Saturday, January 17, 2015

"Hate speech"

I hate this article!

This might be the worst paragraph:

Speech that offends, insults, demeans, threatens, disrespects, incites hatred or violence, and/or violates basic human rights and freedoms has absolutely no place in even the freest society. In fact, it has no place in any free society, as bigotry is fundamentally anti-freedom by its very nature. The human right to freedom of speech must always be balanced against the human rights to dignity, respect, honor, non-discrimination, and freedom from hatred. Civilized countries consider hate speech to be among the most serious crimes around, with many countries even placing it on par with murder. In some countries, people are automatically declared guilty of hate speech and other hate crimes unless they can absolutely prove their innocence beyond any reasonable doubt. The principle of guilty until proven innocent may seem a bit harsh to some, but it makes sense when you consider how severe the crime of hate speech is – it is a crime that simply cannot be tolerated in a democracy. Hate speech is not merely speech, but is, in fact, a form of violence and the international community has established hate speech to be a form of violence many times. Hate speech doesn’t merely CAUSE violence. Hate speech IS violence.
What I'd like to know is: how does the author think government should deal with someone who says, "I hate men," or "Men are stupid"? I don't agree with those statements. They're hurtful, sexist, and offensive. But I don't want the government to stop people from saying them. And if government can't stop people from saying those things, it also can't stop people from making hateful statements about women, blacks, whites, gays, etc.

In the comments: some suspect the article was intended to be satirical. (But it's not very funny . . .)


LemmusLemmus said...

It might be a parody, I'm not sure. For example, countries that put hate speech on par with murder? Cooome on! Other portions of the article seem serious, though.

Grobstein said...

People certainly have terrible views, but this is so cartoonish it's a little hard to believe.

I'm sort of expecting someone to claim responsibility for the hoax, and I wonder what they'll say.

Grobstein said...

... I mean, I'm just going to present a basic roadmap for human rights legislation in the United States. By "human rights," I mean, Ban all of the following: ... 7. Speech that opposes any human rights. This would mean that anyone saying that hate speech shouldn’t be against the law would be prosecuted, since hate speech is universally recognized as an injustice and a human rights violation. ...

Now, Thought Catalog's market niche is writers who are too young to know better, so I guess this is on-brand for them. But I don't really believe it.

Have you found anyone defending the essay? All I've found are attacks on it. Although there are many leftish activists who I consider illiberal on speech, almost none would publicly go this far -- see especially item 7., which I reproduced above.

So I suspect this is not what it initially seems. It doesn't really read like satire, though. For example, I don't think it's funny.

My speculation is that it's intended to help discredit (less extreme) views in the same general neighborhood. Real examples of the anti-speech left will never use a term like "re-education facility" to describe their policies, no matter the substance. "Reeducation facility" is the kind of rhetoric opponents of speech regulation deploy (because of the negative association with Maoist tactics). Tanya Cohen uses this rhetoric over and over again.

Conclusion: Tanya Cohen is the kind of anti-speech leftist that opponents of the left would like to debate, because she's an insane boogeyman who wears her fascism on her sleeve. Further conclusion: Tanya Cohen is a creation of her putative ideological opponents, just a foil, not a real person.

I'm not sure but that's what I think.

If I'm right, this is not a Sokal hoax situation -- revealing Cohen's origin would not benefit her creators, so they might not tell us what they've done. (If Cohen's essays were enthusiastically adopted by left media, then a hoaxer might gain by revealing her. But that doesn't seem to be happening.)

Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

Anything can be labeled as violent if you're sensitive enough, as in Fran Lebowitz's great line from the 1970s, "Your right to wear a lime green leisure suit ends where it meets my eye."