When is 'hate speech' really about hate?

When you hate, then you intensely or passionately dislike things.

So how do you determine if someone hates or merely dislikes something or someone?  Well, if someone says, "I hate Joe," "I hate whites," "I hate broccoli," and "I hate riding on airplanes," then the hatred seems obvious, and it is more than just a dislike.

If one says Joe is a bully, Jill curses, whites are racist, he's an (Asian slur), she's a (black slur), broccoli is bland, and riding on airplanes is dangerous, there is no clue as to whether one really hates those humans or things.  So if you say or write something, then how do you determine whether something is "hate speech" or merely expressions of dislike if the human does not use the word "hate"?  Would you also want to censor "dislike" speech, too?

From the above examples, we can conclude that censoring "hate speech" is mission: impossible, and there is no computer algorithm smart enough to detect actual human emotional hatred in writing or in speech.  When someone hates someone, he may resort to slander or libel to ruin someone's reputation, but these actions are the result of wanting to injure someone who may not even be hated, but just considered a rival to be eliminated in the game of life.

If you dislike someone or something, then you may resort to insults, put-downs, name-calling, ridicule, humiliation, and severe criticism, but this is not "hate speech" by a long shot.  Many close friends use these tactics among themselves and don't get offended because there is no malice intended, but just an attempt at expressing disagreement with some behavior shown by a close friend.

In the United States, free speech is guaranteed by the First Amendment.  Generally, only violent threats, slander, libel, and defamation are considered fraudulent or criminal acts, especially when done in public to non-public figures.

Perhaps to get a global perspective on hate speech, it would be informative to briefly glance at hate speech laws in other democratic countries.

Hate Speech Laws in Other Countries

With the advent of social media, the issue of offensive and threatening speech has become a global problem.  Just as the U.S. is struggling to determine where free speech goes too far, hate speech laws in other countries are evolving.  Examples of hate speech laws in other countries include the following:

§  Japan – Japan's laws protect its citizens from threats and slander. However, derogatory comments directed at general groups of individuals remain unrestricted in Japan. Despite global calls for hate speech to be criminalized, Japan claims that hate speech has never reached such a point as to warrant legal action.

§  United Kingdom – Hate speech is widely criminalized in the U.K. Communications that are abusive, threatening, or insulting, or which target someone based on his race, religion, sexual orientation, or other attribute, are forbidden. Penalties for hate speech in the U.K. include fines and imprisonment.

§  Sweden – Hate speech, defined as public statements made to threaten or disrespect groups based on their race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or skin color, is prohibited in Sweden. Constitutional restrictions determine which acts are and are not criminal, as do limits imposed by the European Convention on Human Rights.

§  Ireland – While Ireland's constitution guarantees the right to free speech, there is an understanding that freedom of expression will not be abused to "undermine public order or morality or the authority of the State." Further, the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989 defines threatening or abusive speech or behavior as that which is likely to inspire hatred against a group of individuals based on their race, color, religion, or other attribute.

§  India – While freedom of speech and expression are protected under India's constitution, "reasonable restrictions" can be imposed in order to maintain the "sovereignty and integrity of India," as well as the country's safety and its relations with other countries. Freedom of speech and expression may also come under fire in India with regard to offenses such as contempt of court, and defamation.

§  Canada – Advocating for genocide in Canada against any "identifiable group" (any group that can be identified by their race, religion, sexual orientation, or other attribute) is a criminal offense that carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, with no minimum sentence. It is also a criminal offense to provoke hatred against an identifiable group.

Japan seems to be the most civil and moral country of all the democracies because it doesn't seem to have any "hate speech" problems to date.  Maybe this is largely due to the homogeneity of the country, being predominantly Japanese with few other ethnicities.

Comedy is suffering in America because of its political incorrectness, since it literally tries to make fun of almost anything in life and often reveals the truisms in a life peppered with myths, lies, propaganda, and untruths.  Do most comedians indulge in some "hate speech" to get a point across, or are they just interested in getting a laugh out of some event or behavior in life?

Humans in power don't want to be made fun of because it often reveals their corruption and immoral or unethical behavior.  This is why China's leader Xi Jinping does not want to be made fun of, and you can get into serious trouble if make fun of him in China.

So since real "hate speech" is almost impossible to detect with a computer algorithm or even by human listeners or readers, and it is often merely a dislike of a human, organization, event, or thing, dislike speech should never be censored, especially by the ruling elite, the media, and Big Tech.  Unless free speech is slander, libel, or defamation, language censorship has a more insidious reason, which is censorship of opposing political views.

Yes, profanities and praise of criminal and extremely deviant behavior are not appropriate material for minors, so they should be censored.  That is why movies have G, PG, PG-13, R, and NC-17 ratings.

Free speech is quite complex unless you emphasize that it should be civil and moral or ethical free speech that does not seek to violently overthrow the government or destroy the reputation of humans with integrity.

I end this with my own definition of hate, which is relevant, because if you can't define a word you are using, then you don't really know what you are talking about.

Hate: v. to sense very intensely when one wants to destroy a bad and/or wrong subset(s) which may be morally (bad and/or wrong) and/or may be (bad and/or wrong) because it is the primary reason why one can't achieve a desired goal(s) and/ or (bad and/or wrong) because it is a source of intense mental displeasure and/or bodily pain.

Image: Pixabay, Pixabay License.

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