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The Internet Your Rights Online

EU Moving to Ban Online Hate Speech 452

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the slippery-slopes dept.
WED Fan writes "Several members of the EU Parliament are moving to ban online hate speech. 'The draft of the declaration, which heise online has seen, calls on providers in somewhat vague language to make provisions against "hate pages" part of their standard terms and conditions.'"
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EU Moving to Ban Online Hate Speech

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  • Yeah, and... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Khaed (544779) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @04:47PM (#18876561)
    ...How long before the definition of "hate" is expanded to speech politicians don't like?
    • Re:Yeah, and... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mpickut (721322) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @04:49PM (#18876613)
      This is why the first amendment matters. You can say what you want about the US, but our founding fathers got a few things right. Matt Pickut Sigs are for losers
      • Re:Yeah, and... (Score:5, Informative)

        by katani (1090285) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @05:35PM (#18877379)
        Just because we have a first amendment doesn't mean that the powers-that-be will follow it.

        For example, consider the Alien and Sedition acts, passed by the Fifth congress (1798) under the direction of John Adams. The Federalists at that time were trying to consolidate their hold on the government. The Alien and Sedition Acts were passed, as part of a Federalist blitz to prepare to defend the United States from French attack. Never mind the fact that France currently busy invading Europe, making an attack on the US unlikely. The Federalists were fearful of foreign subversion by French and Irish immigrants, especially since both groups were active in the Jeffersonian party, the Federalists opposition. To counter this threat, the Federalists passed the Alien and Sedition Acts.

        Part of the A&S acts, the Sedition Act, "made it a crime to publish 'false, scandalous, and malicious writing' against the government or its officials." (Wikipedia: Alien and Sedition Acts). Publishing such offensive information against the government would lead to fines and imprisonment. This act was used to stifle the Jeffersonian opposition, and lead to the imprisonment of several key Jeffersonian printers, such as David Brown.

        Fortunately, all of the A&S acts, except the Alien Enemies Act, were repealed. However, the fact is that the constitution was blatantly violated for the reason of protecting the nation from the dangerous French subversives.

        The scary part is, our congress and president are now casting similar laws (*cough*Patriot Act*cough), to protect us from dangerous Islamic terrorists.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by iminplaya (723125)
        but our founding fathers got a few things right.

        But our new step daddy is out to take care of that.
      • Re:Yeah, and... (Score:4, Informative)

        by digitig (1056110) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @05:18AM (#18882233)

        Europe has similar protections. They're enacted differently, but the end efect is the same. If a State or the Federal Government tried to enact similar legislation in the USA, my understanding is the constitutionality could be challenged in court; if it's enacted in Europe its compliance with human rights treaties can be challenged in court.

        As the saying goes, "There's more than one way to do it".

    • by harrkev (623093) <kfmsd@harrelsonfa[ ]y.org ['mil' in gap]> on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @04:53PM (#18876693) Homepage

      ...How long before the definition of "hate" is expanded to speech politicians don't like?
      The logical error in your statement is that you assume that there will be some period of time where this WON'T happen.
    • Re:Yeah, and... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by gillbates (106458) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @05:04PM (#18876863) Homepage Journal

      Or expressions of religious belief?

      This is little more than a thinly veiled attempt by the EU to outlaw religion (both Muslim and Christian religions believe homosexuality to be immoral; the reasoning goes that even condeming immoral behavior (as opposed to people)is sufficient to trigger the statute.

      IIRC, a similar law has been passed in the Netherlands, with pastors being warned that there are certain sins they are no longer allowed to mention in public.

      Even if you are an atheist, the premise is troubling. I would be likewise disturbed if questioning the existence of God was made illegal - certainly this development is not going to expand and enlighten public discourse on sensitive subjects.

      Truly a troubling development.

      • Re:Yeah, and... (Score:5, Informative)

        by Teun (17872) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @06:15PM (#18878035) Homepage

        Or expressions of religious belief?

        This is little more than a thinly veiled attempt by the EU to outlaw religion (both Muslim and Christian religions believe homosexuality to be immoral; the reasoning goes that even condeming immoral behavior (as opposed to people)is sufficient to trigger the statute.

        What a rubbish! I can equally claim it's some overly religious tribes that are fuelling this type of "Moral" legislation.
        Not that the Socialists would be above it, as a matter of fact any political or other group, left or right, has enemies it would sometimes like to silence.

        IIRC, a similar law has been passed in the Netherlands, with pastors being warned that there are certain sins they are no longer allowed to mention in public.

        Living in The Netherlands I can tell you your memory is failing in a catastrophic manner.

        Even if you are an atheist, the premise is troubling. I would be likewise disturbed if questioning the existence of God was made illegal - certainly this development is not going to expand and enlighten public discourse on sensitive subjects.

        Truly a troubling development.

        I would sooner say you are troubled to voice such outrageous claims...

        Europe is a continent with many very different cultures that have fought bitterly in a not so distant past, just take the troubles in the Balkan.
        It does not take much imagination to see new flare ups of extremely damaging violence in parts of Europe when certain scrupulous groups and individuals would not be constrained.

        It is regrettable this type of legislation is needed but in countries that have had this legislation for many years the advantages have generally outweighed the worries.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by PopeRatzo (965947) *
        If religion were a drug, it would have been taken off the market as unsafe long ago. If by religion you mean "hating homosexuals, single mothers, university professors and liberals", then maybe an attempt to outlaw "religion" begs for some serious discussion.

        If by religion you mean "a personal relationship with one's creator", I don't think any law against hate speech is going to have a negative effect on people of faith. Most of the faithful Christians, Jews and Muslims I have encountered seem to be able
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      ...How long before the definition of "hate" is expanded to speech politicians don't like?

      This is already the case. French right-wing politician Jean-Marie Lepen once publicly declared that the Nazi gas chambers were a detail of history (which, however horrible, they technically are, since history concerns much more than 3 years in some spots of Germany and Poland). Mr. Lepen was sued in court and condemned for having said that.
      • Re:Yeah, and... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @05:10PM (#18876983)
        Indeed, the true measure of the freedom of speach is being able to tolerate speach you don't like. Many political parties in europe are banned, which I think is a travesty. In a free society people should be able to express their political views, no matter how distastful.
        • Re:Yeah, and... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by moronoxyd (1000371) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @05:39PM (#18877439)

          Many political parties in europe are banned, which I think is a travesty.

          I can't talk for all those parties and all members of the EU, but here in Germany a party is going to get banned when it doesn't accept the democratic basis of the country's society.

          Why should a democracy allow and even support a group with the declared aim to destroy that democracy?

          You shouldn't assume that parties get banned lightly.
          A lot of people call for banning two right-winged (and I mean _right-winged_, not just 'very conservative') parties here in Germany. But because they don't openly talk against democracy and because their actions stay within the limits of the law, they are free to do their political work.

          Every freedom hast limits and has to have limits.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Headcase88 (828620)

            Why should a democracy allow and even support a group with the declared aim to destroy that democracy?

            I'd still argue they should be able to run. If the majority of people believe that a dictatorship is the way to go, then, in a real democracy, that's the way it's gotta go. My guess is that the chances of that happening are nil anyway.

            The exact same spirit applies to free speech. Anyone should be able to deny the holocaust openly. It's up to society at large to consider and then dismiss such claims with

          • by einhverfr (238914)
            I can't talk for all those parties and all members of the EU, but here in Germany a party is going to get banned when it doesn't accept the democratic basis of the country's society.

            Unfortunately, that is a very blurry line. I can understand the desire to ban a party after the experience of the Nazis when that party seeks to exclude some group on the basis of ethnicity or religion from the process.

            However, I cannot agree with it. First, the Nazi party itself was banned and that didn't stop them from takin
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward
            "Why should a democracy allow and even support a group with the declared aim to destroy that democracy?"

            Are you actually *that* brainwashed?

            Because maybe there is possibly a better form of government than a democracy? Or, more clearer, a more pure, direct form of democracy than the present government?

            I'm a minority. Sort of. Rather, I'm perceived as a minority. I'm half "Asian." I live in the US, where hate speech is generally not prohibited. The best thing about free speech, in my view, is that it he
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by blackest_k (761565)
        French right wing politician um thats spinning it a little isn't it?

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Marie_Le_Pen [wikipedia.org]

        "Jean-Marie Le Pen (born June 20, 1928, La Trinité-sur-Mer, France) is a French far-right nationalist politician, founder and president of the Front National (National Front) party."

        "He has been charged with Holocaust denial several times, and has unsuccessfully sued some who had accused him of this."

        right wing i would think gwb et al, This guys more reminiscent of the KKK I guess by your
    • by couchslug (175151)
      Politicians?
      How about religious fanatics? Criticizing a religion is controversial enough (as if superstition deserved protection) but these laws will obviously be used to stifle religious debate. Religion IS politics, but the debate will be manipulated (first, by cartoon-hating Muslims since they are the last active religion in the EU) and these laws will be part of that.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tekzel (593039)
      I dispise this development. While I am not a fan of hate, I am less a fan of this kind of censorship. People need to just grow a frigging spine and be less offended by stuff, then we wouldn't need this kind of ridiculousness. Who defines what hate speech is? I guarantee you it will not be a reasonable definition.
    • Ancient history.
    • by treeves (963993)
      But the politicians are only doing it because others are demanding that they do it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      ...How long before the definition of "hate" is expanded to speech politicians don't like?

      "Hate speech" is just a label placed on a subset of what some politicians don't like. Since politics differ from country to country, the meaning changes along with the politicians. In Canada, publicly disparaging Muslims or homosexuals without a list of references is "hate speech". In some European countries, claiming the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust is less than six million is "hate speech". The US has a some

    • by rlp (11898)
      > ...How long before the definition of "hate" is expanded to speech politicians don't like?

      Too late.
    • by Goaway (82658)
      Very long. The EU actually has a functioning democratic system with checks and balances on powers to prevent that kind of thing from happening. This may seem strange to those who are not used to it, but it is actually the case, and it works fairly well.
    • How long before the definition of "hate" is expanded to speech politicians don't like?

      I'm sure that its just a matter of time before speech/writing involving other sorts of emotion are similarly banned...

      The UK is already effectively banning speech critical of the government...

      They have a thing called an "Antisocial behavior order" or "ASBO" with which they can slap a restraining order on someone, restraining them from pretty well anything the judge feels like, eg raising your right hand above your waist. V
  • Finally (Score:5, Funny)

    by zantolak (701554) <zantolak.comcast@net> on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @04:47PM (#18876563)
    At last, freedom from speech!
  • I really hate this, and having said that, can't vacation in Belgium any more.
  • by ArcherB (796902) * on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @04:48PM (#18876599) Journal
    How do they ID hate speech? Is a cartoon Mohamed hate speech? How about a cartoon Jesus (South Park anyone?)

    • by TFGeditor (737839)
      The whole notion of "hate speech" is bullshit anyway. True freedom of speech means I can write/say "Linux users are monkey butts" or "Microsoft users are hamster butts" with legal impunity. It is my *opinion* and none of the government's damned business.

      Let the government and its minions take a flying leap at the nearest alimentary orifice.

  • by CrazyJim1 (809850) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @04:49PM (#18876605) Journal
    Gotta love how some governments think they have power over the internet.
  • by Skadet (528657) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @04:51PM (#18876645) Homepage

    The preamble to the declaration mentions anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and anti-Romany campaigns. Should the providers refuse to act more forcefully the five initiators of the declaration have vowed to pressure the European Commission into drafting appropriate legislation.
    This is a bad thing. Freedom is based upon the ability to express your ideas without the threat of Government backlash. Some ideas can be called "bad", certainly, but they should not be preemptively squashed because of the possibility that they might turn into action.

    It's the beginning of a slippery slope that ends up where web pages, emails, documents, or speech that is anti-establishment becomes illegal as well. It's important to set precident with the less-obvious things early on so this slope is avoided altogether.
    • by OS24Ever (245667) *
      The thing that bothers me is that the definitions of those three main areas can cover almost anything.

      You can be 'islamaphobic' because you belive that they should not be able to hide behind a veil in identification photos and a person needing to identify you can require you to remove said covering to confirm the identity.

      You get told you need to respect their religion and force the 'non-believer' into doing things like forming special queues for them, special rooms for them, all because their guys need the
  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @04:55PM (#18876721)
    hate will grow as a result. This is a common human trait : when something is forbidden, people are attracted by it. Just ask any teenager smoking a cigarette in hiding.

    But here's the proof, imho : in the US, where you can pretty much say any old darn thing short of direct calls to violence, neo-nazi, KKKs and other white supremacist groups exist, express themselves (much to the dismay of the local populace around them) and... they look like a small group of retards. On the other hand, in Europe, where you can't say something even remotely critical of the jews, and where naziism has become taboo to the point where it's not even possible to discuss the official head count of the holocaust without landing in the pokey, antisemitism, racism and extreme-right groups are growing at an alarming rate. Why? because these people stay hidden, embedded in the general population, by force of law, instead of coming out and showing themselves as the numbskulls they are like in the US.

    So in short, banning hate speech will do nothing but promote hate. Well done EEC, some insight...
    • by darkshadow (102598) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @05:05PM (#18876883)
      Exactly, I want the idiots to expose themselves so I know who to avoid.
      • by jcr (53032)
        That's precisely why the ACLU sends Jewish lawyers to defend the nazis who want to march through Jewish neighborhoods.

        -jcr

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by jcr (53032)
      On the other hand, in Europe, where you can't say something even remotely critical of the jews,

      Sure you can, as long as you're cheering for head-choppers and burning a car while you do it.

      -jcr

    • by owlnation (858981)

      hate will grow as a result. This is a common human trait : when something is forbidden, people are attracted by it. Just ask any teenager smoking a cigarette in hiding.
      That's exactly what is happening. Germany is one of the countries where hate speech is prohibited. Neo-Nazism in Germany is growing stronger every day - but it's hidden from Government view by being restricted. Thus Government thinks it isn't as serious a problem as it really is.
      • by einhverfr (238914)
        Not only is that what is happening but what happened in the 1920's following the failed Nazi takeover when the organization was banned. Over 2 years of being banned, their numbers base grew faster than it had at any point in the past.

        I don't think it is about what is forbidden though. Basically banning hate (or any other) speech prevents the public debate about certain forms of ideas. Just as a vaccine may make you a little sick but trigger your immune system to prevent a more dangerous illness, so too d
    • by fsmunoz (267297)
      Actually, you can see it the other way around: whenever you need to know something about the habits of humans in the past a list of prohibitions are a good place to start: they are generally enacted when what they are supposed to prevent is growing within a population.

      In the case of Europe it's not difficult to see why: in most countries there is a growing antagonism towards immigration - especially extra-european immigration, and this laws are a result of that. From wht I've heard the final law covers j
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        In the case of Europe it's not difficult to see why: in most countries there is a growing antagonism towards immigration - especially extra-european immigration, and this laws are a result of that.

        No, hate laws in Europe are the results of a fascist government exterminating six million people and ruining a continent.

        Believing or not that banning hate speech is the right solution to stop fascism attaining state power is one thing, but please remember what Europe has gone through and why these laws were created in the first place.

        At some point europeans had to say "never again", and that's why most countries in europe have some form of "hate speech" law.

    • by alexhmit01 (104757) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @05:38PM (#18877419)
      There is a HUGE cultural gulf between the US and Europe with regards to minorities. The United States, from the days of the colonies onward, has generally tolerated heretics and offshoot groups outside of local areas. While a town might have had an official religion, or even a county, it rarely expanded beyond a small local area. In addition, from the founding of the republic, the concept of all people here being citizens (except for Indians and black slaves) helped form that culture. In Europe, Jews were not considered citizens until relatively recently, and while having to contribute taxes to the crown were generally left alone complete with their own courts for civil and criminal matters, and communities. Similar rules applied to other groups of "others."

      With Napoleon's conquests, the idea of people as citizens took hold, but it was culturally foreign, and integration never happened. Combine this with relatively small areas with different languages and religions, and you have homogenous countries that have been reared to hate the other because one was often at war with them.

      Indeed, the initial efforts of the Nazi's were not the extermination of the Jews (although that was the end goal, they took stages), the first effort was to separate the assimilated Jews out of German culture, restoring their status as "others" to be distrusted by the people. Before they rounded my ancestors up into camps, they prohibited inter-marriage, and forced them to be separated from the culture. This was an important first step, because in Germany, the Jews were highly assimilated into the local culture, indeed the Reform movement was born in Germany setting the goal to assimilate, which is why so much of Reform cantorials and other German Jewish customs are borrowed from Lutheran protestant Curches through the assimilation there. In order to rile the people of Germany up against them, they needed to draw a line between Germans and Jews, which naturally made Jews the enemies and ripe for being attacked.

      Europe's problems of racism and xenophobia stem from a culture of being at was with other groups and having them nearby. In contrast, in the United States, the former Slave and Jim Crow states, which have had a much shorter history of integration, suffer from more severe attitudes towards different races. It's not that racism and persecution doesn't exist in former Union States (it does, and may often be more severe), but the portion of the populace that would support race based laws is more minor.

      I don't think that one can simply point to the US's First Amendment and Europe's post-War speech regulations and attempt to show that the latter causes growth of neo-nazism and the former stops it. I think that we have yet to see Europe get 3 generations from killing people for being "other" and Americans outside of the deep south haven't fought over the matter in 150 years and even in the deep south the civil rights movement was accomplished with relatively minor violence. Sure their were showdowns over integration of schools, but no pogroms. Even the worst abuses of people by the KKK pale in comparison to the European's behaviors, including wars over churches, kidnapping Jewish children if someone claimed the child was baptized, prohibitions of land ownership, etc.

      There is a massive cultural gap between the US and Europe in these regards, the Europe's cultural elites are so removed from it they don't understand it. While the gulf is smaller in the US, our elites understand it enough to make fun of those that hate others, which is probably better than ignoring it... call someone an idiot or wrong, they fight back, just mock them, and they get embarrassed...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cabraverde (648652)
      This is the first time I've wished that moderation went above +5. Spot on. We need to show that hateful thoughts and rhetoric, where wrong, can be defeated by exposure and open discussion. We can't legislate our way to the truth! Why do so many people think that we can?

      So Fred Phelps thinks that God hates fags? Fuck him. Let him say what he wants. Let more enlightened Christians point out his doctrinal shortcomings, and let the general public ridicule him.

      So David Irving wants to sue against claims that
  • by fudgefactor7 (581449) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @04:58PM (#18876757)
    ...is something to which I must express my disdain. People shouldn't be afraid what they say will be illegal. Think what you like, speak how you feel, but do not play innocent: your words can call you to be held accountable--but that doesn't mean you have no right to speak them. Should anyone attpemt to silence you, your writings, your thoughts, your person--this is even more of a reason to speak louder. I would rather there were a thousand Hitler-wannabe's speaking openly, than one doing so clandestinely. The evil we see can be defeated; the evil we don't see can defeat us.
    • I would rather there were a thousand Hitler-wannabe's speaking openly, than one doing so clandestinely.
      A million dead jews might disagree, and I think that's where the Europeans are coming from. Let's not forget that free speech unchecked led the continent to ruin in the 1930s/40s. Never understimate the power of the spoken word. One man in front of a microphone can be a very powerful thing for good or ill.
      • by Who235 (959706)

        Let's not forget that free speech unchecked led the continent to ruin in the 1930s/40s.


        Come on, man. That is probably the lamest thing I've heard all day. Just because someone used the power of speech and propaganda for the purposes of evil certainly doesn't mean speech was to blame.

        That line of reasoning will get people into way more trouble than whatever these laws are supposed to prevent.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by owlnation (858981)

        Let's not forget that free speech unchecked led the continent to ruin in the 1930s/40s.

        Actually - and we should NEVER forget, it was 5.7 million Jews, and about 13.5 million Europeans in Total. The holocaust was truly awful, but it is still only a part of the true evil that Germany protracted in the 1930's and 1940's. (you can add in another 10 million if you want to include the American, and Pacific related deaths which Germany is either directly or indirectly responsible for)

        Having spent some time li

      • Wow.. what gaul you have speaking for me (a jew).

        I dont like what they say, but i'll be damned if im going to step on their right to speak, because once its gone for them it could be gone for me too.
  • by JesseL (107722) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @05:01PM (#18876827) Homepage Journal
    Prohibition doesn't work for:
    Alcohol
    Drugs
    Guns
    Bad speech/thoughts

    All attempts to enforce prohibition result in oppressive government, reduced civil liberties for all, and greater dissemination of the originally prohibited contraband.
    • Prohibition doesn't work for: Alcohol Drugs Guns Bad speech/thoughts All attempts to enforce prohibition result in oppressive government, reduced civil liberties for all, and greater dissemination of the originally prohibited contraband.
      What say we add to your list:
      • Theft
      • Murder
      • Rape
      All attempts to outlaw these things have failed to erradicate them. Shall we just give up and legalise them in the interests of freedom?
      • by JesseL (107722) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @05:33PM (#18877333) Homepage Journal
        Theft, rape, and murder are crimes that affect people beyond the criminal. The laws against these crimes don't involve any kind of prior restraint on the populace, intended to prevent the crimes from happening. You don't support the criminalization of hands, penises, or the infinite multitude of objects that could serve as murder weapons, do you?

        If someone actually does you harm, by all means call them a criminal.

        If the actions of someone hurt your feelings, gross you out, strike you as immoral, or irrationally frighten you: get over it, ignore them, and mind your own business.
        • If the actions of someone hurt your feelings, gross you out, strike you as immoral, or irrationally frighten you: get over it, ignore them, and mind your own business.

          You say that, but, I don't think that 'hate speech' refers to somehting that 'hurts your feelings, grosses you out, strikes you as immoral, or irrationally frightens you." They're probably thinking of things that are likely to lead to violence against vulnerable groups. Someone farther up the page says that this is an example of Europe not l

          • by JesseL (107722)
            The problem is clearly NOT speech. The problem is "violence against vulnerable groups". Prosecute the people who initiate violence. Ignore the spiteful little morons that enjoy spouting of their hateful diatribes.

            Prosecuting someone like Fred Phelps would only make him a martyr.
    • Heinlein says it again:"

      For the first time in my life, I was reading things which had not been approved by the Prophet's censors, and the impact on my mind was devastating. Sometimes I would glance over my shoulder to see who was watching me, frightened in spite of myself. I began to sense faintly that secrecy is the keystone of all tyranny. Not force, but secrecy...censorship. When any government, or any church for that matter, undertakes to say to it's subjects, This you may not read, this you must not se

  • First, let me say I'm an American. Second, let me say that I think the constitution is a great thing, but it's by no means perfect, which why it's important that the constitution can change and can be re-interpreted. Third, I think you can clearly define "hate speech" in the current culture and there's no reason we shouldn't make an effort to stop it.

    To me hate speech is a severe form of slander and libel which is pushed upon one entire ethnic group or race. I think laws for hate speech are possible as long as you put strict requirements on it. Should I be able to walk down the street and call you a N*****? Legally, yes I should be able to. Should I be able to create a book detailing with no real scientific proof, that african americans are an inferior race of stupid people who should be shot an hanged on site for merely existing? Absolutely not. To me it's an extention of the same slander and libel laws. I could walk down the street and call you an asshole if you cut me off, but if I cook up some lies and speak about them publically or write an article on the web about you just to damage your reputation and make it harder for you to keep or find a job, then that should be illegal.

    No society is absolute. Americans hold up the constitution as the ultimate black and white definition of what should and should not happen, but as time marches on, people evolve and grow ever more savvy about how to game the system.

    And to those who think that the hate speech would evolve into squashing all free speech are offering up a red herring. Libel and slander as they are now are laws that limit your freedom to speak your mind, because in those cases you are hurting someone else. Same with yelling fire in a crowded theater. Freedom of political and social speech can been preserved just fine. Free speech is not a simple black or white philosophy and we forget exceptions and how we frame them when look at the freedom of speech.

    The EU countries already have bans on hate speech, as does Canada and probably others. Different countries deal with different problems differently, and the US, while it has a strong protection of freedom of speech, also has problems with evil reactionary groups who are allowed to exist and spread what I consider the most evil of lies under the banner of free speech. I don't see the EU collapsing now because they crack down on hatemongers and I don't see it happening any time soon either.
    • by kabdib (81955) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @05:12PM (#18877029) Homepage
      "Should I be able to create a book -- ?"

      Yes. Absolutely. End of story.
    • by JesseL (107722) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @05:16PM (#18877089) Homepage Journal
      Libel and slander, like yelling 'fire' in a crowded theater, are not crimes of speech. They are crimes because of the actual harm they cause (such as monetarily verifiable damage to a professional reputation or physical injuries caused by a panicked mob).

      We already have laws for the things you are talking about, involving things like inciting violence.

      How often have you heard about a case where someone caused actual harm to anyone, that went unprosecuted, that would have been a violation of your vision of a hate speech law?
      • by fiannaFailMan (702447) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @05:34PM (#18877365) Journal

        How often have you heard about a case where someone caused actual harm to anyone, that went unprosecuted, that would have been a violation of your vision of a hate speech law?
        I'm thinking of some short Austrian guy with a funny moustache back in the 1930s...
        • by JesseL (107722)
          There were quite a few nazis tried for various war crimes and crimes against humanity. If Hitler hadn't punched his own ticket straight to hell, you can bet that the Nuremberg Trials would have done it for him.
          • There were quite a few nazis tried for various war crimes and crimes against humanity. If Hitler hadn't punched his own ticket straight to hell, you can bet that the Nuremberg Trials would have done it for him.
            True, but the human race lost a hell of a lot of people by the time that happened.
            • by JesseL (107722)
              Obviously we should try to prevent people from murdering others (preferably we should encourage people to avoid letting themselves be murdered), but saying that we could prevent murder by restricting people's right to free speech is just ignorant.

              You can't erase hatred, intolerance, and bigotry by forcing it into the shadows; you can only combat it with enlightenment.
    • by gillbates (106458) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @05:24PM (#18877199) Homepage Journal

      So you can define hate speech.

      And we could probably agree on what is acceptable and not.

      But, the effect of an a priori prohibition speech based on its content damages society as a whole.

      • Those who hold errant and hateful views are not known - as they are afraid to express their views.
      • Those who hold errant and hateful views are never held accountable for their views. The topic discussion of discussion is prohibited. Instead, their hatred turns into action, and then the evil manifests itself in ways far worse than name-calling.
      • Those who hold errant and hateful views in secret never have their views challenged or corrected - that is, prior to their arrival in court. Even a rational person can grow up racist if their views on racism are never challenged. Societies which encourage open and unlimited discourse provide a mechanism for reform of would-be offenders without ever having to resort to legal proceedings.
      • Those unafraid to express their opinions can appeal to government for change, rather than having to resort to violent revolution.
      • The prohibition of certain topics of discussion prevents the study and greater knowledge of the subject, and withholds legitimate research. Furthermore, it prevents legitimate social progress through changing of public opinion.

      The battle over free speech isn't merely about public statements. It is also a battle over how best to address the problem of troubled individuals, who, while not criminal (yet), exhibit pathological tendencies. Without freedom of speech, we would have to wonder if everyone was out to get us. With freedom of speech, I have a reasonable assurance that I'm on good terms with others because they are free to let me know if they hate me or love me, or are merely indifferent. Hence, our collective sense of security and civil stability is very much tied to our freedom of speech.

    • Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. -Possibly Franklin

      The boisterous sea of liberty is never without a wave. - Thomas Jefferson

      You don't see EU collapsing because they crack down on hate mongers but you do see them putting up cameras and proposing DNA databases. Little steps at a time. Hitler didn't come to power either in one day, he took gradual progress steps till it was too late.

      If you want to write a book about how Asians
    • "Should I be able to create a book detailing with no real scientific proof, that african americans are an inferior race of stupid people"

      Yes. And the rest of us will make fun of you for being an idiot. You will be mocked, your friends will leave you, your family will alienate you, and your ideas will be shot down as coming from a complete retard. You will be fired from your job for being a hateful bastard. Kids will point at you. You will die alone and scorned. Your ideas WILL GO NOWHERE. ....But if i
    • I think you can clearly define "hate speech" in the current culture and there's no reason we shouldn't make an effort to stop it.

      Classifying speech is inherently hard to do. The problem comes because brightline definitions in these cases are inherently overinclusive or underinclusive in speech they cover. Lets take you definition for example:

      To me hate speech is [1] a severe form of slander and libel [2] which is pushed upon one entire ethnic group or race. [emphasis added]

      Using your definition, "severe f

  • Hate speech (Score:4, Funny)

    by Arthur B. (806360) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @05:09PM (#18876959)
    You hateful hating haters, I hate you with hatred!

    Rights disappear whenever people stop using them. So I suggest we let go on the hate speech in this specific thread and have a hateful conversation (you fucking nerdy retards)

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      So I suggest we let go on the hate speech in this specific thread and have a hateful conversation

      Hey Slashdotters, which is better, Linux or BSD? How's about emacs vs. vi? PS3 vs. Wii? Gnome vs. KDE? Best distro out there? Gun control: good or bad? What's hands down the very best language out there?

      There, that should do it.

  • by Syncerus (213609) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @05:14PM (#18877061)
    The core issue here is that we ultimately end up with a government sanctioned list of approved ideas. Any idea not on the approved list becomes anathema. In any sane society, the government has no business deciding on the merit of individual ideas. It exists to exercise the existing ideas and will of the electorate.

    Remember, freedom to choose is the freedom to make bad decisions; there is no controversy in making good decisions.
  • There is little argument nearly so good against bigotry as the exposure of that bigotry in its naked form. You want to see something that will sicken, and make you realize how truly small-minded these people are? Visit the forums of white supremacists, anti-semites, or anyone that such a law would legitimately be used against.

    Show people the worst malformed logic and ranting and hatred of that world, so they know better to check themselves of its beginnings.
  • I would love to jump on the bandwagon here, and I do think this is a silly move, but it is not always easy to pass judgments like this about free speech issues. Slightly offtopic, but this comes up alot on slashdot:

    In places where the concerned population is largely homogeneous in their beliefs, interests..etc, the public voicing of sentiment that is aggressive towards the said populace/causes them considerable disturbance is not always easy to defend. This is because the "hate speech" is seen as an affront
  • Where would Slashdot be without hate speech?
  • here's a thought (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Class Act Dynamo (802223) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @06:26PM (#18878153) Homepage
    If I may paraphrase Dennis Miller from his pre-conservative-ideologue days on this subject:

    Suppression of speech produces people like Hitler; free speech produces people like David Duke.

    Not allowing speech that is hateful just drives it underground where such ideology can fester. I would much prefer to let people blow off their steam in freely and in a controlled manner where everyone can see who they are. I have never understood this presumed right to not be offended. I know that hearing hearing a racial slur can be quite painful (having endured a couple in the last few years) but do these people really think they are going to stop racism by banning some expression of that racism. All it will do is lull the target race into thinking everything is okay when in reality the hate is still there, just hidden. This is a bad idea, it is.
  • Anecdote (Score:5, Interesting)

    by el_munkie (145510) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @07:28PM (#18878905)
    The reason you don't ban hate speech, at least, the reason beyond the fact that it leads to the suppression of all speech, can be illustrated by something that happened in my town about a year back.

    I live in Austin, Texas. Texas is a conservative state, and Austin is a liberal city that also happens to be the capitol of our state. The means that groups from across the state congregate here to protest, rally, and so on. Well, about a year ago, the Ku Klux Klan of Texas decided to hold a rally in front of our city hall. For weeks beforehand, there was debate over whether the city was right to grant a permit for the rally to the KKK. They decided to in the end. And what happened?

    Maybe ten Klan members showed up. Maybe. They were greeted by something close to a thousand protesters as cops watched on in riot gear. There was no altercation, it was just made clear for the crowd, the media, and the people at home that the Klan was exactly how they perceived it: a group of ugly, not-so-bright rednecks that is very few in number.

    The lesson? Let these people expose themselves for who they are, the population's mean attitude towards such things has shifted to the point where even ultraconservatives find groups like the Klan repugnant, and they'll only diminish the popularity of their cause. If the rally had been suppressed, it would have only served to reinforce the perception that Klan members [and whites in general] are being persecuted, and groups like this operate by convincing economically disadvantaged people that they are being persecuted.

    The solution to hate speech is to not listen. An even better solution is to listen and laugh.
  • Stupid idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JustNiz (692889) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @07:30PM (#18878927)
    If there's one thing that history has shown us is that banning something from the mainstream doesn't make it go away, in fact it makes it more cool and alternative.

    Anyway one mans hate speech is another's fight for freedom.
  • by Churla (936633) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @08:53AM (#18883827)
    I am already pretty against the "hate crime" laws in the US for the very reason mentioned above. The crime should be what is punished for, not the thought and intent behind it.

    Given crime == 5 years in jail
    Given crime + hateful thoughts == 8 years in jail.
    Then following through...
    hateful thoughts == 3 years in jail

    The fact that you have quantified a pattern of thought as being punishable by 3 more years in jail is far FAR too Orwellian for my tastes. It's the legal equivalent of venial sins, not bad enough to be a sin on it's own, but definitely bad enough to increase your penance for a mortal sin.

    Something which is free , by definition, is something which has no restrictions placed on it. Freedom of speech means freedom to say things which aren't popular opinions. The EU is futher taking away free speech with this. (It was already not really free with the current laws in place)

    Here's a question, since the Quran tells Muslims to kill the disbelievers wherever they find them (Q. 2:191), to murder them and treat them harshly (Q. 9:123), slay them (Q. 9:5), fight with them, (Q. 8: 65 ) even if they are Christians and Jews, humiliate them and impose on them a penalty tax (Q. 9: 29). (quick and dirty google for that.. http://www.sullivan-county.com/x/sina.htm ) Does this mean the Quran is a "hate text"? Would reading those passages be "Hate Speech"?

    Whereas I don't agree with those things, I respect the right of someone else to think and believe them. Now, if they act on those beliefs then they are transgressing against the rights of others to things such as life and liberty. At that point it's punishment time. But not punishment for believing it, punishment for the act expressing it.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982

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