Angry Dan's Column
Limiting distasteful speech (read hate speech) only increases racism,
sexism, homophobia and all other forms fo bigotry.
To visualize this statement, let us take a couple examples and analyze them.
You are the decision maker for a well-off publishing group. You tell the
company whose books to publish, how many to print, where to market them,
etc. One day a book crosses your desk flat-out denying that 6 million Jews
died during the Holocaust.
Or say you are in a sociology seminar. You're studying crime. A fellow
student or even the professor states that high crime rates among blacks are
an inherent trait among the race.
Distasteful? Yes. Are these statements typical of hate crime? That's one
possible interpretation. But should these statements be banned or denied
voicing? Should you not publish the Holocaust denier's book just because you
think (I assume) that your beliefs are correct and his wrong? Should your
fellow student be forced to keep her views to herself just because someone
in that class objects to or is offended by those views?
Let's play devil's advocate and say yes, they should. Those holding the
reigning, non-offensive views (the Holocaust did happen, crime is not a
black trait) can sit back smug in their chairs and their beliefs. Justice
has been upheld another day.
However, limiting the expression of those views does nothing to decrease the
amount of unpopular and distasteful views around you. Those abhorred views
continue, in one form or another; the problem has just been swept under the
I go so far as to argue that limiting this expression increases the amount
of distasteful views by refusing to meet those views head-on and argue
against them. Views unopposed are much more likely to thrive and prosper
than views opposed. The author of the Holocaust book, his ideas refuted
without analysis or argument, will take his views to college newspapers and
hope to spread them there. Had he been published, his arguments would have
met sound criticism, discussion and debate in a much broader forum. Same
goes for your classmate. If her views are forbidden, they have the potential
to draw others in because they are forbidden, because they are a dissent to
the popular views. However, when her arguments are given voice, the myriad
difficulties in presenting them becomes evident.
Therefore, we need to air those distasteful views. We need to publish that
Holocaust book and allow our classmate to speak her mind. Then, right after
that, we need to rip their arguments to shreds.
Has Dan made you angry?
If so, feel free to send him and email and let him know just how
wrong he is.