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Ban 'Hate Speech' at Your Own Peril

Glenn Greenwald accurately explains the grotesque result of laws that seek to curb that amorphous problem of “hate speech” — a concept that turns free speech on its head. And unlike many of his colleagues on the political left, Greenwald explains why he’s defending people whose speech frequently deserves contempt:

People like Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant are some of the most pernicious commentators around. But equally pernicious, at least, are those who advocate laws that would proscribe and punish political expression, and those who exploit those laws to try use the power of the State to impose penalties on those expressing “offensive” or “insulting” or “wrong” political ideas. The mere existence of the “investigation,” interrogation, and proceeding itself is a grotesque affront to every basic liberty.

How many times can we say this? If you care about your own free speech rights, you must defend the rights of people whose speech makes your blood boil.

3 Comments on “Ban 'Hate Speech' at Your Own Peril”

  1. #1 Jon Garfunkel
    on Jan 14th, 2008 at 8:43 pm

    Sharp column, as always, from GG. 471 comments, to date, and I presume most are in the affirmative.

    I’ll make this prediction now: Glenn Greenwald will join the Op-Ed ranks of the NYT in the next five years, and, if I may call the pocket, he’s going to take over Roger Cohen’s spot. I was previously skeptical, given his past dissing of Tom Friedman, but if the NYT can hire Kristol, who advocated prosection of the Times, then prior statements are no obstacle…

    Here’s the permalink, by the way.

  2. #2 Dan Gillmor
    on Jan 15th, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    He’d be a great addition. Thanks for the link correction – fixed.

  3. #3 Stephen Downes
    on Jan 19th, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    There is a difference, well established, between the expression of ideas and opinions, and ‘speech acts’. saying ‘I do’ is an action, not an expression. Yelling ‘fire!’ is an action, not an expression.

    Just so, saying ‘kill the Jews’ is an action, not an expression, and calling it political speech does not change that fact, just as surely as it does not change the intended effect of the utterance.