Hate Speech - Moral Crime or Orwellian Code?

The EU wants to crack down on online terrorism. Great! But their new code is the wrong way about it. Here’s five reasons why should you reject Facebook/YouTube/Twitter/EU’s new Orwellian speech restrictions.

  1. Hate speech is not a thing.
  2. The new rules are either redundant or unjust.
  3. Prohibiting ugly speech is wrong.
  4. To hate what is hateful is healthy.
  5. A better means to the same end would be to target potential extremists directly.

Five Reasons In Detail

  1. Hate speech is not a thing. That is, “hate speech” is an empty placeholder that can expand or contract to be whatever the EU doesn’t want you to say. “Hate speech” is simply a different term for “wrongthink.” It will grow and change as public opinion changes. It is an empty, nonsense term invented by those who wish to censor. Advocating for global jihad and Islamic terrorism is not “hate speech”, it’s terrorism. Advocating for limitations on immigration is not “hate speech”, it’s policy discussion.
  2. New rules are either redundant or unjust. The EU calls hate speech “All conduct publicly inciting to violence or hatred directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin”. This sounds perfectly sane, until you think about it: (forget the fact that it defines hate SPEECH as “all CONDUCT”.) The problem is that it lumps the active call for murder and terrorism together with mere criticism, mockery, and insults. If “hate speech” is just explicit calls for violence, then new restrictions are redundant for we already have laws prohibiting conspiracy, intent to commit a crime. But if “hate speech” is mere public criticism, mockery, or insults of people groups, then prohibiting it is unjust, for it is not necessarily violent (it sometimes results in the passage of a law) and not even always hateful (it is sometimes playful).
  3. Prohibiting ugly speech is wrong. Call criticism, mockery, and insults “ugly speech.” Ugly speech is permissible in free, western societies. To prohibit is wrong for at least three reasons. First, ugly speech receives just retribution when it is allowed. Sunshine is the best disinfectant. Second, ugly speech causes worse problems when it goes underground. Third, ugly speech such as criticism and mockery denigrating whole people groups (i.e., what the EU would call “hate speech”) can be found in the Old Testament, the Koran, the Bhagavad Gita, the Book of Mormon, the DSM, The God Delusion, Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, Shakespeare, Dante, etc. etc. Prohibiting all these is absurd.
  4. To hate that which is hateful is healthy. To criticize what is flawed is smart; to mock what is ridiculous is good. Furthermore, the attempt to prohibit criticism is itself a criticism. Therefore, prohibiting criticism is hypocritical, incoherent, and insane. If criticism is bad, then we must criticize the critic. If hate-speech perpetrators are despicable, then we must hate the haters. Outlawing mockery and criticism therefore undercuts the ability to mock and criticize mockers and critics. We can’t have it both ways.
  5. A better means to the same end would be to target potential extremists directly. If the EU and Facebook, Twitter, et. al., want to crack down on online terrorist agitators, they must practice intelligent profiling and target those who are likely to foment terrorism.