse”, and there was no law against it. Nor should there have been. Now, in Britain, it’s  okay for you to insult white males as much as you like. And Jews. If you insult them loudly and often enough you may get a grant to do it professionally. But if you insult Muslims you will be arrested and charged with a “hate crime”. (See our post, Bye-bye freedom, immediately below.)

Allowing people to say what you don’t like and don’t agree with is the whole point of constitutionally guaranteeing free speech.

The idea of “hate crime” is at the root of this nonsense. Nobody can know what another person feels. If a person  commits a crime, punish him for the crime, not  for the supposed emotion behind it. Such an arrogantly puritanical concept as “hate crime” was  bound to distort the law and threaten liberty. As it does. 

Crime is bad because it hurts individuals. Racism is bad because it hurts individuals. Racism, though it may be the cause of a crime, is not criminal in itself, and should not be criminalized.

People must be free to be petty, to be prejudiced, to be malicious, to be insulting. They cannot be stopped by the law. To make a law against bad behavior won’t change it, and can only make a mockery of the rule of law itself.

It is foolish and politically authoritarian to try and criminalize natural behavior, however unpleasant it may be.

Another word for politically authoritarian is fascist. Yes – if  a human being or a bureaucrat tries to make people conform to his idea of good behavior, he is a fascist.

Tolerance must extend to the hard-to-tolerate. (But not to the intolerant.)

It’s better to be free to hate than to be free of hatred.

 

Jillian Becker    April 30, 2014

 

*Whether or not Voltaire himself did actually say this, is disputed. But it was worth saying, whoever said it, and it has justly become famous.

Posted under Articles, Britain, Commentary, Ethics, liberty, Race, tyranny, United Kingdom, United States by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Tagged with , , ,

This post has 7 comments.

Permalink
  • Pingback: The Atheist Conservative: » In defense of “hate speech”()

  • liz

    So here we are, a mere generation after Hitler and Stalin, and Fascism is rearing its ugly head again. Only now the enemy isn’t foreign- it’s our own government. And they are welcoming the fascist barbarian hordes in to join them.
    If a British citizen can’t quote Churchill in his own country, it’s over for them.
    I’m sure we won’t be far behind, with Obama and Holder steering us over the cliff.

  • Frank

    The whole article in a nutshell:

    “It is precisely when someone says something you don’t agree with – something you consider stupid, abominable, ugly, offensive, wrong – that you must uphold his right to say it.”

    • I’m glad to have your agreement, Frank.

      • Cogito

        I appreciate the sentiments, of course, in the article, but I believe they are slightly off-base. You say :” It should not be the business of the law to monitor and censure personal opinion.”
        I am not aware that this hideous man is being prosecuted by the government for his views. Freedom of Speech in the US refers to the right of citizens to speak their minds without fear of governmental prosecution or censorship. Mr. sterling is suffering the penalties of his voluntary agreement with the other team owners – not any state penalties.
        Cogito

        • I take your point. Cogito. But I wasn’t confining myself to the Sterling case. I was generalizing about freedom. “Hate crime” prosecutions are common in Europe, but almost only when the “victim” is Islamic. As for what is happening to Sterling, I think that the enormous over-reaction and extreme punishment being meted out by or through Adam Silver is more an expression of the punishers being “more anti-racist than thou” than of any sense of just retribution. If Sterling had said what he did say in public it would have been a bit more – but not entirely – justified. Perhaps. But he said it in private. He wasn’t intending to hurt anyone’s feelings (except perhaps his girl friend’s and she was trying to entrap him, which is pretty vicious considering the relationship she’d entered into with him). Haven’t we all said things in private that we’d never say in public? Seems to me he’s much less of a racist than Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and many or most of the Democrats in Congress. Where is their punishment by fellow citizens?

          • Cogito

            You are correct, of course. The hypocrisy of those race shakedown cretins (Sharpton, Jackson et al.) and their supporters is staggering.