Free Speech And White Supremacy

Skeptics, Atheists, Agnostics, and others who are disinclined to attribute the creation of the universe to a bearded man in the sky are rightfully sensitive to impediments to free speech.

One of my favorite quotes comes from Evelyn Beatrice Hall: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”.

Does that go for racist hate speech?  Should we defend the speech rights of those whose primary concern is the subjugation, or perhaps the extermination, of Jews, blacks, Latinos, and others who do not share the same skin hue or adequate percentage of the Neanderthal genome?

My $0.02, and that’s probably about all it’s worth, is that such racist positions (along with the vile speech that accompanies them) do not merit defense or sympathy.  There is no place in the marketplace of ideas for such cruel, frivolous stupidity.

I may be cutting open a large chunk on the hill which gives rise to the slippery slope, but my reverence for life, and the foundation of my ethical framework, relies on the notion that we should be intolerant to intolerance.  In that sense, I suppose I am a bit of an ideologue.


Author: Tim...Stepping Out

Tim Stepping Out

11 thoughts on “Free Speech And White Supremacy”

  1. It is odd that thousands of your countrymen died fighting this infestation inflicted on the world, yet some are allowed to propagate their hateful ideology openly and are protected in so doing.


    1. I wish I had something elegant to say about it. I struggle because I really do understand the inclination of free speech supporters, and the concept of the marketplace of ideas.

      At the end of the day, trying to remain ideologically and philosophically pure and consistent is a losing battle. I’m ok with violating some sort of consistency by saying that we don’t need to stand for this sort of stuff.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There’s a primordial problem with the marketplace of ideas theory – the same problem as with the “markets self-regulate” theory. It’s not the best message that makes it to the top, it’s just the most effectively promoted message that does so.
        Just look at the world of marketing.
        For free speech models to work well there have to be provisions preventing fraud and abuse. Otherwise things like Brexit and Trump happen.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the Trump presidency has opened a whole new line of inquiry for me, and it stems from his obliviousness to concepts that are so intuitive for most people. There is no objective truth in his world…what is true is what people cheer for.

      In my mind, this raises the question: what is that objective “thing” that makes him as wrong as I consider him to be? Is it lack of appreciation for some standard of human decency? Is it that we have the luxury of empirical data, in terms of the sorts of outcomes we can expect when white supremacists arrive to the party?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey Tim, someone shared to me this blog post from Avast (the anti-virus company) written by Gary Kasparov about policing hate speech. He does have a valid point.

    Similarly, laws against “extremism” may sound like a good idea in places struggling with radicalized populations spreading hateful propaganda and calls to violent action. But in Russia and other places battling authoritarian regimes, any opposition to the government is quickly labeled extremist and banned, from pamphlets to rallies to websites, with arrests usually to follow. Democracies are not immune to abusing such laws, it is true, but at least there is political recourse, debate, and a free media to push back.

    Legalistic language that attempts to codify hate speech is not a true solution. Instead, we should aim for broad language that enshrines our overarching principles, which will be much harder for cynical regimes to subvert, and which will keep the door as wide open as possible for free expression and individual freedom—to keep the free world free. The best we can do to protect against truly hateful speech, while retaining the freedom of expression essential to human development, is to define and refine the moral framework of the society we want, online and offline. The specifics of what exactly can be said, where, when, and so on, will always be debated, of course. But it’s not so bad to have the Devil in the details if the angels are painting the big picture.

    Liked by 1 person

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