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Do you think hate speech should be outlawed or criminalized? Or does it instead fall under free speech?

asked Oct 27 '10 at 02:01

Michael's gravatar image


edited Oct 27 '10 at 12:23

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦

"Hate speech" should be free speech. It may not be "legitimate"—e.g., if it expresses bigotry—but it doesn't violate anyone's rights.

"Hate crimes" should not be punished differently than equivalent crimes that don't express "hate". The law properly judges actions, not motives.

This recent article by Don Watkins at the blog Voices for Reason is relevant: "'Hate Crime' laws criminalize ideas". It concludes:

The men who wrote the First Amendment sought to safeguard intellectual freedom by barring the state from taking cognizance of men’s ideas. The government, they said, has no role in deciding what ideas are true or false, right or wrong, hateful or loving. Its job is to proscribe actions that violate individual rights, so that each of us can make those determinations for ourselves.

answered Oct 27 '10 at 02:33

jasoncrawford's gravatar image

jasoncrawford ♦

I need to further understand your position (as I disagree). By your logic (that the law judges actions not motives) why is there a difference between manslaughter and murder (and various kinds of murder)? In both cases a life has been lost and someone else is responsible, would you have the law treat them both identically?

To explain why I disagree, hate crimes are more harmful to society because they express a basis for the crime that causes ancillary damage (fear in the "hated" population).

(Nov 04 '10 at 10:24) AlexHardman AlexHardman's gravatar image

At its foundation, hatred is not illegal. Crimes of theft, physical battery, incitement to violence and others are illegal. Whether they are a result of hatred or not is only of import to motive not to the severity of the crime. Put otherwise, just how far is it from outlawing crimes because they are hate to deciding to outlaw the hate in order to "prevent" the crime? After that, just how much farther is it to outlaw "unsocial" thoughts?

(Nov 04 '10 at 22:27) ethwc ♦ ethwc's gravatar image

Alex, you're right that there is a difference between manslaughter and murder. That is a difference in intention--in one case, the killing is intentional, in the other case, it is not. The law does judge intentions--but not motives, values, or ideas.

Regarding "fear" as ancillary damage: The problem is that making someone afraid can't be a crime. A clear, direct threat is a crime. But any lesser standard, such as simply causing fear, becomes non-objective.

(Nov 05 '10 at 04:38) jasoncrawford ♦ jasoncrawford's gravatar image
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Asked: Oct 27 '10 at 02:01

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Last updated: Nov 05 '10 at 04:38