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Tossing Pebbles in the Stream

This blog is my place to sit and toss pebbles into the stream. The stream of Life relentlessly passing before us. We can affect it little. For the most part I just watch it passing and follow the flow. Occasionally, I need to comment on its passing, tossing a pebble at it to enjoy the ripple affect upon Life's surface.

Friday, September 14, 2012

US Needs Laws Against Hate Speech

I have thought for a long time that the United States could be well served if it joined the rest of the liberal democracies and passed laws against "hate speech". It stands alone in that "hate speech" is protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution. At least this is the general assumptions. There are some some minor exceptions.

In the light of the recent deliberate release of a film that is a hateful and inaccurate attack on Islam is a good example of why there are needs to pass laws against hate speech. This film was a deliberate provocation and should be banned and the authors of it should be held liable of it's content and the predictable consequence of it's viewing in the Muslim Community around the World. This action by a small group of Americans has created a national security problem for the country as well as appearing to represent legitimate view of the American people as being at war with Islam. Sadly it has resulted in the death of American diplomats so far, aand created a lot of ill will toward the United States.

It is time the US debated the limitations on such speech that attacks one group on the basis of religion and puts the country in jeopardy.

In law, hate speech is any speech, gesture or conduct, writing, or display which is forbidden because it may incite violence or prejudicial action against or by a protected individual or group, or because it disparages or intimidates a protected individual or group. The law may identify a protected individual or a protected group by disability, ethnicity, gender,gender identity, nationality, religion, race, sexual orientation, [3][4] or other characteristic.

Canada has laws against hate speech. They are not used very often. Just the fact that they are on the books lets all of us know it is not a Canadian value to use hate speech. On the contrary, we celebrate our diversity and the rich contributions; religious, cultural, ethnic and sexual, groups brings to our common culture. Our Charter of Rights and Freedoms defends this diverse groups as well as protects our freedom of speech. Our Supreme Court is able to balance competing rights and freedoms.

Here is a good place to begin a consideration of laws against hate speech.

In Europe, they have been trying to balance laws against hate speech and freedom of speech in line with the European Convention on Human Rights. Here is a source to explore the complexities in decisions by various European legal systems. It is not an easy task but it is not impossible.

Laws in the United States against hate speech would go a long way to lowing the vitriolic tone of extreme views and contribute to the civility of rational fact based discourse.

8 Comments:

At 6:56 PM, Blogger Anvilcloud said...

In some ways, the US is like a rogue nation, what with guns and corporations being seen as people etc.

 
At 9:38 PM, Blogger KGMom said...

A citizen of the rogue nation weighing in.
While the U.S. has some limitations on free speech, by and large, the constitutional guarantee of free speech outweighs the arguments to rein in hate speech.

 
At 9:46 PM, Blogger Ginnie said...

With the advent of the internet & the shrinking of the world through electronics I think it is impossible to curtail anything any more. I can't believe that the producers of the film wouldn't realize that it would cause havoc. They should be summarily punished for it.
However, I believe that those who attacked the embassy would have found another thing to blame it on if that hadn't been handed to them.

 
At 12:02 PM, Blogger Owen Gray said...

The United States may need such a law, Philip. But don't count on it ever being passed.

Just as Americans will not abide any restrictions on their right to own guns, they will not accept any limits on speech.

 
At 6:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The United States is a beacon to the rest of the world in its enshrinement of the principle of free speech. Like it or not, speech is not free if it cannot be offensive. Once you start down the slippery road of censorship you have no idea where it will end. Free speech is what keeps oppressive governments on their toes. Free speech is what gives us the opportunity to evaluate all ideas in the light of full discussion. Free speech is what ensures that media publications can bravely present news and opinion that they might not otherwise be able to do. Free speech is what people in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Turkey, Syria, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt and host of other countries in that region do not have. If they did, I doubt there would be the rioting and killing we have seen take place.

It is a fundamental freedom. But, like all freedoms, it has warts. Society has warts and we have to take the good with the bad. By all means condemn a stupid film that serves no useful purpose and may have been circulated for malicious purposes. But criminalize it, no way.

By the by, not a word of condemnation for the killing of the U.S. Ambassador and the other embassy staff, all of whom had nothing to do with the creation and distribution of this film. Not a word of condemnation about a religion that seems to be tolerant of such violence in the name of its deity. Muslims are not the victims here, laddie, unless you consider seriously the belief system that enslaves and poisons their minds.

 
At 10:07 PM, Blogger edifice rex said...

Thank you Anon! Well said.

 
At 7:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is a good response to your faux-liberalism, Mr. Tossing of the Pebbles:

http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/on-the-freedom-to-offend-an-imaginary-god

And you might also want to reflect on the comments of one who has lived it:

http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/09/16/ayaan-hirsi-ali-on-the-islamists-final-stand.html

 
At 8:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In praise of blasphemy.

http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/09/22/robert-fulford-in-praise-of-blasphemy/

 

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