JASON RANTZ

The frightening realities of hate speech laws

Apr 29, 2017, 6:31 AM | Updated: May 1, 2017, 3:57 pm

How does the world deal with hate speech?

“Anyone who in a ridiculing, slanderous, insulting, threatening or any other manner publicly assaults a person or a group of people on the basis of their nationality, skin color, race, religion or sexual orientation, shall be fined or jailed for up to 2 years.”

That is the law in Iceland.

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“He who publicly, orally, in writing or graphically, intentionally expresses himself insultingly regarding a group of people because of their race, their religion or their life philosophy, their heterosexual or homosexual orientation or their physical, psychological or mental disability, shall be punished by imprisonment of no more than a year or a monetary penalty of the third category.”

That is the law in the Netherlands.

Do you want these sorts of punishments in the United States? I would hope not. Though the First Amendment is often misunderstood, most people get the gist of it. With a few exceptions, we can say pretty much whatever we want. We can ridicule, insult and mock without reproach — at least for now.

Hate speech in America

I don’t want to overreact to an emerging line of thinking that only nice speech should be protected, but it is concerning. Nice speech, of course, is speech that you agree with. Any speech outside of this realm is more and more commonly being called hate speech.

Can we define hate speech? No, it’s subjective. Even if we could, it should still be protected. We should rather err on the side of overprotecting speech rather than eliminating it. That seems like a fairly obvious statement but a lot of potentially prominent people don’t agree. For example, Seattle mayoral candidate Cary Moon.

Thankfully, Dave Ross challenged her on this piece of misguided idealism. Read the take here.

Consider the two European laws laid out above and understand that there are many people in this country that would absolutely support implementing them here.

So would we jail the author of a controversial joke? The joke infers that Hispanic men are rapists, kind of like what Trump said, right?

“I used to date Hispanic guys, but now I prefer consensual.”

It certainly ridicules a skin color. It certainly insults a certain race. So, jail time, right?

The joke was made by Ann Coulter, who just was banned from speaking on the campus of UC Berkeley. They decided this kind of comment, even in jest, was intolerable.

OK. I have to stop here and admit that I just misled you to make a point. The joke was actually made by Amy Schumer, who is welcome to perform anywhere she pleases.

You see the problem here?

This is why the term hate speech is meaningless and undefinable. May it remain that way.

I will not be voting for Cary Moon.

Jason Rantz on AM 770 KTTH
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The frightening realities of hate speech laws