Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Free Speech Protects Hate Speech - What the United States Gets Right

I happened across an article titled "Hate Speech - A Threat to Freedom of Speech." by Solvieg Horne, Norway Minister of Children and Equality.   The article promotes the absurd notion that we need to ban speech deemed "hateful" in order to promote speech, a concept that is, unfortunately, catching on with liberals on some American college campuses.  From the article:
Hate speech in the public sphere takes place online and offline, and affects young girls and boys, women and men. We also see hate speech attacking vulnerable groups like people with disabilities, LGBT-persons and other minority groups.
Social media and the Internet have opened up for many new arenas for exchanging opinions. Freedom of speech is an absolute value in any democracy, both for the public
and for the media. At the same time, opinions and debates challenge us as hate speech are spread widely and frequently on new platforms for publishing.
Hate speech may cause fear and can be the reason why people withdraw from the public debate. The result being that important voices that should be heard in the public debate are silenced. We all benefit if we foster an environment where everybody is able to express their opinions without experiencing hate speech. In this matter we all have a responsibility.
Ms. Horne then goes on to talk about her country's emphasis on addressing hate speech, even out:
The Norwegian government takes hate speech seriously. In November, prime minister Erna Solberg and I launched a political declaration against hate speech on the behalf of the Norwegian government. Anyone can sign the declaration online and take a stand against hate speech.   
This year the Government will launch a strategy against hate speech. In this connection I have organised several meetings involving organizations and individuals to round table discussions on hate speech, and received a lot of useful input for our strategy.
We need arenas for dialogue, tolerance and awareness of the consequences of hate speech. It is important that we discuss this issue with our own children and in schools. We adults have a great responsibility. We need to think about how we express ourselves when children are present. What we say in our family settings have consequences for how our children behave against other people - online and offline.
In order to combat hate speech we also need knowledge. I have initiated a research that will look into attitudes towards Jews and how minorities look at other minorities. In addition, the University of Oslo has established a centre for research on right-winged extremism. One of the centre`s mandate is to look into hate speech.
The police plays a vital role in the fight against hate speech. Some expressions of opinions are forbidden by law. The new Norwegian General Civil Penal Code's section 185 protects against serious hate speech which wilfully or through gross negligence is made publicly. The Norwegian police forces has established a net patrol that are working on this issue. Additionally they have strengthen their efforts against hate crime.
In the United States our First Amendment prohibits the criminalization of "hate speech."  It is a good thing that it does.  Trying to determine what is hate speech is an endless slippery slope giving authorities the right to target people who hold unpopular views.   Sorry Norway...this is one issue that the United States gets right.

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