Should the U.S. restrict intolerant and dangerous speech? | The Tylt
Should the U.S. restrict intolerant and dangerous speech?
Valerie Aurora writes the free speech problem we're facing now has already been solved. In the wake of World War II, philosophers struggled over how a tolerant society could deal with intolerant and dangerous ideas like nazism and fascism. The conclusion they reached is that a tolerant society must not tolerate intolerant ideas.
That's not to say we should restrict the speech of those we disagree with. We should restrict speech only when intolerant ideas threaten the existence of a tolerant society—like the world we live in today. That's why countries like Germany have placed restrictions on its citizens from expressing Neo-Nazi and white supremacist views. The government made hate speech llegal because it is fundamentally toxic and has no place in a tolerant society.
Hate speech leaves the country less equal and free. It seeks to intimidate others and take away their rights. That's not something to be tolerated.
The argument of an absolute defense for free speech boils down to the fact that you can't trust the government to do the right thing. Once the government has the power to restrict speech, it has an immensely powerful weapon it can use to infringe on the rights of its people. The government cannot be trusted to make decisions about who can and cannot speak.
Laws are enforced by people. It doesn't matter what laws are on the books if the people in charge don't care to enforce them. Greg Lukianoff and Nico Perrino point out in Politico that European laws restricting hate speech have not driven down incidents of hate speech. Some of those laws helped to propel fascist movements who used the laws to create martyrs and publicity for their cause.
What we should do is let the bigots speak. Punish those who use violence. Let the bigots in the room reveal themselves so we know who they are. Censoring them won't stop them.