Thought You'd Never Ask

Just mouthing off -- because I can.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Keep your laws off my "hate speech"

What part of "freedom of expression" don't they understand?

Well, I guess they might understand it, but not respect it.

In Canada, I suspect a Puritanical drive for universal courtesy and an overweening wish not to "cause offense" has lately morphed into a convenient cover for the crushing of dissent.

In Britain and Europe it is so much easier to just move on to another subject than to irritate a violent or vocal nut. From seeking to avoid confrontation, we escalate to legislating "hate" out of the picture. (As if!)

But who gets the power to define "hate"? Because that's what the struggle all comes down to when somebody doesn't get to speak/write/argue because somebody else forbids it (or intimidates against it without consequences).

Personally, I find laws outlawing "hate speech" to be hateful. Who do I appeal to about that?

In the United States, thank goodness, our Constitution guarantees that nobody gets the power to "define" "hate speech" or any other speech and stifle it. After all, one man's specious, idiosyncratic, or punitive definition of "hate speech" is another woman's public service.

Let the words roll. Set the ideas free. Let the world take note of how we wacky Yankees handle it: If you can't take the heat, change the channel, vote with your dollars or your feet, start your own blog, argue your own case--but here in God's country you don't have the right to crush dissent. Principled, reasoned, assertive, and even courageous dissent IS the American Way, and you too can have it for free (as long as you're willing to fight for it). The stifling of freedom of expression (including rude, hateful, critical, or inconvenient expression) is a very hateful tool and a symptom of fascism.

Even a few Canadians can still understand that. Poor beggars.

And we in the U.S. can't afford to be complacent when this is happening on our college campuses. As the author sums up:

Free speech does not encompass the right to fire, suspend, or riot your way into a universe in which everyone agrees with your views, even if you have legitimate grievances. The courts are well aware of this, but it seems that universities, both here and in Canada, are not. On campus, you may "speak" freely—with fists, chairs, and broken glass—so long as you are a member of an aggrieved minority with delicate sensibilities and a narrative of oppression.

This leaves the state to take on a new role in protecting free speech. The state must be responsible for busting up the monopoly that has taken over the marketplace of ideas: a monopoly of suffering, political correctness, and sympathy without limits. In the firing cases, the state will be represented by the courts, which will reinstate faculty fired for no reason other than unpopular views. And in the campus protest cases, the state must acknowledge that people who use force to suppress the opinions of others are not performing some sacred protected speech act. They are committing assault, not merely on other humans and on the basic promise of free speech, but on democracy itself.

UPDATE: Bookworm writes about "thought crimes" (in particular, the current Koran flushing "hate crime") and sums up:

The bottom line is that a robust Constitution, indeed a robust country, cannot survive if the Government starts policing thoughts that present no harm to the public well-being, but that might hurt someone’s feelings.

And Ace writes:

But this case, more than any high-profile hate crimes prosecution before it, makes clear that in a hate crimes rap what is actually being punished is the hate and not the crime at all, the thought and not the act.

Sorry, you can't outlaw hateful thoughts or hateful speech. The U.S. Constitution protects them.

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