Perfectionism & Hate Speech Law

Discussion of articles that appear in the magazine.

Moderators: AMod, iMod

Post Reply
Philosophy Now
Posts: 753
Joined: Sun Aug 29, 2010 8:49 am

Perfectionism & Hate Speech Law

Post by Philosophy Now » Sat Nov 18, 2017 11:08 pm

Shaun O’Dwyer on reconciling free speech with protection against hate speech.

https://philosophynow.org/issues/123/Perfectionism_and_Hate_Speech_Law

Viveka
Posts: 369
Joined: Wed Sep 27, 2017 9:06 pm

Re: Perfectionism & Hate Speech Law

Post by Viveka » Sat Nov 18, 2017 11:20 pm

The ideas of Equality and Freedom do not clash when everyone, in the State, is allowed free speech, be it hate or not. While denying hate speech is to put precedence of equality over freedom and to essentially deny the freedom of those who are supposedly equal to one another. In other words, it is in the pursuit of equality they are denying equality.

d63
Posts: 547
Joined: Sat Apr 05, 2014 4:55 pm

Re: Perfectionism & Hate Speech Law

Post by d63 » Fri Dec 29, 2017 10:37 pm

First of all, here’s the reference for anyone who is a subscriber: https://philosophynow.org/issues/123/Pe ... Speech_Law

That done, what I am mainly doing here is feeling my way to a letter to the editor on Shaun O’Dwyer’s ‘Perfectionism & Hate Speech’. I would first point out that O’Dwyer’s perfectionist approach works for me in that it creates a check and balance to hate speech by utilizing government resources (via public campaigns (to resist the normalization of hate speech. On top of that, this is one of those areas where (despite my social democratic tendencies (the market has truly been effective in normalizing traditionally unacceptable behaviors and their right to rights: women, LGBTs, and even pot smokers. We should also note (given the recent increase in accusations of sexual impropriety (how the recent discourse has changed things, much as it did when date-rape resulted in the no-means-no campaign. I cannot speak for the statistics, but as far as I know, the issue of date-rape has pretty much become a non-issue –and likely because of that campaign. So it seems to me that any public campaign against hate speech would be just as effective.

That said, what I mainly want to address on the issue is that we really need to consider the distinction between free speech and heckling. Free speech is about having a safe space to express your point of view while heckling is about disrupting that safe space. We see it all the time on the boards: you express a point of view only to have some troll ambush you with whatever cheap tactic they happen to have available to them. We have, of course (coming from the more idealistic and noble among us), this notion of compassionately and respectfully engaging such people. But that rarely works. I mean if you are giving a lecture in a hall and someone starts screaming in opposition from the back, what good will it do you to try to reason with them?

The point I’m trying to make here (and I believe this will have some constitutional backing (is that while free speech is beyond reproach, it comes with the condition that we make allowances for those who choose not to hear what the other has to say, that we make reasonable allowances for those who don’t want to hear it since refusing to listen is a form of free speech. This reflects back on the issue of sexual harassment: while men have every right to engage in “locker room talk”, no woman is obligated to be exposed to it. She has a right to her ideological PRIVATE space. And the same goes for hate speech. And this is what defines heckling: it violates this space, the space of the individual that would otherwise choose to hear what the other has to say.

To give you an example: While I am opposed to a lot of what goes on in churches, it would be inappropriate (a form of heckling (for me to go into a church and start screaming how I felt about what they were doing –especially when the only time they become an issue to me is when they attempt to change public and political policy.

And here’s where it hurts since I have to apply this same criteria to my komrads on the left: stop acting like hecklers. When a group of Neo-Nazi’s, KKK, and alt-right nerds go to Charlottesville to protest the removal of a confederate monument, don’t go to the same place and heckle them. You’re just playing in to their nonsense. Hold an alternate rally close by and count heads after. A girl got killed not just because some redneck drove a truck into a crowd, but because you chose to be confrontational.

I mean it: don’t. Stop. Quit being hecklers and step up to the intellectually and evolutionary position you are entitled to.

Impenitent
Posts: 1754
Joined: Wed Feb 10, 2010 2:04 pm

Re: Perfectionism & Hate Speech Law

Post by Impenitent » Fri Dec 29, 2017 11:23 pm

freedom of speech is wonderful, and all politically correct speech is the epitome of hate

but your government speech masters will be perfect

all hail the ministry of truth

-Imp
Last edited by Impenitent on Fri Dec 29, 2017 11:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Impenitent
Posts: 1754
Joined: Wed Feb 10, 2010 2:04 pm

Re: Perfectionism & Hate Speech Law

Post by Impenitent » Fri Dec 29, 2017 11:26 pm

repeated

Londoner
Posts: 789
Joined: Sun Sep 11, 2016 8:47 am

Re: Perfectionism & Hate Speech Law

Post by Londoner » Sat Dec 30, 2017 10:55 am

d63 wrote:
Fri Dec 29, 2017 10:37 pm

...That said, what I mainly want to address on the issue is that we really need to consider the distinction between free speech and heckling. Free speech is about having a safe space to express your point of view while heckling is about disrupting that safe space. We see it all the time on the boards: you express a point of view only to have some troll ambush you with whatever cheap tactic they happen to have available to them. We have, of course (coming from the more idealistic and noble among us), this notion of compassionately and respectfully engaging such people. But that rarely works. I mean if you are giving a lecture in a hall and someone starts screaming in opposition from the back, what good will it do you to try to reason with them?

The point I’m trying to make here (and I believe this will have some constitutional backing (is that while free speech is beyond reproach, it comes with the condition that we make allowances for those who choose not to hear what the other has to say, that we make reasonable allowances for those who don’t want to hear it since refusing to listen is a form of free speech. This reflects back on the issue of sexual harassment: while men have every right to engage in “locker room talk”, no woman is obligated to be exposed to it. She has a right to her ideological PRIVATE space. And the same goes for hate speech. And this is what defines heckling: it violates this space, the space of the individual that would otherwise choose to hear what the other has to say.

To give you an example: While I am opposed to a lot of what goes on in churches, it would be inappropriate (a form of heckling (for me to go into a church and start screaming how I felt about what they were doing –especially when the only time they become an issue to me is when they attempt to change public and political policy...
Isn't the issue the one in your second sentence: Free speech is about having a safe space to express your point of view while heckling is about disrupting that safe space.?

The contrary arguement would be that in reality 'space' is mostly private property. If I am a student, then all the physical spaces I might use to address a meeting are owned by the institution. Indeed my position as a student is contingent on my keeping certain standards, so even if I only have an audience of one even that depends on my keeping what I say within certain limits.

And of course the media is private property. I have no right to space in a newspaper, or space on television.

So when it comes to 'heckling', the person with the minority view might argue that it is those with power over space are constantly 'heckling' them. For example, early feminists pointed out that while they were trying to put across their view, every advertisement, school book, film, etc. was putting out the contrary one.

d63
Posts: 547
Joined: Sat Apr 05, 2014 4:55 pm

Re: Perfectionism & Hate Speech Law

Post by d63 » Sat Jan 27, 2018 6:47 pm

Londoner wrote:
Sat Dec 30, 2017 10:55 am

Isn't the issue the one in your second sentence: Free speech is about having a safe space to express your point of view while heckling is about disrupting that safe space.?

The contrary arguement would be that in reality 'space' is mostly private property. If I am a student, then all the physical spaces I might use to address a meeting are owned by the institution. Indeed my position as a student is contingent on my keeping certain standards, so even if I only have an audience of one even that depends on my keeping what I say within certain limits.

And of course the media is private property. I have no right to space in a newspaper, or space on television.

So when it comes to 'heckling', the person with the minority view might argue that it is those with power over space are constantly 'heckling' them. For example, early feminists pointed out that while they were trying to put across their view, every advertisement, school book, film, etc. was putting out the contrary one.
Thanks Londoner for your thoughtful response. Will try to get back to this.

d63
Posts: 547
Joined: Sat Apr 05, 2014 4:55 pm

Re: Perfectionism & Hate Speech Law

Post by d63 » Sat Jan 27, 2018 8:36 pm

“Isn't the issue the one in your second sentence: Free speech is about having a safe space to express your point of view while heckling is about disrupting that safe space.?

The contrary argument would be that in reality 'space' is mostly private property. If I am a student, then all the physical spaces I might use to address a meeting are owned by the institution. Indeed my position as a student is contingent on my keeping certain standards, so even if I only have an audience of one even that depends on my keeping what I say within certain limits.

And of course the media is private property. I have no right to space in a newspaper, or space on television.

So when it comes to 'heckling', the person with the minority view might argue that it is those with power over space are constantly 'heckling' them. For example, early feminists pointed out that while they were trying to put across their view, every advertisement, school book, film, etc. was putting out the contrary one.” –Londoner

Once again, Thanks for your considerate response, Londoner. And I apologize for repeating what we already know. For one, I’m prepping this for cross-pollination on other boards I tend to haunt. For another, it’s a lot easier for me to break down and respond if I have the full quote at the top of my word document. That said:

“Isn't the issue the one in your second sentence: Free speech is about having a safe space to express your point of view while heckling is about disrupting that safe space.?

The contrary argument would be that in reality 'space' is mostly private property.”

Actually, I would argue that there is a difference (or rather a spectrum (it’s not a clear demarcation (between private and public space. For instance, it would be one thing for a group of neo-Nazi’s to rent a space to engage in one of their little war rallies; but it would quite another for them to do it in my living room. Were they to do so in my living room, it would be an infringement on the obligation to make reasonable accommodations for those who don’t want to hear it, my free speech through indifference.

Where it gets a little more complicated is in terms of public spaces. This can be seen in the recent Supreme Court decision that broke down the 25 ft law as concerns Pro-Life protesters outside of abortion clinics. This, I believe, was wrong. While the pro-life movement has every right to express their opinion, they must, once again, make accommodations for those who don’t want to hear it. And here is where I (with conditions (agree with your point:

“The contrary argument would be that in reality 'space' is mostly private property. “

Even in public spaces, we always have a right to the small amount of personal space around us. While you have every right to say what you want in a public space, what you don’t have is the right to grab me by the shoulders and scream your opinion in my face. That would (as it should (constitute a form of battery.

“If I am a student, then all the physical spaces I might use to address a meeting are owned by the institution. Indeed my position as a student is contingent on my keeping certain standards, so even if I only have an audience of one even that depends on my keeping what I say within certain limits.

And of course the media is private property. I have no right to space in a newspaper, or space on television.

So when it comes to 'heckling', the person with the minority view might argue that it is those with power over space are constantly 'heckling' them. For example, early feminists pointed out that while they were trying to put across their view, every advertisement, school book, film, etc. was putting out the contrary one.”

Actually, most universities are publicly owned and, consequently, committed to a diversity of opinions. Of course, this is changing as universities become more and more under the influence of corporate funding. Privately run universities, of course, are lost to whatever ideological control they want to exert on their space. But I don’t consider that “heckling”. To narrow in:

“For example, early feminists pointed out that while they were trying to put across their view, every advertisement, school book, film, etc. was putting out the contrary one.”

That may well have been the case. But as insidious as it was, those feminists still had every right (every accommodation (to ignore it. They put their position into a public space. And another public space responded.

That said, Londoner, I hope to explore this further with you.

Nick_A
Posts: 2610
Joined: Sat Jul 07, 2012 1:23 am

Re: Perfectionism & Hate Speech Law

Post by Nick_A » Sun Jan 28, 2018 12:04 am

The trouble is that hate speech isn't sufficiently glorified to retain its influence and significance. For example, why offer friendly hellos when soon after people are cursing each other out? The best solution is to eliminate the usual "hello, how are you," between people of differing opinions and replace it with them with the sincere "yo momma sucks. It would be answered by "no, yo momma sucks," Then normal conversation can begin in an atmosphere furthering honest discussion and respectful of the need for hate speech.

User avatar
vegetariantaxidermy
Posts: 6684
Joined: Thu Aug 09, 2012 6:45 am
Location: Narniabiznus

Re: Perfectionism & Hate Speech Law

Post by vegetariantaxidermy » Sun Jan 28, 2018 1:45 am

What makes the term 'hate speech' so dangerous is its sheer meaninglessness. It's determined by whoever happens to be in power. In a theocracy it will be anyone who criticises the ruling religion. Stalin was a big fan of 'hate speech' laws.

''Modern hate speech leg­islation was born from World War II. There was a feeling that hatred needed to be curbed to prevent another outburst of fascist hysteria. But it wasn’t Western governments calling for laws against hate speech — it was the authoritarian Soviet Union.

In 1948, world leaders gathered to construct a Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Soviet representatives argued that the section on free speech should be qualified by strictures against hate speech. They proposed an amendment making it a crime to advocate “national, racial or religious hostility”. “(We cannot) allow advocacy of hatred or religious contempt,” they said.

Such efforts to water down freedom of speech in the name of combating hate were opposed by Western delegates. From the US, Eleanor Roosevelt said a hate speech qualification would be “extremely dangerous” since “any criticism of public or religious authorities might all too easily be described as incitement to hatred” (how prescient she was). In later discussions, British representative Lady Gaitskell said a hate speech amendment would “infringe the fundamental right of freedom of speech”.

The Soviets lost on the hate speech front in 1948. But they kept pushing. They were finally successful in 1965 with the creation of the UN’s International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Despite the continued opposition of Western delegates and their allies — one of whom said that “to penalise ideas, whatever their nature, is to pave the way for tyranny” — the new 1965 convention did contain a section calling for the criminalisation of “ideas based on racial superiority or ­hatred”.

It was the spread of this convention into domestic law, everywhere from Austria to Australia, that led to the creation of crimes of hate speech around the world in the late 1960s and early 70s.

So the story of hate speech laws is a story of the West’s slow but sure ditching of freedom of speech. Where once Western leaders opposed the criminalisa­tion of words — “whatever their nature” — more recently they’ve come to see certain speech as dangerous after all, and something that must be punished.

We’re witnessing the victory of the Soviet view of speech as bad and censorship as good, with various members of the modern West’s chattering classes unwittingly aping yesteryear’s communist tyrants as they call for the banning of “advocacy of hatred”, and a corresponding demise of the older enlightened belief that ideas and words should never be curtailed.

Some will say, “So what if we’re finishing off the Soviet Union’s dirty work? At least we’re preventing hatred.” But here’s the thing: history shows that, actually, hate speech laws don’t even help to combat hate.

The Weimar Republic of the 30s had laws against “insulting religious communities”. They were used to prosecute hundreds of Nazi agitators, including Joseph Goebbels. Did it stop them? No. It helped them.

The Nazis turned their prosecutions for hate speech to their advantage, presenting themselves as political victims and whipping up public support among aggrieved sections of German society, their future social base. Far from halting Nazism, hate speech legislation assisted it.

It is surely time every hate speech law was repealed. They are a menace to free thought and speech, and the worst tool imaginable for fighting real hatred.''

Well what do you know. 'Hate speech' laws destroy free speech. How ASTONISHING. :roll:

'Hate-speech' laws: beloved by Stalin and Hitler, and lapped up by 'PC "Progressism'' '

Nick_A
Posts: 2610
Joined: Sat Jul 07, 2012 1:23 am

Re: Perfectionism & Hate Speech Law

Post by Nick_A » Sun Jan 28, 2018 2:34 am

Alinsky's Rules for Radicals RULE 5: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” There is no defense. It’s irrati­onal. It’s infuri­ating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into conces­sions.
There are three expressions of acceptable hate speech. The first is against anything supporting Christianity. The second is against anything opposing political correctness. The third are all forms of condemnation against Donald Trump.They are not considered hate speech but logical expressions of justifiable righteous indignation against these sources of all societal unrest. Hatred expressed through ridicule will be applauded in the defense of the public good defined by the Great Beast.

osgart
Posts: 459
Joined: Mon Oct 10, 2016 7:38 am

Re: Perfectionism & Hate Speech Law

Post by osgart » Sun Jan 28, 2018 5:16 am

I would myself feel very uneasy with hate speech laws. So as long as safety is maintained, and proper respect of someone's lawful rights is maintained, then by all means speak your mind. But to slander a person with untrue remarks, and paint people over with lies should carry a legal punishment.

In society justification is the standard of speech we all look to uphold. And merely hating someone out loud disturbs the peace and violates the public safety and trust. However, critical speech is a fact of life, and should be protected. If someone feels justified in hating actions, laws or positions of belief or conviction let them be free to speak out.

But to hate someone personally without cause, I see no justice in that kind of speech. Show proper cause in speaking a hate. If it doesn't promote the public peace it is an offense of law to me.

Kept that simple the laws of free speech should be.

User avatar
vegetariantaxidermy
Posts: 6684
Joined: Thu Aug 09, 2012 6:45 am
Location: Narniabiznus

Re: Perfectionism & Hate Speech Law

Post by vegetariantaxidermy » Sun Jan 28, 2018 5:37 am

Nick_A wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2018 2:34 am
Alinsky's Rules for Radicals RULE 5: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” There is no defense. It’s irrati­onal. It’s infuri­ating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into conces­sions.
There are three expressions of acceptable hate speech. The first is against anything supporting Christianity. The second is against anything opposing political correctness. The third are all forms of condemnation against Donald Trump.They are not considered hate speech but logical expressions of justifiable righteous indignation against these sources of all societal unrest. Hatred expressed through ridicule will be applauded in the defense of the public good defined by the Great Beast.
Try to keep your personal politics out of it please.

Londoner
Posts: 789
Joined: Sun Sep 11, 2016 8:47 am

Re: Perfectionism & Hate Speech Law

Post by Londoner » Sun Jan 28, 2018 12:04 pm

d63 wrote:
Sat Jan 27, 2018 8:36 pm

Actually, most universities are publicly owned and, consequently, committed to a diversity of opinions. Of course, this is changing as universities become more and more under the influence of corporate funding. Privately run universities, of course, are lost to whatever ideological control they want to exert on their space. But I don’t consider that “heckling”.
I do not see that being publicly owned commits you to a diversity of opinions, .

Every university will have some sort of a charter, or constitution. This will contain general moral sentiments but these will be interpreted in such a way that reflects current opinion. For example an ideal of 'equality' can - and has been - understood not to apply to slaves or women, or it can be understood as 'equal but separate' to legitimise segregation. Or it might be understood as a duty to positively discriminate in favour of groups which are disadvantaged. Or it might be understood as meaning different races should be treated equally, but not different religions. Or it might be understood as disallowing any form of academic selection, and so on.

Similarly, one general requirement will conflict with another; the right 'to free speech' versus the right 'to be treated with dignity', and so on.

But it is impossible for this uncertainty to remain unresolved. The authorities are going to have to make rulings; this action is allowed, that is not. The vague sentiments have to become concrete policies. At which point we can no longer pretend that the university is a neutral platform.

Of course, the authorities, and those in sympathy with them, will not see it like that, because we always consider our own views to be simple common sense. We are always the moderates - other people are the extremists! But as a student looks up at the portraits of previous university administrators they can reflect that these people would have seen nothing remarkable in the academic exclusion of women and Jews. It is a continual lesson that authority is not always right - and should not always be obeyed.

So I would dispute that Universities have ever really been committed to a diversity of opinions. That was only something they could claim because they only admitted those who 'fitted in' - and thus were unlikely to express any dissident opinion. A 'heckler' is an unauthorised speaker; to call somebody a 'heckler' is to submit to authority, and sometimes you should not do that.
Me: “For example, early feminists pointed out that while they were trying to put across their view, every advertisement, school book, film, etc. was putting out the contrary one.”

That may well have been the case. But as insidious as it was, those feminists still had every right (every accommodation (to ignore it. They put their position into a public space. And another public space responded.
I do not think early feminists had every accommodation to put their point. They were obliged to 'heckle' their way into public consciousness. To demonstrate in the streets is to force others to listen to you, committing acts of vandalism is to force the mass media to notice you. Isn't every movement that challenges the established view obliged to 'heckle'?

d63
Posts: 547
Joined: Sat Apr 05, 2014 4:55 pm

Re: Perfectionism & Hate Speech Law

Post by d63 » Sun Jan 28, 2018 8:04 pm

Once again, Londoner, I appreciate your thoughtful responses here. If more people had the ability to disagree with me in the way you do (that is as compared to a pissing contest in which someone has to win), my Facebook block list would be a lot shorter. It is, as I have always known, and you suggest, a complex and nuanced issue with no clear demarcations. We can, at best, explore it as compared to reaching any final solution. That said:

“Actually, most universities are publicly owned and, consequently, committed to a diversity of opinions. Of course, this is changing as universities become more and more under the influence of corporate funding. Privately run universities, of course, are lost to whatever ideological control they want to exert on their space. But I don’t consider that “heckling”.” –me

“I do not see that being publicly owned commits you to a diversity of opinions, .” –Londoner

I’ll agree with this, Londoner, to the extent that publicly owned universities are not obligated to propagating ideas that are clearly nonsense. We don’t want classes taught on the nature of Big Foot or unicorns or Holocaust denial. That would be pointless. Whatever is taught, it has to be the result of rigorous discipline. Otherwise, what would be the point?

I suppose it would have been better if I had framed it in terms of Dewey and Rorty: that secondary education is about creating better citizens and leaders. In this context, public institutions are committed to democracy which involves a consideration of a diversity of opinions. To illustrate my point: take the recent incident in which a university protested a lecture by Ann Coulter to the point of having the university cancel her appearance. Now don’t get me wrong. I personally think the woman is an obnoxious harpy with nice legs. But I’m not sure it was right for the leftists on campus to shut it down like they did, if for nothing else the fuel it likely gave FOX News. It just seems to me that the better strategy would have been to hold a counter-rally and count heads after. They could have even recorded her lecture and analyzed it after and, in an articulate way, exposed it for the nonsense it is.

At the same time, and to your point, we have to consider whether it would be right for a public university to book a Neo-Nazi. On one hand, it could be accommodated to the extent that no one would be obligated to attend. Once again: free speech and the reasonable accommodation for those who don’t want to hear it. At the same time, do we really want public universities propagating that kind of nonsense? So I get where you’re coming from. At the same time, and to my point, if a university did allow for such an appearance, I’m not sure it would be right or practical for the more progressive students to show up and disrupt the proceedings: in other words, heckle. Once again: hold a counter rally and count heads after. But this is not to dismiss your points:

“A 'heckler' is an unauthorized speaker; to call somebody a 'heckler' is to submit to authority, and sometimes you should not do that. “

“I do not think early feminists had every accommodation to put their point. They were obliged to 'heckle' their way into public consciousness. To demonstrate in the streets is to force others to listen to you, committing acts of vandalism is to force the mass media to notice you. Isn't every movement that challenges the established view obliged to 'heckle'?”

I get that there comes a time when heckling becomes a necessity. Sometimes reason fails and all that is left is force. And heckling is a form of force. But there are times when it is not necessary and even impractical. And recognizing that is not always a submission to authority. It seems to me that feminists made the advances they did not just through disruption, but more through alternative media such as those developed on college campuses that, as I said above, are committed to democracy through in depth inquiry.

But we have to make distinction between force and authority here. Yes, sometimes force is necessary, such as that of heckling. But much as was the case with feminists, the war is never actually won until authority is established. And that must always be achieved through less combative means.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest