So, in her view it's not enough to be anti-KKK. Any depiction of the Klan is to be banned and the artist arrested for having the gall to create a piece that makes Cohen uncomfortable. This is not being against hate speech, it is advocating the worst kind of censorship. The scary thing is that a large swath of the left agrees with this.
Actually we need look no further than Cohen's column to see the dangers of outlawing things as hate speech. The incident that inspired the column was a piece of art installed at the University of Iowa. This shows the outline of a KKK member and is covered in press clippings about Klan violence. The artist says that it is an anti-Klan piece. Presumably the object is to remind us how violent the KKK was at its height. Cohen will have none of that. Her column starts with this statement:
One wonders how Cohen would classify the Black Lives Matter protests? At least a couple of related protests have openly called for the death of cops and a recent rise in cops being shot show that these protests are inciting violence. Should they be suppressed? If not then what about the protests in support of the police? Are they hate speech?
In starkest terms, freedom of speech is worthless unless people are allowed to say things you don't agree with. Giving the government the power to ban hate speech is giving the people in charge the ability to stifle debate by defining it as hate speech. We already saw this over the last six years where any disagreement with President Obama was ascribed to racism.
Here is where we get a real feel for where she is going with this. She is all for protecting speech that she wants to hear (pro-LGBT speech in Russia) but against any speech that insults her.
She goes on at length but this is her main point. She goes on to say:
Free speech is under attack from multiple fronts. The most obvious is the terrorist attack against a French newspaper for cartoons mocking Islam (note, they also mock Judaism, Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular without death threats).Shocking as this was, the more pernicious attack comes as a call for reasonable limits on hate speech. Here is an example written by a Tanya Cohen. In fact, Cohen casts our First Amendment freedom as a lack of protection.
The year is 2015 and all other countries have laws against hate speech along with laws against other forms of speech which violate basic human rights. As a matter of fact, international human rights law MANDATES laws against hate speech. Protecting vulnerable minorities from hate speech is one of the most basic and fundamental of human rights obligations, and all human rights organizations worldwide have emphasized this. But the United States refuses to protect even the most basic of human rights, firmly establishing itself as a pariah state that falls far behind the rest of the world in terms of protecting fundamental human rights and democratic freedoms.
Like any sensible person, I am a strong believer in the unalienable right to freedom of speech and I understand that defending freedom of speech is the most important when it's speech that many people do not want to hear (like, for example, pro-LGBT speech in Russia). Freedom of speech is the core of any democratic society, and it's important that freedom of speech be strongly respected and upheld. Censorship in all of its forms is something that must always be fiercely opposed. But we must never confuse hate speech with freedom of speech. Speech that offends, insults, demeans, threatens, disrespects, incites hatred or violence, and/or violates basic human rights and freedoms has absolutely no place in even the freest society.
The recent controversy at the University of Iowa – in which an "artist" (supposedly an "anti-racist" one) put up an "art exhibit" which resembles a KKK member covered in newspaper clippings about racial violence – is a perfect example of why we need to implement real legislation against hate speech in the United States.