Skip to content
October 3, 2019 / Congau

Hate Speech

Hate speech is speech, and speech is free.

But speech doesn’t quite mean speech. Speaking loudly in a quiet library, crying “fire” in a crowded theater, revealing a neighbor’s secrets; that’s all speaking, but it’s not quite what it refers to.

“Freedom of speech” is a misnomer. What is meant is “freedom of opinion”. Anyone should be allowed to express their opinion publicly, that’s the idea behind this law that presumably forms the basis of free Western society.

Whether or not that’s a good idea in the first place, is not the issue here. We assume that it is, and if it is, it is essential and must always be taken seriously.

If someone expresses an opinion it must be allowed, however despicable that opinion may be, or else we endanger this essential principle and “free society” appears as a blunt lie.

“Hate speech” expresses an opinion. Recently in Germany someone was convicted for saying online that “Homosexuals belong in the gas chamber”. That’s an utterly disgusting opinion, of course, but it is an opinion. It surely would be very bad if that kind of attitude spread, but I actually think it’s unfortunate that any opinion that I don’t agree with is spreading, so this is no different in principle. Any time I disagree with someone on a social issue, it is because I find their view unhealthy for society. Hatred is an unhealthy opinion, but unless I want to ban any opinion that doesn’t agree with my vision of an ideal society, I have to accept it.

But, some might argue, the ban on “hate speech” doesn’t prohibit any opinions but only the attitude behind them. Well, that’s something new: people are entitled to bad opinions but not bad attitudes? How can you prove someone’s attitude? You would have to prove the person’s inner thoughts beyond the words that were in fact uttered. If the law against “hate speech” is not a ban on opinion, it’s something worse: A ban on thought.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: