RfP: Hate speech laws

datePosted on 13:07, January 17th, 2009 by Anita

Recently I’ve read a number of paired essays, one arguing strongly for something and one arguing against it. I really like the form and reckon the arguments are much better than those that have to pretend objectivity. I’m wondering if we can get the same thing going here – two posts on one subject arguing strongly for opposing views.

So, with no more ado, I’m looking for anyone who might be willing to write a brief strongly argued post for or against hate speech laws. It’s a fascinating topic as it involves competing rights, and NZ has (perhaps without thinking too hard about it) legislated against racial hate speech but probably allows hate speech against other groups.

If you’re interested either email us (kiwipolitico@kiwipolitico.com) or post in the comments and we’ll get in touch.

P.S. If you’re keen to do this but run your own blog please get in touch, I’m sure we can figure out cross-posting.

P.P.S. If you don’t run your own blog I can promise you writing a post would be more fun and easier than you think! :)

[Many thanks to Lew and Rich, we have posts for the case for and against hate speech laws]

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23 Responses to “RfP: Hate speech laws”

  1. DeepRed on January 17th, 2009 at 15:21

    There’s an article in the Listener on the issue that seems even-handed.

  2. Phil Sage (sagenz) on January 17th, 2009 at 23:03

    In the meantime I will take this as a continuing invitation to provide a generally opposite view to the posts here in the comments. :^)

  3. James on January 18th, 2009 at 03:16

    Heres my opening post….short and to the point.

    There are NO competing rights…genuine rights don’t contradict.

    Hate speech laws are are an attack on free speech and individual rights….no ones real rights are violated by hateful speech….there is no such thing as a ‘right” not to be offended.Being called a “F**ken black c**” whilst being violently assulted makes no difference to the actual offense being committed…the insult adds not a jot to the physical injurys suffered and the fact that a crime has been commited.

    A puch or a kick delivered with venomous insults hurts as much as a punch delivered in silence…and both are a violation of your rights…no more or less.

    Hate speech laws are really an attack on ideas….ideas the creator of the law disagress with and wants to use force to prevent…thay are an attack on our liberty and therefore invalid and immoral. They are also open to abuse and subjective interpretation which leads to injustice…good law is objective and only concerned with facts,not feelings.

  4. SPC on January 18th, 2009 at 22:03

    James, violence commited because of racism implies a threat to society beyond the act of violence in the particular case – as it spoke of pre meditation and conspiracy to continue such acts of violence so as to cause fear and distress to a whole group of people.

  5. Lew on January 19th, 2009 at 10:57

    James: Do you believe speech has no power to influence action?

    Do you believe that people have a right to feel safe from violence, even if (in the immediate absence of physical violence) they are objectively safe (at least for the time being)?

    L

  6. James on January 19th, 2009 at 12:36

    James, violence commited because of racism implies a threat to society beyond the act of violence in the particular case – as it spoke of pre meditation and conspiracy to continue such acts of violence so as to cause fear and distress to a whole group of people.

    Speech is not action….an individual is responsible for his own actions no matter how much influence and provacation he may recive..

    James: Do you believe speech has no power to influence action?

    No…..speech can impart ideas which are the drivers for action….but it can’t move your arms and legs to assult someone….YOUR own mind does that.

    Do you believe that people have a right to feel safe from violence, even if (in the immediate absence of physical violence) they are objectively
    safe (at least for the time being)?

    How one “feels” is up to the individual concerned.But speech no matter how vile and unpleasent still does not violate ones individual rights….it can’t physically stop you from exercising your rights…only coercive action can.

    Hate speech laws are a mask for tryanny….it is the first step to drawing a noose around peoples lives and rights….its followed by the banning of certain groups and then activities….it is the thin end of a very dangerous wedge..

  7. BLiP on January 19th, 2009 at 13:00

    James said:

    Speech is not action…. . . “SNIP” . . . it can’t physically stop you from exercising your rights…only coercive action can. . . . “SNIP” . . . speech can impart ideas which are the drivers for action….but it can’t move your arms and legs

    Speech is not action?

    Righy-ho – I’m just off down to the theatre to yell “fire”. Lets see how my one word speech impacts on the theatre goers’ exercising their right to watch a movie. I bet they move their arms in legs in response.

  8. Lew on January 19th, 2009 at 15:04

    James: Same objection as BLiP about speech and action. Speech is action inasmuch as it begets action, or (more importantly) normalises or legitimates action which, having not been so normalised or legitimated, would be unacceptable.

    Your slippery slope argument is bollocks, as well. Nobody is suggesting the criminalisation of anything which might possibly offend anyone, or in codifying orthodoxy in such a way as to constrain public discourse beyond what’s necessary to maintain civil society.

    L

  9. SPC on January 19th, 2009 at 21:00

    Speech is not action….an individual is responsible for his own actions no matter how much influence and provacation he may recive..

    Were you responding to what I wrote, which was

    “James, violence commited because of racism implies a threat to society beyond the act of violence in the particular case – as it spoke of pre meditation and conspiracy to continue such acts of violence so as to cause fear and distress to a whole group of people.”

    I was not talking about response to provocation.

    My point is when racists commit violence and declare their racism as the basis of the attack and threaten to commit such attacks in the future they commit a hate crime beyond the act of violence. A crime against the security of an entire group of people to go about their life without being victimised.

    An the wider theme the classic case of the moment showing the disconnect of free speech and discrimination is the refusal of a cafe owner to serve Israelis. The failure to provide equal service is discrimination – criticising Israel and Israelis is free speech.

  10. James on January 20th, 2009 at 03:04

    Righy-ho – I’m just off down to the theatre to yell “fire”. Lets see how my one word speech impacts on the theatre goers’ exercising their right to watch a movie. I bet they move their arms in legs in response.

    Debunked….Even if you shout “fire” it still requires people to react to the implied suggsetion…and no law has yet stopped anyone who chooses to yell fire in a movie theater….

    Your slippery slope argument is bollocks, as well. Nobody is suggesting the criminalisation of anything which might possibly offend anyone, or in codifying orthodoxy in such a way as to constrain public discourse beyond what’s necessary to maintain civil society.

    People most certainly ARE suggesting the criminalisation of anything that might possibly offend someone…see Christmas.. and the PC whimpiness of many western countries that try not to “offend” people….

    And on the Left we are seeing the drive for “hate speech laws”…laws designed to shackle the minds and supress the free speech of the people..no thanks you fascist scum!

  11. James on January 20th, 2009 at 03:09

    My point is when racists commit violence and declare their racism as the basis of the attack and threaten to commit such attacks in the future they commit a hate crime beyond the act of violence. A crime against the security of an entire group of people to go about their life without being victimised.

    There is no “entire group of people’….there are only individuals …only individuals have rights …not abstract collectives…

    you can’t stop people discriminating.. just as you can’t stop the sun rising in the morning….unless you destroy the sun….or destroy humanity….

    well…..whats it to be Comrade…?

  12. SPC on January 20th, 2009 at 08:03

    Al “individuals” have the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of their group’s race, religion, political creed, gender, sexuality, age etc

    It’s in the Human Rights Act and Bill of Rights.

  13. Lew on January 20th, 2009 at 09:39

    fascist scum … PC whimpiness … destroy humanity …Comrade …

    There’s no point in continuing this discussion, but one more thing:

    and no law has yet stopped anyone who chooses to yell fire in a movie theater….

    You apparently are unaware that yelling `fire’ in a crowded theatre is the canonical instance where free speech protected by the first amendment to the US constitution may be constrained for a wider public good – and forms the basis for the fines and penalties of prosecution one might suffer if one did so. These penalties might not stop them from doing so, but will force them to internalise at least part of the externality caused by their action.

    L

  14. James on January 20th, 2009 at 13:02

    Al “individuals” have the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of their group’s race, religion, political creed, gender, sexuality, age etc

    It’s in the Human Rights Act and Bill of Rights.

    There is no such right.Such a “right” would require the violation of the real rights of others to Liberty….genuine rights don’t contradict….only false ones manage that.

    These are documents I wouldn’t waste piss on….they are contradictory hotch potchs that totally fail to address real human rights and insted promote false non rights…

    You apparently are unaware that yelling `fire’ in a crowded theatre is the canonical instance where free speech protected by the first amendment to the US constitution may be constrained for a wider public good – and forms the basis for the fines and penalties of prosecution one might suffer if one did so. These penalties might not stop them from doing so, but will force them to internalise at least part of the externality caused by their action.

    But the law still doesn’t stop anyone from doing so…and the reason that yelling fire is wrong is that its a breach of the rights of the property owner…if you choose to enter a private premise you do so on the unstated acceptance that you will abide by the owners condictions of entry…one of which will be not causing chaos and panic without just cause…leading to loss and damage for the owner.

  15. Lew on January 20th, 2009 at 13:51

    James: The trouble here is that you’re not actually arguing about the same thing as the rest of us on this thread. You’re using your own (or Rand’s, or someone else’s) simplistically unorthodox definitions of `right’, `action’ and other such terms which actually already have meanings in general usage. This is fine, but this entire argument at cross-purposes could have been avoided if you’d simply defined them outright, and we’d have then known that you’re either unaware of or not prepared to accept the quite large body of legal, historical and philosophical orthodoxy on rights which form the paradigm for the initial matter Anita raised.

    Then you’d also not have had to embarrass yourself by calling reasonable people fascists, communists and what-all, as well.

    L

  16. Rich on January 20th, 2009 at 17:00

    If you would like an article advocating against hate speech laws (and not from a propertarian POV) than I would be happy to write one.

  17. Enki on January 20th, 2009 at 23:33

    A good argument against hate speech laws are that if those laws were implement Zionists would be able to prosecute anti-Zionists by inferring that they are all anti-Semites. These laws would let the Zionist criminal organizations get away with murder and so must be opposed.

  18. SPC on January 21st, 2009 at 00:08

    Except for a few things enki

    1 even the ADL distinguishes between anti-Zionism and anti-(Judeo)semitism)
    2. what’s a zionist.

    A zionist is simply someone commited to a ruling order from the hill of Zion in Jeruslaem being their ruling order. Some are state of Israel Zionists – they claim backing from the UN. Others are eretz Israel Zionists (settlers), others are Jewish Zionists awaiting a Messiah.

    Moslems are Zionists – they seek Islamic rule of Jerusalem, the Crusaders were Zionists – so are most American Christians (they await the end time rapture kingdom come), and the Catholic Church desire to keep Jerusalem out of the hands of both Israel and Palestine is well known.

  19. Lew on January 21st, 2009 at 11:27

    Enki: You do your credibility no good by appealing to a specific matter or group. Make your case against the principle of hate speech as a matter of principle, and (if you can) demonstrate how that principle applies to a given example.

    Your anti-Zionist case here rests on the bogus conspiracy theory that Zionists control the legal and policy establishment to the extent that they’d be able to use any given hate speech framework to specifically target the enemies of Zionism. And then you say that it would allow them to `get away with murder’, which is just meaningless.

    You’re duelling with James for the coveted title of Most Irrational Commentator On This Thread. Come on, lift your game.

    L

  20. James on January 21st, 2009 at 14:00

    James: The trouble here is that you’re not actually arguing about the same thing as the rest of us on this thread.”‘

    Yes…..because everone else is wrong about rights…they are hopelessly mired in contradictions…my case is not.Reality doesn’t support contradictions…if it did the existence we know would be impossible.

    “You’re using your own (or Rand’s, or someone else’s) simplistically unorthodox definitions of `right’, `action’ and other such terms which actually already have meanings in general usage.”

    That certain terms are in general usage is irrelavant if they are wrong…”rights” being the major example of a concept containing unsustainable contradictions….this invalidates them straight away.

    Defining rights based on objective fact doesn’t work for you Lew..? Existence exists…does it not? Man is man…is he not? He therefore has a nature as species “man”…does he not? That nature is shared amoungst all men by virtue of them all being members of species man…do they not..? Rights are moral sanctions to freedom of action in a social context…meaning they are actions one can take without requiring the permission of other people…Rights are unique to humans because we are the only beings (that we know of) that survive by thinking and forming concepts upon which we act that keep us alive and define us as man.The concept of rights defived from these facts of reality are inseperable from humanity if its to survive..

    If you are not prepared to recognise the contradictions and formulate a case that doesn’t destroy itself then any debate using your flawed premises is pointless…..

    “This is fine, but this entire argument at cross-purposes could have been avoided if you’d simply defined them outright, and we’d have then known that you’re either unaware of or not prepared to accept the quite large body of legal, historical and philosophical orthodoxy on rights which form the paradigm for the initial matter Anita raised”

    I most certainly am aware of the body having written on it and debunking it over the last few years.

    I have commented in the past on the UN’s Declaration of Human rights pointing out it was fatally compromised as it contained contradictory rights claims from article 22 onward that clashed with the previous 21…have a look at it yourself and tell me there is no contradiction there that renders the whole thing invalid.

    The concept of rights as used by the left and others ignorant of the subject is destroyed by the simple application of the non contradictioy principle…if a claimed right is found to require the non consentual participation of another to enact it it cannot be a valid right as all human have equal rights,(socialism itself claims this)….for one to be forced to surrender their rights to anothers “right” is a contradiction and therefore as previously stated…invalid.

  21. Lew on January 21st, 2009 at 14:52

    James: Whenever you find yourself arguing `everyone else is wrong’ on a matter of culture, you’ve already lost.

    Existence exists…does it not? Man is man…is he not?

    Tautologically obvious. Don’t waste my time.

    He therefore has a nature as species “man”…does he not? That nature is shared amoungst all men by virtue of them all being members of species man…do they not..?

    This is the issue you fail to grasp: rights are cultural. There are no fundamental rights in nature. None. In nature, as biologists often state, there are no entitlements, no penalties, no rewards or punishments, only consequences. By talking of `natural rights’ belonging to a species by simple virtue of them being that species, you buy into much of the theist basis of the rights theory you claim to oppose, ascribing a non-theist teleology to a system which (objectively) contains no order but that which we project upon it. You’re stuck in the seventeenth century arguing that we have rights granted to us by some great prescriptive force, rather than having made them up as the authors of our own destiny. These concepts of `rights’ did not magically emerge from the ether – they, as with any other form of culture, are creations of the human mind, and they have currency because we, as humans, believe that they have currency. They only have currency to humankind; nature doesn’t care either way.

    It follows from this that if humankind can decide that there are rights, we can also decide what the parameters of those rights are. That’s what all this debate about human rights, for thousands of years, has been about: part of the collective, ongoing decision-making process which determines how a civil society should operate.

    Any time you care to join it, welcome.

    L

  22. Anita on January 21st, 2009 at 15:15

    James writes,

    Man is man…is he not? He therefore has a nature as species “man”…does he not? That nature is shared amoungst all men by virtue of them all being members of species man…do they not..?

    Are you using the gendered “he” and “man” on purpose? If so, why? If not, perhaps you should stop because it makes you look like either you are very deeply sexist or you have poor thought processes (or both).

  23. Anita on January 22nd, 2009 at 21:35

    I’m about to lock off comments on this thread. Please read and comment on Lew and Rich’s excellent posts for and against hate speech laws.