Thursday, 4 February 2016

In Praise of Hate Speech

This feels strange. Let's begin with a few assumptions.

Hate speech comes in at least two varieties.
On the one hand, Roosh V, the English Defence League, various vloggers and white power enthusiasts describe entire groups of people in defamatory terms. Holocaust denial, anti-feminism... all
those things that lead to calls for 'no-platforming' of certain comedians or philosophers. Can this I describe this as 'content based' hate speech, when the opinions become the problem?

On the other, abuse of individuals, threats of violence, aggressive ad hominem attacks at the bottom of on-line articles: I'd call them 'tone based' hate speech. 

Roosh V had to cancel his public world wide meet up because of the backlash.
Assuming this is a good thing - and Roosh didn't plan the whole thing so he'd get lots of attention - he cancelled because he received a massive amount of hate speech directed at him. Glasgow expressed pride at how upset Roosh got about its contribution to the world-wide mockery.

A great deal of the commentary on Roosh from Glasgow followed
the pattern 'tone based' hate speech. People I know as friends - in the Facebook and Real Life modes - threatened to kick his teeth in, gi' him a doing, whatever.

Hate Speech prevented Roosh having a meet up.
Hate speech works.

Banning Hate Speech removes a weapon in the battle against Hate Speech.
In the event of hate speech becoming 'illegal', quite a few of my friends would get a visit from cyber-plod. I'm not even getting into the problem of allowing the state to determine what counts as hate speech.


  1. Good points here! I'm glad he cancelled his meetings, so I suppose force can conquer.


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  5. Thanks Gareth for the FB invite to the blog. I took it also as an invitation to participate. I think, as it would appear you do, that the online campaign worked. As I mentioned on FB, I believe people set about to deter the Roosh events from happening and they succeeded in doing so.

    It will be interesting to see if online "tone-based" hate speech will or even can be made illegal.
    In many "real life" situations such as work environments, tone-based hate speech - angry,loud aggressive behaviour is actually illegal. In Scotland you can be prosecuted for it.

    I think this highlights that threats in real life and threats online are not the same in effect or even in initial purpose. There are tonal differences between the two - real life threats in real time and space with real vocal tone have considerably less ambiguity than even the most direct of online statements.

    Whereas I think that what you call "tone-based" hate speech can be a tool in "virtually bullying the actual bullies", it's important to note that tone-based hate speech in real life is "actually bullying the actual bullies" and is a from of militancy which may create as many problems as it seeks to solve.

  6. Thank you for taking the time to comment: I have to admit that my own politic position offers no solution to the problems of hate speech. There are plenty of places in my argument that are vulnerable to attack, and I am hoping they will be probed as elegantly as by these sets of replies.