Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Social Justice and Free Speech

It is no big revelation that the Social Justice movement thinks very little of free speech. To them, free speech is just an excuse for hate speech.

The social justice movement, known as SJWs (Social Justice Warriors) to dissenters, is an offshoot of feminism. It concentrates on the rights of women, gays, transgender, people of color and Muslims. It also embraces multiculturalism, meaning that all cultures are considered equal. They are convinced that we live in a patriarchy maintained by privilege.

Columns calling for an end to hate speech are nothing new but a recently column by someone named Tanya Cohen takes it to a new level.

Like similar columns, Cohen applauds other countries, insisting that the United States is alone in the world in allowing hate speech. Like other columns, Cohen never quite defines hate speech but she does give enough examples for us to be clear what she means when she uses the term. Also, unlike other columns, Cohen goes beyond suppressing hate speech and actually calls for the imprisonment of anyone engaging in hate speech.

She says this of Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty.

In a civilized country with basic human rights, Phil Robertson would have been taken before a government Human Rights Tribunal or Human Rights Commission and given a fine or prison sentence for the hateful and bigoted comments that he made about LGBT people. In the US, however, he was given no legal punishment, even though his comments easily had the potential to incite acts of violence against LGBT people, who already face widespread violence in the deeply homophobic American society – and his comments probably DID incite acts of violence against LGBT people.

So, Robertson should be fined or imprisoned because he might have incited acts of violence. What Robertson actally said was that he didn't understand the attraction of gay sex and that his religion considers it a sin. He did not incite violence which is the standard definition of hate speech.

She continues:
Countries like the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, France, and Australia – to name just a few examples – take a much more sensible approach to freedom of expression.  They allow legitimate freedom of expression while banning bigots, hatemongers, conspiracy theorists, anti-vaxxers, pro-pedophile groups, terrorist sympathizers, harmful media, Holocaust deniers, pick-up artists, climate change deniers, and other forms of expression which damage society and social cohesion.

I'm sure I could make a case for a number of prominent figures being included in that list starting with the 911 Truth movement.

While America has always been far behind the rest of the world when it comes to basic human rights – we still have yet to ban firearms, we still have yet to provide free higher education, and we still have yet to implement free universal healthcare, for example – the need to outlaw hate speech is one of the most basic and fundamental human rights obligations.  Not only is it codified in multiple international human rights conventions, but even countries like Russia, India, Turkey, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Jordan – countries that most Americans consider to be "third-world" – have laws against hate speech.  Why is the so-called "third-world" protecting basic human rights better than America is?

What Cohen fails to understand is that repressing speech is a sign of a repressive government. In the course of her column she includes every opinion that she disagrees with as hate speech. That is outright censorship. Free speech allows speaking truth to power. The privileged always get their message out. Free speech is about protecting the rights of those out of power.

Her column gets even more horrifying when she quotes Australian law at us:

Australia's human rights courts have ruled many times that it doesn't matter whether the comments are "true" or "balanced" or not; if the comments may offend minorities or incite hatred, then they are against the law in Australia, as they should be.  Australia has also proposed legislation (the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill) which declares people automatically guilty of offending, insulting, humiliating, or intimidating minorities unless they can prove their innocence beyond any reasonable doubt.
So people can be arrested for saying true statements and the American presumption of innocence has been turned on it's head. No wonder she feels confident that Phil Robertson would be convicted. How could he ever prove beyond any reasonable doubt that he didn't inspire any violence?

So what it freedom of speech in Cohen's world?

Freedom of speech exists so that people can criticize their government, provided that they do so in a civil, polite, and respectful manner.  Freedom of speech does NOT give you the right to offend, to insult, to disrespect, to oppose human rights, to argue against the common good, to voice approval of totalitarian ideologies, to perpetuate toxic systems of privilege and oppression, to promote ideas which have no place in a modern democratic society, to be provocative or incendiary, or to express opinions which are unacceptable to the majority of people.
That last part is telling - free speech can be suppressed if it expresses a minority view.

This next quote shows the contradictions of the SJWs:

Most champions of hate speech are straight, white, Christian males who have never had to experience the devastating consequences of hate speech.  These highly privileged members of society will never understand the harm that hate speech causes to vulnerable minorities.  Hate speech is not "freedom" to the Muslims who face widespread attacks and abuse as a result of hate speech from outlets like Fox News and Bill Maher.

Does she really think that straight, white, Christian males have never had anyone say anything hurtful to them? That qualifies as hate speech to me.

The inclusion of Bill Maher in this list is another contradiction. His "hate speech" is to call for reform of Muslim countries where women are routinely abused and LBGT are regularly executed. Because the SJWs bend over backwards to protect Muslims and because multiculturalism maintains that Muslim countries are equally valid, Cohen wants Maher censored and possibly arrested even though she must be as appalled as he is by things such as judicial rape and female genital mutilation. Here is what she has to say of him:

Likewise, attacks on Muslims always increase when powerful figures like Bill Maher make bigoted statements that incite racial hatred and violence against Muslims (in fact, racist hate speech from Bill Maher recently incited a man in Chapel Hill to shoot three innocent Muslims – in a civilized country, Bill Maher would be held legally accountable for the shooting).

This shows how ignorant Cohen actually is. Police have said that the Chapel Hill shooting was over a parking space, not religion. To specifically attribute this shooting to Bill Maher is an incredible leap, but, under her reasoning, Maher would have to prove that he didn't inspire the killings.

As it turns out, even the countries that Cohen wants us to emulate don't suppress speech as much as she wants. She mentions the rise in racism and antisemitism in Europe on free speech in the US. Somehow, it missed inspiring such sentiments here.

Cohen alone is a crank but her views are all to common among the SJWs. They have no respect for individual rights, only group rights. If you are a member of the wrong group (white, straight, Christian men) then you need to be suppressed. This sort of reasoning is all too common among dictatorships and is anathema to a truly open society.

While free speech means that Cohen is free to spout nonsense like this, it also means that I am free to refute it.

No comments: