Hate speech has the particular ability to shut down speech by minority groups more than that by majority groups. The powerful can shrug it off; others can’t. It’s not that it destroys people, but it imposes a cost on their speech or their visibility. And costs are what keep people out of a market. In this way, hate speech harms the very marketplace of ideas that is fundamental to our democracy and our society.

View at Medium.com

64 thoughts on “Hate speech has the particular ability to shut down speech by minority groups more than that by majority groups. The…

  1. Unfortunately I cannot possibly think of criminalizing hate speech as a good idea in the hands of our current police forces and criminal justice system, and definitely not in the hands of the Trump administration. I don’t want to see Black Lives Matter activists go to jail for hate speech against white people. I don’t want to watch atheists go to jail for hate speech against Christians. That is where I see that going, and I don’t think I’m wrong. Did you ever hear about that woman who spraypainted ‘fuck the police’ and got charged with a hate crime against a minority group – the police? Someone just got arrested for laughing at Jeff Sessions. I understand where the author and people advocating for this are coming from, but I worry they underestimate how much the First Amendment is protecting all of us even if it doesn’t seem that way when Nazi KKK shitheads are spouting their awful hateful shit.

  2. < ![CDATA[Unfortunately I cannot possibly think of criminalizing hate speech as a good idea in the hands of our current police forces and criminal justice system, and definitely not in the hands of the Trump administration. I don't want to see Black Lives Matter activists go to jail for hate speech against white people. I don't want to watch atheists go to jail for hate speech against Christians. That is where I see that going, and I don't think I'm wrong. Did you ever hear about that woman who spraypainted 'fuck the police' and got charged with a hate crime against a minority group - the police? Someone just got arrested for laughing at Jeff Sessions. I understand where the author and people advocating for this are coming from, but I worry they underestimate how much the First Amendment is protecting all of us even if it doesn’t seem that way when Nazi KKK shitheads are spouting their awful hateful shit.]]>

  3. Bret Gillan I have a feeling Zunger is not talking about the cruel joke of a government we have right now. He makes a point about the bare minimum punishment a given system can allow, and so the higher that minimum, the more latitude is necessary.

    So, e.g., for a social network, he’s advocating shutting down hate speech without mercy. But in terms of the state, it’s not as easy.

  4. < ![CDATA[Bret Gillan I have a feeling Zunger is not talking about the cruel joke of a government we have right now. He makes a point about the bare minimum punishment a given system can allow, and so the higher that minimum, the more latitude is necessary. So, e.g., for a social network, he's advocating shutting down hate speech without mercy. But in terms of the state, it's not as easy.]]>

  5. “I have a feeling Zunger is not talking about to cruel joke of a government we have right now”

    Which is stupid, because if he’s not thinking about the kind of people who can become powerful even when there is an obvious example that ought to be troubling to him in power right now then he’s probably not thinking very deeply about how systems that involve humans work.

  6. < ![CDATA[“I have a feeling Zunger is not talking about to cruel joke of a government we have right now”
    Which is stupid, because if he’s not thinking about the kind of people who can become powerful even when there is an obvious example that ought to be troubling to him in power right now then he’s probably not thinking very deeply about how systems that involve humans work.]]>

  7. I read the article. It’s from beginning to end pushing the idea that we should weaken what’s considered protected speech under the first amendment, which is explicitly a state power. And I don’t understand the point of any such article without considering the context that we’re in.

    I am just of the mind that generally, in the United States at least, advocating for more laws to prosecute people cannot be a progressive position. Who is disproportionately arrested by the police? Who is disproportionately imprisoned? Would weakening the First Amendment and the ensuing laws making certain speech illegal change that, or would it just give the police more things to arrest the same people they have been arresting more easily? Would it actually fix the problems we want fixed?

    Not with cops that shoot unarmed black men and prosecuting attorneys who indict people for laughing (or “making a commotion,” whatever we know exactly what she got arrested for) and an attorney general who is telling the the nation’s entire criminal justice system to seek out the harshest possible sentences for all infractions no matter how minor. And shit imagine putting the power to make hate speech illegal in the hands of fundamentalist and white nationalist adjacent lawmakers.

    If your goal is to help people who are more greatly affected by hate speech, we should be advocating for programs and laws that address those imbalances.

  8. < ![CDATA[I read the article. It's from beginning to end pushing the idea that we should weaken what's considered protected speech under the first amendment, which is explicitly a state power. And I don't understand the point of any such article without considering the context that we're in. I am just of the mind that generally, in the United States at least, advocating for more laws to prosecute people cannot be a progressive position. Who is disproportionately arrested by the police? Who is disproportionately imprisoned? Would weakening the First Amendment and the ensuing laws making certain speech illegal change that, or would it just give the police more things to arrest the same people they have been arresting more easily? Would it actually fix the problems we want fixed? Not with cops that shoot unarmed black men and prosecuting attorneys who indict people for laughing (or "making a commotion," whatever we know exactly what she got arrested for) and an attorney general who is telling the the nation's entire criminal justice system to seek out the harshest possible sentences for all infractions no matter how minor. And shit imagine putting the power to make hate speech illegal in the hands of fundamentalist and white nationalist adjacent lawmakers. If your goal is to help people who are more greatly affected by hate speech, we should be advocating for programs and laws that address those imbalances.]]>

  9. All I can do is highlight this passage:

    For the state, whose gentlest punishment already involves the courts, that means there’s good reason to set a high bar and allow a lot. For a platform whose strongest sanction is to kick someone out, stronger rules are both possible and desirable. (Not least because, unlike the state’s rules, those rules apply at most to one forum, not to all fora.)

    But even the state has reason not to be absolutely permissive, for the same reason that the First Amendment doesn’t protect extortion or fraud — even though those, too, are “speech acts.” If the purpose of the law is to maximize the marketplace of ideas — that basis so crucial to democracy and freedom — then the law must wrestle with this hard problem, and try to place a meaningful dividing line.

    So, I don’t see Zunger as advocating for a specific set of laws at the state level, but mainly emphasizing his own realizing that: Thus seemingly “apolitical” or “symmetric” treatments of speech have profoundly political consequences, and we must never pretend that they don’t.

    I mean, I think he’s specifically saying that the examples in Bret Gillan’s first post are the real-world asymmetry we see when they are treated the same as actual hate speech.

  10. < ![CDATA[All I can do is highlight this passage: For the state, whose gentlest punishment already involves the courts, that means there’s good reason to set a high bar and allow a lot. For a platform whose strongest sanction is to kick someone out, stronger rules are both possible and desirable. (Not least because, unlike the state’s rules, those rules apply at most to one forum, not to all fora.)
    But even the state has reason not to be absolutely permissive, for the same reason that the First Amendment doesn’t protect extortion or fraud — even though those, too, are “speech acts.” If the purpose of the law is to maximize the marketplace of ideas — that basis so crucial to democracy and freedom — then the law must wrestle with this hard problem, and try to place a meaningful dividing line.
    So, I don’t see Zunger as advocating for a specific set of laws at the state level, but mainly emphasizing his own realizing that: Thus seemingly “apolitical” or “symmetric” treatments of speech have profoundly political consequences, and we must never pretend that they don’t.
    I mean, I think he’s specifically saying that the examples in Bret Gillan’s first post are the real-world asymmetry we see when they are treated the same as actual hate speech.]]>

  11. Mark Delsing I read the article. I had several issues with it. However, I was replying specifically to your comment because it kind of distills what seems to me to be an important blind spot in people who advocate greater speech restrictions. You think that people who share your sensibilities will be the ones making the judgement calls, when I think you’d be wiser to think about rules that can work even if people you don’t trust are the ones who are exercising the judgment.

  12. < ![CDATA[Mark Delsing I read the article. I had several issues with it. However, I was replying specifically to your comment because it kind of distills what seems to me to be an important blind spot in people who advocate greater speech restrictions. You think that people who share your sensibilities will be the ones making the judgement calls, when I think you'd be wiser to think about rules that can work even if people you don't trust are the ones who are exercising the judgment.]]>

  13. Dan Maruschak I want to avoid the common trap I see of me having to defend my flawed understanding of an article that I posted. It’s like critiquing a bad mimeograph os a blurry photo of the Mona Lisa.

  14. < ![CDATA[Dan Maruschak I want to avoid the common trap I see of me having to defend my flawed understanding of an article that I posted. It’s like critiquing a bad mimeograph os a blurry photo of the Mona Lisa.]]>

  15. That passage barely made sense to me because the law has already placed a meaningful dividing line, and said that hate speech is protected speech, and the law based on previous Supreme Court cases regarding what speech is considered incitement to violence or threatening speech is very clear. This is all decided law.

  16. < ![CDATA[That passage barely made sense to me because the law has already placed a meaningful dividing line, and said that hate speech is protected speech, and the law based on previous Supreme Court cases regarding what speech is considered incitement to violence or threatening speech is very clear. This is all decided law.]]>

  17. < ![CDATA[I honestly think that Zunger is mostly focusing on online communities, though he also seems to touch on the state — the extreme challenges at the level — as well.]]>

  18. He’s really not at all Mark. He focuses on the First Amendment throughout the entire article, which is a limitation on state power to create laws making speech illegal. One of the tags is “First Amendment.”

  19. < ![CDATA[He's really not at all Mark. He focuses on the First Amendment throughout the entire article, which is a limitation on state power to create laws making speech illegal. One of the tags is "First Amendment."]]>

  20. If we want to discuss more aspects of the article, Bret touches on what I found to be the biggest flaw — Zunger continuously conflates “hate speech” and “harassment” and avoids even considering the important distinction that First Amendment law (which doesn’t necessarily apply to private spaces like a social network, but might provide good guidance for a sound philosophy) makes between “content based” and “time, place, or manner” restrictions.

  21. < ![CDATA[If we want to discuss more aspects of the article, Bret touches on what I found to be the biggest flaw -- Zunger continuously conflates "hate speech" and "harassment" and avoids even considering the important distinction that First Amendment law (which doesn't necessarily apply to private spaces like a social network, but might provide good guidance for a sound philosophy) makes between "content based" and "time, place, or manner" restrictions.]]>

  22. I think making people aware of how hate speech and threatening speech disproportionately impacts people in marginalized communities, and is much greater and more damaging and harmful than “hurt feelings” (which is what dipshits who aren’t impacted in the way the article describes claim) is important.

    I just don’t think it follows that the next step is to weaken the First Amendment/criminalize hate speech. I think as a culture we’re punishment obsessed, even progressives. We get really excited about punching Nazis, etc. This is a case where the proposed solution would be punching ourselves in the face.

  23. < ![CDATA[I think making people aware of how hate speech and threatening speech disproportionately impacts people in marginalized communities, and is much greater and more damaging and harmful than "hurt feelings" (which is what dipshits who aren't impacted in the way the article describes claim) is important. I just don't think it follows that the next step is to weaken the First Amendment/criminalize hate speech. I think as a culture we're punishment obsessed, even progressives. We get really excited about punching Nazis, etc. This is a case where the proposed solution would be punching ourselves in the face.]]>

  24. Bret Gillan I guess Zunger’s last line, about the “profoundly political consequences” is where I think he’s not saying that he wants the First Amendment to be weakened. I think he’s just pointing out the problems of treating “hate speech against white people” and hate speech against African-Americans the same.

  25. < ![CDATA[Bret Gillan I guess Zunger's last line, about the "profoundly political consequences" is where I think he's not saying that he wants the First Amendment to be weakened. I think he’s just pointing out the problems of treating “hate speech against white people” and hate speech against African-Americans the same.]]>

  26. “This is all decided law.”
    Implies that laws never change, which is clearly not he case. it is certainly something that a lot of law has been put out there for, but the very fact that there are challenges and abuses that we regularly see would, to me, indicate that it’s /not/ settled.

    Also, I maybe be missing it but honestly Zunger’s article really just seems to be saying “Speech laws political and won’t be applied evenly, you need to think about them.” I don’t see an avocation for anything other than giving them due weight and debate. But I could be missing something.

  27. < ![CDATA["This is all decided law." Implies that laws never change, which is clearly not he case. it is certainly something that a lot of law has been put out there for, but the very fact that there are challenges and abuses that we regularly see would, to me, indicate that it's /not/ settled. Also, I maybe be missing it but honestly Zunger's article really just seems to be saying "Speech laws political and won't be applied evenly, you need to think about them." I don't see an avocation for anything other than giving them due weight and debate. But I could be missing something.]]>

  28. Matt Johnson In a lot of cases sure, but free speech has had a bazillion Supreme Court cases and has a massive amount of established precedent.There have been numerous Supreme Court cases surrounding threatening speech. There are specific legal criteria laid out in those decisions that the speech has to meet in order for it to be prosecuted as such. Any further Supreme Court cases are going to be clarifying decisions, but anything fundamentally changing whether hate speech is protected or not (it is) and what constitutes threatening speech (I’m not going to to try to lay out the criteria because it’s complicated but there’s a lot of resources on it).

    In order to change it you’d have to make an amendment clarifying hate speech is not free speech, and then that opens things up for states to try to pass all sorts of laws making whatever their definition of “hate speech” is illegal, and then we have a country where prominent atheists can’t travel the country freely because a book they wrote is hate speech against Christians and all sorts of stupid bullshit.

    Maybe someone out there can thread the needle and craft the perfect Constitutional amendment to keep that from happening. I am extremely skeptical.

  29. < ![CDATA[Matt Johnson In a lot of cases sure, but free speech has had a bazillion Supreme Court cases and has a massive amount of established precedent.There have been numerous Supreme Court cases surrounding threatening speech. There are specific legal criteria laid out in those decisions that the speech has to meet in order for it to be prosecuted as such. Any further Supreme Court cases are going to be clarifying decisions, but anything fundamentally changing whether hate speech is protected or not (it is) and what constitutes threatening speech (I'm not going to to try to lay out the criteria because it's complicated but there's a lot of resources on it). In order to change it you'd have to make an amendment clarifying hate speech is not free speech, and then that opens things up for states to try to pass all sorts of laws making whatever their definition of "hate speech" is illegal, and then we have a country where prominent atheists can't travel the country freely because a book they wrote is hate speech against Christians and all sorts of stupid bullshit. Maybe someone out there can thread the needle and craft the perfect Constitutional amendment to keep that from happening. I am extremely skeptical.]]>

  30. Robert Bohl I’m not clear on what you’re asking. I never claimed hate speech laws disproportionately impact marginalized communities. I said I’m afraid they would, just as essentially all criminal law in the US does. There are no hate speech laws in the US since they’re considered unconstitutional.

  31. < ![CDATA[Robert Bohl I'm not clear on what you're asking. I never claimed hate speech laws disproportionately impact marginalized communities. I said I'm afraid they would, just as essentially all criminal law in the US does. There are no hate speech laws in the US since they're considered unconstitutional.]]>

  32. If I’m trolling I won’t encourage you to feed me more by responding to your comments. I’ve been polite and have been talking about my opinions and backing them up with what I know. That’s called a conversation. If you call it trolling then do me a favor and don’t engage with me anymore. That’s really insulting.

  33. < ![CDATA[If I'm trolling I won't encourage you to feed me more by responding to your comments. I've been polite and have been talking about my opinions and backing them up with what I know. That's called a conversation. If you call it trolling then do me a favor and don't engage with me anymore. That's really insulting.]]>