The Problem with Hate Speech

My friend Kathy Shaidle has recently posted a no-holds-barred article on the disaster of “hate speech” legislation, focussing on a proposed Liberal bill to punish “anti-transgender speech” by up to two years in prison. She reminds us that such totalitarian interventions into a presumably democratic society are by no means unique to Canada. As she writes, “bear in mind that New York state, for one, already has similar laws on the books, and they carry fines of up to $250,000. And [an] Oregon 'transmasculine' teacher got $60,000 because her colleagues wouldn’t refer to ‘it’ as ‘they.’”

The notion of “hate speech” has begun to infect an entire culture quivering under the aegis of political correctness, with the result that multitudes of subjects are increasingly off limits. But are there not things in this world that are truly hate-worthy? Should we not hate a racially supremacist ideology like Nazism or a totalitarian philosophy like Communism? Should we not hate individuals like Hitler or Haj Amin al-Husseini or Stalin or Pol Pot or Mao or Che Guevara or any mass murderer who comes to mind? Should we not hate tyrants who subjugate entire populations? Should we rather pity or love or labor to make excuses for those who blow up buildings and massacre thousands of ordinary citizens going about their daily lives? Are such movements and people not genuinely hateful? And is there not, as the Preacher exhorts, “A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak?”

When we observe pervasive cultural trends which are based on demonstrable falsehoods, like the global warming boondoggle or the feminist distortion of sound tradition and common sense or the epidemic of dodgy rape claims in a gynolatric culture or the Middle East Studies flagrant revisions of the historical archive or the politicization of the educational system as occurred in the Germany of the 1930s, is this not “a time to speak”?

If we are dismayed by the concerted attack on biological reality that leads to grotesque bodily mutilations and social policies that favor violations of the natural order while stigmatizing the skeptical and, as Robert Reilly cogently argues, promoting “the substitution of pure will as the means for unshackling us from what we are as given,” should we not be permitted to voice our outrage or express our beliefs, however unseasonable? If we object to the “slaughter of the innocents,” aka pro-choice abortion, which has given us the atrocities of Planned Parenthood’s craniotomies-for-profit, why should a free society not allow for debate and discussion?

Why should morally responsible convictions be tarred as “hate speech” and become socially rebarbative or even prohibited by law? It is the very essence of what we are as human beings that will have been rendered offensive or repugnant—a shrivelling of the self that is the signet of despotic societies everywhere. Indeed, where does “hate” enter into the equation? Or if we insist that it does, why should those on the side of repression not be equally accused of “hate speech” or, for that matter, outright hatred against those whom they would ostracize or imprison?

The term “hate speech” is like a kind of verbal spandex taken off the rack that can stretch to fit any intended wearer. If I should make a joke of the inherently preposterous identity category of transgenderism and refer to it as “transJennerism,” would I be liable to prosecution under Canada’s tendered Bill C-16? It’s not beyond the realm of possibility. “Hate speech” has come to mean anything one wants it to mean, just as “sexual assault” in the repuritanized West may encompass nothing more than a flirtatious look or compliment. The notion of “hate speech” is a convenient, multi-purpose strategy for silencing opposition to the shibboleths of our current political and cultural mandarins, subjecting us to what French philosopher Gilles Deleuze dubbed the “microfascism of the avant-garde.” In the last analysis, it is the broad and malleable concept of “hate speech” itself, which has developed into a license to abuse, that is hateful.