RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment

Lakoff writes: "Freedom in a free society Is supposed to be for all. Therefore, freedom rules out imposing on the freedom of others. You are free to walk down the street, but not to keep others from doing so."

George Lakoff, 2012. (photo: Wikimedia Commons)
George Lakoff, 2012. (photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Why Hate Speech Is Not Free Speech

By George Lakoff, George Lakoff's Website

11 September 17


reedom in a free society is supposed to be for all. Therefore, freedom rules out imposing on the freedom of others. You are free to walk down the street, but not to keep others from doing so.

The imposition on the freedom of others can come in overt, immediate physical form — thugs coming to attack with weapons. Violence may be a kind of expression, but it certainly is not “free speech.”

Like violence, hate speech can also be a physical imposition on the freedom of others. That is because language has a psychological effect imposed physically — on the neural system, with long-term crippling effects.

Here is the reason:

All thought is carried out by neural circuitry — it does not float in air. Language neurally activates thought. Language can thus change brains, both for the better and the worse. Hate speech changes the brains of those hated for the worse, creating toxic stress, fear and distrust — all physical, all in one’s neural circuitry active every day. This internal harm can be even more severe than an attack with a fist. It imposes on the freedom to think and therefore act free of fear, threats, and distrust. It imposes on one’s ability to think and act like a fully free citizen for a long time.

That’s why hate speech imposes on the freedom of those targeted by the hate. Since being free in a free society requires not imposing on the freedom of others, hate speech does not fall under the category of free speech.

Hate speech can also change the brains of those with mild prejudice, moving it towards hate and threatening action. When hate is physically in your brain, then you think hate and feel hate, you are moved to act to carry out what you physically, in your neural system, think and feel.

That is why hate speech in not “mere” speech. And since it imposes on the freedom of others, it is not an instance of freedom.

The long–term, often crippling physical effects of hate speech on the neural systems of those hated does not have status in law, since our neural systems do not have status in our legal system — at least not yet. This is a gap between the law and the truth. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+10 # Emmanuel Goldstein 2017-09-11 17:29
There is also a gap between the law and justice. Always has been, though it seems to be getting worse as conservatives have total control of the country.
+5 # Thinking 2017-09-11 17:51
As disturbing as hate speech is, how can it be policed? Are people's homes to be monitored? Drawing a line on hate speech also seems to be a slippery slope -- a matter of opinion. E.g. one person hates a certain race (or several) and another hates a certain president or statute.
+9 # ENetArch 2017-09-13 00:34
About 100 years ago the supreme court was faced with a freedom of expression test. Was someone who yell "Fire!" in a crowded theatre protected under the 1st amendment. They provided 2 tests which declared that yelling, "Fire!" in a theatre was not protected.

1) does the expression hurt themselves?
2) does the expression hurt others?

If either test is true, then it is not protected by the 1st amendment.

In our present situation with hate speech, I believe that these tests will suffice, as anyone who calls for harming others is just the same as yelling, "Fire!" in a crowded theatre.
+12 # Timshel 2017-09-11 17:55
As a chemical/biomed ical engineer and a lawyer familiar with free speech principles, and who did some work in this area of law, I think this article is superficial nonsense that gives academia a bad name. Free speech can cause distress, even a stomach ache, but that is part of freedom, and this article shows such ignorance that it is distressing, but I do not think it should be censored.

Respect for other people's feelings is a very good thing but censorship is worse, unless one's mind is very fragile or one's principles are very weakly held. Anyone who truly loves something should hate what hurts it but that love should give one the strength to stand up against hate speech.
+1 # Citizen Mike 2017-09-13 08:17
I agree! Hate speech is political speech and political speech is specifically protected by the First Amendment. Hatred is an effective political organizing principle, I think this is beyond dispute, and demonstrated by our history of Jim Crow laws. Furthermore, we ought to be resistant to mere insult; name-calling does us no damage unless we are grossly weak wimps. What we must restrain are the actions following from hate speech, such as assault, vandalism and the formation of hate-motivated militias, but not mere words. And censorship is a greater evil than hate speech.
+3 # ENetArch 2017-09-13 16:32
Hate Speech is not political speech. It is speech that calls for hurting a specific person or group ... aka genocide.

Thus this speech is not protected by the 1st Amendment, as it fails 1 of the 2 tests as set forth by the Supreme Court ...

1) does it hurt myself?
2) does it hurt others?

Yelling "Fire!" is not protected speech, as it causes others to be hurt as they flee from the area where the fire supposedly is.
+8 # tgemberl 2017-09-11 18:01
The problem I see with this is who decides what hate speech is? And if people are not allowed to say what they think, however hateful it may be, will that not really just cause the sentiments to go underground and fester and become more dangerous?
+1 # Caliban 2017-09-14 01:38
"Who decides what hate speech is?"

We all decide this for ourselves, and it is of little importance if our definitions vary somewhat. For the core idea of hate is always destruction, always a threat to others.

Thus, it will be the task of ordinary citizens functioning as readers, listeners, and responders who will establish in practice -- and perhaps in court -- the parameters of what is true "free speech" and what is punishable by law as a violation of the health and safety of the citizenry.
+5 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-09-11 18:02
I remember a very good similar argument made by Catharine MacKinnon for banning pornography. Her book was "Only Words." Defenders of porn have always said it is "only words" or pictures and they are protected expressions. She replied that they are not and gave a more politically astute analysis of what porn does to the brains of men and the social experiences of women.

While Mackinnon's argument seemed to me to work because pornography is a commodity or an object (i.e., picture, film, narrative) that exists outside of any person and can be banned, Lakoff's argument goes back to thought or the content of someone's heart. That only exists inside someone's mind. You can't ban a mind. Only the by-products of that mind.

I don't think we should ban thoughts. We should ban actions and sometimes speech is an action as in J. L. Austin's "Speech Act Theory" or in Skinner "Verbal Behavior." But here speech is the by-product of thought or the after-thought, if you will.

People think a lot of really horrible things, and I'm just against a regime of thought control. We already have massive doses of thought control in the US. In fact, thought control is the hallmark of democratic societies. If you don't believe me, take it from Chomsky -- "Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies."

We need less thought control, not more.
0 # ericlipps 2017-09-12 19:31
Let's see:

(1) "People think a lot of really horrible things, and I'm just against a regime of thought control."

(2) "In fact, thought control is the hallmark of democratic societies."

Does that mean you're against democracy?
0 # dbrize 2017-09-13 15:24
Oh ericlipps, there you go again:

Post hoc ergo propter hoc.

You don't think one can disapprove of "thought control" yet recognize it as a "hallmark of democratic societies"?

How does this recognition imply one is opposed to democracy? Or in favor of it for that matter.

Perhaps it means just what he says. He is opposed to "thought control".

He states:

"People think a lot of really horrible things, and I'm just against a regime of thought control."

Does this mean he favors ..."really horrible things"?

Silly stuff ericlipps. You can do better.
-1 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-09-13 19:28
My reference was to Chomasky's analysis of the hypocrisy of self-proclaimed "democratic societies" like the US or Europe. Here is a rough and quick summary.

In “democratic societies” it is often said that totalitarian societies are characterized by propaganda and thought control, while democratic societies maximize freedom of belief and expression. The opposite is, in fact, true – propaganda, thought control, and behavioral control are, in fact, the cornerstones of democratic societies. In societies where governments and moneyed elites cannot easily use brute force to control people, they must adopt more subtle means of control in order to preserve their social status. In the 20th and 21st centuries this has been the control of thought through carefully designed spectacles and constructed meanings of contemporary events. This is not to say that force isn’t used in democratic societies, but an important part of the constructed meaning of “democracy” is that it is not used. No one forces you to think or say anything; you do it voluntarily. But nonetheless, you are still thinking or doing what benefits only the ruling elites. While totalitarian societies control bodies, democratic societies control people’s minds. The contest over symbols and meanings in so-called “free or open societies” is therefore more crucial than it is in “closed societies.”

Lakoff was a student of Chomsky's but he did understood little of Chomsky's politics.
+7 # Aliazer 2017-09-11 18:20
The author needs to define the term "Hate Speech"!!

What may sound a statement of "Hate" to the listener, may be only a statement of fact to the person that may articulate it!!!
+7 # Johnny 2017-09-11 18:26
Sure. Hate speech is any speech I disagree with. For example, if I am Zionist, any criticism of how Israel treats the Palestinians is hate speech. If I support ISIS, then any denial of the right to impose my religion on everyone else is hate speech. Who pays the piper calls the tune.
+1 # Salburger 2017-09-12 08:53
right in principle, wrong about the Zionist example, lots of Zionists have strong criticisms of Israeli policies towards Palestinians. This claim is generally used as a red herring to divert claims of Antisemitism that are well founded.
+2 # ENetArch 2017-09-13 00:38
I define hate speech as any expression that calls for harming another - individual or group.

This speech is then not protected speech based on the supreme court's tests.

1) does the expression harm themselves?
2) does the expression hurt others?

AS the 2nd test is true, hate speech, which calls for harming others, is not protected speech.
+7 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-09-11 18:29
I wish Lakoff has built this case on specific examples of the kind of hate speech he is talking about. Are there acceptable levels of hate speech. I hate Neo-Cons. I say a lot of bad things about them. Am I imposing on their freedom?

In truth, the worst hate speech on earth comes from the US military which has to dehumanize the peoples it sends its soldiers out to kill, maim, or destroy. This is thought, speech, and actions all moving in the direction of murdering innocent people, often children. Is Lakoff referring to the basic training in the US military? There's a lot of brain damaged that is intentionally inflicted on recruits in basic training in order to turn them from normal people into sociopaths. Former army psychologist Dave Grossman says his job was to destroy the brains of normal people so they would become killers.
+1 # NAVYVET 2017-09-14 07:05
Thank you, Rodion. You understand how brainwashing works. So does George Lakoff.

Aside from the crowded theater scenario, the only speech that legitimately should be restricted is talk that foments violence which has in the past led to murder--often mass murder.

Drumpf is guilty of that sort of talk (and Tweet), which is why he's beloved by the Nazis and militia skinheads. Those poor weak souls need a daddy figure to allow them to be violent. The NRA "Merchants of Death" are guilty of hate speech because their leaders' diatribes have allowed the most dangerously brainwashed mobs to carry loaded killer weapons.
0 # economagic 2017-09-11 18:48
Best justification for THAT limitation on "free speech" (there are several) that I've ever seen, and one of the clearest article from Lakoff that I've seen. Of course there are some limited prohibitions on hate speech, but they are always "controversial. " Here is the justification.

Now if only we could get a clear, comprehensive, and unambiguous definition of what constitutes hate speech! Don't laugh: Human communication, oral or written, is nowhere near as cut and dried as we think. "Clear, comprehensive, and unambiguous," desirable as it is, is a tall order.
+1 # ENetArch 2017-09-13 00:39
The supreme court provided 2 tests concerning protected expressions:

1) does the expression hurt themselves?
2) does the expression hurt others?

I consider Hate Speech to be speech that calls for harming others. And as it fails the 2nd test, it is not protected by the 1st Amendment.
+6 # tedrey 2017-09-11 18:55
Who has been accused of speaking with hatred in our history? Abolitionists, striking workers, antiwar activists, Black Muslims . . . It's all too easy to pin "hate speech" on anyone that the current majority want to silence.

Free speech has always been far more of a blessing to the oppressed than to the oppessors. Let's not give up that shield now.

To keep using it in just causes, it is sometimes necessary to grant it to those we consider unjust.

I hope the usually very liberal George Lakoff gives this argument a second thought.
+2 # longingfortruth 2017-09-13 15:17
I was saved from descending into hating Trump by learning about civil rights activist, Bayard Rustin who organized the "I Have a Dream" march. Rustin said that he loved the rabid racist Sen. Eastland, and the way we should love him was by taking away his power. Emotions like hate have to constantly fed to keep them going. We can monitor ourselves to stop hate and focus on the appropriate positive action. I have no patience with slippery slope arguments. Reasonable people can agree on a line and the 2 supreme court test provided by ENetArch are strong. Enforcement of hate speech on media and the reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine would heal the division of country. Ask yourself who benefits from dividing and conquering? Whose power is increasded by hate speech?
+11 # markovchhaney 2017-09-11 19:07
Here's the problem, George: once you bring in your neurological argument, I can use it to try to suppress ANY speech I don't like because I can claim that it is harmful to my mental, physical, and emotional health.

So if I'm a Trump supporter, the non-stop attacks on Trump that are expressed by "liberals" on this and other sites and in public are just too much for me to bear. Every aspect of your argument helps me build an attack on the public expression of liberal political sentiments because they hurt my well-being.

The same reasoning is being used on college campuses by some students, faculty, staff, and administrators of a more liberal persuasion to suppress "politically incorrect" speech of various kinds, and to such an absurd degree that a janitor at Indiana University-Purd ue was convicted of racial harassment for reading a book in the library about Notre Dame vs. the KKK.

Your argument leads to more insanity. If you want less hate speech, you need to educate people on what underlies their hate and how it hurts THEM. Ignorant people who have been manipulated by a system that exploits their fear are not suddenly going to become enlightened progressives because of some utterly abstract neurological argument. What your argument would lead to is guaranteed only to exacerbate the divisions that are being exploited by the oligarchs.
+2 # potterron 2017-09-11 19:12
Of course hate speech is unsettling, what Lakoff means, I think, when he says it "can change brains." Are we then willing to regard this change as an imposition on the hearer's freedom serious enough to classify it as legally unacceptable in a free society? At what level of "neural imposition" does advocacy -- simply SAYING admittedly terrible things -- become in our judgment akin to assault? Lakoff raises a good question, but I'm not sure I like his answer.
0 # Depressionborn 2017-09-11 19:19
God said "Esau I have always hated. Is the Bible hate crime? Is it ok to hate those who hate the truth? is it reasonable to believe the right to be right depends on the right to be wrong? Do you understand that everything you want to do seems to require force???
+3 # jazzman633 2017-09-11 19:27
Somewhere hidden deep in that same circuitry is the entity called "free will," which acts to disempower the hateful words. George, you don't give humans enough credit. It all comes down to "Sticks and stones..."
+2 # elkingo 2017-09-11 20:57
You got it George! What parading Nazi's don't impose on you, your abusive family does. Thanks for this clarification.
+3 # bardphile 2017-09-11 21:23
Oh, come now. The mere mention of the word "Hillary" throws the neural circuitry of many on this list into a tizzy, the way the word "Trump" does mine. Sticks and stones...
+4 # DocMary 2017-09-11 21:48
This is such an important topic. In addition to dealing with hate speech, we need to talk about the line between free speech and allowing deliberately disseminated disinformation - or propaganda. We will lose the republic if we cannot agree on where free speech ends and malicious lies begin.
0 # greenharper 2017-09-12 06:26
This is one of the most important articles I've seen in ages.
+1 # NAVYVET 2017-09-14 06:50
Read George Lakoff's books! He's not only one of US's leading linguists, but a physiologist of the brain who knows the areas affected by all kinds of outside manipulation.

In the US the outside manipulators are the extremely rich--especiall y those who gained their wealth by simply good luck (oilmen) or spoiled brats who inherited it (Drumpf, the Koch Brothers, the Waltons).

They want complete control but pretend to support "rugged individualism" (extreme individual freedom to stomp on others' rights) in order to propagandize resentful, fearful people looking for a "leader" who will allow them to use violence to relieve their resentments. We see a manipulator at work nearly every time Drumpf sends a Tweet or speaks to his lumpen followers.
+2 # djnova50 2017-09-12 08:46
War is the ultimate hate. For no reason other than to grab resources, the US is involved in wars around the world. Why don't these writers speak of that?

Hate is such a strong word. There are things and people that I don't care for and may not even like; but, I would never say I hate them. However, I would not want to see others lose their right to hate a thing or a person, if they feel so strongly about it.

If our right to freedom of expression is taken away, what happens to our right to worship as we see fit; or, for that matter, what happens to our other rights?

I may not agree with what a person says/writes; but, I will defend his right to express himself.
+4 # USADUDE 2017-09-12 09:02
Have any of our "free speech" absolutists visited or studied the crazy little city State Singapore? They have restrictions on speech critical of religious beliefs. Hindus can't criticize Christians or Muslims nor can Buddhist and vice versa. As a younger USADude I thought I was a free speech advocate and to a great extent absolutist, I realized I was suffering a bit of cultural superiority. Lee Kwon Yue founding father of Singapore watched religious riots burn down many houses and kill people. His solution in a micro county inhabited by many passionate believers of a variety of religious beliefs the subject of religious criticism or insults are banned speech. At first blush I was incensed in my American free speech absolutist mind. 30 years later I get it. In that country religious insults have been the equivalent of shouting "FIRE!!!" In the crowded theater of our own free speech limiting SCOTUS decision. The same institution that tells us corporations are people and money is equivalent to speech. Nobody bats 1,000. Money ain't speech unless the Intent is to silence theme that ain't got none or drown out their voices. Singapore ain't perfect. They identified an issue that had the absolute potential to destroy their chances to build a better life for their people. I ain't no expert but for the Singaporians so far their restrictions have kept the peace while materially improving the lives of its citizens. Freedom ain't anarchy. Freedom comes with concomitant responsibilitie s.
+2 # ENetArch 2017-09-13 00:50
Yelling "Fire!" was the test case the supreme court had to determine what was considered a protected expression. They deemed it not due to 2 tests. Which, it seems Singapore used as well.

1) does the expression hurt myself?
2) does the expression hurt others?

If either is true, then it is not protected speech.

I consider Hate Speech to be an unprotected expression, since it calls for harming others.
0 # kyzipster 2017-09-14 16:26
We've seen mosques burned in the US as a direct result of Islamophobia airing on Fox News and the like, year after year. We could cite a long list of hate crimes. Your reasoning makes sense but there's a big price imo. Homosexuality is still illegal in Indonesia.

"The “promotion or glamorization of the homosexual lifestyle” is not allowed on television or in radio broadcasts, according to guidelines established by Singapore’s Media Development Authority."

There are also restrictions in reaching out in the media with HIV prevention. I'd say that makes the limits of free speech life threatening for some. The same issue we have in the US in public schools when religion has influence over school policy.

Singapore probably works for many if not most people living there, but as a member of a hated minority, I'd rather live under the US Constitution. It's far from perfect but we've overcome a lot over the decades. Women, racial minorities, etc.
+2 # dbrize 2017-09-12 12:23
That so many readers see through this poppycock from Lakoff is encouraging.

Timshel above, has delivered the coup de grace.

When viewing language and metaphor as a manner of policing thought and conduct rather than a means of projecting reality we end up with our current campus/social trend, rejecting any speech we predispose ourselves against.

Lakoff should know better. This is weak stuff. Beneath him.
0 # kalpal 2017-09-12 12:47
The spewers of venomous visceral hatred deem themselves to be the sole Americans covered by the first amendments. None may object to the hatred because the founders of this nation fully intended to protect those who hate the most among the citizenry.
+2 # Concerned Citizen 2017-09-12 14:05
Hate speech employed or condoned by a government official is one thing and should never be accepted. Hate speech by a private citizen should be condemned and the perpetrator ostracized by society. But free speech must reign!
+1 # ENetArch 2017-09-13 00:53
Would these test for protected speech be sufficient?

1) does the expression harm myself?
2) does the expression harm others?

If either test is true, it would not be considered protected speech.

Do you agree?
-2 # sbessho 2017-09-12 20:51
To those calling for a definition, I ask, "What is the definition of obscenity?" The conventional answer is, "That which offends social norms." Some say, "It's hard to define, but you know it when you see it."

Something similar is true for hate speech. In other words, it is the effect on the hearer that determines hate speech, not some objective definition or borderline. The Supreme Court has ruled about the exception of "fighting words" to the protections of the first amendment. Fighting words provoke a fight. I think hate speech is similar. If the speech provokes or instills fear or terror, it is hate speech and is not protected. There is no need to question or determine intent. The measure is the result of the speech. Not the thoughts of the speaker, but the reaction in the listener.
+1 # dbrize 2017-09-13 13:22
“It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words.”
― George Orwell, 1984

If there were a universally accepted definition of obscenity the courts certainly haven't discovered it. Witness the proliferation of pornsites, strip clubs and a host of other controversial arguments over mainstream books, magazines motion pictures and their content.

"If the speech provokes or instills fear or terror, it is hate speech and is not protected."

+3 # LARS1701C 2017-09-12 23:45
This is why i dislike snowflakes like this, you don't have a right not to be offended and did anyone catch the fact he didn't "define" hate speech? Speech that is hateful if subjective, what you deem as hate speech i see as not hateful. Where does this end with leftists?
-1 # kyzipster 2017-09-14 16:09
..coming from the brand of snowflakes who thinks there's a war on Christmas because Fox says so.
0 # dusty 2017-09-13 00:39
Many of the comments submitted are penned by liars who recognize hate speech but claim they don't recognize it. If they didn't recognize it they wouldn't understand what the article is about and therefore wouldn't have a reason to try to justify it.
0 # Depressionborn 2017-09-13 02:54
Sorry, some of us are slow learners and the hard left is out of the closet. Listen up:

“You'll be ‘made to care,’ because intolerance harms people and is unjustified and the rest of us want the world to be a better place.”
+1 # NAVYVET 2017-09-14 06:22
The worst and longest lasting sin of the US is "rugged individualism." Only Ayn Randians and others who exaggerate individualism at the expense of community survival would claim that there is such a thing as an "absolute" right. SCOTUS was applying wisdom in its decisions curbing certain rights--of speech (fire in a crowded theater), religion (poisonous snakes in a crowded church), and assembly (carrying deadly weapons).

Allowing, even encouraging, hate speech to grow to sinister activist proportions, as Drumpf does, crushes the kind of society which allows "the pursuit of happiness." (That kind of society is also called "civilization." )

Drumpf should have been arrested after several of his unbridled campaign speeches and indicted for fomenting violence. So should the extremists (whatever their skin color or ideology) on talk radio and Faux News, many of whom preach genocide. Read the reports of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Who do you think inspires the armed skinhead and Nazi militias? Who but the popularizers of violence egged on murderers who attacked those churches in Charleston, Knoxville, Birmingham--and hundreds of small congregations that most Americans never heard of during the terror that crushed Reconstruction? Who urged the "America for Protestants" mobs who burnt down Northern city convents with Catholic nuns inside?

0 # Depressionborn 2017-09-14 17:11
would you agree then it is ok to hate people who hate hate speach? Just curious
-1 # NAVYVET 2017-09-15 19:58
If we dwell on hate it tends to weaken us and become a substitute for action, but sometimes it energizes us--I suppose it all depends on our psychology. In general I agree with whoever (probably not Voltaire) said "I disagree with everything you say but would defend to the death your right to say it.

HOWEVER, there are limits. Here's what I wrote to "Rodion Raskolnikov" up above:

"Aside from the crowded theater scenario, the only speech that legitimately should be restricted is talk that foments violence which has in the past led to murder--often mass murder.

Drumpf is guilty of that sort of talk (and Tweet), which is why he's beloved by the Nazis and militia skinheads. Those poor weak souls need a daddy figure to allow them to be violent. The NRA "Merchants of Death" are guilty of hate speech because their leaders' diatribes have allowed the most dangerously brainwashed mobs to carry loaded killer weapons."
0 # Depressionborn 2017-09-19 05:54
NAVYVET 2017-09-15 19:58 You seem bothered by our right to keep and bear arms.

We fought a war once with a king of England when he sent soldiers to collect our powder and shot from Lexington/Conco rd. Patriots are merchants of liberty, not death. Did you serve in the King's navy?
0 # kyzipster 2017-09-14 18:01
All true but if we limit speech, a majority can gets its way more easily.

Racist hate speech contributed to terror in the South post-slavery for sure, but this speech was supported by a majority and would probably have been allowed because of this. There was all kinds of twisted logic to support the brutal oppression of African Americans. Even Bible quotes. The voice of minority opinion is what is more at risk if we mess with the Constitution.

We can't assume that sanity would always rule. This whole country was steeped in racism and segregation well into the mid-20th century. Extensive institutional racism in the North and elsewhere embraced by the white majority that benefited economically from cheap labor and less competition to their wealth, we all know the brutality in the South.

I think there's truth in what you're saying but there are two sides and I don't know what the limits should be. If we limit one group, we risk snuffing out the voice of dissent. As we've seen, over time, many injustices have been corrected largely because of free speech slowly changing majority opinion. It can take decades, even centuries in the case of women, slavery and LGBT people.
0 # dbrize 2017-09-14 19:30
You are quite right and if anything too equivocal. Limitations on free speech will always work adversely toward minorities. It is a weapon used to silence dissent.

As we should recognize in its current manifestation, euphemistically known as PC, instead of promoting honest debate, it produces a generation of intellectual weaklings demanding "safe spaces" from that which they don't wish to hear.
+1 # kyzipster 2017-09-15 12:47
The extremes of political correctness really get on my nerves. I'm also glad the younger generation is challenging everything right now. So much of our history is written through the lens of white supremacy and hetero patriarchy. It's so extensive that even the most open minded people can be blind to it. I like to think this will all play out and lead us to a better place someday.

It does pizz me off that it gets associated with politics. There's no reason for it beyond the Culture War, every racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic attitude gets associated with 'the right', by default, any rhetoric that tries to equalize or point out oppression gets associated with Democrats. The extremes of PC at universities and in social media have nothing to do with Congress or the presidency imo, but I think Trump got into office partly because of this endless noise we see online.

One example of the value of this I can think of is Columbus Day. When I was living in the SF long ago, Berkeley did away with the holiday. A liberal organization that gives awards for being insensitive or bigoted, awarded Berkeley for being insensitive to Italian Americans. I got a kick out of that, political correctness was getting on my nerves back then. 20 years later the real history of Columbus, horrific crimes against humanity, has been accepted by millions. Even the Columbus monument in NYC is under debate right now. My own attitude has changed and I support getting this history right.
0 # librarian1984 2017-09-14 07:09
Of course *unchallenged* hate speech has the power to change minds, literally and figuratively. But it also grows in dark corners.

Let anyone say anything, with narrow exception. And then respond with respect and straight talk. Shine a light on their bullsh!t. That's what will expose it for all its moral and intellectual bankruptcy.

Americans, once brave optimists, have succumbed to fear. I look forward to the awakening that's coming.

0 # Depressionborn 2017-09-20 15:11
Quoting librarian1984:
Of course *unchallenged* hate speech has the power to change minds, literally and figuratively. But it also grows in dark corners.

Let anyone say anything, with narrow exception. And then respond with respect and straight talk. Shine a light on their bullsh!t. That's what will expose it for all its moral and intellectual bankruptcy.

Americans, once brave optimists, have succumbed to fear. I look forward to the awakening that's coming.


what awakening, 1984? religious, political, economic? Are you concerned about others or yourself? If others, why should they care; if yourself, who cares?
0 # kyzipster 2017-09-14 16:07
I think hate speech is propaganda that can lead directly to violence and death. That doesn't mean it shouldn't be protected legally. Patriotic propaganda can do the same thing, as our endless wars going on right now prove.

The danger of outlawing 'hate speech' is deciding who has the power to define hate speech. It's often left up to a court and a judge can be full of prejudice towards one group or another. Using the concept of 'hate' to determine who has free speech and who doesn't, instead of the Constitution, is one solid step towards fascism.

In the Bible Belt a judge might sincerely believe that any anger expressed towards the intolerance and bigotries of Christian fundamentalism is 'hate speech' that poses a threat to families. This is not farfetched at all. In a solidly liberal district, Christian fundamentalists might get thrown in jail.

I was told by a Saudi friend that in his country of birth, a person can leave their front door wide open during a religious holiday and strangers might drop in and visit. That's how safe it is. He's not a fan of Saudi Arabia, just explaining to me why people put up with fascism sometimes.

The US is a violent and difficult place, that is sometimes the price of having more legal protections than many places.

Why are advertisers still supporting the racist rants on AM radio? People buy their products. If we want to save lives, we should demand boycotts, starting with the racists at Fox News.
0 # Depressionborn 2017-09-23 17:02
Think some about this "hate speech" thread. It makes no sense.
We have a bill of rights that denies gov or anyone else the power to decide what we may worship or not worship; what we may say or not say; think or not think; praise or condemn.

Please, there is not a right not to be offended just as no one has the right to impose on another's life or property.

this post is nuts!

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.