BRUCE LOGAN presents eight key reasons why he hates hate speech legislation, including the fact that it is merely speech one does not want to hear or be heard. Its authority depends on the subjectivity of personal offence. Hate speech is about controlling what people can say or not say on the presumption that hate is their primary motivation. It is not concerned with the truth of what is said.
Eight reasons why I despise “hate speech” legislation.
1 Free speech cannot exist without the right to freedom of conscience and freedom of religious belief and expression. These rights are an inalienable trinity; rights that the government cannot give because they are a necessary consequence of our humanity. Without them there is no freedom.
For decades now regressive antidiscrimination law has been written to treat certain groups of people, identified by sex, race and sexuality, and most recently “gender”, as victims in need of protection from “offensive” speech. The old inalienable trinity has been commandeered by the “inalienable” right not be offended. Hence the demand for hate speech legislation which would prohibit criticism that could be construed to “offend, insult or ridicule” on the basis of presumed offence. While hate speech legislation might not always curb religious freedom or free speech, that is its effect when laws limit what we can say.
2 “Hate speech” does not, and cannot, describe that which it presumes to describe. It is merely speech one does not want to hear or be heard. Its authority depends on the subjectivity of personal offence. Hate speech is about controlling what people can say or not say on the presumption that hate is their primary motivation. It is not concerned with the truth of what is said.
For example, Israel Folau’s declaration that all kinds of sinners, including homosexuals, would go to hell if they don’t repent is “hate speech”, according to Rugby Australia. What if it turns out to be true that unrepentant sinners do go to hell? So the issue is not truth; it is personal offence.
3 Hate speech law gives the government unwarranted moral and political power because it tends to make the state the creator and arbiter of truth and not just its protector. It encourages the establishment and authority of pseudo-judicial bodies such as ‘Human Rights’ commissions who presume to know what hate speech actually is. That further limits the authority and educative role of the institutions of civil society and weakens traditional cultural norms. For example, democratic authority requires that government power is restrained by the moral character and political will of the people. Hate speech law compromises that necessary freedom.
4 Hate speech legislation can only be the product of the “cult of multiculturalism”. Without an overarching moral and spiritual narrative, multiculturalism gives rise to the existence and demands of identity politics. In the process of appropriating credibility, a group can demand affirmation thereby securing protection on the basis of hate speech law. Public debate on substantive moral issues are shut down. Same-sex marriage and anything to do with sexual orientation, for example. Even discussion on the nature of Islam is a hornets’ nest.
5 Hate speech law ignores the distinction between negative and positive rights. The right to free speech is a negative right that demands government protection, not its manipulation. Written hate speech law turns a negative right into a positive right because the government’s duty of protection is exchanged for its power to determine the nature of personal offence.
6 Hate speech legislation will inhibit, if not prevent, honest debate, consequently encouraging hypocrisy and the temptation of virtue signalling. Because hate speech legislation presumes an absolute relativist ethic, public morality will always be aggressively transforming itself to determine what cannot and can be said. Self-censorship will be the consequence of fear of retribution rather than nuanced thoughtfulness.
7 Hate speech legislation must lead to increasing state power and eventually to tyranny because it is declaring that the state is the ultimate judge of truth. Such an outcome must be the consequence of identity politics; each group demanding it be protected by law. The old orthodoxy of each individual being equal under the law is overwhelmed by the presumed rights of each group demanding the law protect its identity and dignity.
8 Because the interpretation of hate speech law is subject to moral fashion, it denies the reality of any transcendent truth having anything to do with human existence. Hate speech legislation rises out of and reinforces the doctrine of human autonomy; it changes what we understand a human being to be. He or she is no longer a sinner who requires redemption. A human being is someone suffering from self-declared victimhood. That victimhood must be protected by hate speech legislation. The great contemporary sin is to deny it.
Bruce Logan is a board member of Family First NZ.