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.

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