Sunday, July 01, 2012


BOOK REVIEW of ‘The Harm in Hate Speech,’ by Jeremy Waldron

The United States is almost alone among Western liberal democracies in not punishing what is called hate speech — oral or written messages that “incite hatred” against a person or group on the basis of their race, religion, sex, ethnicity or sexual orientation. Canada, Britain, Denmark, Germany and New Zealand have such laws, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights purports to require signatory nations to pass them. In the American constitutional tradition, by contrast, even detestable speech is permitted so long as the speaker does not threaten violence or incite others to it. The Supreme Court’s recent decision upholding the right of the Westboro Baptist Church to engage in hateful picketing of military funerals in opposition to toleration of homosexuality (“God Hates Fags,” one sign said) is a ready example. That case would almost certainly have come out differently in other liberal democracies.

In his engaging new book, “The Harm in Hate Speech,” the legal philosopher Jeremy Waldron urges Americans to reconsider that tradition. Although he regards it as “unlikely” that hate speech legislation “will ever pass constitutional muster in America,” he hopes to persuade Americans to take more seriously the damage such speech does, and to overcome the “knee-jerk, impulsive and thoughtless” arguments that, he says, “often” characterize American debates on the issue.

Waldron begins with the premise that in a “well-ordered society” not only must all people be protected by the law; they are entitled to live in confidence of this protection. “Each person . . . should be able to go about his or her business, with the assurance that there will be no need to face hostility, violence, discrimination or exclusion by others.” Hate speech undermines this essential public good. “When a society is defaced with anti-Semitic signage, burning crosses and defamatory racial leaflets,” Waldron says, this assurance of security “evaporates. A vigilant police force and a Justice Department may still keep people from being attacked or excluded,” but the objects of hate speech are deprived of the assurance that the society regards them as people of equal dignity.

Source

The fixed Leftist preoccupation with equality soon pops out.  Why should everyone regard everyone else as being of equal dignity?  Should we regards Nazis and antisemites and pedophiles as people of equal dignity?  The argument is absurd.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

I didn't know that Nazis, anti-semites and pedophiles were groups that could claim "hate-speech" protection, and if they tried to, that they would succeed legally!?

Anonymous said...

I can't believe this guy puts hostility, violence, and being attacked on par with discrimination and being excluded. I can't attack you without violating your rights, but if I don't want anything to do with you, how can you force me to without violating my rights? Oh yeah, just force me to by the law, at gun point, under the power of the state. Liberal thinking at its best.

Anonymous said...

Apparently. Mr. Waldron is describing his wish for that imaginary utopia all leftists seek, where everything and everyone is "equal", while totally ignoring the "reality" that nowhere in nature is anything truly equal.

He seems to be looking for the "equality" that leftists seek. Well, perhaps he could explain why, in America, it is a more serious crime to assault a gay person than it is to assault a straight person. Does he see that as being equal?

Anonymous said...

The only case such a straight person could claim a "hate crime" is if he/she were attacked just because of being straight - is that ever likely, or have there ever been gangs of gays attacking straights as in the frequent reverse case?

Anonymous said...

@3:24, Yes there have. The Prop 8 controversy in California, when gangs of Gays sexually assaulted protesting Mormons.

Anonymous said...

"I can't believe this guy puts hostility, violence, and being attacked on par with discrimination and being excluded. I can't attack you without violating your rights, but if I don't want anything to do with you, how can you force me to without violating my rights? Oh yeah, just force me to by the law, at gun point, under the power of the state. Liberal thinking at its best."

Or they can just tax into conformity.

Anonymous said...

"the harm in censoring" title would be several thick volumes. Which would you side with?

Anonymous said...

@9:34

Not tax - "penalize".

Liberals lie - they can't help it. First they have to lie to themselves until they believe their own crap (at least I think most of them actually believe). Then they lie, lie, and lie again.

Anonymous said...

Reminder: Since the only group that it's okay to hate in the US, smokers, will be able to use hate speech legislation to their favor. I've actually seen people go up to people who have been forced to smoke outside and say "I hope you die of cancer" then curse at them. Try that with any other group and you'd be put in jail under any hate speech law. But it's okay to hate smokers, and the self righteous liberals would never view that as hate speech since it's something they don't approve of.

Anonymous said...

3:59 - You said it yourself that the target group were Mormons not generic heterosexuals. A sexual assault sounds like a deliberate exaggeration and no doubt the "assault" was provoked by the Mormons' own anti-gay activity. If there was actual physical violence involved it was of course inexcusible by whatever side, but I maintain that gangs of gays never go around looking for random straight people to make unprovoked attacks for the sole reason they appear to be heterosexual (which is a frequent reverse case in many parts of the US and the world in general).

Anonymous said...

I didn't know that Nazis, anti-semites and pedophiles were groups that could claim "hate-speech" protection, and if they tried to, that they would succeed legally!?

"Hate Speech" laws often comes back to bite those who first advocate for them, because the law must be applied equally to all "haters."

"A Man For All Seasons" has it right....

William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
William Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!
Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!

Anonymous said...

I would bet that if you looked into Waldron's own speech you'd find him saying hateful things on a regular basis, but only about groups he himself would not consider protecting, like people who have a viewpoint opposed to his most cherished beliefs.

Anonymous said...

The word ' Hate' is occult Kabbalist in origin and of similar import to the number 6, sex, and hex.....

H is the eighth letter of the alphabet. H8

The use of the word in magick is designed to hypnotise into acquiescence an audience when cast broadly via the speech medium of print, radio and television.

But for atheists, the use of magick in the real world is more religious hocus pocus.

Anonymous said...

For a 'free speaker' you're none to brave JR. Are you not interested in the truth ? or just the physical comforts that appeasement affords you ?
As censorious as those you critique.