It’s been a common topic over the last few years: Is free speech under attack? In some ways, it absolutely is. Just look at how many people get “cancelled” for giving their unfiltered opinion, or making a joke. People lose jobs and opportunities regularly over Tweets and Facebook posts. People lose their Twitter and Facebook accounts for posts that don’t sit well with the Silicon Valley overlords. When you look at it that way, free speech has been under direct attack, and for some time.
I have been much more skeptical of the idea that free speech is under attack from a legal perspective. We have this little thing called the Bill of Rights that says explicitly that freedom of speech is guaranteed. Nobody in America is going to jail for “hate speech”, at least not unless huge changes are made.
However, there are some signs that the tide may be turning. First off, other western countries have started to curb free speech. Canada, the UK, and others have adopted hate speech laws. Also, some in the media are suggesting that this may be a good idea for us in America. While this is a radical stance, the left is trying to mainstream it, as they tend to do with other radical ideas. Hence, this doozie in the Washington Post.
The writer of this absolutely anti-American article actually served in the Obama State Department, and is currently a contributor to MSNBC. So yes, we’ve had and still have people in our government who want to infringe on our God-given rights.
As it sits, hate speech laws can not happen in the United States because we have the First Amendment. Sadly, this has not stopped people from trying.
If you thought that headline was the work of The Onion or The Babylon Bee, you‘ll be disappointed to find out that it’s not. Some Democratic lawmakers in the very state where our forefathers fired the first shots of the Revolution is trying to ban the word “bitch”. It is unclear, however, if “biatch” is still acceptable.
This is obviously not only anti-American and anti-freedom, but also just plain fucking stupid. Apparently, a growing number of people believe we should fundamentally change the First Amendment itself. We live in dumb times people.
While I’m skeptical of polls, this is troubling. It’s hard for me to imagine anyone, right, left, or center being against the concept of free speech. I’d expect the numbers to be extremely low, but they aren’t.
The eternal optimist in me is trying to convince the rest that the people who responded to the poll are just painfully misinformed as to the can of worms that hate speech laws would open. I think we as a society are very short sighted, and tend not to see consequences very clearly.
However, free speech means ALL speech (as long as it does not directly threaten or incite violence of course). The idea that anyone isn’t for that is mind boggling to me. There is a good reason that it is in the FIRST Amendment.
I have some questions for anyone who believes that hate speech laws are a good idea: Exactly how do we decide what constitutes hate speech? Who gets to decide? I’m all ears. I’ve seen a lot of very tame, uncontroversial things considered hate speech by someone out there. Guaranteed that there’s some douche Marxist gender studies major at Berkeley who thinks this article is hate speech. If we put human beings in charge of policing speech, nobody will ever agree where the line is.
Many proponents of hate speech legislation define hate speech as something derogatory to a certain group of people, based on race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc. Sure this might sound reasonable. I don’t plan on saying mean things about people from any of these groups, so why do I care?
As I said, when people draw the parameters, there will always be disagreement. A good example is in the context of gender identity. Some people, including many in Silicon Valley, believe that saying something like “there are 2 genders” is hate speech. It also happens to be true. This type of language has cost many people their social media accounts. So no matter where the line is drawn, someone is gonna be pissed. If the truth isn’t allowed, we have a big problem.
If you don’t like what someone says, don’t listen to it. If that’s not possible, come up with an argument and explain why their speech is bad. The best way to deal with bad speech is more speech.
As far as I can see, the only reason someone would want to police speech is because they want to force their own shitty opinions on other people without having to defend them. This is an authoritarian tactic. Think about it. I’m confident that if more people thought about it this way, we would all see just how valuable full, uninhibited free speech is.