Let’s start with a premise few in this discussion seem to grasp:
Words can, should, and do have consequences. I’m not arguing that anybody should like disgusting speech. Nor am I arguing that anybody should be forced to listen to some whack job. Note the key word: Forced.
If someone has paid for a platform, and others have paid to listen, you have no right to keep them from spewing whatever nonsense you believe they are spewing.
No matter how rank, rancid, or repulsive someone’s words seem (to you), that person has every right to say them. If someone’s beliefs are twisted, psychopathic, or just plain wrong, the only way they are ever going to find out how far off base they are is to share that lunacy with others.
The problem with calling anything “hate speech” is precisely this: Who decides what is “hate?”
Some of those calling for banning “hate speech” are likely not fans of the current president. That last sentence is almost certainly a gross understatement. Do they want him deciding what constitutes hate speech? Are you going to tell me that with a straight face?
The people calling for these bans obviously haven’t thought this through very far.
I’ll tell you who decides: The last person you’d ever want deciding will decide. The biggest bully on the planet will decide. Your mortal enemy will decide. Your crazy ex-spouse will decide. Every time. Count on it.
Nobody has any right to not be offended. I’m offended every day by things I read. I want to maintain my right to be offended. This allows me to either:
A: Try to persuade the offensive / “hateful” / crazy person why their views are incorrect, or if that fails:
B: Stay very far away from the offensive / “hateful” / crazy person and warn my friends and family about them.
There are crazies everywhere.
By banning the crazies from speaking, as some people think a swell idea, we wont know who the crazies are. We also wont know how many people actually believe the craziness.
Your good intentions have now made it impossible for me to know who might actually be dangerous. Now – the person I should know to stay away from is invisible to me.
If you haven’t read my previuos articles, know that I don’t care – at all – about your intentions.
Banning “hate speech” (however impossible to define) in some misguided effort to prevent violent actions would work about as well as removing the rattle from a rattlesnake to prevent it from biting you.
It would work about as well as disabling the temperature gauge from your car to prevent your engine from overheating.
It would work about as well as destroying the emergency alert sirens to prevent a nuclear strike.
Speech is a window into what someone believes. Even if you theoretically could ban speech (hint: you can’t), the belief remains. In fact, the belief might grow even stronger by preventing it from being put into words.
When any group, organization, political party, or person wants to limit my access to information, I ask why. Why do they not want me seeing other information? Might this other information contradict the information they’d have me believe? What – their sources are superior to the ones they’re trying to keep me from seeing? Says who? Says you? Who the heck are you?
If you think I can’t handle what some whack job is saying, then that’s your problem. It is not mine. If you can’t immediately refute the speech of the person you want to ban me from hearing (without shouting over them), then perhaps you need to reconsider your position.
Maybe, just maybe, you are the whack job.
Telling adults: “Never listen to this person” will work about as well as telling kids: “Never look in this drawer.” Good luck with that.
The aura and mystique of the speech you’re trying to prevent from being heard will be amplified by the very fact that you are trying to prevent people from hearing it.
Actions have consequences. Think things through past what feel good for a couple hours.
The best remedy for “hate speech” is a well-reasoned critique on why the person writing it is wrong.
Not a personal attack on how ugly they are.
Not a threat to their kids.
Not marching like an idiot while screaming 5 syllable chants that have nothing to do with refuting the position you find incorrect.
Not making fun of their apostrophe misplacement.
Not calling them names that don’t even remotely apply to their position (Antifa – I’m talking to you. Please look up the actual definition of fascism.)
Not typing in size 96 red font all caps quadruple exclamation point.
Not building up a giant but extremely weak straw-man and slaying it in front of all your adoring fans.
A well-reasoned critique.
Banning “hate speech” will not eliminate the monsters. It will only make the monsters invisible.
The only thing more dangerous than a monster is an invisible monster.