Debate: Protecting Non-violent Hate Speech

Discussion in 'Formal debates' started by kororoti, May 16, 2010.

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  1. kororoti Registered Senior Member

    K, this is the debate version of the thread. [Other threads: [thread=101508]Proposal thread[/thread], [thread=101762]Discussion thread[/thread]].

    The debater are me, Psycho Bound, and phlogistician.

    Psycho Bound and I are taking the position that non-violent hate speech should be a protected right, and phlogistician is arguing the counter point.

    So, um,.... I've never actually set one of these up. I hope I have the syntax right, and if not, I hope the Admins can help me out getting it right. The proposal thread is here:

    My original position was as follows:

    We already kind of began the debate in the proposal thread, so I'm not sure if it would be better to continue from there or start from scratch.
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  3. kororoti Registered Senior Member

    Ok, so I'm reading the rules further, and I guess there are supposed to be ground rules. The standard rules are here:

    Since we never agreed to any specific set of rules, I guess that would be the default, right? So I'll start by making my opening argument, and then Psycho Bound and Phlogistician can make their opening arguments, and then we can start following up and rebutting.

    Phlogistician will have to respond to both of us (which means he should be free to make twice as many follow ups and rebuttals as us), but Psycho Bound and I will only respond to him.

    So: My opening argument:

    Our society is moving too far in a direction where the difference between words and action becomes ambiguous to us. We call people "terrorists" or "traitors" for saying things that seem to offer support to Muslim fundamentalists, rather than reserving that criticism only for those who act out by committing actual terror. If we let this go too far, then it's inevitable that we'll begin blurring the difference between thinking and saying as well, and start empowering the government to dictate our thoughts too.

    Our laws beginning to reflect this ambiguity as well, as it gets increasingly easy for a person to get away with committing acts of assault against others who they claim have "provoked" them by saying something insulting, or detrimental to their heritage or other claims to identity. There's an emerging concept of "verbal assault", which is a prosecutable crime in some states, and makes it almost possible to rationalize physically attacking someone who has insulted you as an act of self defense.

    I think this whole form of thinking has to end. Our culture has always been one where the obligation to control your own emotions rests with you the individual, not with those around you. No matter how grievously someone insults you or how intentionally, you should never consider yourself entitled to move beyond words and start using physical means to retaliate. The concept of "use your words, not your fists" has to be upheld in our laws if we are to remain an advanced society.

    If you try to legislate that a person not have or hold racist opinions, then you are making laws about thought. Outside of racism, we have no such laws. Whenever such legislation has been attempted in the past (like the communist scare of the 50's) succeeding generations have always looked with disdain on the actions of their predecessors.

    If you try to legislate that a person who holds racist opinions may never express them (for fear of "provoking" violence), then you may be requiring them by law to lie whenever the question is posed to them. That carries its own dangers.
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  5. phlogistician Banned Banned

    OK, first, I have a problem with;

    "3)- The individual making the speech has never been known to act out violently at any point in their entire life, and appears unlikely to do so in the immediate future. (At the very least, they have no prior assault convictions.)"

    This tears up the idea of paying a debt to society, and implies that correctional facilities have failed, and implies that an individual once found guilty of a crime, becomes a 2nd rate citizen for the rest of their life.

    Also, this statement by you;

    "We call people "terrorists" or "traitors" for saying things that seem to offer support to Muslim fundamentalists, rather than reserving that criticism only for those who act out by committing actual terror."

    Seems to ignore the fact that various acts of conspiracy are illegal, 'conspiracy to defraud' etc, and that the act is not just illegal, but planning the act too. We have established in law that we do not require an act to be enacted, for punishment to be appropriate.

    Lastly, we agree as society that free speech needs to be restricted, in that we have libel and slander laws. Racist hate speech therefore, if it denigrates people would be covered under these two laws, unless the speaker had research to backup their viewpoint, and it seems you are supporting an alleged right of racists to slander people just because it's racial hatred.

    You need to establish that hate speech is somehow different from, and not subject to existing laws that we all uphold.
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  7. kororoti Registered Senior Member

    Haven't heard from Psycho Bound yet, so I'll just go ahead and start my reply. Hopefully he'll chime in and give a position at some point so he can be included, or maybe just start replying. (But i would be curious to hear his position in detail.)

    The hate speech I'm most interested in protecting is just the basic stuff. I think people should have the right to make intelligent criticisms of each other, and of one another's cultures. Right now, you can't have any kind of dialogue about how left over slave practices, or African culture might be responsible for the high crime rates in neighborhoods dominated by black people.

    Heck, you're barely permitted to admit there are high crime rates in those areas, and if you do mention it, you have to immediately shift 100% of the blame for it over to conditions created by white business people.

    Now, if 100% of the fault really lies with white business people, then it won't hurt anything to say so, but what if that isn't entirely true, and something you're "never supposed to talk about" is the cause? Then we've just made the problem totally unsolvable because we can't attack it at its roots. If we can't even talk about the roots, then how would we ever coordinate our efforts to do anything about them?

    Now, ....getting even more taboo..... what if it turns out that one ethnic group actually has a lower average IQ than another, and this "difference in learning style" is actually the reason we're not being able to reach them in school? Maybe we're using education techniques that are designed to target students who are more intelligent, but which fail when applied to less intelligent kids, and all we have to do to fix the problem is gear our methods down to their level?

    Imagine the tragedy: a whole generation of kids who grow up ignorant because we wouldn't re-tool our education methods in a way that runs against our illusions. Of course....what is more likely than a difference in total IQ would be a difference in specific IQ traits, like spatial awareness, or symbolic representation. If we were allowed to critically investigate this issue, we might find that the supposedly "lower IQ group" has talents and abilities that the supposedly "higher IQ group" lacks entirely. Then we could start coordinating our educational efforts in ways that make use of those advantages.

    But... do you see how this all starts with critical debate?

    Maybe it's sad, but I have no problem with that. Especially in cases where the violent felon may have maimed or permanently scarred somebody, I see no reason why they should be able to leave the entire event behind them if their victim can't.

    That is true. We do have to include conspiracy as a limit of free speech. But I don't see how hate speech has any relation to conspiracy. If a bunch of skinheads want to burn down a local Jewish restaurant, they'll probably work out the details of their crime in private.

    Directly advocating murder or genocide of a racial group can easily be thrown in the same category as directly advocating the murder of an individual. I'm happy to concede that advocations of violence should be considered another exclusion, but I kind of thought that was clear already. If one white guy from the same community and same upbringing.... etc.... everything the same, began advocating that the other one be killed, that would be illegal. So, we can go back to my basic ground rule.

    Libel and Slander, as I understand them, require that provably false statement be made. That necessarily means that the speaker's allegations need to be allegations about a point of fact. I guess that rules out deliberately or intentionally misrepresenting the history of an ethnic group, or maybe even misrepresenting statistical information. (Saying something like "Ethnic group X has been shown statistically to be 25% more likely to commit a home break in, than Ethnic group Y." when no such data has been compiled.)

    But, if the speaker is just plain saying Ethnic group X is inferior to Ethnic group Y for no particular reason, or because he/she doesn't like their religion, or customs, or how they look, ....... I don't see where you'd get libel out of that.
  8. phlogistician Banned Banned

    That isn't 'Hate Speech' then. It's researched criticism.

    'Hate Speech' is denigration based purely on prejudice.

    So first, you need to understand what it is you are defending.
  9. Anarcho Union No Gods No Masters Registered Senior Member

    Sorry I have not posted.
    Im tired lol.
    My view is simple, hate speech is expression. Expression cannot be limited in a place with free speech. So hate speech cannot be censored or made illegal. A persons personal views and beliefs are protected, and the way they express it is their right so long as it does not infringe on the rights of others. That includes the right to remain unharmed physicaly and/or econamicly. As long as the owner of the area they are expressing on has given their consent, or if it is public property, all forms of expression, for or against, should be protected.
  10. kororoti Registered Senior Member

    It's a line that is easily blurred, and laws have to be made in a way that doesn't allow for blurring or they cease to be meaningful.

    Honestly, if someone were to show up with IQ test statistics that honestly demonstrate one racial group to be less intelligent on average than another, you don't think that hate speech laws could be employed effectively to prevent them from publicizing their findings?

    And then there's ethnicity, the other rider that usually gets treated as a "race" issue even though it really isn't a genetic trait as such. Just because a cultural teaching about morality, ethics, or reasoning has a "culture" behind it, or a group of people being raised to believe it, doesn't mean the teaching isn't stupid. Many ethnic groups throughout history have believed very stupid things. (The WASP ethnic group certainly tops the list in some areas, but they're far from alone.) How do you prevent stupid ideas from becoming protected from criticism by cloaking themselves in the race issue?

    If you can assure me that hate speech laws do not present a credible danger of crossing over into these areas (especially in civil court, where the presumption of innocence is 50/50) , then I will have to concede the debate. Can laws be made that clearly enough draw the needed distinction so we can outlaw just the things that need it? A better question is: are hate speech laws even the most effective way? Why not just make incitement laws, which come into effect whether the incitement is racial or non-racial?
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