One thing I, for one, have noticed lately is the term “Hate Speech.” YouTube has demonetized or taken down videos for hate speech along with other sites like Reddit and Twitter.
But, really, what is Hate Speech? The most obvious answer would be- speech that is hateful. But what constitutes as hateful? And isn’t freedom of speech protected under our Bill of Rights?
I could say “Man, I love peanut butter” and a mom with a child allergic to peanut butter could assume that as “hate speech.”
Last week, I overheard a couple of college girls who were mad about somebody wearing a “Straight Pride” shirt on campus. One of them said “We should report this to the principal for hate speech.” Hate Speech? Or just mad that somebody doesn’t agree with them?
Unfortunately, “Hate Speech” is used too much today to undermine someone with a different opinion.
One of my favorite YouTube channels is MikeTheCop, a former police officer who exposes myths about law enforcement. He’s really helped me understand why police officers do what they do, although sometimes I may not agree with him. A week or two ago, I watched a video of his called “Cop Written Up For Mis-Gendering Driver.” The video was about a police officer who mistakenly checked the wrong gender for someone he had pulled over. Mike expresses his opinion in this issue in his video, and a few days later, I find out that the video was taken down for Hate Speech.
“Really?” Was my first response. Nowhere in his video did he attack anybody, the driver, the cop, or anyone else. Yet, his video was taken down and a strike given to him.
Here is his response video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_I2rmojn_g&t=5s
Unfortunately, you can’t see his original, because, obviously, YouTube thought it was too offensive.
The simple fact is, “Hate Speech” is up to the eye of the beholder, the person or organization in charge. The reason why the First Amendment was made was to combat the censorship that so many other countries at the time had, and many still have today. Voltaire, a French philosopher who promoted freedom of speech, was thrown into the Bastille for expressing his opinions. Do we want a world where someone can punish you for not agreeing with them? To censor people because of Hate Speech directly crosses the very concept of Freedom of Speech.
But what about “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness?”
While it is true that speech that could be hateful can potentially infringe upon someone’s pursuit of happiness, should such speech be banned because of precisely that? If that was the case, each of our 350 million people in the United States would have to be polled and any words they found offensive would be put on a national word blacklist. If that was the case, something as simple as “I like America” could put somebody in jail since some illegal immigrant from Mexico thinks its offensive. Even worse, saying “I like Doritos” could be offensive to somebody who swears by Lays chips. We really can’t have both. We either can have safety or freedom. We really can’t have both.
In honesty, the best thing to do against hate speech is not to censor it, but to present a strong argument against it. We don’t teach the world about the evils of Nazism by censoring Nazi symbols or ideas, but by teaching the world about fairer and more just ideals.
I hope we can handle our freedom.