protest

We Can’t Censor Hate Speech, So How Can It Be Stopped?

free speech

This is only my opinion, and not the representation of Saintel Daily, LLC.

While this might not be a popular opinion, I think it needs to be said – and it’s not something that I’ve shied away from saying in the past.  When it comes to free speech, I don’t think we should restrict anyone – including people who want to voice their hate about others.  That’s not to say that I condone hate speech, but in a world where we value our freedoms, we shouldn’t take that away from people.  Maybe that sounds contrary, and I’ll admit, it is a bit out there.  But I don’t know how anyone can take a stand and say that hate speech should be banned, and not think of it as censorship.

That said, I think that platforms like Facebook and Twitter, have an obligation to ensure that people can’t post hate speech, but if you want to start a blog, or have a protest, I think that you should be able to.  I don’t agree with your views, but I live in a world where everyone is equal and should have the same rights as everyone else.  Again, I don’t condone hate speech.  In fact, I think it’s abhorrent, but it’s a case of “practice what you preach”.  If you’ve read anything else I’ve ever written, then you know how I feel about equality and social justice.  Which means, it would be hypocritical for me to say that you can’t have a bad message.  You don’t have to agree with my message of love and equality, and I certainly don’t have to agree with yours.

I think we need to look at it in a different way. This idea can be seen in an advertisement by the American Civil Liberties Union.  They promoted an advertisement in which a woman wearing a hijab was standing before graffiti that read “Muslims Go Home”.  In the following frame, young men held signs proclaiming “Freedom of religion” and “Love Thy Neighbor”.  This message ends with their ultimatum “Fight Hate Speech with More Speech”.  Which is kind of what I’ve been trying to get at.  We can’t censor hate speech, because everyone has the right to their opinions.  But we can fight it in other ways.

Think about the recent ruling that Donald Trump is not allowed to block his followers on Twitter.  Why?  Well, Trump has made it an open forum, and people have the right to say what they want to say.  In this instance, Trump is blocking users because he doesn’t like what they have to say.  Not because what they’re saying constitutes hate speech, but I think this speaks to my point.  We can’t censor anyone from saying anything because that’s censorship.

hate speech

How can we stop hate speech, if not through censorship? Technology is one way. Yes, we have the ability to report people who break the platform’s terms and conditions, but those corporations need to be on board with how to approach this particular topic.  We need more people to stand up like the ACLU and present messages that demonstrate alternative ways to fight hate speech.  I think we need more politicians to go on record to say that they won’t condone it.  We need more world leaders addressing it, rather than saying there are good guys on either side of this controversy.

Like I said, in my opening, I think everyone has the right to their opinions.  I think the key also lies in the promotion of diversity.  If you’ve read anything I’ve ever written on this topic, I tend to advocate more for inclusion, but today I think diversity is the key.  When a person hates a particular race or culture, they tend to do it because they don’t understand.  The more we can teach people about diversity, the easier it will be for these people to find commonalities.  While I don’t hate hatred for anyone, there are a lot of cultures that I don’t know anything about.  I am eager to learn more about those because it raises my awareness about who they are.

diversity

Children these days are growing up in a world that is much more diverse than the one I grew up in.  Hopefully, the stereotypes that might have been passed down by our parents or grandparents, aren’t being passed down to children now.  I know that saying we should allow hate speech is controversial, but it’s not because I think it’s right.  It’s because I don’t think that we can truly stop it through censorship.

Lastly, think about Nelson Mandela’s quote, which was recently Tweeted out by Barack Obama following what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia last year.  If this doesn’t summarize what I’ve been saying, I don’t know what will: “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love.  For love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite”.