In defense of hate speech 23

Islam does its utmost to make us infidels afraid of it – and then complains of our “Islamophobia”, our (irrational!) fear of Islam. If we do not fear it, we haven’t been paying attention. We are wise to fear it. We are wise to hate it. It is an evil creed.

Still, it ought not to be silenced by law.

We quote from our post, It’s better to be free to hate than to be free of hatred (April 30, 2014):

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”.

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

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 But do not call for him to be gagged.

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. …

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.

Now that vast bureaucratic tyranny, the European Union, decrees that what it judges to be expression of hate on the social media is to be illegal, and punishable.

Although it insists that “freedom of expression is a core European value which must be preserved”, it also insists that if you say something it doesn’t like, you must be gagged and punished. And it is co-opting “social media platforms” to assist in its policy of repression:

The Framework Decision on Combatting Racism and Xenophobia criminalises the public incitement to violence or hatred directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin. This is the legal basis for defining illegal online content. …

In order to prevent the spread of illegal hate speech, it is essential to ensure that relevant national laws transposing the Council Framework Decision on combating racism and xenophobia are fully enforced by Member States in the online as well as in the offline environment. While the effective application of provisions criminalising hate speech is dependent on a robust system of enforcement of criminal law sanctions against the individual perpetrators of hate speech, this work must be complemented with actions geared at ensuring that illegal hate speech online is expeditiously reviewed by online intermediaries and social media platforms … [Our emphasis]

The real, unspoken, pathetic purpose of the ruling is to protect Islam from criticism. It is not likely that a Muslim will be censored, let alone prosecuted, for publishing such typical statements as these:

“The Jihad for Allah is the way of the truth and the way for salvation and the way which will lead us to crush the Jews.”  (Yasser Ghalban, Hamas leader, in 2006.)

“The Jews deserved their annihilation by Hitler.” (Dr Wafa Musa, psychologist, in 2009.)

“Jews are bacteria, not human beings.” – (Al Aqsa TV, Deputy Minister of Religious Endowments, Abdallah Jarbu, in 2010), and “The Jews are the most despicable and contemptible nation to crawl upon the face of the earth.” (‘Atallah Abu al-Subh, in 2011.)

And (we repeat), nor should they be censored or prosecuted! Indeed, it would be an excellent thing if the media of every kind displayed such statements prominently as often as they were made (which is every day). Muslims might be pleased at first. But after a while the effect on public opinion could be to provoke contempt and hatred of Islam. And then they’d raise their habitual noisy and violent objections, calling the display of their own words a manifestation of “Islamophobia”, of course.

The following comes from an article at Spiked, by its editor, Brendan O’Neill:

Hatred is an emotion, and the state has no business policing emotion.

“The internet is a place for free speech, not hate speech.” This spectacularly Orwellian comment was made last week by EU commissioner Vĕra Jourová, as she unveiled a new EU code to tackle hatred on the internet. Following three or four years of agitation by officials, politicians, hacks and feminists, all of whom insist that hateful “trolling” online is turning the internet into a cesspool of foul ideas and rotten comments, the EU has decided to take action. It has got web giants YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft to sign a promise that they will hunt down and extinguish illegal hateful commentary, especially racist and xenophobic comments.

Which is to say, they will “hunt down and extinguish” criticism of Islam, warnings of its jihad, objection to the spread of its cruel sharia law – as some have already started doing with zeal.

Some have responded to the new code by asking if it represents overreach. There’s a danger, they say, that angry speech, or just zany speech, will be swept up in the clampdown on hate speech. This will no doubt happen. But we should take our critique of this new code, and of 21st-century censorship more broadly, a step further. We shouldn’t only say “relatively normal speech might be destroyed alongside hate speech” — we should call into question the whole idea of “hate speech”. The category of hate speech is as ridiculous, and abominable, as the idea of thoughtcrime. It represents the criminalisation, not only of racism and xenophobia — which would be bad enough — but of certain ideas, moralities and beliefs. We should bristle and balk as much at the idea of “hate speech” as we do at the idea of thoughtcrime.

Hate-speech codes are an ideological tool disguised as a force for moral good. Consider the recent history of the idea of hate speech … After the Second World War, the keenest proponents of controls on “hate speech” were the Soviets. There were various international gatherings in the 1940s and 50s to hammer out postwar international treaties, and at these the Soviets pushed for a global commitment to repressing “hate speech”, in particular far-right speech. They wanted stipulations against “hatred” and “incitement to hatred”. Amazingly, the West resisted. Eleanor Roosevelt represented the Western powers at some of these debates. She argued that it would be “extremely dangerous” to outlaw hate speech, since “any criticism of public or religious authorities might all too easily be described as incitement to hatred”. Indeed.

Eventually, the Soviets won out. In 1965, the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination was adopted, and it included a proposal to criminalise “ideas based on racial superiority”. The keyword here was ideas. From the outset, treaties and laws against hate speech were about controlling ideas: obnoxious ideas, yes, but ideas nonetheless. It was clear very early on that the category of hate speech was an ideological tool for the repression of bad ideas, of certain convictions. Post-1965, Western countries introduced into their national laws this new commitment to repressing ideas based on racial thinking.

What’s more, the category of hate speech is an extremely elastic tool for the repression of ideas. It has spread from curtailing ideas of racial superiority to suppressing expressions of religious hatred. Some Scandinavian countries want to outlaw misogynistic speech. On campuses there are clampdowns on transphobic speech. Anyone who says that a person with a penis is a man can now be branded a “hate speaker” and find himself No Platformed. So even saying ‘men are men and women are women’ has been encapsulated in the ideological category of hate speech.

Normal, widely held beliefs are casually rebranded “hatred”. Criticise religion too harshly and you’ll be accused of religious hatred; oppose gay marriage and you’re homophobic; doubt gender dysphoria and you’re a “transphobe”. Shouting “that’s hatred!” has become the preferred means for suppressing beliefs we find difficult or uncomfortable. That’s thanks to hate-speech laws. They have sanctioned this rush to rebrand beliefs as hate and to try to crush them. Once you accept that some ideas are beyond the pale … then ultimately no idea is safe

Under the banner of tackling “hate speech”, people are being punished for their moral convictions. … We should feel as angry about state restrictions on hate speech today as we would have done about the Soviet Union’s arrest of political dissidents 40 years ago, because in both cases the same thing is happening: people are punished, not for anything they’ve done, but for what they think.

Hatred is an emotion. … And when we allow figures of authority to control emotion, to fine people for their emotions, to imprison people for their emotions, then we enter the realm of tyranny. It completes the state’s control of the individual. It expands state power from the public sphere of discussion into the psychic sphere of thought and feeling. It invites policing not only of political sentiment but of deep feeling. It is a profound assault on the freedom of the individual.

It’s time to get serious about freedom of speech. It is unacceptable to repress the expression of ideas. It is unacceptable to repress the expression of hatred. “Hate speech is not free speech!”, people say. But it is.

By its very definition, free speech must include hate speech.

Speech must always be free, for two reasons: everyone must be free to express what they feel, and everyone else must have the right to decide for themselves whether those expressions are good or bad. When the EU, social-media corporations and others seek to make that decision for us, and squash ideas they think we will find shocking, they reduce us to the level of children. That is censorship’s greatest crime: it infantilises us. Let us now reassert our adulthood, our autonomy, and tell them: “Do not presume to censor anything on our behalf. We can think for ourselves.”

orwell-freedom-of-speech

Posted under Commentary, liberty by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, June 14, 2016

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This post has 23 comments.

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  • This week a Labour politician called Jo Cox was murdered in the street near her office. This is the first assassination of a UK MP since Ian Gow was killed by the IRA in 1990. It is a very uncommon event. Almost immediately the event has been politicized, with some in the “Remain” camp accusing the “Leave” camp of stoking up the hatred that caused the murderer to act. I have little doubt that it will be used by those who want to “curb hate speech”.

    http://www.breitbart.com/london/2016/06/19/project-grief-continues-remain-campaigners-continue-blame-tone-try-shut-debate-immigration/

    Jack Buckby, a member of Paul Weston’s party, has announced his intention to stand in the resulting by-election.

    http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/681255/Outrage-BNP-Liberty-candidate-Jack-Buckby-contest-Batley-Spen-seat-Jo-Cox-shot

    I don’t think this is a good move.

  • Brendan O’Neill revealed that he voted for Sadiq Khan, but now regrets it:

    http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2016/06/sadiq-khans-advert-ban-shows-illiberal-censor-heart/

  • Azgael

    this is just another example of another battle conservatives lost, they have lost EVERY battle VS the left since the left was created.

    • The Cold War?

      • Azgael

        100% LOST, look at what is happening now, the EU is looking almost exactly like the USSR, and america is VERY close behind

  • Extract from
    http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=uriserv%3Al33178

    With regard to these offences listed, EU countries must ensure that they are punishable by:

    effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties;
    a term of imprisonment of a maximum of at least one year.

    A maximum of at least one year? I had to scratch my head a bit. Do they mean the offences listed will ALL be punishable by EXACTLY one year? When the offences described are all highly subjective???

    • Thanks for the link.

      The EU persistently indulges itself in ambiguous, contradictory and vague speech in at least 18 languages.

      Thing is, Europe (post Roman Empire) was always morally incomprehensible and politically disgusting. We were just lucky not to have to notice it. Take a tour there, yes, and enjoy the view. Eat its food, yes. Buy its trinkets, yes. Listen to its music, yes. But then come home again and be glad you were not born there.

      • “at least 18 languages” – I fear that may be the source of the problem, i.e. a miss-translation (slightly important when you are condemning people to long prison sentences).

  • I had a comment removed last week from Breitbart. I don’t think it was Breitbart “moderation”, somehow.

    • Would you tell us the comment?

      • I’m mooting whether to write a whole blog post about it, I’ll give you a link if I do. I want to write a full justification for the comment. As you probably noticed by now, I’m not really prone to inciting hatred and violence and neither was I in this instance.

        • Inciting them is a bad idea. But feeling the one and perpetrating the other can be just the ticket.

          Apart form which – I’m sure your comment was characteristically rational and civilized.

      • I’ve published a blog post about it:

        https://chaunceytinker.wordpress.com/2016/06/16/censored/

        While I was writing it I discovered a second comment has been removed.

        • Thank you, Chauncey. A very good blog post. It vividly illustrates how Europe (still unfortunately including Britain though with luck not for much longer), has come to such a pass that these commonsensical views need to be brought back to mind. At least in America we are still free to criticize Islam as much as we like in any terms we like. (Of course, Crooked Hillary would put a stop to that if she could.)

          It’s amazing that everyone in the literate world (quite large, after all) doesn’t know that in Saudi Arabia women are not allowed to drive cars, in Afghanistan girls are not allowed to be educated where the Taliban holds sway, in Iran women have to cover themselves from head to foot …

          And even in Britain … Before I left London, in 2007, the streets were full of flocks of females in black burkhas.

  • liz

    Great post! What is being imposed on us now has already passed beyond “authoritarian” into the realm of totalitarian. They’ve so carefully built the trap, step by step, up to this point – the UN, the EU, the ACLU, CAIR, etc., all working together. Grooming us to accept “hate speech” as a legitimate idea, then imposing codes against it. If we blindly accept and go along with the program, their control will be complete.
    1984 failed as a warning – and therefore became a prophecy that’s being fulfilled.