Fjordman: Why Laws Against Hate Speech Are Dangerous

Fjordman’s latest essay has been published at the Gatestone Institute. Below are some excerpts.

In November 2019, Germans celebrated the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany 30 years earlier. That same month, Chancellor Angela Merkel, in a speech to the German federal parliament (Bundestag), advocated more restrictions on free speech for all Germans. She warned that free speech has limits:

“Those limits begin where hatred is spread. They begin where the dignity of other people is violated. This house will and must oppose extreme speech. Otherwise, our society will no longer be the free society that it was.”

Merkel received great applause.

Critics, however, would claim that curtailing freedom in order to protect freedom sounds a bit Orwellian. One of the first acts of any tyrant or repressive regime is usually to abolish freedom of speech. Merkel should know this: she lived under a repressive regime — in the communist dictatorship of East Germany, where she studied at Karl Marx University.

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution protects freedom of speech, specifically speech critical of the government, and prohibits the state from limiting free speech. The First Amendment was placed first in the Bill of Rights because the American Founding Fathers realized that freedom of speech is fundamental to a free society. US President George Washington said:

“For if Men are to be precluded from offering their Sentiments on a matter, which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences… reason is of no use to us; the freedom of Speech may be taken away, and, dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep, to the Slaughter.”

Without freedom of speech, you cannot truly be free. Freedom of speech exists precisely to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority.

What exactly is “hate speech,” and who gets to define it? Those who love justice usually also hate injustice. But what is justice? Social justice? Economic justice? Ecological justice? Religious fundamentalist justice? Climate justice?

Hate may be a negative emotion, but you cannot ban emotions. Envy and jealousy are also widely considered negative feelings. Yet we do not ban them. Envy of people who are wealthier than you is arguably a component of Socialist and Marxist political parties everywhere.

The concept of a “hate crime” is also flawed. If you rob, assault or murder people, that is equally injurious regardless of the motivation of the assailant or of who the victim is. We should not have different penalties depending upon whether the victim is a gay black man, a straight white man, a Muslim woman or a Christian nun, or we will end up with a kind of a legal caste system.

Read the rest at Gatestone.

For a complete archive of Fjordman’s writings, see the multi-index listing in the Fjordman Files.

8 thoughts on “Fjordman: Why Laws Against Hate Speech Are Dangerous

  1. “Merkel should know this: she lived under a repressive regime”.
    Yes, but she was the one doing there the “repression” part, so I assume she has no trouble to apply it.

    • Herr Stasioberst merkle, it must be remembered, was raised by true believers. Die-hard ‘travellers’ who moved to the warsaw pact so as to better bask in the warm glow of communism.
      Herr merkle is a communist, as red as the rest of the EUSSR, which is an openly communist polity. No less an expert than comrade Gorbachev has stated that the successor to the USSR is, in fact, the EUSSR.
      I cannot stress this often enough. War is upon us.
      The apparatchiks of the progressive democrats tell us they are making ‘lists’, that they are planning the gulag, that any who dissent will be sent for ‘re-education’ until they ‘understand the value of being a comrade’.
      If you are not feeling deathly fingers gripping your heart over that statement, you should simply don your grey, stripped PJ’s- the ones with your number stencilled on – and report to the commissar.

      • A couple of counter intelligence agents of my acquaintance describe Merkel’s life before the Wall came down as a classic example of an agent runner.

        Remember, although most of the Stasi’s files were obtained, some weren’t, and among those some that weren’t were their international agent runners.

        Merkel was one of them.

  2. Free Speech! Speech has been unjustly imprisoned! Speech committed no crime!

    Speech is now behind bars and other places of inebriated gatherings. Speech should be allowed in the Public Square where ideas are rationally discussed.

  3. Protection of speech is meant to be about offensive and disagreeable speech.
    Exposure to said speech won’t make you a thoughtcriminal or fry your brain and you should hear all viewpoints in order to be better informed.
    Tyrants are easily spotted because they are always first in line to limit speech.

  4. There has never ever been unfettered free speech anywhere in the world at any time, try abusing a police officer and claim it’s free speech

    • Try telling that to the Victorian, Australian Judges who ruled that it was perfectly okay to abuse a police officer, in the vilest terms imaginable, while the officer was doing his duty.

      And had it backed up on appeal all the way to the top.

      Now, abusing one of those Judges would be a whole different kettle of fish and see you doing 40 days for contempt

  5. It’s a wonderful essay: logical, well-reasoned and factual.

    Unfortunately, the Democrat – Republican split, which is pretty much 50-50 although tipping to the Democrats through planned demographic change, is also a split in world view and reasoning. Leftists and progressives are not susceptible to the reasoning process that non-leftists use to decide political and economic questions. Leftists can mouth slogans and mimic reasoning processes, but their world-view of enforcing the correct thoughts and centralized control of all economics and politics, is pre-logical and in any conflict between logic and their visions of unfettered and unchallenged power, logic takes a far second place.

    It’s a fun exercise to argue that hate speech crimes are not only unnecessary but absolutely harmful. There’s really no counter case to be made. But not only are Democrats impervious to the arguments, but Republicans are jumping on the bandwagon and agreeing that of course hate crimes should be prosecuted. Just like some Republicans are proposing a “New Green Deal Lite”.

    The actual only solution I see if partitioning. The few northern Virginia counties that are now demographically blue should stay Virginia, and the counties still traditional and exemplifying American and Southern culture should come under the sovereignty of West Virginia. The concept of free movement of citizens between states and regions may need to come under some modification.

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