Got Hate? Part Deux: The Return of Tanya Cohen
A few days ago, I published an article explaining how the US needs to get tough on hate speech through the law in accordance with international human rights standards, as the US remains the only country in the world – and certainly the only Western country – that has no legal definition of what constitutes hate speech. The article was based on my experiences as a human rights activist who has worked for many different human rights organizations around the world. Immediately after it was published, I received a torrent of hateful and abusive messages. While I am not the least bit surprised that bigots would be so highly threatened by my proposals, I would like to clear some things up.
First up, yes, I do strongly believe in freedom of speech, and I’ve worked with many human rights organizations to protest against genuine restrictions on freedom of speech and expression, such as government crackdowns on LGBT activists in Russia. Freedom of speech is the core of all democratic societies, and it’s a freedom that must be upheld in the strongest terms possible. But the people responding to my column with anger do not seem to understand what freedom of speech is. They seem to make no distinction between free speech and hate speech, and they seem to believe that freedom of speech includes the freedom to say anything.
Does your head hurt yet? The free-speech movement has gone from the freedom to say anything to the freedom to say absolutely nothing about anything you might actually feel passionately about. But it's all in a day's work for the New Fascists on the Left. Since this is Tanya Cohen, you simply must read every ridiculous word, even though you're going to wish for an emergency root canal well before you finish:
Anyone with any kind of basic, entry-level knowledge of human rights will tell you that the human right to freedom of speech always has to be balanced against other human rights, such as the human rights to dignity, respect, honor, and non-discrimination. A human rights-based approach to freedom of speech (such as the one found here) emphasizes that speech has to be restricted when it comes into conflict with other human rights.
This, basically, is her entire argument, and while she's a terrible, turgid writer, she is worth paying attention to for the crude way in which she gives the entire "progressive" project away: appearing to be arguing in favor of something (in this case, "free speech"), while in fact making the case against it, and then appealing to authority to back up her position.
All human rights groups understand that all governments have an obligation to punish hate speech, and that outlawing hate speech does not interfere with freedom of speech in any way (if anything, it is necessary to outlaw hate speech in order to protect freedom of speech). Amnesty International, for example, has emphasized many, MANY times throughout its long history that hate speech MUST always be outlawed. Here, you can find an explanation from Amnesty International about what freedom of speech REALLY is. Freedom of speech is NOT the right to say whatever you want about whatever you want whenever you want. Freedom of speech – like all freedoms – comes with responsibility. Words have consequences, and your freedom ends when it starts to intefere with the freedoms of others – such as their freedom to live without hatred and oppression.
Remember: real freedom is the freedom to be unfree:
I sent my article to many people in Europe, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and various other places all over the world. The reaction that I got was universally positive. Only American audiences had such a hostile reaction to my column, and I honestly believe that it’s because the concept of human rights is just so utterly alien to most people in the US. Americans do not understand that freedom of speech and hate speech are two completely different things, and that speech has to be restricted in many cases in order to protect human rights.
Many have compared my proposals to Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell. These people do not seem to understand that human rights policies exist to prevent something like what’s described in Orwell’s dystopian world from happening, as they prevent people from advocating totalitarianism and other human rights violations.
So let's codify our new-found unfreedom, shall we? Luckily Tanya provides it for us:
As I mentioned in my original article, international human rights law makes it very clear that hate speech is NOT free speech. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – arguably the most important and respected legally-binding international human rights law in existence – establishes in Article 19:
1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.
2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.
3. The exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph 2 of this article carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary:
(a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others;
(b) For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.
Notice how the fine print negates the enumerated points. The beauty of "liberal" fascism is that it punches you in the face and tells you it's for your own good.
It then establishes in Article 20:
1. Any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law.
2. Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.
There goes the peaceful and tolerate Left again, squirming in delight at the prospect of "prohibiting by law." In conclusion... and you knew this was coming... those nazis at Charlie Hebdo had it coming:
We can see from the recent massacre at hate speech magazine Charlie Hebdo‘s headquarters in France what can happen as a result of hate speech – in this case, the magazine had a long history of inciting racial and religious hatred and violence, particularly against Muslims. The same thing happened – on an even larger scale – when the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published cartoons inciting racist hatred and violence against Muslims. The United Nations, the Council of Europe, and countless human rights groups have repeatedly stressed that countries like France and Denmark need to pass and enforce much stricter legislation against all forms of hate speech and discrimination, but those countries refused to listen and, as a result, they experienced the consequences of allowing hate speech and discrimination to flourish. Words and images do have consequences, and those consequences can often be fatal for many innocent people.
Okay, I lied: that's not in conclusion. She goes on and on, like Mr. Dick in David Copperfield, forever banging on and about King Charles' head. I don't know about you, but I eagerly await her next installment.
I do believe that, one day, the US will indeed pass a Human Rights Act and/or a new anti-discrimination law to outlaw hate speech and other forms of speech which violate basic human rights. Those of us on the right side of history, meanwhile, will be writing columns like mine, while racist bigots continue to write angry comments speaking out against human rights. They can scream all they want, but things are indeed changing for the better and they will not be able to stop it. Human rights WILL come to the US eventually and no amount of angry comments from angry bigots will ever be able to stop that.
And you WILL like it, comrade!