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.”

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

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Tyranny’s wife 1

The EU is a much prettier version of tyranny than rough Russia.

One might say it is the feminine version. It dresses nicely. It has its hair styled. It paints its nails. It smiles. It thinks it is alluring. It spends more than it has.

It is easy to understand why half the Ukrainians want to live with it. With her. Rather than with unshaven, violent, shabby, ill-mannered Daddy Russia.

Her corruption is prettily packaged.  Her despotism has a gentle touch. It really is more pleasant to live with her than with him.

But it would be better for the Ukrainians if they just took off on their own.

Bruce Bawer offers that very advice. He writes at Front Page:

It’s in Europe, and it’s huge – after Russia and the top five EU members, it has Europe’s largest population, and twice as many inhabitants as all the Scandiavian countries put together – but Ukraine isn’t a nation we often think of in the West, except when, as in recent days, it’s in the midst of a crisis. It has spent most of its history being conquered and brutalized by its more powerful neighbors, and in the last century underwent one savage chapter after another: 1.5 million people died in the civil war that ended with its absorption into the USSR; millions more died in Stalin’s deliberately engineered famine in 1932-33; during World War II, Hitler slaughtered an additional three million in what was intended to be the first stage of a program of exterminating two-thirds of the country’s population and enslaving the rest.

And, it should be added, its own historical record of brutal persecution and oppression is fully equal to any of its neighbors’. (See here and here and here.)

Today, unsurprisingly, Ukraine is a basket case of a country, riddled with corruption and living in the shadows of its historic horrors. It’s also a linguistically and philosophically divided land, torn between a western chunk whose people speak Ukrainian and identify with Europe and an eastern chunk whose people speak Russian and still feel an attachment to their massive neighbor to the east.

Viktor Yahukovych, the corrupt, autocratic president who disappeared last weekend in the face of mounting public unrest, is a Russiophile whose fatal error was his decision to strengthen bonds with Moscow (which coveted Ukraine as a key ally in a new Eurasian Union) and to turn down a free-trade agreement with the EU; most of the rioters who sent him packing are Europe-oriented types, the majority of whom are eager to see Ukraine become a Western-style democracy free of Putin’s influence, but some of whom, it should be noted, are neo-Nazis who look westward to Germany for the least attractive of reasons.

Most of the Ukrainians who favor European ties also want to see their country join the EU – which, in their eyes, as one Swedish newspaper put it the other day, is “above all…a symbol of a society free of corruption”.  Yulia Tymoshenko, the former prime minister who was sprung from prison on Saturday after Yahukovych took it on the lam – and whose own years in office (ending in 2010) were far from corruption-free – told the Kiev crowds shortly after her release that she’s “sure that Ukraine will be a member of the European Union in the near future and this will change everything”.

Change everything! What is it that makes presumably liberty-loving Eastern European politicians talk about the EU as if it were a magic freedom elixir, a miracle cure for former victims of tyranny?

I suppose part of the explanation is that these politicians travel to the great cities of Western Europe and take in the relative freedom, the relative prosperity, and the relative lack of corruption and thuggery, and assume that all this has something to do with the EU. And part of it, naturally, is the ceaseless stream of pro-EU propaganda poured out by the Western European media and, not least, by the Western European politicians whom the likes of Tymoshenko consort with when they visit the West.

Yet how odd that the superstate’s economic woes haven’t put a dent in the magic for people like Tymoshenko. How odd that even the merest glimpse of the way things work in Brussels – where corruption is, needless to say, very much alive and well, even though it doubtless falls far short of Ukrainian levels – doesn’t give them pause. And how odd that when they witness the arrogance that’s characteristic of virtually all Brussels bigwigs – their habit of responding to any reasonable criticism of the EU not with cogent arguments but with vicious ad hominem attacks – they don’t immediately recognize that they’re observing tyrants in the making, the sort of folks that you’d think they’d had more than enough of over the centuries, thank you very much.

Take European Council president Herman van Rompuy, that colorless, Politburo-style mediocrity, who in a 2011 speech blithely ignored the essentially undemocratic nature of the EU, describing it – outrageously – as “the fatherland, or the motherland of democracy”.

Or take European Commission president José Manuel Durrão Barroso, who started his political career as a Maoist, and who in 2012 argued that the EU’s democracy deficit isn’t a bug but a feature: “Governments are not always right. If governments were always right we would not have the situation that we have today. Decisions taken by the most democratic institutions in the world are very often wrong.”

What he says is not untrue (even democratically-elected governments are almost always wrong), but he is making an argument for despotism.

Or take halfwit EU Foreign Affairs honcho Catherine Ashton, whose 2011 Guardian article lecturing Hosni Mubarak on the need for democracy in Egypt was widely (and rightly) ridiculed as the work of someone who, as Brendan O’Neill neatly put it in the Telegraph,

… has never once bothered the ballot box, never once ventured into the rowdy arena of public opinion to win the masses’ backing, and who was elevated to her current position as the European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs through backroom wheeling and dealing.

Noting Ashton’s enthusiasm, in her Guardian piece, for what she called “deep democracy”,  O’Neill explained that “she doesn’t mean deep as in profound – she means bureaucracy, the grey and unaccountable sphere that she haunts, the removed realm of experts and unelected high representatives” – a phenomenon Ashton contrasted (favorably, of course) with mere “surface democracy”, the undesirable, old-fashioned sort of system in which elected officials actually seek (horrors!) to honor their constituents’ wishes.

Even a cursory look at the careers and pronouncements of these unelected demigods, these self-regarding technocratic hacks, is to recognize them as people who itch to rule an empire and who are, quite simply, outraged at anyone who dares to stand in their way for a moment. Given the transparency of their lust for monolithic power – a power, moreover, utterly liberated from any notion whatsoever of responsibility to an electorate – it’s baffling that so many observers can actually take the EU seriously as a formula for European peace rather than for European autocracy.

What Europe has in Barroso, Ashton, & co., after all, is a pack of men and women who have done their level best to impoverish real political debate, to blunt its impact, and to make it seem obsolescent, counterproductive, and in every way undesirable.

Former Czech president and staunch EU critic Václav Klaus asked in his 2011 book Europe: The Shattering of Illusions:

Do we have real politics in Europe today – the political conflict of opinions – or have real politics been in fact eliminated by reducing the weight and importance of the nation states and by the self-confessed apolitical ways of Brussels?

Which is another way of saying that Brussels isn’t a city of politicians who have different political philosophies and who come together to debate ideas and hammer out compromises; it’s a city of technocrats who share an ideology and who work together as a team to translate that ideology into policy – never mind what the rabble think. (Or, as Klaus put it even more bluntly: “the European Union is no longer the symbol of democracy it pretends to be.”)

Klaus has coined the term “Europeism”. It’s a useful word, because it places the unreflecting, reality-defying enthusiasm for Europe in the category it belongs to, along with other, earlier European-isms. Among much else, Europeism views the free market as uncivilized and anarchic, places collective rights above individual rights, and strives, as Klaus excellently puts it, “for a homogenized, ‘decaffeinated’ world (with no flavour, aroma, and smell)”.

Europeists, he writes,

… do not believe in spontaneous, unregulated and uncontrolled human activity. They trust the chosen ones (not the elected ones), they trust themselves or those who are chosen by themselves. They believe in a vertically structured and hierarchized human society  …  They want to mastermind, plan, regulate, administer the others, because some (they themselves) do know and others do not. They do not want to rely on spontaneity of human behavior and on the outcomes resulting from this spontaneity because they think that rationalistic human design is always better than an unplanned result of interactions between free citizens, constructed and commanded by nobody. Even though we thought that after the collapse of communism all this was a matter of the past, it is not so. It is around us again. Europeism is a new utopism and, I add, it is an extremely naive and romantic utopism.

Above all, writes Klaus, Europeism “is based on the idea that states, more precisely the nation states, represent the Evil – because they were once the cause of wars among other things – while the supranational, continental and global entities represent the Good, because they – according to eurocrats – eliminate all forms of nationalist bickering once and for all”. This understanding of things, he adds, “is obviously childish, yet it is generally accepted in Europe”. Yes, it’s accepted because millions of today’s Europeans have been brainwashed into thinking that national feeling – patriotism – was the root of all of the worst things that happened to the continent in the twentieth century. No, ideology was the root – ideology in the form of Nazism, fascism, and Communism. And Europeism – which, by the way, has multiculturalism and fanatical environmentalism built into it – is the twenty-first-century heir of those wretched systems of thought.

Which brings us back to the latest developments in Ukraine. Tymoshenko’s speech on Saturday night was followed on Sunday by the news that the EU – notwithstanding its own massive financial difficulties – is now ready to hand over bushels of cash to the newly Europe-friendly government in Kiev. …

Note to Ukrainians: accepting the EU’s money is one thing. Go for it. But why this longing, on the part of Tymoshenko or anyone else in your country, to board the Superstate Express? Set aside, if you wish, the economic downside of the whole project, the looming disaster that is the eurozone, and just ask yourselves this: after spending most of your history taking orders from far-off imperial capitals, most of the twentieth century living under the nightmare of Communism, and most of the greater part of the generation that followed under the gravitational pull of post-Soviet Kremlin despotism, why be so desperate to subordinate yourselves to yet another set of haughty, high-handed foreign rulers? Why slip away from being under one thumb only to voluntarily place yourself under another?

Ukraine, here’s one simple piece of unsolicited advice: vote for sovereignty. Vote for freedom. Take the money and run.

Stay out of the EU.

How terrorism works 9

The method of terrorism will continue to be used by Muslim jihadis (and others) because it works.

The West, out of cowardice, stupidity, sentimentality, and  apathy, has allowed it to work.

How? The BBC provides an example :

The MailOnline reports that the director-general  of the BBC, Mark Thompson, defends the notorious pro-Islam bias of his publicly-funded institution on the grounds that if it wasn’t obedient to Muslim demands it would be subjected to terrorist violence. 

Mr Thompson said: ‘Without question, “I complain in the strongest possible terms”, is different from, “I complain in the strongest possible terms and I am loading my AK47 as I write”. This definitely raises the stakes.’

He said the BBC  would never air a satirical show about Muhammad because for Muslims it could have the same impact as a piece of ‘grotesque child pornography’.

Mr Thompson said the fatwa against Salman Rushdie over his novel The Satanic Verses, the September 11 terror attacks, and the murder in Holland in 2004 of film-maker Theo van Gogh, who had criticised Islam, had made broadcasters realise that religious controversies could lead to murder or serious criminal acts.

That is, if the “religious controversies” concern Islam. Only Islam, the terrorist religion.

Commenting on this, Bruce Bawer writes:

When the most powerful media organization in the U.K. is run by someone whose readiness to admit his utter lack of courage would seem, from all the evidence, to reflect the fact that the concept of courage isn’t even on his radar, it doesn’t bode well for the future of British freedom.

British freedom? Ah yes, we remember it well.

Another point that was important to Thompson was that, as he put it, “for a Muslim, a depiction…of the Prophet Mohammed might have the emotional force of a piece of grotesque child pornography.” He added that “secularists” fail “to understand…what blasphemy feels like to someone who is a realist in their religious belief.” I would humbly submit that Thompson himself fails to understand something rather important – namely, that when the head of an outfit like the BBC starts thinking and talking in such terms, he has become nothing more or less than a sharia puppet.

Another thing Thompson apparently fails to understand is this: when it becomes the duty of citizens in a secular democracy to edit what they say or write in order to avoid committing what the adherents of some religion or other might consider blasphemy, then secular democracy, individual liberty, and freedom of expression are, in practice, no more. I wonder if it has occurred to Thompson at all that for more than a few freedom-loving people in his own country and elsewhere, the fact that a man in his position could follow such an outrageously pusillanimous policy might well, to coin a phrase, “have the emotional force of a piece of grotesque child pornography”?

He cites an instance of how the BBC pr0-Islam bias routinely manifests itself:

The Beeb’s Stacey Dooley is visiting her hometown, Luton, to discover if the situation with extreme Islam is really as bad there as some people say. Upon arriving in town, she stumbles upon a Muslim march whose participants are chanting “To hell with the U.K.” and carrying signs calling for sharia law. There are plenty of women in niqab, one of whom tells Dooley to put on some clothes. For a while you think that Dooley is actually going to wake up and smell the coffee. But in the end, ignoring everything she’s witnessed, the little ditz closes with the standard, canned, de rigueur, mainstream-media conclusion – namely, that both sides need to listen to each other with respect, for the only reason for all this intercultural friction is “ignorance.”

Given the deliberate, depressing refusal of so many members of the British media to face up to the advent of sharia in the land of Magna Carta and Winston Churchill, it was at least a bit cheering the other day to see Brendan O’Neill, in the Telegraph, spelling out the dramatic, and telling, difference between the way in which the framers of the U.S. Constitution understood the concept of rights and the way today’s European leaders think about the same subject.

While the makers of the American revolution “emphasized individuals’ capacity to make judgments…free from state interference,” explained O’Neill, Europe today is plagued by a “paternalistic” notion of human rights “in which the individual is treated as an at-risk creature who must be protected from harm and bullying by…human-rights lawyers.” While the U.S. Bill of Rights concisely sets limits on state power, the European Convention on Human Rights “spends thousands of words telling the state what it should be doing…and how it must go about protecting individuals from abuse and mental distress.” And while the U.S. Bill of Rights makes it clear that free speech is sacrosanct, the European document is awash in weasel words, saying that “freedom of expression” is “subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety,” and on and on.

Which is, of course, simply a very long and legalistic way of saying that in Europe today, even (alas) in Britain, freedom of speech is severely endangered – just as Mark Thompson (whether he realizes it or not) has essentially admitted, and … as the BBC’s own Stacey Dooley, despite having seen reality close-up in her hometown of Luton, still refuses to grasp.

But in Obama’s America freedom of speech is severely endangered in the same way for the same reason. It’s good that a Telegraph journalist has pointed out the difference in theory between the way the American revolutionaries and the US Bill of Rights “emphasized individuals’ capacity to make judgments free from state interference,” and the European “paternalistic notion of human rights in which the individual is treated as an at-risk creature who must be protected from harm and bullying by human-rights lawyers …  in the interests of public safety”; but the Obama administration does not feel bound by the US Bill of Rights, and is trying pertinaciously to follow the European model.

The more chilling difference between the European cringe in the face of the Islamic threat and the Obama submission to it, is that Obama and his henchmen are not motivated by fear. Despite the Islamic act of destruction on 9/11, and the exposure of many a jihadi plot in the US since then, it is not Muslim violence that has them eager to submit to Islam, but their own sympathy with it.