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  1. #1
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    Default Volksverhetzung ("incitement to hatred")

    One of the most contentious issues of free speech concerns the tolerance of hate speech, defined as prejudice against a particular group; especially minorities who have historically experienced systematic discrimination. Some argue for absolute freedom of speech on the basis that controlling it is a slippery slope. That is to say, it is difficult to control hate speech without also suppressing valuable discourse which goes against established thought. So long as an individual does not commit assault themselves, could they truly be held responsible solely on the basis of their opinions? Others argue that hate speech is not free speech because it violates the dignity of individuals who constitute marginalised groups, denying them their right to live in peace. The mere act of speaking one's mind does not cause any direct physical harm to another, hence the old adage about sticks and stones, but words can influence others to take action. After all, if words have no consequences, there would be no point in speaking them.

    None of this addresses the issue as to whether or not curtailing hate speech meaningfully affects political discourse.

    Germany provides a potential case study of the consequences of the criminalisation of hate speech on freedom of speech. "Incitement to hatred" is the English translation of Volksverhetzung, a concept in German criminal law which refers to the incitement to hatred against segments of the population, such as calls for violence or abuse against them. Germany ranks 13 on the 2019 World Press Freedom Index. Similar laws exist in various other countries, including Finland and Sweden, ranked 2 and 3 respectively on that same index. This demonstrates that the policing of hate speech needs not infringe upon valuable discourse; including that which challenges falsehoods from the powers that be, as shown by the clear correlation between press freedom to position on the Corruption Perceptions Index. It is because of the principle of Volksverhetzung that the Swastika, Sieg Heil salute, and other forms of expression of Nazi ideology are largely illegal in Germany. There are admittedly consequences to this. The Swastika had been illegal in video games until 2018, and while it is legal in films for historical purposes, it is sometimes censored in media promoting films. However, Strafgesetzbuch section 86a allows for its usage in "art or science, research or teaching". This proves that laws prohibiting hate speech can in fact make allowances where appropriate.

    A pertinent issue concerns Holocaust denial, which has been criminalised in Israel and sixteen countries in Europe, including those who had perpetrated it such as Germany, Austria, Hungary, and Romania. Although estimates vary, most figures for the death toll fall within a range of approximately six million Jews in addition to eleven million other victims. There is room for discussion of finer details as evidence continues to emerge. One could even argue there is a moral imperative to ensure the accuracy of those figures, on the basis that every life taken was a tragedy. However, regardless of the exact death toll, the Holocaust as a genocide committed systematically by Nazi Germany is as much a fact as the existence of atoms. To deny it is disingenuous.

    When claims so evidently conflict with the facts, the sincerity or even sanity of critics may often be called into question. French existentialist Jean Paul-Sartre made a comment to that effect when he wrote about anti-Semitism.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jean Paul-Sartre
    Never believe that anti-Semites are completely unaware of the absurdity of their replies. They know that their remarks are frivolous, open to challenge. But they are amusing themselves, for it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly, since he believes in words. The anti-Semites have the right to play. They even like to play with discourse for, by giving ridiculous reasons, they discredit the seriousness of their interlocutors. They delight in acting in bad faith, since they seek not to persuade by sound argument but to intimidate and disconcert. If you press them too closely, they will abruptly fall silent, loftily indicating by some phrase that the time for argument is past.
    Some might say that smearing others amounts to a poisoning-the-well fallacy, with the aim being to distract others from discussion through the association of negative emotions, as an appeal to hate towards them. This is indeed an issue, but the observation of hate in others is not to be confused with an appeal to hate, and in such an instance as described above, the basis of the argument is built on hatred instead of rational points. Alternately, some might defend hate speech rhetoric on the basis of satire, or because those who express it are filling the role of a Socratic gadfly irritating society to stir it out of its complacency. Poe's Law states that "without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is utterly impossible to parody a Creationist in such a way that someone won't mistake for the genuine article", and the same adage applies to any position equally as absurd, except at least Creationism cannot be said to be hateful. As for the role of the Socratic gadfly, the aim is to improve society by pointing out its absurdities. Enforcing prejudice rooted in centuries of tradition does not allow society to progress, but instead brings stagnation because those who do not learn from the mistakes of history are doomed to repeat them.
    Last edited by Shadow Play; 08-17-2019 at 07:56 AM. Reason: Formatting.

  2. #2
    Doot Dat Doot Dat asynartetic's Avatar
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    The 2 problems are:

    A) Who gets to define exactly what is considered hate speech?

    B) The bad precedent it sets. Maybe we ban the "right" kind of hate speech under one regime, but what happens when another regime or administration comes along and uses the precedent set by their predecessor to ban other speech? Even with the most well-thought out definition of "hate speech", there's a danger of someone coming along and abusing this sort of precedent to serve the ends of suppression of speech. Remember when Trump talked about wanting to sue the shit out of reporters and journalist he felt were wrongly maligning him? It's important we don't set precedents that will allow someone like him to ban any speech he doesn't want to hear. If you want to prevent fascism and authoritarians running amok with suppression of the press and such, don't put tools in the toolbox that make it easier for them to suppress in the first place. This is the kind of shit Orwell warned about. A lot of people misunderstand his works to be criticizing socialism, but really he was criticizing authoritarianism in all of its forms.

  3. #3
    Slice of Stupidity Sung Jin-Woo's Avatar
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    We do not need the government to enforce anything on speech, and that is the real basis of people being against hate speech censorship. Not to mention, its definition is so vague, its easily abused by those in power to eradicate competition. I think the only thing we should allow against "hate speech" is shame, and ridicule, by the community. Because unlike people, the government doesn't determine anything case by case. It would just result in the incarceration of millions of innocent people. Not to mention, censorship limits thought, and derealizes the darker aspects of human nature that is inherent within society, and that makes it repeat once its forgotten. No matter what laws come into play, nothing good has ever come censorship. And honestly, the "victims" are highly interchangeable. It doesn't matter who or what group you're part of. Someone is gonna hate you. That's just how tribalism works. It happens to all sides constantly. Cracking down on one, just changes the target.
    "Bitches and hoes, in different area codes"

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shadow Play View Post
    A pertinent issue concerns Holocaust denial
    To say nothing else of it, I don't think that questioning the accuracy of historical events is the same as advocating for violence against a group or individual for their religious beliefs. Heck, even arguing that group X is smarter than group Y (the ultimate racist trope), while potentially inflammatory/ far from the truth, is still not a call for violence against group Y. Furthermore, I feel that 'censoring' a given argument or view point is a roundabout way of saying that people aren't confident in their ability to refute that point. If someone wants to argue that certain events have been exaggerated or misrepresented then I feel like they should have the opportunity to present that information, and then people can decide for themselves how accurate or inaccurate the argument is. In my view, this is what freedom of thought/ freedom of ideas, are all about.

    Now, does the expression of unpopular views have the potential to "lead" to violence? Who knows. In any event and regardless of reason, people engaging in unlawful violence should be condemned totally and unequivocally. Racism, hate speech, (heck... even things like pedophilia) are not illegal in the US; even a self-professed racist can be a law-abiding citizen with the same rights as any other citizen. Tolerance is a two way street, and people attempting to harass/ threaten this person because they don't like their beliefs, is where I draw the line.
    Likes Sung Jin-Woo liked this post

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