Tag: hate speech is free speech

How Noah Berlatsky and CNN Got Free Speech Wrong

Francis Folz | United States

In a recent CNN opinion piece, author Noah Berlatsky contended that “protecting Nazi speech doesn’t protect free speech” and concluded that a Nazi salute by a group of teenagers endangers the speech and lives of all non-Nazis. Although I credit Mr. Berlatsky for his laudable zeal and well-expressed opinion, his article is laced with multiple fallacies regarding free speech that must be confronted.

Firstly, our Bill of (Human) Rights are not, and should remain, non-negotiable, and that includes the first, second, and fourth amendments. Mr. Berlatsky attributes the belief that safeguarding controversial speech, which inadvertently protects less contentious or innocuous speech, to free speech ‘purists’.

Need I remind anyone it was less than 54 years ago that countless Civil Rights demonstrators were savagely attacked for merely utilizing their freedom of speech, expression, and assembly by law enforcement and firefighters on their solemn march to Montgomery from Selma.

It is for similar reasons that Martin Luther King Jr. wrote from his Birmingham jail cell, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” I wonder if Mr. Berlatsky disagrees.

Mr. Berlatsky proceeds, “Defending the speech of white kids doesn’t necessarily protect… marginalized people.”

To some extent, he’s right. Defending those kids doesn’t necessarily guarantee everybody’s speech of every demographic is going to be protected every time in the future. However, it does set a precedent favoring free speech compared to censorship, which should be a commonly held interest.

Mr. Berlatsky’s most startling, misguided premise about freedom of expression is whenever he discusses “giving free speech to fascists” and how organizations and judges need to balance ambiguous ‘interests’. Mr. Berlatsky blatantly misunderstands that our rights are not given to each other by society, rather they are innate, endowed to us by our Creator.

We don’t ‘give’ each other the human right to privacy, just like we don’t ‘give’ each other the 14th Amendment right to birthright citizenship. All of our rights are intrinsic to our humanity, inseparable from our existence, and deserving of our unwavering defense.

At some point in his article, I questioned if Mr. Berlatsky is aware of the equal protection clause since his attempts to justify censorship tend to fall apart when applied to groups outside of fascists. In regards to the Charlottesville rally in 2017, Berlatsky suggests that since white supremacists used their freedom to ‘terrorize’ people and one individual killed one person and injured nearly 20 others, that is cause to deny every individual within the group their human rights.

Using Mr. Berlatsky’s logic, shouldn’t all members of Antifa have their constitutional rights suspended? After all, when a Hillary Clinton supporter in Portland refused to surrender an American flag to the domestic terrorist group, Antifa members cracked his head open. And that’s only one example of their repeated malice. Shouldn’t their hatred be enough to disband the violent, left-wing faction?

What if you applied Mr. Berlatsky’s logic to religious fanatics instead of ideological extremists? Wouldn’t the tragedy of September 11th be enough to deny every American Muslim the freedoms of speech, expression, and assembly because of the actions of 19 men?

After all, haven’t Islamic extremists terrorized multiple nations and killed thousands of people throughout the globe in the last two decades? Any reasonable person would not punish a group of people for the actions of its individual members but would advocate for equal protection under the law, foils to Mr. Berlatsky’s arguments.

Next, Mr. Berlatsky makes the case that the Wisconsin school district should’ve reprimanded the students for their inappropriate picture that appears to show them performing a Nazi salute, despite being off-campus and unaffiliated with the school district at the time of the photo. In an attempt to buttress his argument, Mr. Berlatsky reports that a school suspended 20 students for a tweet that falsely accused a female teacher of flirting with students, justifying the suppression of expression.

The problem is that the Salem students were guilty of libel and accused a staff member of coquetting with her pupils, a criminal offense. The only crime the Wisconsin teens committed was taking a reprehensible picture, making the situation incomparable.

Mr. Berlatsky’s final argument centers around discipline and race. According to the Government Accountability Office, Black students, in 2014, were 15.5 percent of the U.S. student populace, yet accounted for almost 39% of suspensions. Mr. Berlatsky attributes the disproportion to schools inevitably using their disciplinary authority against ‘marginalized students’ at the expense of others.

However, American schools are extremely localized, meaning parents and administrators have the final say on countless decisions, from electronics to dress codes to disciplinary policies. Regrettably, American schools are nearly as segregated as they were in the 1960s.

So in other words, the black students who are subjected to disproportionate suspensions are largely attending non-white majority schools which choose to chastise their students at a rate that is, apparently, acceptable with school personnel and parents.

Free speech is under siege like never before in American history. I hate bigotry. I detest fascism. However, I appreciate our collective, human right to speech and expression, even if I disapprove of somebody’s opinions and/or actions.

Today, the groups whom people loathe most are nazism and fascism. Nazism, by definition, is national socialism. Socialism is just a few steps away from communism. Communism has left over 100 million people dead in 100 years. What would people think if you could no longer raise your fist in public because of it’s communist insignia?

We are better as a society for the ability to openly express all of our ideas, even ones we don’t concur with, rather than only tribal-mentality approved perspectives, regardless of ideology. If detestable, bigoted opinions are allowed to be expressed in the open, it allows society to weed out the most reprehensible of ideas. It is best we don’t take for granted the ability to communicate freely and openly with each other, as anything less is a form of authoritarianism, oppression, and tyranny.


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There Is No Moral Reason to Prohibit Hate Speech

By Teagan Fair | United States

The First Amendment, naturally, comes first in the Bill of Rights. As such, it is the most important right. It has become an emblem of American society since our founders wrote it into law. Founder and hero George Washington once said the following on free speech:

“If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”

He was absolutely right. He, along with the other founders of this country, and any man or woman that values liberty, knew that there is simply no moral reason to prohibit free speech, even hate speech.

Allow me to ask an interesting hypothetical: If we can limit speech, then where exactly does one draw the line? The Supreme Court has ruled that the First Amendment does not safeguard “advocacy of the use of force” if it is “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action,” and is “likely to incite or produce such action”. So, if you wish to draw the line there, it already exists. This makes sense and is just, as we must take action against serious threats. However, there should be no more limitations on free speech.

Hate Speech is Free Speech

Anything else, including hate speech, is simply one group of people enforcing values onto others. Ultimately, there is nothing that makes one set of values more or less important than others. This strikes a second question: whose values become proper, and whose become hate speech?

Let’s take a blatantly brazen and noxious group as an example: the Nazis. Many people may support a prohibition on the hate speech of Nazis. This is not morally correct. Sure, I hate Nazis as much as the next guy. Almost all can agree that Nazism is an ideology of hatred. However, provided that they are not advocating for direct and violent action, the Consitution still guards their rights.

Though they are morally wrong in intent, it is just as wrong to prohibit them from speaking. This goes for any ideology, on any side of the political spectrum. No matter how politically radical you may be, you have the same rights to free speech as anyone else. As said by Evelyn Beatrice Hall, “I may disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Hate speech, without a doubt, is free speech.

Violence and Hate Speech

Many people claim that hate speech is either violent itself or can provoke violence. Yet, hurt feelings do not mean that something is violent. On a moral level, it may be practical and/or moral to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. However, it is truly horrendous to ask the government to steal someone’s money or lock them away for espousing an opinion you do not like. This is no different than the government arresting an innocent man. Using violence itself, the state is enforcing the values of one person onto another. There is no other way to put it: this is a form of oppression, by the government and by fellow citizens. If the speech incites violence, it is another story. But there is a clear difference between a brash insult and a call to violence.

Moreover, it is worth noting that these rights apply universally. Age, gender, race, and creed, among other things, cannot take away free speech. The phrase, “You don’t get free speech until you’re an adult” is fairly common. Surprisingly, many children actually repeat it. This is completely untrue. As I noted previously, in 1969, the Supreme Court ruled in Tinker v. Des Moines that the First Amendment does apply to public school students, in a 7-2 majority. This applies to charter schools as well, as they act as public organizations.

The right to free speech is arguably one of the most important ones. Speaking is something that we do every day. To narrow it down, speaking about controversial topics is also quite regular. The government already influences or controls your business, your car, your money, your devices, your weaponry, and countless other rights. If the State controls our right to something as basic as free speech, what kind of society do we live in? Certainly, that would not be one that is civil or desirable.


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Supreme Court to Solve Free Speech v. Private Corporation Debate

By Mason Mohon | United States

Brett Kavanaugh’s turbulent entrance into the Supreme Court will first be met with a potentially groundbreaking free speech case. The case is that of Manhattan Community Access Corp. v. Halleck, No. 17-702. As CNBC reports, this case centers around whether a private operator of a public access television network is considered a state actor, which would leave it accountable to the free speech protections in the First Amendment.

Producers DeeDee Halleck and Jesus Melendez say that Manhattan Neighborhood Network suspended them for expressing views that were critical of the network, which they claim violates their right to free speech. Attornies for MNN have said the court now has the opportunity to use this case to solve the larger question of social media censorship. In their final plea, MNN wrote the following.

We stand at a moment when the very issue at the heart of this case—the interplay between private entities, nontraditional media, and the First Amendment—has been playing out in the courts, in other branches of government, and in the media itself.

Although this case is not directly related to social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter, the decision would have implications on the workings of those companies. Most social media is “public access.” Any user can log in at no cost as long as they have an internet connection and a device to access it. The recent banning of conservative and alternative voices has left those that lay outside of the 3 by 5 of political opinions worried. Alex Jones is the most notable of the bunch. His organization, Infowars, was removed from every mainstream social media platform.

As this case reaches the Supreme Court, one must wonder what a ruling in favor of the producers would mean for America. Libertarian ethics stand staunchly against state action when it comes to the inner workings of private companies, and this includes the social media giants. Many libertarians would rather that the social media platforms remain outside of the control of the state than have secured access to them. It is a noble and ethical decision, but it may come at a cost.

The state is here to stay, and so are the social media titans. It may be of strategic advantage to have the state permanently insulate revolutionary ideas into these platforms. It may, in fact, ensure the eventual destruction of these organizations. Ideas are important, and they need to clash. Libertarians could start social movements to get people to use their sovereignty as a consumer to leave these platforms, but that may prove difficult. A layperson is far more susceptible to the dopamine addiction that these companies have planted into their minds than they are to libertarian theory. The endless mindless scrolling through an Instagram feed is a far preferable decision to the average individual than taking up Rothbardianism and carrying out the revolution.

So this case poses a potential question to libertarians – strategy or brutally logical ethics? It is a tough choice, and either way, libertarians have a tough fight ahead of them. But that seems to be the way that it will always be for the men and women fighting for freedom amidst people who are more than happy being a member of the herd. Or an NPC.


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GAB Goes Crypto: Free Speech Social Network Set To Launch ICO

By Spencer Kellogg | UNITED STATES

With the increased scrutiny that has been aimed at conservative and libertarian voices across all social networks, Twitter and Facebook alternative GAB has represented a safe haven for free speech advocates. The telecommunication and social networking site is often decried by major publications as “alt-right” but their mission, from the start, has been to offer an internet zone where people are judged on the merits of their ideas instead of the implicit bias of buzzwords often used to eliminate and denounce opinions that sit beyond the pale of polite, politically correct conversation. In its relative infancy, the site has become ground zero for right-wing voices that are blacklisted, whitelisted, and pitchforked into obscurity by an anti-open speech mob mentality present within all major social network outlets.

GAB’s mission from the start has been to create a peer to peer, ad-free, censorship proof social network. On their website – https://www.startengine.com/gab-select – interested users and investors can reserve participation in The Exodus Protocol which seeks to implement GAB’s open network ideas through the blockchain. “Our vision is to evolve beyond one application by empowering developers from around the world to build on top of an open peer-to-peer social media protocol. We are calling this the Exodus Protocol and will be building on top of existing open sourced peer-to-peer technology to create a new peer-to-peer social media protocol of our own.”

According to an SEC filing obtained on Thursday, GAB has decided to throw their hat into the crypto ring. Sold at a value of $5 per coin, the $10 million dollar SEC regulated ICO is set to launch in August and will represent a little more than 16% of the company’s equity (SEC Application). With a hard cap of only $10 million dollars, GAB is standing strong against the ICO gold rush that has burned many investors. They are valuing their company at a fair rate and are taking the proper steps to ensure that their investors are protected and treated fairly. GAB has long stood in opposition to the wild west mentality of ICO’s that has seen some investors become millionaires overnight while others have lost substantial value after buying into unregulated and massively overbought and overhyped projects in their infancy. Oddly enough, the free speech platform has been one of the only advocates for performing a sanitary ICO that is completely above board and regulated within the current standards of SEC compliance.

In October, GAB posted an outline of their reasons behind performing an above-board ICO (The World’s First Reg A+ ICO): “In light of these dumpster fires of risk and problems, Gab has been exploring the road less traveled with ICO’s: regulation and SEC compliance. Gab seeks to build for the long-term future, not pump and dump on a get-rich-quick scheme or provide some sort of liquidity for Venture Capitalists and their LP’s. Our goal is to empower people and defend free speech and expression on the internet at all costs.”

In April of 2017, GAB was denied inclusion on the Google Play Store, a move that they saw as a violation of federal anti-trust laws and indicative of what we have come to see as the common practice of anti-speech throughout all major social networking platforms.   With the increasing centralization of internet applications and forums, the decision to outlaw GAB on the Google Play Store poses serious ramifications to the free speech startup as many everyday internet users are kept from accessing the site. From Gab’s website:  “While Gab’s fight against BigTech’s control on speech may not immediately topple the giants, it is a critical first step in showing that these companies cannot arbitrarily use their market power to stamp out pro-free speech competitors. As mainstream social networks continue to censor certain views and crack down on what they choose to be ‘objectionable content,’ consumers’ hunger for alternative platforms will only continue to rise.  In addition, the trend of ‘cutting the cord’ will also continue as the popularity of streaming content over the internet increases. ”

 

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On Thursday morning, Coindesk got wind of the news and published an incendiary title of “Alt-Right ICO?” This led to an avalanche of debate on Twitter and other social media outlets with GAB pointing out that their CTO is a Turkish Muslim and that the characterization by the leading cryptocurrency website was harsh, unfair and bred with all of the contempt and mistruths we see daily in the left orientated media. Oddly enough, cryptocurrency is a theoretically right-wing economic venture yet much of the media that covers the space is happy to retain the same left-wing social goggles that consistently seek to destroy the relevance of any outsider free speech. GAB posted screenshots of their discussion with Coindesk as the writer of the essay defended their clickbait title by suggesting GAB does include “alt-right” voices in their forum.

Here we can see the implicit bias of the academic elite who scorn and misrepresent any voices outside their ivory tower mentality. By this very standard, we could easily call Twitter a ‘communist playground’, or Facebook a leading ‘socialist forum’ given the content posted by users of the site. Furthermore, how can we see the actual true user base of a free speech platform when the platform itself is attacked incessantly and literally hidden by Google from the majority of internet users?

In the SEC filing, GAB outlined their core principles: “We empower creators, support free speech and defend the free flow of information online. We stand for bringing folks together of all races, religions, and creeds who share in the common ideals of Western values, individual liberty and the free exchange and flow of information. Our mission is to provide people with the tools they need to create and shape their own experience.”

Doesn’t sound very “alt-right” to me…


Image from The Verge.

“Build the Wall” Sign Declared Hate Speech at Stanford

By Jason Patterson | USA

A picture of students with a poster board that said #buildthewall caused controversy among staff members and students, and one teacher even went as far as to declare it hate speech.

This all started when signs and posters started to appear across the university encouraging students to “report ICE activity” attempting to stop ICE officials from doing their job and deporting Illegal immigrants.

However, when someone tore down one of these ‘go against the law’ signs, university officials immediately declared it to be an “Act of Intolerance”.

Andrew Todhunter, a biology teacher at Stanford sent an email to students in which he described the incident as a “hateful act,” before claiming residents, “Now feel unsafe in their home here at Stanford.”

The incident was officially deemed to constitute an “Act of Intolerance,” which is any act that targets a group based on, “Gender or gender identity/Race or ethnicity/Disability/Religion/Sexual orientation/Nationality/Age/Social or economic status.”

In response, the MEChA de Stanford student organization made two hundred anti ICE posters and hung them all around campus.

MECha claimed that #BuildTheWall” flyer was “blatantly racist and xenophobic”.

Martin Alcaraz Jr, a student at Stanford on Facebook called the build the wall flyer a “hate crime” and said it was evidence that Stanford was encouraging an intolerant environment for students.

One wonders how the same students and staff would have reacted if someone had posted the ‘#BuildTheWall’ sign on their own door. Would they have been targeted for harassment or left alone?

The story is similar in nature to when “It’s okay to be white” signs were posted on campuses at several universities last year, leading to another hysterical moral panic amid claims that the signs represented some kind of threat.


Image from Stanford.