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  1. #1
    PerScientiam AdJustitiam bankside's Avatar
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    Hate Speech vs. Free Speech

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/...rticle9104862/

    Today the Supreme Court upheld Canadian hate speech laws, which are designed to prevent people from drumming up hatred at the expense of identifiable groups of citizens. They did narrow the law, however, to protect "offensive" speech while continuing to outlaw hate:

    The Supreme Court also ruled that vague wording in Saskatchewan’s hate law, which bans speech that “ridicules, belittles or otherwise affronts the dignity of,” was constitutionally invalid. It said that the province’s law should apply only to the Supreme Court’s previous definition of hate: “strong and deep-felt emotions of detestation, calumny and vilification.” This echoes previous Saskatchewan court rulings.
    I know this kind of law is often controversial because it may appear to restrict freedom of expression. In this case however, I think the Court struck a good balance, specifically protecting the right to offend. That is important to me. But I think they're right to prohibit the kind of speech given before a crowd carrying pitchforks and torches. Hate does not have to rise to the level of actions or deeds before a civilised and free society can act; indeed that action is necessary to both civility and freedom.

    I invite your commentary on this case, more for the tangle of principles it raises than the case itself.

    Please feel free to contribute national examples from your own countries, provided they can be extended to the principles of free speech and minority rights, principles which extend across all borders.
    Last edited by bankside; February 27th, 2013 at 06:20 PM.
    Americans need to keep their guns so they can protect themselves from gun violence just like Nancy Lanza did. And like Chris Kyle did. And like Gabby Giffords did. And like Tom Clements did. And like Michael Piemonte. And Joseph Wilcox.

  2. #2
    Impish and Mercurial Rolyo85's Avatar
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    I need to do some research on the free speech laws in Bulgaria. As for this particular decision, I welcome it. Is there such a law here in the US?
    That we are capable only of being what we are, remains our unforgivable sin.
    - Gene Wolfe

  3. #3
    PerScientiam AdJustitiam bankside's Avatar
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    Re: Hate Speech vs. Free Speech

    Quote Originally Posted by Rolyo85 View Post
    I need to do some research on the free speech laws in Bulgaria. As for this particular decision, I welcome it. Is there such a law here in the US?
    Any examples will do - I should have said "other countries" rather than "your own countries." I think the Canadian case is really part of an international debate about free speech, and I didn't want people to feel limited to talking about Canadian law if they had examples from anywhere else that relate to the principle itself.

    That being said I am curious about Bulgaria. I know very little about its legal climate to begin with, never mind how it treats freedom of expression and minority rights.
    Last edited by bankside; February 27th, 2013 at 06:45 PM.
    Americans need to keep their guns so they can protect themselves from gun violence just like Nancy Lanza did. And like Chris Kyle did. And like Gabby Giffords did. And like Tom Clements did. And like Michael Piemonte. And Joseph Wilcox.

  4. #4
    Impish and Mercurial Rolyo85's Avatar
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    Re: Hate Speech vs. Free Speech

    We don't really have racial minorities other than gypsies, and they're pretty viciously segregated culturally, but not legally.

    As for other minorities, I think our laws are pretty paleolithic when it comes to those, but I'll check.
    That we are capable only of being what we are, remains our unforgivable sin.
    - Gene Wolfe

  5. #5

    Re: Hate Speech vs. Free Speech

    The US has a very clear law: "Congress shall make no law....abridging the freedom of speech or of the press....". Liberals hate it because it allows non liberals to speak, and allows people to criticize minorities who vote Democrat.
    The problem with creating exceptions such as hate laws is that the application inevitably expands to silence more and more speech. Most any serious discussion can be labeled hate speech. The danger far out weighs the good.

  6. #6
    ecce homo rareboy's Avatar
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    Re: Hate Speech vs. Free Speech

    Well...sure works for us in Canada.

    It has prevented this country from being a racist, homophobic and anti-semitic, fundamentalist sewer for decades now.

    And you're wrong. The test for hate speech can be pretty narrow.

    Kudos to the Supreme Court

  7. #7
    PerScientiam AdJustitiam bankside's Avatar
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    Re: Hate Speech vs. Free Speech

    Quote Originally Posted by Benvolio View Post
    The US has a very clear law: "Congress shall make no law....abridging the freedom of speech or of the press....". Liberals hate it because it allows non liberals to speak, and allows people to criticize minorities who vote Democrat.
    The problem with creating exceptions such as hate laws is that the application inevitably expands to silence more and more speech. Most any serious discussion can be labeled hate speech. The danger far out weighs the good.
    And yet here, we have a counterexample that shows how a definition can become more precise and more narrowly defined. The evidence does not support your theory about a nefarious trend.
    Americans need to keep their guns so they can protect themselves from gun violence just like Nancy Lanza did. And like Chris Kyle did. And like Gabby Giffords did. And like Tom Clements did. And like Michael Piemonte. And Joseph Wilcox.

  8. #8
    Impish and Mercurial Rolyo85's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Benvolio View Post
    The US has a very clear law: "Congress shall make no law....abridging the freedom of speech or of the press....". Liberals hate it because it allows non liberals to speak, and allows people to criticize minorities who vote Democrat.
    The problem with creating exceptions such as hate laws is that the application inevitably expands to silence more and more speech. Most any serious discussion can be labeled hate speech. The danger far out weighs the good.
    So to your mind "non-liberal" = "hate"? Lol, way to shoot yourself in the mouth...
    That we are capable only of being what we are, remains our unforgivable sin.
    - Gene Wolfe

  9. #9
    CE&P Secret Police xbuzzerx's Avatar
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    Re: Hate Speech vs. Free Speech

    Quote Originally Posted by bankside View Post
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/...rticle9104862/

    Today the Supreme Court upheld Canadian hate speech laws, which are designed to prevent people from drumming up hatred at the expense of identifiable groups of citizens. They did narrow the law, however, to protect "offensive" speech while continuing to outlaw hate:



    I know this kind of law is often controversial because it may appear to restrict freedom of expression. In this case however, I think the Court struck a good balance, specifically protecting the right to offend. That is important to me. But I think they're right to prohibit the kind of speech given before a crowd carrying pitchforks and torches. Hate does not have to rise to the level of actions or deeds before a civilised and free society can act; indeed that action is necessary to both civility and freedom.

    I invite your commentary on this case, more for the tangle of principles it raises than the case itself.

    Please feel free to contribute national examples from your own countries, provided they can be extended to the principles of free speech and minority rights, principles which extend across all borders.
    Bankside I am legitimately curious, does this terminology used in the law refer specifically to groups with a specific set of parameters, or "any group"? Because I would estimate that 60 to 80% of all political opinions in the U.S. would be hate speech under a rubric of "expressing deep-felt emotions of detestation", lol. Take even this forum as an example. How would Canada for example, rule differently between a hateful racist rant and an extremely agitated expression of displeasure with the Tea Party?

    Quote Originally Posted by bankside View Post
    And yet here, we have a counterexample that shows how a definition can become more precise and more narrowly defined. The evidence does not support your theory about a nefarious trend.
    Agreed. The neocon opposition to everything reasonable ever proposed in the U.S. is a slippery slope argument using their crystal balls to determine "what's coming next", and somehow it's always an insidious liberal agenda.

  10. #10
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    Re: Hate Speech vs. Free Speech

    Quote Originally Posted by xbuzzerx View Post
    Bankside I am legitimately curious, does this terminology used in the law refer specifically to groups with a specific set of parameters, or "any group"? Because I would estimate that 60 to 80% of all political opinions in the U.S. would be hate speech under a rubric of "expressing deep-felt emotions of detestation", lol. Take even this forum as an example. How would Canada for example, rule differently between a hateful racist rant and an extremely agitated expression of displeasure with the Tea Party?
    The language of "expressing deep-felt emotions of detestation" is too restrictive, and the test based on whether it seems hateful to someone else is too subjective. The test must come down to whether or not the language in question can be expected to incite others to engage in harm against the targeted group.

    Hate, as love, has to be judged on actions -- mere words don't cut it.

    "Thirty-one* states allow all qualified citizens to carry concealed weapons. In those states, homosexuals should embark on organized efforts to become comfortable with guns, learn to use them safely and carry them. They should set up Pink Pistols task forces, sponsor shooting courses and help homosexuals get licensed to carry. And they should do it in a way that gets as much publicity as possible. "

    --Jonathan Rauch, Salon Magazine, March 13, 2000

    *the number is now forty

  11. #11
    Do I dare to eat a peach?
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    Re: Hate Speech vs. Free Speech

    We have seen that limiting free speech is not the law's "imaginary horrible."

    "First They Came for the Jews"
    By Pastor Niemoller

    First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.

    Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.
    Next will be the limitation of the right of assembly to hear this offensiveness.

  12. #12
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    Re: Hate Speech vs. Free Speech

    Your thread title draws an inapposite distinction when you set "hate speech vs. free speech."

    The critical distinction - and the one the court dances around - should be "hate speech vs. offensive speech." I see it as a distinction without a difference.

    The court has set itself on a slippery slope. Interpretation is left, willy-nilly, to the last person standing in the judgment forum.

  13. #13
    PerScientiam AdJustitiam bankside's Avatar
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    Re: Hate Speech vs. Free Speech

    No I don't think so. I think your approach involves abdicating the faculty of distinguishing meaning in someone's words. And I think its mired in that kind of contemporary, postmodern, democratic populism plaguing us with the idea that all opinion is just subjective and equal. Or indeed that all speech is reducible to "opinion."

    If the government seizes the printing presses or blocks the IP addresses of nazis, it does not follow that they will next come for the rest of us. And I really don't care if the nazis feel "excluded" or "muzzled" or whatever. There may be many valid ways for a free and tolerant country to deal with these groups, but as a matter of principle, censoring those groups is one of them. Censoring a nazi does not turn a country into a dictatorship. Telling some nutjob lay preacher to stop annoying people in their homes, or indeed anywhere, with his anti-gay hateful spew isn't an assault on freedom of religion that I can take seriously.

    You've actually named the fallacy in your argument: the slippery slope.
    Americans need to keep their guns so they can protect themselves from gun violence just like Nancy Lanza did. And like Chris Kyle did. And like Gabby Giffords did. And like Tom Clements did. And like Michael Piemonte. And Joseph Wilcox.

  14. #14
    PerScientiam AdJustitiam bankside's Avatar
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    Re: Hate Speech vs. Free Speech

    Quote Originally Posted by Kulindahr View Post
    The test must come down to whether or not the language in question can be expected to incite others to engage in harm against the targeted group.
    I think the statistics about gay teen suicide answer that question affirmatively: hateful language deliberately repeated has a corrosive effect on the well-being of otherwise normal gay youth to the extent that they can end up killing themselves. The SCC does look at historical context when it issues rulings.

    Also see para 54 of the decision
    Last edited by bankside; May 29th, 2013 at 06:06 AM.
    Americans need to keep their guns so they can protect themselves from gun violence just like Nancy Lanza did. And like Chris Kyle did. And like Gabby Giffords did. And like Tom Clements did. And like Michael Piemonte. And Joseph Wilcox.

  15. #15

    Re: Hate Speech vs. Free Speech

    Quote Originally Posted by rareboy View Post
    Well...sure works for us in Canada.

    It has prevented this country from being a racist, homophobic and anti-semitic, fundamentalist sewer for decades now.

    And you're wrong. The test for hate speech can be pretty narrow.

    Kudos to the Supreme Court
    So in Canada it would be illegal to protest against the WBC if an organization like the WBC was allowed to exist?

    Is it illegal for there to be hate speech against Christians like occurs here on CE+P?

  16. #16
    PerScientiam AdJustitiam bankside's Avatar
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    Re: Hate Speech vs. Free Speech

    Here's the history of the Whatcott case incidentally:
    http://www.scc-csc.gc.ca/case-dossie...aspx?cas=33676

    The decision:
    http://scc.lexum.org/decisia-scc-csc...M2NzYAAAAAAAAB
    Americans need to keep their guns so they can protect themselves from gun violence just like Nancy Lanza did. And like Chris Kyle did. And like Gabby Giffords did. And like Tom Clements did. And like Michael Piemonte. And Joseph Wilcox.

  17. #17
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    Re: Hate Speech vs. Free Speech

    Social scientists and pollsters keep marveling at how incredibly fast the public opinion has turned in favor of gay marriage as if they had no clue why this has happened so quickly.

    I know why. Westboro... and others like them.

  18. #18
    PerScientiam AdJustitiam bankside's Avatar
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    Re: Hate Speech vs. Free Speech

    Quote Originally Posted by xbuzzerx View Post
    Bankside I am legitimately curious, does this terminology used in the law refer specifically to groups with a specific set of parameters, or "any group"? Because I would estimate that 60 to 80% of all political opinions in the U.S. would be hate speech under a rubric of "expressing deep-felt emotions of detestation", lol. Take even this forum as an example. How would Canada for example, rule differently between a hateful racist rant and an extremely agitated expression of displeasure with the Tea Party?
    Historical context would be considered. The decision doesn't spend a lot of time discussing what is a "protected group" because that wasn't directly at issue in this case. In short, protection applies to everyone, but a "protected group" is defined by clear systematic historical discrimination.
    Americans need to keep their guns so they can protect themselves from gun violence just like Nancy Lanza did. And like Chris Kyle did. And like Gabby Giffords did. And like Tom Clements did. And like Michael Piemonte. And Joseph Wilcox.

  19. #19
    Do I dare to eat a peach?
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    Re: Hate Speech vs. Free Speech

    Bankside: Nice, but no cigar. The law, generally, is in part to restrain (punish ?) and in part to prevent (protect ?).

    When it comes to speech the law's function - at least as interpreted here - is to preclude its abridgement. The concern is not what will follow; it is what may follow.

    If it will comfort you, substitute "downhill run" for "slippery slope." This is not meant to suggest the court wrote the opinion on a ski slope.

  20. #20
    PerScientiam AdJustitiam bankside's Avatar
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    Re: Hate Speech vs. Free Speech

    When you acknowledge the role of the law to prevent or protect, I at first thought you were conceding the debate. Of course that is exactly what the hate speech law does: it protects people who are part of a historically persecuted minority from further bigoted attack. Whether anyone has picked up a pitchfork or a torch because of this man's pamphlet is immaterial.
    Americans need to keep their guns so they can protect themselves from gun violence just like Nancy Lanza did. And like Chris Kyle did. And like Gabby Giffords did. And like Tom Clements did. And like Michael Piemonte. And Joseph Wilcox.

  21. #21
    Do I dare to eat a peach?
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    Re: Hate Speech vs. Free Speech

    Quote Originally Posted by bankside View Post
    When you acknowledge the role of the law to prevent or protect, I at first thought you were conceding the debate. Of course that is exactly what the hate speech law does: it protects people who are part of a historically persecuted minority from further bigoted attack. Whether anyone has picked up a pitchfork or a torch because of this man's pamphlet is immaterial.
    "Better the devil you know than the one you don't."

    I would rather the contrarian be identified rather than unidentifiable.

  22. #22
    mitchymo
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    Re: Hate Speech vs. Free Speech

    This is part of the Public Order Act, here in UK: 'Expressions of hatred toward someone on account of that person's colour, race, nationality (including citizenship), ethnic or national origin, religion, or sexual orientation is forbidden.'

    Until recently, it was illegal to be threatening, abusive or insulting, based on the above criteria. The word 'insulting' has now been removed however.

    It is illegal to promote hatred based on the above criteria also, so anyone wishing to walk around with banners or distribute leaflets which espouse negative rhetoric based on the above criteria would also find themselves on the wrong side of the law.


    Quote Originally Posted by Kulindahr View Post
    Hate, as love, has to be judged on actions -- mere words don't cut it.
    Completely disagree. There is a cause and effect element to this. Spewing words of 'love' has what negative potential? Allowing people to speak hate, opens the way for the encouragement of others to act on those words to a negative end. So Mr Evangalist can be as hateful as he likes in speaking, hiding behind the safety net of free speech, whilst some dumb follower beats the homosexual to a pulp. The Evangelist, through his encouragement has played a hand, but only the dumb follower would be punished. Mr Evangelist goes on as normal until the cycle repeats itself.

    Its no good to ignore root causes of hatred, and that is unfortunately what happens when you allow people to 'speak hate so long as you don't act on it', when the liklihood is, that less intelligent, easily manipulated persons, can do the 'hands on' work on their behalf.

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