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Do you think ordinances designed to restrict hate speech and eliminate discrimination infringe on freedom of speech?

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Hate speech laws, while sometimes well meaning, usually end up being used to criminalize and squelch the voice of the minority. Just look at the label of 'hate speech' being recklessly thrown at many who question the present orthodoxy.

While attempting to legislate away hateful speech sounds good, in practice it doesn't work. The freedom to speak must be sacrosanct.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The important word here is "speech". Inevitably, banning hate speech has to be viewed as censorship. The question isn't so much one of whether it is a possible infringement of free speech (because it is), it is a matter of whether we want that censorship or not. What are the benefits? What are the losses?

Here we stumble upon the theory of where free speech has a boundary. The commonly accepted idea is that free speech's natural boundary is where it infringes on somebody else's freedom of expression. Thus before we can even start to ban "hate speech", we need to be damn careful that we can define exactly what it is. I've heard too many people raging against "hate speech" merely because they are offended, something that we all have to put up with at some point in our lives.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Is it harassment when "leftwingwers " vilify "rightwingers" and viceverca?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

No, not at all, although it does need to be carefully spelled out what comprises "hate" since the Government's Secrets Laws can technically imprison anyone Simply for disagreeing with them or making the government look bad. But when the "free speech" of some results in threats, danger, and sometimes violence or otherwise towards others, it ceases to be "free" because it severely imposes what others may or may not say or do, and not Simply because the people spewing the hate disagree. A grown man screaming at a child "Die, cockroach!" on their way to school because they are ethnic Korean should NOT be allowed or encouraged.

The idea that "free speech is a right" regardless of what the message is reminds me of the old "education is a right" they follow here, instead of treating it as a privelage. I was once asked to visit an Elementary school as a foreign guest to talk about my country. One child was throwing tantrums and Walking in and out, he hit the Walls, tore down a picture, shouted, and the teacher insisted we wait until he calmed down. The only thing the teacher did was go out and bring him back in when he left. I asked, "Why not just let him stay in the hall so we can get started?" The teacher replied, "All students have the same right to education, and that boy to this Lesson." So, 45 minutes later when the bell rang, 38 disappointed students got up and prepared for PE while I left, not even having said hello. Point being, when one person's "right" creates a problem for everyone else, it's time to rethink if that person should be entitled.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Having been the victim of hate speech, I can clearly say it is different from free speech, which respects the unfettered exchange of ideas. Hate speech is bullying, slander and intimidation. Most hate speech occurs behind your back in Japan. It only comes out in your face when large numbers of people are attacking you and they have ipso facto approval from some higher authority.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yes, when it comes to religion, as well as immigration policies. Religion is akin to ideology, and immigration is shaped by public policies, and it's crucial that individuals in a democracy have the freedom to criticize ideologies and public policies.

Increasingly, though, this freedom is diminishing in the West today, particularly in the multi-culty countries.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

There is a big difference between hate speech and freedom of speech.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

laws absolutely infringe on free speech. as soon as a govt makes it illegal to say something, you are not free and there potential for misuse of the law. education and information should shape our society, not laws that ultimately protect only the people with power. but amazingly i know many people who seem willing to throw freedom away and acquiesce each time freedom is eroded further.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Not a difficult question. Regulations, laws and ordinances are - by definition - restrictions on freedom. Amazing how few people seem to recognize that basic fact.

Laws are trade-offs between freedom and security. You could rephrase the question to ask "Do you think ordinances designed to restrict hate speech and eliminate discrimination infringe on freedom of speech unreasonably? I would argue that is the case. As Tokyo-Engr said, unintended consequences can be severe in this area (not to mention intended consequences by those who actually pass these laws).

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Free speech but bear consequences.

Also there is a huge difference about how things are said.

You should be able to say "I hate Asians" which is an opinion (personal taste) but not "Asians shall be hated" (which is not).

Anyway, it is best to rely on local public opinion since acceptable speech varies through time and space.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

From reading this article it seems that hate speech is in the eye of the beholder (one poster mentions "right wingers" another mentions "Maxine Waters", then there is Louis Farrakhan who with a straight face compares Jews to insects and has called for their extermination. On the other hand, Alex Jones...(as nutty and crazy as he is...) was banned from Twitter for hate speech although he has never saying anything approaching the vile statements made by Farrakhan.

Criminalizing speech is dangers and one thing that needs to be remembered is that once speech is made illegal it is only a matter a time before a real tyrant gets into power (or even someone opposing your point of view) and uses this legislation to criminalize criticism against the regime or do what China is doing, remove social credits for speaking out against the state, which removes civil rights.

For those who choose to take this path (of criminalizing speech) the unintended consequences must be considered and based on history should be expected.

I disagree with sf2k - this topic is a bit more complex.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Go look up what other countries do regarding hate speech. It's not complicated


0 ( +2 / -2 )

M3 well stated.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

It seems to me like people who support legislation banning hate speech are fearful that either:

a) they won't be able to put forward a logical and persuasive argument in the marketplace of ideas to counter what is being said, or

b) half of the population has below average intelligence and they are far too emotional and easily persuaded by bad and dangerous (but well packaged) ideas, so the free marketplace of ideas has always been a bit of a utopian fantasy and in reality we need some limits on which ideas can be put forward for the sake of a cohesive and stable society.

The problem with using b) as an argument to support bans on hate speech is that it's an equally persuasive argument against democracy itself. Free speech and the marketplace of ideas (all ideas, including bad ones) is the cornerstone of every democratic western societies. I'm not sure we should chip away at it by saying that there are some ideas that can never be discussed.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Punish the offenders but don't take away the right to say how you feel. Folk died giving us that right.

7 ( +8 / -1 )


That is not what is meant by 'free speech'.

Free speech means the government cannot regulate what you say. This doesn't mean you are free from all consequences of what you say. You can be fired by your employer or sued for slander. But you are still free to say whatever you want without fear of imprisonment.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

It's either freedom of speech or it's not. As disgusting as some people's opinions are, they have every right to voice them.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

The answer to hate speech is more speech! Engage the underlying fallacies and show them for the shallow, wrong headed and intellectually bankrupt people they are. 

By limiting freedom of speech all you do is weaken democracy, hand them the moral high ground and effectively leave them unchallenged.

eng, that's exactly what's happened to media in USA. Liberals keep trying to claim moral high ground while spewing what is very close to hate. e.g., Maxine Waters, etc.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

The answer to hate speech is more speech! Engage the underlying fallacies and show them for the shallow, wrong headed and intellectually bankrupt people they are.

By limiting freedom of speech all you do is weaken democracy, hand them the moral high ground and effectively leave them unchallenged.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

When hate speech becomes harassment, slander or incitement it is no longer free speech. Right-wingers are especially good at this form of hate speech. Such people should be arrested.

-2 ( +9 / -11 )

"Hate speach" can be very subtle---in the case of religion where ministers/priests/imams can vilify other religions in the name of God and get away with it.

4 ( +6 / -2 )


I was viewing this question with what Hitler, Goebbels and the rest of the Nazis were doing in mind.

It was wrong then and it's still wrong now.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

One problem is: who defines what is and isn’t hate speech?

That’s the key problem. Ask different people and you’ll get different answers.

One example of a very murky area is the freedom of people to hold religious opinions. One person’s idea of hate speech is another’s expression of deeply held religious convictions and criticism of those religious opinions is another’s idea of bigotry.

As mentioned earlier, biases are inevitable in the idea of defining what is hate speech.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

You cannot legislate kiddies playing nice. You always have the school yard douche bags.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

@Raw Beer - good question and a tough one to answer. If a person who easily gets offended by everyone's statements, would all those statements be considered as hate speech? But what if someone's speech is outright filled with hate but no one gets offended, does it still count as hate speech? If we are going to base it by anyone elses' standards (common folk and lawmakers alike), there would still be biases. I'd just add that something completely acceptable to another person might be completely offending to another.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

One problem is: who defines what is and isn't hate speech?

16 ( +18 / -2 )

There's a thin line between allowing freedom of speech and restricting said freedom to curb hate speech. I think restricting freedom of expression will limit hate speech, but would manifest in other forms. People who carry lots of hate in their heart will always find a way to express that hate.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Of course not. Hate speech can lead to violence and even more hate. It must be curbed.

-6 ( +8 / -14 )

In the old days, yes, anti vilification laws got in the way of free speech.

Nowadays, no, such laws rein in people (or should do) whose access and use of increasingly varied media and whose lack of self-control have made free speech get out of hand.

In the future the balance MAY swing back again.

Such questions do my head in actually

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

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