Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Should Jerk-Faces be Forced to Shut Up?


Around the world, there are laws restricting the usage of so called 'hate speech' - which for our purposes, is basically when you call a person an asshole for no reason but that they're of some other color, sexual orientation, religious beliefs (or lack thereof), or basically any other thing you can imagine. (Oh, and it's always, always unnecessary.) The penalties extend from nominal fees to downright imprisonment (to even death, if you're in the wrong place at the right time). Oh, and if you're in a gay bar, a black eye may be in order as well.

C'mon. You know we've all wanted it to happen.
Oops. Looks like I'm a hypocrite. Or maybe not.

Many atheists have said something snarky about religion in the past - it's bound to happen; if you know Santa Claus isn't real, you may start to feel slightly superior to those who still think he is. That's understandable, even if it's just an illusion. Perhaps you even said something along the lines of 'you and your beliefs are idiotic'. Fine. Sure. God knows that they have said worse things.

However, I think we can also agree that this is a form of hate speak.

Perhaps it has something to do with growing up in America (or perhaps that I use hate speech in one form or another all the time), where all forms of speech but those directly threatening others is legal, but I believe that as vile as the things that come out Westboro Baptist Church's mouth are, they are perfectly free to say it. That is exactly the definition of free speech. Restricting us from saying anything that doesn't harm another person is restricting us from the very things that make us human.

The second big problem with illegalizing hate speech - assuming it could even be enforced - is, well, where do we draw line? It's a long shot, but I would say that censorship of anything not 'politically correct' could very well follow, and we can't have that. The only way anyone can defend or even formulate their beliefs is when everything is out in the open. Accordingly, how do we stop any sort of bias - what if it's in some largely religious area (i.e. the Southern US, the Middle East) where everyone agrees with the hate speech, then how do we make sure we punish the criminals?

But anyway, enough about me - what do you, dear reader, believe? Should hate speak be illegalized? And if so, where do we draw the line of what is hate speech and what isn't? In addition, what should the penalty be?

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