Hate Speech

'Hate Speech Is Misusing Freedom of Speech'

So who decides what's a proper use?

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Columbus Law School/Catholic University

I suppose if we were to start highlighting all the awful things European politicians say about freedom of speech, there wouldn't be much time for anything else. But there's room for it every now and then, no? Because I'd like to share some recent comments from Austria's top justice official to Catholic University law students. 

Wolfgang Brandstetter, Austria's federal minister of justice, gave a February 3 talk at Catholic's law school on hate speech legislation in Austria and the European Union. Brandstetter explained that EU member states are bound by the conventions of the EU Court of Human Rights, which, in 2008, released guidelines for criminalizing speech—anything that disparages or intimidates based on race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, language, or color should be off limits, the court says. Austrian law mirrors the EU framework and, under it, hate speech is a crime that could come with a two-year prison sentence. 

"Limitations are necessary in a democratic society for the protection of others. We in our legal system make use of such limitations, as compared to the United States," said Brandstetter. "For us, hate speech is misusing freedom of speech, and therefore shouldn't be permitted." 

Misusing freedom of speech! And who decides what's a proper use? Prosecutors and government officials, of course, who would surely never misuse their power to suppress speech or ideas they don't like. Nope, that's never been known to go horribly wrong and—oh, wait, what? Well, we'll be better about it this time! History never repeats itself!

Brandstetter also lamented the recent attack on the office of French magazine Charlie Hebdo, adding: "Speech involving religion causes the worst problems of all." Maybe I'm using the lingo wrong, but that seems like textbook victim-blaming to me. 

The bottom line is we're lucky America's is not a legal system that "make(s) use of such limitations," as much as this seems to dismay Europeans like Brandstetter … and some of our own, as well. For the most nauseatingly anti-free speech drivel you'll read this week (I hope), check out trust-fund socialist Malcolm Harris writing at Al Jazeera America. Like many on the new-left and the old right, Harris thinks drawing lines between permissible and illegal speech is easy, with white supremacist speech so obviously falling in the latter category:

… White supremacy isn't a source of information; it's among the most dangerous lies ever conceived. White nationalism has no kernel of truth for us to unearth through discussion and debate. In the marketplace of ideas, it's strawberry-flavored rat poison. Fascism has nothing to offer, and we have zilch to gain from hearing out fascists. We may, however, have a lot to lose.

But replace "white supremacy" with "racial equality," and you'll have a sentence that would've come comfortably out of government officials' mouths not too long ago. We could also insert in socialism, libertarianism, anarchism, atheism, gay pride, or women's suffrage, for that matter. There have been times when all were considered unfit for even discussion or debate, too dangerous, too radical, etc. White nationalism is clearly different than these other ideas? I'm glad Harris, and I, and most of you probably think so. But a state powerful enough to criminalize entire viewpoints, ideologies, or movements is sure as fuck not going to stop with ones you personally disavow. It's why we already see efforts to make cops a protected class, and anti-cop sentiment a form of hate speech—pushes, I might ad, that are making their way past the powers that be way faster than any lefty push to criminalize racist or homophobic language.

Update: Harris tells me he wasn't advocating for hate-speech laws or state enforcement, but for people to "go bop (white supremicists) on the head!", like this

More of that conversation here. Other main points: he is not a socialist. And I suppose I should say alleged trust-fund kid. 

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  1. You know who else from Austria hated free speech?

    1. Arnold? He was the terminator after all.

      1. Well, his dad, at least.

      2. Beyond this interesting question, it should be pointed out that Brandstetter is essentially misinformed. The New York State constitution, for example, asserts that “every citizen may freely speak, write and publish his or her sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that right.” And many American legal cases make it downright clear that speech judged to be inappropriate can be criminalized in this country. Indeed, New York itself has recently criminalized inappropriately deadpan email parodies (hello Charlie “Hebdo”) under some darn good, creative legal pretexts, without any of them there public “intellectuals” or liberal “commentators” expressing any concern. See the documentation of our great nation’s leading criminal satire case at:

        http://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

        So yes, there is misuse, there is abuse, and whatever it takes to clamp down on it, we will get the job done here in America. A little lip-service for that there “free speech” is fine, but Europeans should understand that we have full solidarity with them, and if they need some help getting the job done we’re standing here ready to help.

        1. I don’t think you understand the case you cite.

          “whatever it takes to clamp down on it, we will get the job done here in America. ”

          Whatever it takes to defend and keep our natural right to free speech and freedom of conscience we will do. Go fuck yourself, turd.

          1. I surely do understand, and you mean our God-given natural right, just as long as we don’t abuse it. Here are a few suggestions if you want to avoid arrest and prosecution in America: Don’t write any of them there anti-bank slogans on the sidewalk with chalk. Don’t post any of them fake “NYPD drone” ads in New York City, because that form of political satire is highly inappropriate. Don’t “tweet” in the name of the mayor of Peoria, and don’t go doing any of that “Internet mockery” in your university. And don’t go messing around with that “open access” to them there academic papers like the Aaron Swartz fellow, we taught him a thing or two, didn’t we? We had a little fallout there with some people saying they weren’t entirely happy with the way we handled it, but they’ve become appropriately quiet.

            And mind you, we do honor parody in America, when it’s appropriate. We like to watch it on those late-night television shows where it’s all very safe and nice and where we can censor out them there swear-words. There is a time and a place for everything, and Congress is the right time and place for the Pope in the fall, when them there autumn leaves is falling. Just you remember that, and then we can all work together to build our good, ordered American liberty.

    2. The Empress Maria Theresa?

    3. Captain von Trapp. At bedtime protestations.

      1. He also took away Brigitta’s book.

        mmmm…Angela Cartwright…
        those childhood crushes never go away.

        1. 3 way with her and Veronica?

          1. Way to totally distract me from work.
            We must be in the same age bracket.

            1. Sadly, yes. The “Old” part of my handle is no joke.

              Oddly, it turns out my wife knows Angela because of art stuff. When Mrs. Candy heard about my childhood fantasies, she withdrew her offer to introduce us.

              1. That’s cruel.
                Remember on Friends they agreed to a list of 5 celebrities that you could get with if you had the chance ? My wife and I have those…I know Mark Harmon is on her list. She knows Angela Cartwright is on mine. You need to explain this list concept to Mrs Candy. I mean holy shit, you could actually meet Angela ?!

                1. I did try. “Celebrity Waiver List.” No dice. Not that Rachael Price is likely to come knocking at my door demanding sex, but still.

                  Angela isn’t quite as appealing as she used to be. Ah well, neither am I.

  2. Did she say the “f” word?!!

    1. I noticed that as well.

  3. Now there’s some 24 carat crazy for you: a belief that Big Government is so wonderful and powerful that it can legislate hate out of existence.

    And they have the nerve to call Christian fundies crazy. The fundies may well be crazy but the statists are the last people on Earth with any reason to mock.

    1. If it’s banned from society, then it doesn’t exist. Guns, hate speech, drugs, they all disappear when banned.

      1. That’s been working out so well for them, too.

    2. The impulse is to control, not to produce results. If their ideology were remotely results-based, they wouldn’t be so impulsive.

  4. … White supremacy isn’t a source of information; it’s among the most dangerous lies ever conceived. White nationalism has no kernel of truth for us to unearth through discussion and debate.

    IOW, if I see no use for something like guns or an area of speech, then it should be banned.

    1. White supremacy isn’t a source of information; it’s among the most dangerous lies ever conceived.

      White supremacy: when a toothless felon living in a mortgaged trailer believes that he is superior to a black neurosurgeon because people with a similar skin tone to his did a bunch of really good things that he had nothing to do with.

    2. In the marketplace of ideas, it’s strawberry-flavored rat poison.

      Does warfarin come in strawberry flavor?

  5. Fascism has nothing to offer, and we have zilch to gain from hearing out fascists.

    Ironically enough, that’s actually where much modern left wing economic orthodoxy originates. Technocratic micromanagement of a powerful, nominally private oligopoly is the defining feature of both the Italian and German varieties.

    Fascism, white supremacism and white nationalism, of course, are also distinct concepts, in the same way that communism, feminism and black nationalism are distinct concepts. But why quibble. As long as you’re only oppressing the niggerlovers wreckers dissidents commies people I don’t like, it’s all good.

    1. Ironically enough, that’s actually where much modern left wing economic orthodoxy originates.

      Nah-ah. Fascism is of the right. Left-wing economic orthodoxy is, well, of the left. Therefore, they’re exact opposites. This is what many people on the left, including the European left, actually believe.

      1. Yeah! And libertarianism is even further to the right than fascism! I mean, libertarians want to impose liberty on society! Can you imagine how much force it will take to impose liberty? Libertarians are tyrants!

        /Tony

        1. This is what ‘Tony’ really believes.

          1. And not just Tony or his puppet masters.

      2. It is incredible. The best way to really categorize it is that fascism is a stop along the road to socialism. The two ideologies hate each other because they both consider the other as “lacking” in commitment.

    2. As long as you’re only oppressing the niggerlovers wreckers dissidents commies people I don’t like, it’s all good.

      It’s only oppression when you oppress the officially oppressed. Those who are not of an officially oppressed group cannot be oppressed–no matter how aggrieved their treatment. Rights are for the oppressed. The unoppressed don’t need rights.

  6. It’s why we already see efforts to make cops a protected class, and anti-cop sentiment a form of hate speech?pushes, I might ad, that are making their way past the powers that be way faster than any lefty push to criminalize racist or homophobic language.

    Didn’t some guy just get locked up for making threatening statements about cops on Facebook? And it’s a felony because the information traveled across state lines. Would he have been arrested for making the same threats about fellow peasants? Hell no. Threaten the king’s men though, and you go to prison.

    1. Why do you hate society and order, sarcasmic?

    2. The peasants think the king’s men are their protectors. They don’t understand they are the enforcement arm of government. If you say that out loud, YOU are the nut, the hater.

      1. Most people actually believe that cops carry guns in order to protect the peasants, when in fact cops carry guns to protect themselves from the peasants.

        1. That’s just crazy talk, you cop hater !

          -89% of the general population

          1. Previously the number was 99.7%, but then the cops opened fire.

  7. Fascism has nothing to offer, and we have zilch to gain from hearing out fascists

    Well, that’s true in the case of the various Islamic states of the world. Sharia is a fascist legal system, to be sure, especially when it comes to speech critical of Islam.

    1. I’m certainly not defending Sharia, but how, specifically, is it fascist?

  8. Wouldn’t it be easier if we only protected speech that doesn’t offend anyone? That’s really Free Speech’s best use.

    1. I’m offended by that!

      1. TELL IT TO MY SECOND AMENDMENT RIGHTS. (I should get that on a bumper sticker.)

  9. What is everybody worried about? With the right people in charge, all of those bad things just won’t happen. Or maybe all of those other time, it wasn’t true suppression of misuse of free speech. Or something.

  10. Fascism has nothing to offer, and we have zilch to gain from hearing out fascists.

    So you’ll be shutting up, then?

    1. Yes, clearly fascism has something to offer regarding censorship policies.

    2. “It’s not bad when it’s me doing it.”

  11. anything that disparages or intimidates based on race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, language, or color

    I don’t get why they need “race” and “color”. Is the color thing a tip to Boehner?

    1. Orange-tanned politicians are people, too — despite all evidence to the contrary.

    2. Or number of balls.

    3. Melanin levels do not define race. For example, many Dravidian Indians have significantly darker skin than, say, most Ethiopians.

  12. Getting pissed about this stuff is tiring. Most people react emotionally to the issues. The power hungry politicians exploit this for their own benefit. And we watch history repeat itself.

  13. What Austria needs is a freedom fuhrer. He can start by annexing the hate crimes division of the Austrian Bundespolizei.

  14. I like to point out that in countries like India, people can face prison time for offensive speech for things like pointing out that a leaky pipe caused a “miracle.” So far, I keep getting that all-purpose scathing rebuttal known as “La la la, I can’t hear you.”

    1. And of course there are many journalists and scientists who would like to make it a crime to question global warming. It is a very seductive thing to be able to just jail our opponents rather than debate them. Once government had the power to ban opinions it deems objectionable, which is all hate speech restrictions are, it would quickly get out of hand and any opinion that was out of favor with the powers that be would be deemed “hate speech” and criminal.

      1. And it will all be done in the name of tolerance.

        1. Because intolerance * intolerance = tolerance. Two negatives make a positive.

          /prog

      2. You only say that because that is the way things work out in the real world. There are many places where bringing disrepute to the government or insulting a royal family are crimes.

  15. If I can’t express my dislike or hatred for someone, I don’t have free speech. It is really that simple. The whole point of having “free speech” is that saying is different than doing. Saying, unless it is somehow connected to the threat of doing, is no different than thinking. In that sense, banning speech of any kind is really just the closest to thought control as we can get. We haven’t yet developed a way to control what people think. So the next best thing is to prohibit any expressions of those thoughts.

    This is of course the worst slippery slope imaginable, since any expression can be twisted into being “hate speech”. Even if it were not, however, and you could properly define “hate speech”, it still would be insidious since it seeks to ban hatred or disdain. We don’t have to like or accept each other. And we wouldn’t want to. Sometimes people really are worthy of contempt. And unless we let everyone express their contempt, justified or not, the people deserving of it will never receive it.

    1. They’re not trying to ban all hatred and disdain. It will always be OK to express hatred and disdain towards Christians, conservatives, libertarians, white people, capitalists, people who got rich by means other than entertainment or political favors, etc, because those are the people the left hates.

      1. Of course. See my post below. They like to pretend they are, however. It would be nice if whites and conservatives and Christians started using this language against them and at least force them to admit the truth, which is exactly as you describe it.

    2. Yep. If they were at all honest, they would just say they don’t believe in free speech. If you think that offensive speech should be limited, then you just plain don’t favor free speech.

      I don’t know if it bothers me more that these people want to restrict speech like this, or that they seem to believe that they do respect free speech.

  16. I do wish, however, that someone would go after college administrators using their own standards. If we are going to ban “hate speech”, then we need to ban the entire Progressive narrative of American history as being hate speech and offensive towards white Americans. They would of course claim that white Americans are not entitled to this protection and have a duty as designated oppressors to endure any and all abuse. That would at least force them to be honest and prevent them from claiming these codes are anything but naked and crude interest group politics.

    1. You will never be able to force the left to be honest with all the double-think their ideology requires. If they can’t be honest with themselves, how can they be honest with anyone else?

      1. Speaking of doublethink: Radical feminists and the religious right no longer even pretend that they’re not quoting each other. Yet somehow it’s hate speech in one case but the Goddess’s own truth in the other.

  17. Given that Austria has a fascist political party winning seats in the European parliament, I question this idiot’s argument that his anti-free speech laws have been effective at stopping hatred.

  18. We haven’t yet developed a way to control what people think.

    They’ll settle for boring us to death so we don’t want to think.

    1. +1

      God are these people boring. Say what you want about the Nazis, but at least they dressed well. These people are so humorless and boring.

      1. +1 Hugo Boss

  19. Excellent article. I certainly agree with its sentiment. I do have to pick a nit, though:

    Like many on the new-left and the old right…

    Strictly, it strikes me as problematic to say the views you’re talking about would apply to the old right. Generally, the old right, as commonly understood, wouldn’t have had much appetite for the kinds of restrictions you’re talking about. That’s much more a neo-conservative agenda item.

    1. When they say ‘old right’ they are referring to the leftist movements that competed with communism to see who could slaughter more people in the last century. They are referring to things to the right of communism–not things on the actual right side of the political spectrum.

      I mean, to be really honest, the things they’re calling ‘old right’ would actually be so far to the left that they’d see the solid center as ‘right wing extremism’.

      1. Meh. It struck me, rather, as minor screw-up on ENB’s part. As I said originally, nothing earth-shattering. But, the context of her comment was American politics. And in that context, “old right” has a particular meaning. And that meaning isn’t the conservative movement since the 1950s. In most regards, the Pauls are essentially in line with the ideological views of the old right. Given that Ms. Brown is fairly young, it’s an understandable mistake. Like I said, I was picking a nit.

  20. One of the best things about hate speech laws is that everyone ends up supporting the hate speech laws that hit their opponents and whine when those same laws are used against their friends.

    Example: Some of the strongest supporters of hate speech laws in Europe are Muslims who feel that those laws protect them. Well, in France, an eight year old Muslim boy was arrested by the police from his school for saying he didn’t like Charlie Hebdo and supported the shooters.

    An eight year old was arrested for thought crime. Think about that.

    Then a Muslim teacher got in trouble for failure to engage in the mandated moment of silence for Charlie Hebdo. So you have eight year olds being targeted by the state and teachers getting attacked for failure to adhere to government orthodoxy.

    The same people who are now being targeted by the French state for saying positive things about terrorism were the ones supporting the French government when they targeted anti-Muslim speech. Maybe if they’d supported free speech then, they would not now be getting abused by the state.

    1. It always comes back to bite you because “hate speech” is just whatever opinion the government doesn’t like at the time. That is great when your opponents’ opinions are out of favor. That, however, will not last forever. Eventually, the government will find your opinions objectionable and these laws will be turned on you.

      1. mumble mumble Iron Law mumble mumble

    2. “Everyone”?

      Where do people get the idea that stifling speech is a good idea? It has never once crossed my mind that people I don’t like or agree with should be forced to be silent or punished for saying things I don’t like.

  21. Fascism has nothing to offer, and we have zilch to gain from hearing out fascists. We may, however, have a lot to lose.

    Name one thing we may lose, besides “time” or “our temper”.

  22. ENB left out the best part of the Malcolm Harris article. Here’s the opening:

    “On Jan. 22, Jason Hammond accepted a noncooperating plea deal from prosecutors in Cook County, Illinois: He will serve 41 months for his role in an organized assault on a casual dining establishment in the Chicago suburb of Tinley Park. On May 19, 2012, Hammond and 17 others stormed the Ashford House restaurant with bats and hammers, interrupting lunch and leaving 10 people injured. But instead of years in jail, America should perhaps consider sending Hammond a thank-you card.”

    The guy got a bunch of his thug friends together and attacked a diner in Cook County, brutally assaulting everyone in the building, including the staff. Why? Because a ‘European Heritage Organization’ was having lunch there, he thought they were racist, and decided to beat everyone in the building for, I don’t know, being close to alleged racists and therefore probably infected with racism.

    These people are a fascist authoritarian movement that declares itself ‘anti-fascist’ because they people it violently terrorizes are harmless fat hicks who like to get together and talk about how much they like being white. Racists, in other words, but no threat to anyone. Clearly it’s much more damaging to American society to have racist losers hang out without bothering anyone than it is to have violent rampaging thugs allowed to assault their opponents with impunity.

    1. I know; I seem to have completely misread him. http://twitter.com/enbrown/sta…..5743370240

      1. Jesus. His argument in the comments there are so asinine they can hardly be believed.

        His basic argument, so far as I can tell, is that the government should let violent anarchists beat the hell out of people they don’t like. Somehow, this isn’t anti-free speech since the government isn’t personally punishing the racists, they’re just letting them get beaten and murdered with impunity.

        And he then declares that you’re a hypocrite for disagreeing with this clearly rational position.

        1. His basic argument, so far as I can tell, is that the government should let violent anarchists beat the hell out of people they don’t like.

          That is more than any other single thing, a unique quality of fascism. Fascism can be hard to define because it takes all kinds of forms and picks all sorts of enemies. The one thing all fascist movements have in common however is the use of mob violence and intimidation for political purposes.

          Harris is a fascist by any normal meaning of the term. He is a living example of why we should think God for the 2nd Amendment and Heller. If this country were ever disarmed, Harris and others like him would be free to pray on the population at will.

          Note he attack a place in gun free Chicago. He didn’t pull that shit in a more civilized city like Dallas where one or more of the patrons would likely have been armed leaving him and his gang having brought a hammer to a gun fight.

        2. His basic argument, so far as I can tell, is that the government should let violent anarchists beat the hell out of people they don’t like. Somehow, this isn’t anti-free speech since the government isn’t personally punishing the racists, they’re just letting them get beaten and murdered with impunity.

          As long as that also applies to wailing on trust-fund socialists at our discretion, I say bring it on!

    2. It’s been said here before. Most people are soft liberals. They are nice people who want nice things for others. Schools, medical care…not hearing mean things…sure that seems like a nice idea. If you try to explain that they are allying themselves with some vile people who are quite willing to use violence to get their way…they won’t believe you. They will think you are a nut. They wouldn’t use bats and hammers to attack people, they can’t conceive of others doing it.

  23. A huge problem with the hate speech concept is that what counts as hate speech is so incredibly vague and it’s definition tends to expand.

    We’re already in the middle of a resurgence of intolerance for “politically incorrect” speech, as Johnathan Chait outlined (and was attacked by intolerant PC mobs for). It’s not a big leap to imagine that the kinds of things the SJWs on Twitter get into a tizzy about could one day be considered “hate speech” by the law.

    For instance, is using the word “retarded”, or “tranny” hate speech?
    Is wearing a shirt with sexy women on it “hate speech”? I have no doubt that some people in the SJW Twitter mobs would think so.

    Now take into account that this sort of thing is part of a wide-ranging political campaign by the left wing to control the terms of debate, and “hate speech” laws can be used not only to punish people with genuinely loathsome beliefs like neo-Nazis, but you now have this massive potential for “hate speech” to be defined to include all of those words that the left doesn’t want to let people use. And now you have the law officially on the side of FORCING people to use the language that the social justice warriors demand.

    It’s far to easy for “hate speech” laws to slide into a legally enforced version of the twitter-sphere’s standards for PC dialogue.

  24. Free speech? How quaint. You must check with the politicians first to determine if you’re allowed to say what you want to say.

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  26. I recognize little wannabes like this cretin, a cheerleader and apologist for violence that he’s too afraid or too weak to engage in himself.

    SJW chickenhawks just make me giggle.

  27. guidelines for criminalizing speech

    Coming soon to a jurisdiction near you!

    “Limitations are necessary in a democratic society for the protection of others.

    And by “others”, we mean anyone who is favorable to the ruling political class.

    Speech involving religion causes the worst problems of all.

    It seems to me that by cowering down to a show of force by regulating speech, you are giving the attackers exactly what they want. Of course, I also believe that something like an attack in response to an “offensive” act of speech is simply a convenient pretext for rulers to do what they wanted to anyway. Name, criminalize speech and thought. It’s about control.

  28. Trigger warning…cognitive dissonance ahead:

    “For us, hate speech is misusing freedom of speech, and therefore shouldn’t be permitted,” Brandstetter stated.

    The European approach carries inconsistencies, the minister conceded. For example, denying or trivializing the genocidal crimes of Adolf Hitler could be prosecuted under speech laws, but denying those of Joseph Stalin would not.

  29. Malcolm Harris

    I need a new computer monitor

    1. It’s the cravat that makes it all work.

      1. “Work”? TO WHAT END?!?

        I’ve re-broken 4 bones in my hand on that festival-of-smug already

    2. Is he at a ginger convention or something?

    3. Any relathion to MHP?

  30. You clearly have no appreciation for the finer points of sartorial elegance.

    It’s true that’s a lot of smug for just one face. Clearly has more than his fair share of smug.

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  32. I remember watching Firing Line umpteen billion years ago and I remember Bill Buckley saying (to paraphrase) “We have freedom of speech so we can have good speech.”

  33. FACT: Freedom of speech exists to protect hate speech since love speech needs no protection.

  34. I agree with your article. Hate speech laws are dangerous. However, your argument isn’t going to persuade anyone who supports hate speech laws. Talking to Europeans about this is very difficult. They seem to feel like the only reason anyone would want to allow hate speech is if he or she wanted to engage in hate speech him or herself. Obviously, that’s NOT true. But I think for Europeans to get onboard with the first amendment, you’re going to need to provide lots of examples of how hate speech laws can be abused. I.e., real-life examples of hate speech laws being used to censor people who aren’t necessarily bigots. Just a suggestion.

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