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.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 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.