Tag Archives: hate speech

Should Hate Speech Be Allowed?

There is a growing movement within the European Union to ban any form of speech which is offensive to ethnic, racial or gender groups. At a recent Writer’s Festival, Czech Republic writer David Cerney argued attempts to stifle speech which some regard as demeaning or incorrect is the wrong approach and violates basic concepts of free speech. He points out banning racist speech does not halt racist thinking, but, may in effect, give a racist even stronger reasons for adhering to such thoughts. Dutch politician Geert Wilders called for banning the Koran and likened it to Hitler’s Mein Kampf, he was prosecuted and prevented from entering Great Britain.

Today’s “hate” can become tomorrow’s belief. People have the right to express their ideas regardless of how distasteful they might be to others. Words do not kill unless the words are expressed to a group which then sets about hurting people. Over a hundred fifty years ago, England gave refuge to Karl Marx whose ideas eventually became accepted by nearly one third of humanity. Communism was not defeated by passing laws saying it was illegal to think in a communist manner, communism was defeated in the marketplace of ideas and accomplishments.

What To Do About Racist Political Groups?

A democracy inevitably confronts the issue of handling extremists who employ the media to spread hatred and fear of minorities, those who they seek to demonize, and the unknown in all its manifestations. People in the Czech Republic have been subjected to propaganda from racist political parties which seek to use the presence of a Roma minority as their wedge to secure support from the general populace. A recent poll reveals three fourths of the Czech people support the ban of all parties that use racist slogans in their election campaign. A recent anti-Roma video was used by the National Party in its quest for votes and even included a statement about “the final solution to the Roma question” which could have come from any Nazi statement concerning that group.

Over two-thirds of the population supports the request of the Interior Minister to seek a court order to dissolve the National Party. The Czech Radio has refused to play certain statements by the National Party. A strict adherence to democracy would argue the National Party has a right to be racist. Are there times when society has the right to halt speech? We believe there is a difference between “speech” and “action.” Any person has a right to utter words, but no one has the right to instigate violent action against other members of society.

Fundamentalist Christians Defame Military Dead

During the past few years, numerous military funerals of those who died in Iraq or Afghanistan have been disturbed by a sect of fundamentalist Christians who regard the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as punishment for the nation’s tolerance of homosexuality. Last year at the funeral of Matthew Snyder these tormented souls who bring their children to observe demonstrations, interrupted the funeral with shouts and signs like, “Thank God For Dead Soldiers.” Albert Snyder, father of the dead Marine, is suing the sect. He is still angry at comments during his son’s funeral that his son was supporting “Roman Catholic monstrosity” and that he was fighting for the “United Stats of Sodomy.” Church members assert their only goal is alerting America to its moral decay and among the signs they displayed were “Semper Si Fags.”

This case raises critical questions as to the meaning of free speech. Are vulgar and shocking statements protected by the First Amendment? What are, if any, limits to protection of free speech under the Bill of Rights? Snyder’s father claims his son was not fighting for “hate speech,” but who decides what is or isn’t “hate speech?” It is interesting that Rush Limbaugh will pontificate about liberals defaming the military, one can only wonder if he feels as emotional about fundamentalist Christian insults of our fighting men?