Free Speech vs. Hate Speech

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Brendan O'Neill, editor of the British online magazine spiked,  says the U.S. should be wary of the kind of free speech limits Europe has imposed and why the magazine launched a "Free Speech Now!" campaign.

Then U.S. Representative Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY8) from Brooklyn and co-sponsor of the "Hate Crime Reporting Act of 2014," explains why it's time to update the 20-year-old congressional report on the role of telecommunications in hate crimes and what kind of speech could lead to hate crimes.


Hakeem Jeffries and Brendan O'Neill

Comments [19]

EJaN13 from brooklyn

@Michael Nichols

I just watched the trailer from the link you posted of your film, "Welcome to Leith" and looks incredible. While it would be easy to want to shut people up when it comes to hate speech, it's important to remember that the laws and freedom that serve us are there for everyone; white supremacisist or not. I'm really eager to see what you captured!
It's pretty amazing that you filmed it all with a two person crew; as an artist myself, I know how much time and money gets poured into projects so I have donated what I can- I hope it helps! Good luck, I really hope you reach your goal!!

Jun. 10 2014 09:08 PM
gene from NYC

Brian, whoever saw fit to give this Brit and his ridiculous, self-important little web site any publicity at all? It's shocking you haven't alerted your listeners to this site's character.

Mega-corporations LOVE libertarianism, and have been known to hijack legitimate concerns to achieve an end result that is great for them--no regulation at all. Regulation-free, corporations wouldn't have to watch what they say in their advertising whatsoever, tobcos could advertise cigarettes on children's tv, energy cos. could easily deceive the public about global warming, food cos. could poison us with utter impunity.

(Sorry if I get all Joe Camel, but I'm thinking of Spiked!'s association with the PR outfit Hill & Knowlton. You remember H&K-- they're the ones who, beginning in the 1950s, "designed the tobacco industry's strategy for counteracting scientific evidence which linked cigarette smoking to lung cancer."

With no speech laws, Spiked! could run all the stories it wanted without fear of those pesky libel laws, and the court conviction that destroyed its screwball predecesor, Living Marxism.

And campaigners could say anything they want about climate change, efforts to mitigate verbal sexual harassment, Bosnian ethnic cleansing, the Rwanda genocide, or any oh-so-scientifical proclamation anyone cared to spout. Oh, hell, actually, they can already(!)

This issue is just the acceptable tip of the spear of an "entryist" agenda, imo. WNYC has thoughtlessly given "Spiked" a legitimacy it never thought to examine.

I think, Brian, your show's gatekeeping should be a little more careful, before--with no notice to your listeners whatsoever--you have on and grant legitimacy to someone from what George Monbiot has called, "a bizarre and cultish political network."

PS: Of course we absolutely DO consider the "realm of thought," we DO "police our emotions." We rightfully differentiate between premeditated murder and involuntary manslaughter, for just one example--and we have done so for millennia. WITHOUT heading into "1984 territory." Sheesh.

Jun. 10 2014 08:50 PM
Lonnie from Brooklyn!!!

@ Mr Bad from NYC

I read thru all of your comments. And they are uniform in their direction, I grant you that...the thing is, your philosophy is nutrient rich soil for Haters. They Bloom in it because they know there is no 'Weeding Process'.

Granted, I don't want the Orwellian version of a 'Thought' Gardener in our society...but allowing Hate to spew unchecked is like letting the Bully beat small kids up in school.

YOU are like the one of the Popular Kids who'll never get picked on. The Bully leaves you alone...and most likely, the Bully will be your Friend. The Bully will depend on You standing up and saying: "He's okay, he never did anything bad to me."

And the Bully knows You will never be around when he does ambush the other kid in the hall closet after class. And then the Bully goes to the Lunchroom and disses the victim to the laughter of the rest of the schoolkids, using the body politic for his own purposes. Later on, SOME of the kids will squirm at the fact that they laughed at the humiliation...but the damage was already done...they've been co-opted and once co-opted, it takes even greater courage to come clean and stand up to speak out against the bully.

But the Popular Kids....who are never the target of essence they don't care. Because socially, there's no reason for them to Have to Care. Because it doesn't affect them.

That, to me, is the attitude of the Libertarian who says that ALL Speech should be Free and Unencumbered. They say it from the Safe Enclave of the Majority Group...because Hate will never really touch their lives. So they have no reason to care if it affects the Lives of Others.

Jun. 10 2014 01:45 PM
Michael Nichols from Brooklyn

I'm making a documentary film about a situation in Leith, North Dakota, where there was an attempted white supremacist takeover of the town. The white supremacists ended up getting arrested for patrolling the town with rifles (despite open carry laws in ND - the men were still yelling at people and "terrorizing" them on their patrol), but many believe that the 4 months the main perpetrator, Craig Cobb, stayed in jail reflected more on his beliefs/hate speech than on what actually happened. He'd nailed swastikas up all over town, and flew racialist flags. Our film is a look at that sort of limit of hate speech. We have a trailer here:

Jun. 10 2014 01:42 PM
Mr. Bad from NYC

@ Lonnie from Brooklyn!!!

You wrote:

"It's an expression of Individualism that denies the Social dynamic...until it hits them personally."

Uhm, no. There is plenty of hate speech to go around, unfortunately, and I don't support censoring it even when it is directed at me in fact I support it because in most cases it's an opportunity to expose a moron and implicate their flawed premises.

Jun. 10 2014 12:12 PM
Lonnie from Brooklyn!!!

Listening to the entire segment, I have this takeaway.

The problem with Libertarianism is that All Libertarians are NOT Racists...but ALL Racists ARE Libertarians. Because pure Libertarianism gives the Racist free range to do what he wants...and what the Racist WANTS isn't really about Assault or direct criminal activity; What the Racist wants in the end is the ability to Marginalize, Isolate and then enact policy that drives the object of their hate away. Racists are NOT content with just 'Having Their Say'

And in the Libertarian world, the Racist would be free to do everything short of setting up the Ovens...but with the 'Legal Disconnect' to exclaim later: "Well, I had nothing to do with that....(smirk)"

When that happens, the Libertarian will be 'Uncomfortable'...but will then DEFEND that Racist to the hilt.

To take this's EASIER for a White person to be a Libertarian because in the end, what a Racist says has nothing to do with the White Libertarian: "What he said doesn't affect me, so I don't see a problem..."

It's an expression of Individualism that denies the Social dynamic...until it hits them personally.

Jun. 10 2014 12:01 PM
Mr. Bad from NYC

@ Brian from Manhattan

You're the one arguing from "extreme ignorance". "Intent" describes the VOLUNTARY WILL of a person to commit a crime which shall be proven or not by his actions and other evidence (including speech)and goes to the essential elements of a crime. Hate crime essentially criminalizes MOTIVES i.e. THOUGHTS and personal reasons for acting not whether actions were intentional or not. Durrrr...

Jun. 10 2014 10:54 AM

Alex Jones on his "InfoWars" program has accused Sen. Harry Reid of staging the murder of the two Las Vegas police by the white-supremacists/Neo-Nazi Tea Party extremists as a "false flag"/cover for "usual subject" - nefarious- suppression-of-our-liberty tyranny.

Jun. 10 2014 10:53 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

I think hate speech should be permitted on the internet. All speech should be permitted on the internet.
I was initially shocked by all of the antisemitism I discovered on the internet when I came came back from Israel in 1991 and first went on to the relatively new internet. But when I fought back using the same kind of hate speech that they did ,I was constantly thrown off one forum after another. I came to the conclusion that hate speech should be permitted on the internet but not on broadcast media nor on the streets because that could stimulate mob attacks.

Jun. 10 2014 10:52 AM
lisa from beacon ny

in this country "intent" , "premeditation".all are extraordinarily important in our legal system when prosecuting murders and violence-so that is prosecuting thought-its a backbone of our justice system!

Jun. 10 2014 10:49 AM
pliny from soho

what about the Hutu and Tutsi massacre
of a few years back
it was drummed up by hate speech
that was uncontrolled
do we have to wait till people are slaughtered
before we act.

Jun. 10 2014 10:43 AM
Laura from Brooklyn

Just more headline grabbing nonsense form this charlatan

Jun. 10 2014 10:41 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

LOL. Brooklyn has a hate crime unit which is why there are so many "hate crimes" in Brooklyn. Put a "hate crime" unit in Podunk and "hate crimes" will skyrocket too...

Jun. 10 2014 10:41 AM
Brian from Manhattan

The element of intent is an element of almost ALL crimes. It is a judgment of the thoughts of the individual when they commit the crime. Therefore, we ALREADY adjudicate people for what is in their minds when they commit crimes.

All crimes are thought crimes. It is the difference between manslaughter and murder in NY state for example. I really do not like when people (and brian's guest's) argue against thought crimes because either they are over generalizing or they are arguing from extreme ignorance.

Jun. 10 2014 10:39 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

Can Jeffries give a few examples of speech that would constitute a crime or is this like Potter Stewart's pornography definition i.e. "I know it when I see it"?

Jun. 10 2014 10:38 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

I hate the limey Brits coming over here and taking all the good jobs with their fancy-schmansy English accents that everyone here thinks means they are brilliant and all. I say we go out and round up all the Brits and send them back where they belong! :)

Jun. 10 2014 10:37 AM
Betsy from upstate NY

Brian, don't you know the word "bugaboo?" Same as bugbear.

Jun. 10 2014 10:36 AM
antonio from baySide

Brian, I guess you never played D & D?

Jun. 10 2014 10:33 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

What is the point of this law? "Hate speech" isn't illegal. Hate speech may, when present before, during or after the commission of a SPECIFIC crime lend evidential weight to the state's claim that a crime was motivated by "hate" for a protected group and therefore elevate that crime to the level of a "hate crime" with all that that entails.

So, again, what is the point of this law? It appears to me that the intent is to prove that free expression that is hateful or offensive is a causative factor in the commission of hate crimes. So why not just say that? Why commission a study when there is already a foregone conclusion?

Jun. 10 2014 10:29 AM

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