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While I struggle to empathize with the sorts of folks negatively impacted by hate speech laws, making speech of any sort illegal seems dangerously close to criminalizing certain ideas or thoughts.



While I'm on the side of allowing hate speech this is clearly a discussion of degrees not an absolute choice.

Besides the obvious "fire in a crowded theatre" there a raft of things you may not say:

• you are not permitted to reveal to people material classified in certain ways

• you are not permitted to broadcast copyrighted material

• you may not make death threats against people even if you can prove that you are not a threat to them

• you may not reveal information about certain companies if you are in certain positions

These are speech of 'any' sort and I'm comfortable with the penalties (sometimes criminal) for them. I don't think they're dangerously close to criminalising certain ideas and thoughts. In almost every case you're free to think what you want and imagine what you want.

Any opposition to laws that attempt to abridge hate speech cannot derive from a general opposition to abridging freedom of speech unless one also objects to the restrictions I mentioned earlier.


> fire in a crowded theater - threat against life

> classified material - potential threat against life

> copyrighted material - protected by the constitution elsewhere

> death threats - direct threat against life (ability is irrelevant)

> corporate espionage - generally falls under contract law

Any and all of these may be abused regularly, that doesn't mean that any of them are protected under free speech.


It's the consequences of those that you're liable for.

You have rights; you are responsible for the consequences of exercising them.


The caveat to your argument is that the government cannot be responsible for the consequences by a very liberal reading for free speech.


Not sure of the actual legal structure but in terms of "not broadcasting copy written material" it seems that property rights preeminate free speech.

This was the justification for banning so-called trolls from twitter.


They don't need your empathy. They need their rights respected. Society needs their rights respected.

If you don't like their ideas, it's your duty as a member of a free society to engage with with them in meaningful dialog to show them (and everyone else paying attention) what's wrong with those ideas.

Free speech is the mechanism by which people resolve their disagreements without killing each other - Jordan B. Peterson


>> "I struggle to empathize with the sorts of folks negatively impacted by hate speech laws..."

That's only because your pet ideology (whatever it is, I have no idea who you are or what your politics are) hasn't yet been criminalized as hate speech.

Recall that there's no objective definition of "hate speech," and in practice the definition will always be tuned by the loudest faction as a weapon against its enemies.


Are you saying that places that prohibit "hate speech" have only generic laws or that there isn't one definition that is internationally valid?

Because if it's the first, I suggest you look again, and if it's the later, I don't see how it is relevant.


I mean that there exists no classifier which consumes as input arbitrary speech, and emits as output a foolproof classification of "hate" or "not hate."

Therefore humans are required to emulate that classifier. Perhaps we call them "judges" or "arbitration panels" or whatever, the name doesn't matter.

My point is that politics will guide the emulation of the classifier, such that it emits results favorable to the loud faction and unfavorable to that faction's enemies.


> I mean that there exists no classifier which consumes as input arbitrary speech, and emits as output a foolproof classification of "hate" or "not hate."

So, that's like every other criminal law ever created.

I do agree this is something bad (for Law in general). But it does not lead to your point that the definition will increase unexpectedly in scope.


Exactly! Language is power because it allows communication, and controlling language is effectively controlling communication. Persuasion and enlightenment involves taking on all sorts of, err, troublesome concepts.


Hate speech isn't just ideas or thoughts. It's an incitement to violence, it's horrifically bad for the mental health of people subjected to it, and it acts as a form of discrimination against those people.


I don't like the other responses to your comment.

> It's an incitement to violence

No, it's not. Otherwise, wouldn't that imply we should outlaw being mean altogether? Is being mean always an incitement for violence? Yes/No? I think it's clear, it's not.

> it's horrifically bad for the mental health

Citation needed.

> as a form of discrimination against those people

Again, no. Discrimination requires that it be 'unjust or prejudicial treatment', hate speech does not. Hate speech could be as little as explaining factual reasons you don't like another race.


> Hate speech could be as little as explaining factual reasons you don't like another race.

Part of the problem in this discussion seems to be that people have different definitions of 'hate speech'. That definition could be applicable to their country of origin or personal belief but it's pretty clear that definitions aren't even remotely compatible and it makes any sort of level-headed debate very difficult.


The real problem is that the concept of "hate speech" is nonsensical. It is a term created exactly to polarize debates and prevent rational discourse. Calmly explain that to any one that attempts to use the term - or ask them to clarify exactly what they mean. We must reject politically engineered attempts to ruin the public debate.


You're taking your own definition of 'hate speech' which is irrelevant mostly. The important definition if you have an issue with laws limiting speech (through limits on hate speech) is the definition used by those. In most western democracies speech is only limited to prevent, as the parent said, incitement to violence and even then there should be protections in place to prevent abuse of those laws (and there are).

>> No, it's not. Otherwise, wouldn't that imply we should outlaw being mean altogether?

I don't understand what you're trying to imply here, it doesn't seem to make sense. Being mean could be telling someone they look ugly in those clothes. No incitement to violence. "All minority are evil, kill all *minority" would be an incitement to violence. Pretty clear cut. Being 'mean' has nothing to do with it.

>> Hate speech could be as little as explaining factual reasons you don't like another race.

Citation needed. Where is this law or definition of hate speech?


If someone is yelling "Kill all $racialslur" are they practicing hate speech yet? They are most certainly openly advocating violence against a specific group not just "being mean" Hate speech can indeed be quantified. Though definitions will vary (as with anything.)


Incitement to violence, specifically saying stuff like "kill all X, tomorrow, and at this location" should and IS already illegal.

We don't need hate speech to cover that. That's just called incitement to violence.


Incitement to violence requires intent for the violence to actually occur. I believe this distinction is why you get things like pastors of megachurches who advocate for the idea that all gay people deserve to be killed, but they're not actually intending for any specific act to be carried out and therefore aren't technically inciting violence.


So if a University Professor said, "$race people may need to die to achieve $goal" would that be free speech or hate speech?


The problem is who do you trust enough to endow them with authority to decide whether something is hate or free speech?

I'd probably draw the line at a limit number of items (e.g. 5 or 10 or 100 specifically named items, I believe similar to Germany). If the government decides something new is important enough to be regulated, they must decide whether it's important enough to replace one of the previous items.


We trust the same people we trust with everything else, judges. The legal system is a nuanced mess and the reason we have judges is while some of it is black and white some of it is in a sort of gray area. We would give them guidelines and through an analysis of the language of the law and current precedent they would make a ruling. It's not a perfect system but often it's better to have an imperfect system than none at all.


What you just said hurts my feelings and makes me want to be violent. The greatest freedom is the freedom to be personally responsible. Laws that curtail speech generally are orthogonal to that freedom. Think about it.


Says the person who's probably never been on the receiving end of hate speech.


Direct and credible threats are the only exception to the first amendment's free speech clause that I'm aware of.

So those are already covered.


Actual calls to violence are also covered. So "all liquor stores deserve to be burned!" is protected speech, but "let's go burn that liquor store now!" is not.


Thanks. IANAL, which I probably should've said up top.


How does that argument not also apply to blasphemy laws?


Blasphemy laws regard a victim that is not real.


Blasphemy laws often frame the deed as (a) hurting the feelings of believers and/or (b) causing social unrest and/or (c) disturbing public order.

You certainly can consider a very large set of potential victims - there are a lot of real people who get gravely offended by cases of blasphemy.

Your statement that God isn't real is, in the eyes of such court, saying something clearly untrue that offends others and harms the social order. The existence and reality of God is an undisputed axiom in many legal systems - the court will rule that God is real, the legal acts will explicitly state that God is real, and it might even be enshrined in their constitution as a fact above all law. It's even plausible that the holy text e.g. Quran is the basis of all law there; there may be additional regulations but the core of law comes from God.


There's no "god" in the constitution.

What states like Saudi Arabia or Iran do in their law should simply not be accepted.

Even Turkey was officially secular until at least recently.


Which constitution? There's no "the" constitution, it's just as valid to say that there's no free speech in the constitution because, frankly, having free speech in constitution in just as rare as having god in constitution.

I'd agree that it would be nice that if it was differently, but saying "shouldn't be accepted" is just like wishing for a pony, it has no connection to reality - we simply don't get a say in such matters, and I'd bet dollars to pennies that a magical totally fair democratic vote in those countries would prove that the average voter there definitely supports prohibiting blasphemy and restricting speech to do so.

It's ridiculous to simply unilaterally declare that your moral system is more valid than someone else's, and forcing your constitution on some other place is just as reasonable as someone else wanting to replace your constitution with theirs.


"It's ridiculous to simply unilaterally declare that your moral system is more valid than someone else's".

Well my moral system is that I can do exactly that.

If morality is relative, then your opinion that I shouldn't do this isn't any better than my opinion that I should do this.

So I am just going to go ahead and do that.

What, are you going to call me immoral? YOU are the one who believes in moral relativism.


I agree with that. Once we accept the false premise that "all are the same" we'll let the most intolerant and the most backward win. And accepting the complaints of those "offended" is giving up to the real and destructive backwardness.

Too many people take our current state for granted. It is actually the result of the centuries of the fight against the backwardness (especially religious). If we give up we'll lose what we've already and with a lot of fight achieved.

We have to offend the superstitious and those that want to protect the backwardness, otherwise we're doing it wrong, and we'll lose so much we can't even imagine.

We have what we have today in spite of the religious texts not because of tbem. Otherwise there would still be more burnings at the stake and beheadings. Not to mention the treatment of the women.

We should never forget that, and we should act. It's getting critical again.


That being said, what about North Korea?

If literal concentration camps or starving literal millions of people to death aren't sufficient to bring real action, is it realistic to believe that free speech of all things will be the reason because of which we will start to topple regimes that we consider immoral?

If we can achieve a consensus sufficient for action on regimes who kill and torture people just because, then it might be appropriate to consider stopping (as opposed to just criticizing) regimes that simply repress people not following an arbitrary social code of conduct.


North Korea SHOULD be toppled, in an ideal world.

The problem, though, is that when you go around toppling regimes, millions end up dead, when before only 10s of thousands were being killed by the secret police.

So yes, if I could wave a magic wand and give human rights to the entire North Korean population, with no negative side effects, I'd do it.

But we don't have that magic wand, and we have to balance the good that we'd be doing by fixing North Korea, with the bad that'd be done through the millions that would end up dead.


North Korea offered peace many times. It's the U.S that doesn't want to accept it. See my other post. The U.S. goal simply isn't to reduce the chance of a war and it's even less to improve the state of the people there (or anywhere actually). "Bringing democracy" when the U.S. politicians say it always mean something else as it would be naively expected. Best observed on recent Iraq and Syria examples.

The U.S has a huge history of the direct organization of toppling the regimes only on the principle "they don't do what we want them to do." Therefore, Saudi Arabia, one of the most intolerant places on the Earth "are the friends" and the dictators are somewhere else. And these "friends" thanks to that "friendly" support magnificently exported their mind-boggling intolerance all around the world. And some circles bend over backwards to teach us that "it's good so."


I don't care if NK has offered peace or not. I care that they send their own people to death camps.

If I could topple NK overnight and get rid of the death camps I would do so.

My opinion on Saudi Arabia is the same. That dictatorship should be toppled as well, hopefully by their own population.


North Korea is the biggest straw-man imaginable(1). We should worry what is happening in our own lands. North Koreanism is spreading nowhere, the intolerance "as written" in the "holly" books (yes in all of them believed by the superstitious as such) is, through the world, as we speak.

Historically, most of the thinking world already once managed to see the mentioned books as the stories which aren't to be taken seriously. The superstition is fighting back now thanks significantly to our forgetting what is it actually about. Not caring for the intolerant being "offended" is our moral duty.

1) http://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-nuclear-idUSKCN...

North Korea "has long sought a peace treaty with the United States and other parties in the 1950-53 Korean War, as well as an end to military exercises by South Korea and the United States, which has about 28,500 troops based in South Korea." The U.S. rejects the peace talks every time.


Blasphemy is not hate speech. It doesn't incite to violence, it's not bad for mental health, and it doesn't discriminate. It doesn't actually harm people, it merely offends them.


> It doesn't incite to violence

Charlie Hebdo

> it's not bad for mental health

Causing someone to doubt and/or lose their religion is extremely damaging. It can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health crisis.

> it doesn't discriminate

Islam gets a lot more flak, than, say, Buddhists.

> It doesn't actually harm people, it merely offends them.

Speech is a weapon and can be very harmful. That's one of the major reasons totalitarian governments are terrified of free speech. In the West we've largely decided that the benefits of free speech outweigh the costs.


> Charlie Hebdo

That's not even remotely what "incitement to violence" means.

> Causing someone to doubt and/or lose their religion is extremely damaging.

People blaspheming is not generally believed to cause religious adherents to lose faith. And even if it did, losing faith is not generally considered to be harmful either.

> It can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health crisis.

Citation please. I've never heard this argument before. And since you brought it up, I could just as easily say that losing religion can help cure mental issues. A classic example would be a gay person who has been brought up to believe that they're going to hell for being gay. Losing religion is probably the best thing that could happen to their mental health.

> Islam gets a lot more flak, than, say, Buddhists.

"it doesn't discriminate" doesn't mean all religions are equally blasphemed, and I can't imagine what sort of confusion would lead you to think that made any sense.

> Speech is a weapon and can be very harmful. That's one of the major reasons totalitarian governments are terrified of free speech.

Wrong type of harm. You're talking about spreading ideas that people don't like. I'm talking about the very words themselves harming the victims.


Hate speech is a broader category than incitement to violence.


It's clear from the responses here and the downvotes that I'm receiving that a lot of you have never actually witnessed real hate speech, never seen what it does to people, never seen people killed by people who were inspired by hate speech.




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