Friday, October 2, 2009

Hate Speech

The U.N. is considering a proclamation frowning on hate speech. It's always fun watching people righteously denouncing hate speech, then trying to define it in such a way as to exclude anything they or their friends say. Paragraph 4, for example says:
1. Paragraph 4 of the draft resolution “expresses … concern that incidents of racial and religious intolerance, discrimination and related violence, as well as of negative stereotyping of religions and racial groups continue to rise around the world, and condemns, in this context, any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence, and urges States to take effective measures, consistent with their international human rights obligations, to address and combat such incidents.”
Which almost seems to call for an end to the practice of Islam and publication of the Koran. These are clever people though, masters of the "harshly worded letter of condemnation", especially when Israel is the target. I'm sure they'll think of something.

In the comments, there is this:

A. Zarkov says:

About 1910 a man went out into a major street in Berlin screaming, “The Kaiser is an idiot– the Kaiser is an idiot.” The police immediately grab him and haul him off for hate speech against he monarch. But he protests, “I was talking about the Austrian Kaiser.” The policeman laughs and tells the man, “Nonsense, you can’t fool us– we know who the idiot is!”

I love it. Here is the essence of why this sort of effort will go nowhere. The joke can be rewritten to fit practically anyone.

The City of Boulder periodically considers a municipal hate-speech ordinance, and the way to insure its quick repeal, should it ever pass, is to demand the strictest enforcement at the earliest moment. Pick a group that advocates for something on the basis that its approach is superior to some other approach, and file a complaint against it, charging hate speech.

Note that this approach works for almost anything. Call it the "Tom Leher approach", in the spirit of his song 'Smut'; "When correctly viewed, everything is lewd!"

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