“For the past few years speech has moved online, leading to fierce debates about its regulation. Most recently, feminists have led the charge to purge Facebook of misogyny that clearly violates its hate speech code. Facebook took a small step two weeks ago, creating a feature that will remove ads from pages deemed “controversial.” But such a move is half-hearted; Facebook and other social networking websites should not tolerate hate speech and, in the absence of a government mandate, adopt a European model of expunging offensive material.”
“Last week the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the right of the hate-mongering Westboro Baptist Church to disturb the funerals of servicemen with homophobic protests — a reflection of their belief that the US government should be punished for tolerating homosexuality. The Court’s 8-1 ruling, invoking the First Amendment’s protection of free speech, ended the efforts of Albert Snyder to collect damages for the emotional distress inflicted on him by the Westboro hate mob, who had carried “God hates fags” and “Thank God for dead soldiers” placards at the funeral of his son, Marine Lance Cpl Matthew Snyder. In the same week, In Britain, Emdadur Choudhury of Muslims Against Crusades was fined £50 for causing harassment, harm and distress through calculated and deliberate insult for burning two poppies during the 2 minutes commemorative silence on November 11th 2009. And John Galliano, the one-time Dior designer, has been charged in Paris for racial insult after a video emerged in which he proclaimed his love for Hitler. He could spend 6 months in jail and a fine of $30,000. How should democracies deal with hateful speech? Is the muscular American free-speech fundamentalism preferable to its protective, molly-coddling European counterpart?”
From Intelligence Squared
When you live in a liberal democracy take like America you should be aware that most of the things that you receive in life aren’t free. That you are one of today three-hundred twenty-million people and that we simply do not see things the same way. And all live in our different factions, or cultures, or cliques, however you want to put it. And what may sound like the truth to you, may sound like hate speech to someone else. But since we are a liberal democracy we all have the freedom of thought and speech. As long as we aren’t acting on these ideas that could physically hurt innocent people, or put them in danger.
The First Amendment like the Second Amendment or the Fourth Amendment and all our constitutional amendments are not absolute. Meaning they can be regulated, but not to the point that they limit individuals in how they live their own lives. For you can say whatever you want and think whatever you want. But you can’t order someone to be killed or physically assaulted without a price for that. You can own a gun in America, but you can’t use that gun to murder someone. We all have the right to privacy to protect law enforcement from breaking into our homes without just-cause. But if they have good reason to believe that someone’s health or life is in danger, they can break the door down to save that innocent person. And if they believe you are at fault, they can arrest you.
Since freedom is not free that means we have to put up with sometimes even things that we do not like, including speech. That you are free to live your own life. But so is everyone else whose not incarcerated. So they may do things or believe in things that may offend you and you have the right to disagree with them. And take another side, but you cannot stop them from what they are doing or what they believe in. Simply because you do not like what they believe in and what they said.
The First Amendment is a perfect example of that. As long as we aren’t inciting violence or threatening to hurt or kill innocent people. Or yelling fire in crowded spaces when that fire doesn’t exist, we are free to believe in and say what we think. Which is what makes our country a liberal democracy. Along with our other constitutional rights, as other countries are a little more statist and collectivist and put more authority and faith in the state over the individual.
As far as I’m concern if you do not believe in freedom of thought and speech and choice more broadly than just abortion, you are not a Liberal. You cannot be a Liberal if you do not believe in a high degree of personal freedom. When you put the state over the individual when it comes to personal freedom, you are not a Liberal, but more of a Statist. Even if you are pro-choice on abortion, marijuana and sexuality.
If your idea of liberalism is that it is the job of the state to protect people from having to see or hear things that may offend them, than you are not a Liberal. And sound more like a Religious-Conservative, or some other type of Statist, than you do a Liberal. And even if we were to outlaw hate speech, good luck with that with our first amendment, who would be the judge of what is and what isn’t hate speech. Partisan right and left-wing ideologues who see it as their job to eliminate speech they disagree with. While they are protecting the speech that they want. Which is what would happen in our current divided political system and culture.
Liberal democracy is all about freedom of speech, thought and expression. Again as long as we aren’t threatening to physically harm or kill people or inciting violence and yelling fire in public places. Which gives Americans the right to be, quite frankly assholes, as long as they aren’t physically threatening people. Which is why we have freedom of speech as well as hate crime laws. So people do not have the right to physically harm to kill others because they simply to not like them because they are bigots. One of the differences between living in a liberal democracy and some type of authoritarian state. Where you can be arrested for your own views.