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what makes hate speech wrong?


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Here's an interesting article I came across which I wanted to post.  It is a review of Jeremy Waldron's The Harm in Hate Speech (2013).


Many modern constitutional democracies, including Canada, have prohibited what is colloquially known as hate speech—the expression of views about minority groups for the purpose of vilifying or fostering...

Here are a couple of interesting passages from the article:


Two core premises lie at the heart of Waldron’s defence of group libel laws. First, to be full participants in a liberal democratic society, individuals must have some assurance that they have the basic social standing to engage in activities that will allow them to flourish and thrive. They must be confident that they can find meaningful work, get an education, seek high office or otherwise participate in the political sphere, honour their spiritual and family commitments—or do any of the other things that make a life fulfilling—and that they will not be treated as presumptively less worthy or deserving simply by virtue of their membership in a racial, religious or ethnic group. ... The second premise is that people in a liberal democratic society cannot have the assurance that they will be treated with dignity if the physical landscape suggests that their social standing is a matter for public debate.


The way a society “looks,” then, does not just reflect or express its political health—it determines it. We do not need to wait to see whether a billboard or poster libelling a vulnerable group actually succeeds (or has succeeded) in moving someone to discriminate against a member of that group before deciding whether its presence makes our society less just. 

So I think that is Michael Plaxton unpacking Waldron's argument.

What do you all think about this?

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  • 4 weeks later...

@traumaturgist I'm not so sure about the religion part.  Should we treat all religions as equal? and do all of them represent equal membership and investment in a western culture?

I know this very easily opens up accusations of discrimination against religions, but they are different aren't they?  wiith different investments in what a western culture is?

I also disagree with the author's emphasis on the way a society "looks" which seems to want to promote a superficial understanding of issues without exploring them further.

Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom. – Søren Kierkegaard

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  • 2 weeks later...

@estranger. yes all religions are equal but you can't prejudge how they are going to function in culture.  religions don't exist apart from the actions of their individuals or even of their sub-groupings.  and i think "looks are important" b/c a society's image does influence how other people will react tot that culture.

sorry...morning coffee (and yes i know it's noon) and i'm sick. 🤧

We need to teach children how to think rather than what to think. – Margaret Mead

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  • 1 month later...

i posted and then registered but no idea why my post isnthere.

hate speech is wrong because it intimidates people and keeps them from voicing their views

better you keep a stupid few from posting hate for the greater good so others feel more able to express themselves.

  • Interesting... 1
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  • 3 months later...
On 8/10/2019 at 10:55 AM, NotWithoutMyOntic said:

But don ' t people choose to be intimidated ?

I don't know about this...can you choose to be afraid of something, or is it a fight-or-flight reaction?  Fear is a reflexive action I think.

When a book and a head collide and a hollow sound is heard, must it always have come from the book? -- Lichtenberg



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