I call myself, sometimes with tongue firmly placed in cheek, a “combatant of censorship.” My country (the United States for those of you playing along at home) has a long and sordid history of censorship to rival any other: From Puritan New England to the banning of books as varied as Huckleberry Finn and Mein Kampf, the U.S. has long led the so-called “free world” in censorship. And now, this insidious little thing called “hate speech” threatens to plague us again.
For those of you who think I’m kidding – I’m not. Though I am no proponent of using such speech, and I recognize the right of a blogger, newspaper, school, or company to curtail it on its own grounds, I stand firm in my position that legislating against “hate speech” is a very slippery slope. Part of the problem, of course, is the definition itself:
Hate speech is a term for speech intended to degrade person or group of people based on their race, gender, age, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, language ability, ideology, social class, occupation, appearance (height, weight, hair color, etc.), mental capacity, and any other distinction that might be considered by some as a liability.
Rather inclusive, no? There are many points and opinions of my own that I could offer here, but instead, I’ll present three examples from popular culture and society. Do with them what you will, but by all means, discuss!
Just a warning before you click: I have taken some images of specific Facebook groups and online situations, and used a variety of words that are considered highly offensive to some people. I’ve tried to present a wide variety as not to seem as though I’m picking on any one group…click at your own risk.