As everyone is painfully aware, protests turned violent at the UC-Berkeley campus this past month over the appearance by an alleged alt-right speaker. The appearance had to be cancelled. This past week a scheduled appearance by Corey Lewandowski at the University of Chicago was protested simply because he was, at one time, Donald Trump’s campaign manager. Kudos to the University of Chicago and particularly David Axelrod for standing up to the triggered snowflakes on campus.
As we near graduation season, there will likely be the obligatory student protest over some invited speaker. With the man at the center of the Berkeley protests about to start a book tour, we can expect more violence and protests. As bad as these actions are, it could be Europe where in many countries “hate speech” is a crime punishable by fine or imprisonment. But even they concede the conundrum which faces this issue: what is hate speech?
In many instances, what is described as hate speech may simply be a dissident view. In the name of tolerance, the self-appointed gatekeepers of tolerance have become intolerant. That is certainly not democratic and definitely not freedom. Those in power get to decide the parameters of “acceptable” and “unacceptable” and that- regardless of who is in power- is a dangerous affront to our principles and those of democracy in general.
Nor should certain topics of discussion be beyond the pale in the search for truth. However, the fascists on the Left have even cut off that avenue of debate. Peter Tatchell is a gay rights activist who was arrested in Britain for saying that the homophobia and sexism of radical Islamic factions was akin to the mentality of the Nazis. Yet, no one can deny the homophobia of Islam which criminalizes homosexuality, or of its inherent sexism in the treatment of women. Likewise, another person was arrested and fined for saying that Scientology was a dangerous cult. Thus, in Great Britain an objective fact and a reasonable opinion became religious hate speech.
It is also apparent that free speech of any kind is not really tolerated in the Muslim world. The Muslim immigrants to Europe are transporting their intolerance towards free speech with them. In fact, we see a similar trend domestically where minority populations have less tolerance for free speech than native born Americans. Perhaps this is because recent immigrants to the US have less of an affinity for such rights. Fortunately, we have the First Amendment but as demographics change in the US there will likely be greater momentum for hate speech laws in the future. This could be considered hate speech, but many immigrants today do not subscribe to universal values (such as free speech) of modern Western civilization.
A recent article by a SJW in Australia made the assertion that the United States is “perhaps the most anti-human rights country in the world.” Our crime is that we do not have hate speech laws. Decrying the fact that the US does not succumb to the “demands” of the international community and organizations to pass such laws, the writer relegates the US to “anti-human rights” status. He states, “Minorities in the US really don’t seem to understand the harmful effects that hate speech has on them and the very real danger that it places them in.” How nice of an Aussie to tell American minorities what is good or bad for them. And what is the Australian example?:
The Australian Classification Board bans any film, video game, book, or other form of media if it offends against community standards, contains content harmful to society, or is demeaning to human dignity.
Besides sounding rather Orwellian, this Board gets to choose what Australians can view, read, or play based on broadly-worded phrases about community standards, “harm to society,” or “harms to human dignity.” For many on the Left, they view this model as the best to address hate speech.
And the American media is a stealth accomplice in stifling speech with which they disagree. For example, the New York Times talking about the Charlie Hebdo killings and the Pamela Geller-sponsored Muhammad art show in Garland, Texas had this to say:
There is no question that images ridiculing religion, however offensive they may be to believers, qualify as protected free speech in the United States and most Western democracies. There is also no question that however offensive the images, they do not justify murder… But it is equally clear that the Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest in Garland, Tex., was not really about free speech. It was an exercise in bigotry and hatred posing as a blow for freedom. Some of those who draw cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad may earnestly believe that they are striking a blow for freedom of expression, though it is hard to see how that goal is advanced by inflicting deliberate anguish on millions of devout Muslims who have nothing to do with terrorism.
It should have simply ended before the “but.” How can the drawing of a prophet be a form of bigotry and hatred? Was there really the infliction of deliberate anguish on millions of Muslims? Where was the moral outrage from the Left when a crucifix submerged in a jar of human urine passed for “art?” Surely, this offended millions of Christians. Or is it that Islam gets more protection from the Left than Christianity? And wouldn’t that be bigotry, or even hatred? Certainly, displaying a venerated object in a jar of urine is more hateful than a benign drawing of a dead prophet.
And since hate speech crimes are designed to protect minorities or “disadvantaged people” and their feelings, no discussion would be complete without one of race. Former attorney general Eric Holder called the US a “nation of cowards.” In the aftermath of the Trump travel ban executive order, Jamelle Bouie at Slate compared the action to the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. In the midst of the Betsy DeVos hearings, Salon stated that support for her nomination was proof that whites haven’t gotten over Brown vs. Board of Education.
Of course, mean-spirited memes on the Right complete with watermelons and witch doctors are the juvenile equivalents of the racially charged words from the likes of Holder, Slate and Salon. More incendiary remarks come from self-anointed civil rights leaders and race-baiters. However, being called a “coward,” or agreement with a travel ban putting you in the same category as a slaveholder, or subtle accusations of being a segregationist is never considered hate speech, yet the memes and depictions are considered hate speech.
Neither instance may be correct and both may offend the feelings of the intended audience, but both are equally legal and deservedly so under the First Amendment. That amendment was not ratified to protect the emotions of audience members or readers.