Thursday, April 28, 2005

Hate Speech: How to Criminalize One's Political Opponents

This is one of the best and most succinct discussions of the desire to criminalize "hate speech":

This push must be, and will be, resisted by all who care deeply about freedom of speech because, at the end of the day, "hate speech" is really a very subjective judgment that very much depends on the eye of the beholder, or, if you will, the ear of the listener. Extreme examples are easy to identify, but most liberal experts in this field neglect to point out that obscene and so-called "fighting words" that invoke extreme emotion are already not protected as speech under current Constitutional jurisprudence. That being the case, the "extra" protection afforded by "hate speech" codes really are illusory. What is really going on here is an attempt to declare beyond debate certain subjects that the Left finds offensive.

More mundane examples, however, are likely not to produce such unanimity of judgment. Is Little Green Footballs and invaluable political forum that focuses on the plans and deeds of Islamic Fascists? Or is it a racist hate-site that the government should shut down? We suspect the answer to that question very much depends on one's political views.[....]

We understand that freedom of speech is painful to liberals. We know what you're going through, having had to live through the era when you controlled the public debate and no dissenting voices to liberal orthodoxy were allowed into the hallowed halls of CBS News or the New York Times.

Hate speech codes are nothing more and nothing less than an attempt to criminalize one's political opponents and should be resisted by all who care for liberty, be they right or left.(Emphasis mine--please read the entire post at New Sisyphus!)


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