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alp227 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-21-11 03:50 PM
Original message
Does hate speech inherently incite violence?
Edited on Sun Aug-21-11 03:51 PM by alp227
After the Norway mass murder, I wrote on my blog about whether hate speech such as the influences of anti-multicultural and anti-Islam thought on Anders Breivik inherently incites violence against people based on race or religion. A similar debate about hate speech and violence followed the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and several others in Arizona back in January as it was speculated if Jared Loughner was influenced by vitriolic, sometimes violent rhetoric from right wing politicians and talk radio hosts, but eventually it turned out that Loughner was more into conspiracy theories and had mental and drug issues.

In my blog, I brought up two US Supreme Court cases on free speech. One, Beauharnais v. Illinois (1952), upheld a state law banning defamation of a race or class of people, following the tradition that libel is not free speech. Another, Virginia v. Black (2003), upheld a Virginia law that prohibited cross-burning because that practice "because burning a cross is a particularly virulent form of intimidation." So it can be established that harassing or threatening other people directly is not protected under the First Amendment. For example, there is a difference between standing on a street in South Side Chicago and yelling through a loudspeaker, "I hate (N-word)s" (distasteful but legal) and "All you (N-word)s should be slaughtered!" (construed as a violent threat and prosecutable). Or posting on an online message board, "Obama is a stupid (N-word)" vs. "We should go to the White House and shoot that stupid (N-word) Obama."

So if violent speech against other people can be a crime in the US, should speech that leads to hatred against others be a crime because the hatred could lead to violence? Or it that based on the slippery slope fallacy? What else besides homophobic speech from religious preachers and conservative commentators could influence the anti-gay bullying epidemic among our youth? I would never ever ever want anyone to be prosecuted merely for their thoughts, but they need to be held responsible for the consequences of their expressed thoughts. In America, I want to be able to say "free speech is for everyone, even bigots," because through freedom of speech there can be an effective pushback against bigoted expressions. But is it worth risking hate-motivated crimes against others so much that it took a good long struggle for Congress and President Obama to include sexual orientation in the federal hate crimes law?

Recently in France, journalist Eric Zemmour was convicted of inciting racial hatred for claiming that most drug dealers are black or Arab. France's free speech provision of its Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen makes French citizens "responsible for such abuses of this freedom as shall be defined by law." Article 10 the European Convention of Human Rights states that freedom of speech may be regulated "for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others." That justifies the many hate speech laws in Europe including in Anders Breivik's native Norway and even European laws against Holocaust denial. Meanwhile, the American James von Brunn, who murdered a security guard at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, had previously written Holocaust-denying views...under US First Amendment protection.

So if hate speech inevitably leads to hate crimes, should such speech still have First Amendment protection? As I've blogged, even Al Sharpton has called on the FCC to investigate right-wing talk radio for racist views.
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LWolf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-21-11 03:59 PM
Response to Original message
1. Legitimizing hate speech legitimizes hate, which legitimizes hate-induced action. nt
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elleng Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-21-11 04:22 PM
Response to Reply #1
4. Don't think all that follows logically.
'Hate' neither legitimate nor illegitimate; it just IS. Action may or may not be legal, depending on MANY things, from murder/mayhem to shouting 'I hate you.'
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LWolf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-21-11 05:41 PM
Response to Reply #4
10. Hate is.
It's my considered view that hate is destructive, and that I'd like to see my species evolve away from it.

I can't and won't try to justify hate. It doesn't have to be illegal to be fundamentally harmful for all involved.
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elleng Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-21-11 05:47 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. Yes, I agree, hate is destructive.
I don't justify it, but I do recognize its existence, and I suspect there's something inherent in human nature which causes or enables it to continue to exist.
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LWolf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-21-11 05:49 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. Evolution takes a long time.
I'd be satisfied if I thought we were moving the right direction, instead of feeding our capacity for hate. :(
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iverglas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-21-11 04:44 PM
Response to Reply #1
7. in a nutshell, yes
Acknowledging that does not amount to calling for such speech to be outlawed, and no one has any basis for suggesting that it does.

Acknowledging it is the first step in examining ways of addressing the problem. Making something a crime is not the only way to do that.

Hate speech doesn't just wither and go away, and it does have effects on people.

The targets are made to feel insecure in a variety of ways -- physically insecure, insecure in their position as full members of the society who can expect equal treatment in all regards, and so on. And too often they become actual targets of people who hold the ideas that hate speech expresses.

The intended audience can be influenced in its thinking and influenced to passer l'action as the French put it, to go from thinking to acting.

When a society tolerates hate speech, it exacerbates the insecurity felt by the targets and emboldens some who might tend or want to engage in action.

Not tolerating is not equal to outlawing and punishing. That is just one small subset of not tolerating.

Calling hate speech what it is -- in the media, in social settings, in institutions -- is one first step toward expressing intolerance for it. Identify it when it happens, identify the people engaging in it, talk about their motives, talk about what people who talked like them have done in the past, talk about how people who are targeted by speech are commonly also targeted by acts, talk about all the effects that hate speech has on individuals and societies.

There is no more an invisible hand in the marketplace of ideas than there is in the marketplace of goods and services. The good does not just oust the bad by some kind of natural selection process.

Cheap and dangerous crap will be produced and sold and bought in the retail economy if we don't do something to stop it, because there are people who can't afford better or aren't exposed to better choices, or are persuaded to make bad choices by the people whose interest it is in for them to do that.

The same thing applies to dangerous ideas. If they are not confronted and combated, they aren't just going to go away.
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LWolf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-21-11 05:35 PM
Response to Reply #7
9. Your remarks lead me to ponder
the larger picture; speech is just one facet.

Authoritarianism, imo, kills the positive potential for human evolution and enlightenment.

There are many human behaviors that I don't like. I'd like to see us evolve out of them. There are other ways to do so than outlawing and punishing, which always seems counter-productive in the long run. The fine line between protecting rights and protecting people and the planet from human excess can be difficult to walk in balance.
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iverglas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-21-11 06:31 PM
Response to Reply #9
15. the one big problem ...
with trying to outlaw something that the right wing really, really wants to do, is that doing that is playing right into its hands -- be it, in the case of speech, passing laws, barring speakers from campus, banning demonstrations at funerals, what have you.

In the present day, the right wing is engaged in a very organized and deliberate effort to occupy our public spaces -- and obviously, making its speech heard in every space, whether physical or social, is hugely important to that effort.

The instant we go beyond saying "we do not want your speech here" to "you may not speak here", we have done exactly what they want.

I'm not saying it there aren't legitimate and strong arguments to justify limiting speech like inciting genocide or disrupting funerals; some things are beyond an obvious line.

It's just that strategically, what happens is you end up in battles that will themselves spread to take up the space and effort that could have been devoted to possibly more effective means of ousting the right wing from where it's trying to squat. Because they really will fight in every court and tribunal in the land to hold onto the space they occupy in the universities, in telecommunications, on the streets, and everywhere else they want to show and exercise their dominance.

Speech and guns are two of their main beachheads at the moment: they may say whatever they want wherever and whenever they want, and they may tote as many guns as they like wherever and whenever they want. It isn't just that they want to do those things; it's also that they want to demonstrate that they can if they want.

The effect on other individuals and the public, and public discourse, and the feelings of safety and security that the public, and every group in the public, has to have in its public spaces if a society is to develop and flourish -- well, the effect that hate speech and guns on display have on all that is exacty the effect the right wing is aiming at: to control the discourse, to control the use of public space, and to make sure everybody knows it.

So they are organized and armed, as it were, to assert and enforce their interests in those regards.

People like David Horowitz and all the well-funded right-wing enterprises that he and people like him are associated with handle the "free speech" aspect of it, with their screams of outrage whenever a student body objects to their campus being used to promote right-wing ideology.

And the NRA and its outgrowths handle the "gun rights" aspect of it, going to children's soccer games and the malls of the land with weapons strapped on, at the micro level, and inciting sentiment against "liberals" and Democrats at the macro level and getting politicians elected whom they can count on, or co-opt, into passing all the laws that will put their guns into every corner of public space.

The result on both fronts is that the public, and particularly those segments of it who are already vulnerable (minorities, women, the GLBT community), feel increasingly less secure, and will be correspondingly less likely to press their demands for their own fair share of all the public spaces, whether in the workplace or in the parks or in government.

In a liberal democracy, trying to outlaw their hateful and oppressive actions (speech is an action) backfires, because they have very carefully tailored their actions and their reactions to the framework provided by the liberal democracy itself: freedom as the fundamental value of the society.

So it's also time to do a little rethinking of that one. When someone else's exercise of a freedom impacts someone else's security so obviously as these things do (and when that is precisely what it is intended to do), it may not be possible or wise to try to prohibit it, but it doesn't have to be tolerated in silence, let alone glorified.

The ACLU really could just say that Nazis marching through Jewish neighourhoods is so inimical to the very foundational values of their society, that their freedom to do that really isn't so supreme that it trumps the basic human security of vulnerable people, that the Nazis can argue their own case. And when the Nazis want to wear guns while they do it, people who buy into all that right to bear arms business really can say that this behaviour is intolerable in a civilized society that values all people equally, and society does have an interest worth protecting, and gun militants can fight their own battles without our help. It's not like either of those groups is oppressed and broke. Even if they were: hard bananas. Nobody else owes them anything. They are not acting in the public interest.

Just say no, I guess. Not: no and if you do you go to jail. Just: no, your behaviour is monstrous and this is why, and you are not welcome.

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LWolf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-21-11 08:13 PM
Response to Reply #15
19. You certainly lay that out well.
"No, your behavior is monstrous and this is why, and you are not welcome" is fine with me.
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elleng Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-21-11 04:10 PM
Response to Original message
2. Slippery slope fallacy.
Edited on Sun Aug-21-11 04:11 PM by elleng
Think of FIRE in crowded theater for a useful analogy.
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Zax2me Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-21-11 04:19 PM
Response to Original message
3. Sounds too much like thought policing.
We are trying to be a free people, not a mind slave society where one persons idea of hate speech is a crime.
Remember, there are times when repubs have control and they likely think your speech inspires hate.
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saras Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-21-11 04:27 PM
Response to Original message
5. Good luck. Case law SUCKS on this issue, but it's what we have to build on.
There is already a relatively clear way to stop overt incitement to immediate action. But hate speech is much harder to define than even pornography.

<snip>
For example, there is a difference between standing on a street in South Side Chicago and yelling through a loudspeaker, "I hate (N-word)s" (distasteful but legal) and "All you (N-word)s should be slaughtered!" (construed as a violent threat and prosecutable). Or posting on an online message board, "Obama is a stupid (N-word)" vs. "We should go to the White House and shoot that stupid (N-word) Obama."
</snip>

Both simple cases. Now imagine three speakers, with no *official* connection between them. One is yelling "I hate gingers and you should too." The second is yelling "it's wrong to endlessly tolerate what we hate", while never mentioning either gingers or immediate action. The third is yelling "now is the time to act. It's nearly too late."

Or person one saying "Christians are all stupid", and another saying "stupid people should die - that's why there are Darwin awards", and another saying "it's legal to protect yourself, don't let the stupid ones get you".


Personally I think if were willing to be really hardcore about not allowing people to incite crimes, that that would cover a bunch of the hate-crime stuff of significance. Another big bunch has to do with the Supreme Court repeatedly ruling that free speech includes deliberate, planned networks of lies. To fix this, and allow lawsuits regarding factualness to govern 'free speech', would take changing either the Constitution, or changing our interpretation of it. I think it would be a good change, but it's a big one, with a long body of case law behind it.

I'd rather see Holocaust denial clearly labeled "speculative fiction" than banned.

The rest of it has to do with intellectual freedom and alternative belief systems, and I think it's a profound mistake to generalize about beliefs and opinions that are outside the mainstream based only, or mainly, on examples you dislike and/or disapprove of.


Note that Europe has a different system than the United States. "..for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others..." overrides what in America are Constitutional rights deeply wired into our government.
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SteveM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-21-11 04:33 PM
Response to Original message
6. Tough issue as always...
I don't know if hate speech necessarily leads to violence; it can, but the best way to prevent violence is for a general up swelling of criticism and, if necessary, ostracization of those using hate speech. It may not stop them, but it may dissuade someone from thinking his contemplated actions are legitimized.

I think the courts have found that you can pretty much say anything you want as long as the speech does not specifically incite or could reasonably be expected to incite a dangerous outcome (the crowded theater metaphor), and as long as the speech is not a threat directed to a specified individual (really assault).

Just this A.M., on the McLaughlin Report (PBS), there was a discussion over whether or not the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system could shut off all cell phone communication along its route (how that is done, I don't know), so as to prevent those who would take action over/protest the shooting of a homeless person by SFPD. Most of the guests seemed to think BART could do that since it is their lines/towers. One person was skeptical of the action. Here, you have free speech denied (over phones BART has something to do with) in order to deny the right of assembly. A Two-fer! The argument may hinge on whether BART is a government entity (which is prevented by the Constitution's Amendment 1 from abridging those rights), or a non-governmental authority. Convenient distinction, to say the least.
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iverglas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-21-11 04:48 PM
Response to Original message
8. holding to the principle of freedom of speech
does not mean permitting people to say anthing they want anywhere and anytime they want.

The radio-television airwaves are public property and their use is properly regulated by the public.

So speech on radio and television is properly a matter for public regulation.

It may seem a bit spineless to say that if someone can afford to print their own newspaper, they can say whatever they want, but saying it on the radio is different.

It isn't, really. It's taking a stand: hate speech isn't tolerated in those places where the public has a legitimate say about what goes on there.
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Shandris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-21-11 05:56 PM
Response to Original message
13. No, I don't think it intrinsically leads to violence in and of itself.
However, hate speech + mentally unstable individuals is a completely different story, and I would say yes, it does lead to violence. I know it's a fine distinction, but an important one imo.

Also, you'll have a lot of trouble on where you're marking lines without that distinction. Consider the 'homophobic' preacher (as mentioned in the post). There are some that are avowed gay-haters (ie, true homophobes). Others are preachers who simply will not, under any circumstances, agree with a gay lifestyle. On DU we call them 'homophobes' a lot, but it's not actually accurate. You'd have to precisely define 'homophobia' in order to legislate it effectively, I'd think.
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alp227 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-22-11 12:17 PM
Response to Reply #13
20. definitions are so hard that legislation is impossible
because i admit that I find it hard to define exactly what hate speech is, because the general meaning "expressions of prejudice based on race, religion, etc." can be stretched to absurdities at times
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The Straight Story Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-21-11 06:00 PM
Response to Original message
14. I dunno - if we post about how christians are the cause of the world's problems
and how white Christian men are especially evil, and someone kills one...well does that mean we should ban speech negative about Christians?

Or better yet....

If someone posts about how a religion (say...Jewish) is prevalent in politics and movies is that hate speech and does it encourage violence in any way?

And WHAT IS hate speech?? If what you are claiming is something you can back up with facts about a group is it hate speech to point it out?
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Synicus Maximus Donating Member (828 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-21-11 07:09 PM
Response to Original message
16. What is hate speech? Who gets to define hate speech?
Is "I hate Repubs", which one sees on DU fairly often, hate speech?
Is "I don't like Christians" protected speech and "I don't like gay people" hate speech? Who gets to say? I guarantee that the way we would define hate speech would not be the same as a Repub would.
Does a person have a right not to be offended? In my humble opinion they don't.
.
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iverglas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-21-11 07:30 PM
Response to Reply #16
18. "Does a person have a right not to be offended?"
Did somebody say they did?

Does this have something to do with the subject of this thread?

Is "I don't like Christians" protected speech and "I don't like gay people" hate speech?

Why would either one be "hate speech"? Has any serious proposal ever been made anywhere that they be defined as such, let alone prohibited as such?

Who gets to say?

Who gets to say (decide) anything, in a liberal democracy?

I guarantee that the way we would define hate speech would not be the same as a Repub would.

I'd guarantee the same outcome on a whole lot of issues.

Does that mean that the views of a Republican on invading small foreign countries are as good as mine? Does it mean that the issue should not be discussed? Does it mean that no decision can ever be made, because somebody disagrees?

Is "I hate Repubs", which one sees on DU fairly often, hate speech?

Have you ever bothered to investigate the concept of hate speech? If you have, why would you ask silly questions like that?
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iverglas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-21-11 07:26 PM
Response to Original message
17. why don't people read the conversation in a thread
and maybe join it? What has happened to this place?

Free speech means you can say what you want when you want where you want.

If nobody listens, it's kind of pointless.
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