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Hate speech should be banned

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/10/2019 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 929 times Debate No: 120260
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
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Hate speech shouldn't be banned as it would infringe on free speech and could be easily used to silence people that oppose those that define what hate speech is.


Hate speech is, No doubt, A very sensitive issue, Especially in a culturally, Linguistically and socially so diverse country like mine (India). However, I believe that hate speech must be curbed by legal methods, And am delighted to use this platform to try to convey my reasons.

Before I add arguments against hate speech, Let us dissect the argument provided for it in round one. The crux of the argument provided lies on the lack of a universally acceptable definition of "hate speech", And hence can be used to silence people who are against using one specific definition of "hate speech". While this may make for a compelling argument, One has to understand that all laws are created by specifying certain definitions, That are, For better or worse, The best ways we have found to define them. One can easily extend your argument to ridiculous extents, Like "murder should be legalised as it infringes my right to freedom, And I feel safe only when I am legally awarded the right to take the life of those that threaten me". While this argument alone does not conclusively prove that hate speech should be legally penalised, Please note that simply arguing that a law does not apply to someone just because that someone is against the definition of certain terms, Is a slippery slope to lawlessness.

The other point taken is that hate speech infringes on free speech. One must understand that every right is a give and take. An argument like this might lead to similar arguments, Like "The right to private property should be stopped as it interferes with my right to movement". Every right, Free speech included, Has some duties involved, Which ensure that they are used reasonably. In this case, The right to free speech is granted as long as it does not violate the right of dignity and self-respect of other people or communities. If hate speech infringes on free speech, What about slander and libel? Where does one draw the line between "free speech" and harassment, Bullying or incitement to violence? When does granting the right to free speech turn into a liability to the society?

Finally, One must understand that speech is a powerful tool, Which can be used to rouse people, Demoralise them, And anything in between. In fact, There is now a landmark ruling (Michelle Carter vs the State of Massachusetts), Which shows that just sending text messages may be taken as manslaughter. In light of this, Would you, As a responsible citizen, Allow highly violent or derogatory speech to incite others to potential bloodshed?

At the end of the day, One very disturbing version of hate speech I can imagine at this point of time, Is a (fictional) speech by ISIS/ISIL or (insert the criminal group that plagues your country the most) requesting all of their "brothers and sisters" worldwide to take to arms and aid them in bringing their version of "correctness" or "truth" to reality. Would you allow such a plea to be aired on the TV in your country? If not, Then you are censoring hate speech at some level. Then the debate only becomes about what level of "hate speech" is "allowed", And not a blanket statement about stopping the ban of any hate speech.
Debate Round No. 1


First off, No, Not all laws are created by specifying certain definitions. A great example: The UK, It is becoming more and more authoritarian every day and there is a clear bias in the execution of the law due to the laws being quite vague. There are countless examples where people were arrested for jokes, Or comments on the current situation, Most of those people being white, While people of colour quite literally saying "kill all whites. " are just ignored. Also how is that a ridiculous extent? A person should have the right to defend themselves, Even if it means killing the other person, But that's besides the point.

There is a difference Between incitement to violence and free speech: "I wish somebody hit you with a car" vs. "Hit him with a car. "

Alright. But please tell me what news station would give a platform to this kind of group? They are free to simply say "no. " And the only type of groups that would say "their truth. " would be either an extremist religious group or something like the KKK and I doubt any News station would allow those people on their program.


The first point is very true. Not all laws are created by specifying all definitions. However, There are certain reasons some laws are created very vaguely. Certain laws, Like emergency laws, Are often crafted to give an unreasonable amount of power to certain individuals without much checks, Because even the creators of the law cannot imagine all possible forms of emergency, And hence cannot decide how much of power to give. An example of how such laws can be misused is President Trump threatening to declare emergency to procure funds for creating his wall. That said, Most such laws are created expressly because one cannot divine the future. Perhaps similarly, A blanket rule on hate speech gives the executive and the judiciary the flexibility to decide what exactly "hate speech" is, In an evolving society. As time passes, Certain subjects may not be as sensitive anymore, Or certain topics may become too contentious to speak about. Hence, Law creators may find it necessary to leave the exact definition of "hate speech" to the judiciary, To reflect changes in the society.

Just to rebut the third point about news groups, If laws are not created to stop the spread of extremist sentiments, Then an extremist group can technically buy a news platform and then be free to spread any message they want. As an (extreme) example, If a well regarded company like the BBC is a publicly traded company (I'm not sure), And extremist factions like ISIS/ISIL buy more than 50% of it through intermediate companies, Then, Do you think it should be legal for extremist sentiments to be broadcast there?

Before continuing the debate, I believe it is prudent to define "hate speech", At least as applicable to our debate. Wikipedia (not the best source of information, I know) defines hate speech to be "speech that attacks a person or a group on the basis of attributes such as race, Religion, Ethnic origin, National origin, Sex, Disability, Sexual orientation, Or gender identity" and further goes on to state that "The laws of some countries describe hate speech as speech, Gestures, Conduct, Writing, Or displays that incite violence or prejudicial actions against a group or individuals on the basis of their membership in the group, Or disparages or intimidates a group, Or individuals on the basis of their membership in the group". The Indian Constitution permits punishment for disrespecting people or communities "on grounds of religion, Race, Place of birth, Residence, Language, Caste or community or any other ground whatsoever". While pretty diverse, The definitions seem to boil down to a legislative guarantee that people would not be (verbally) attacked for being "different" from others. Hence, Stating that hate speech shouldn't be banned seems equivalent to stating that minorities should not be protected from verbal abuse about them being different form others.

That said, Many constitutions do not directly group all of "hate speech" into one section. There may be separate laws for ensuring that people are not disrespected with respect to religion or skin colour, That the "differently abled" should not be "bullied", That discrimination (in any form) with respect to sexual orientation is punishable, And so on. This may not be one single law, But still comes together in some form to create a basket of regulations against hate speech.

Finally, If one believes that "incitement to violence" can be done only directly by stating "Hit him with a car", One sorely misjudges the power of language. One has to only read some of the well written speeches like Mark Antony's to understand that one can incite a crowd to mass murder without uttering a single command. Similarly, Communal tension due to religion is not often created by religious leaders directly commanding their subjects to exterminate members of the other religion (at least in the modern times). Instead, In India, We see more of slanted comments, Like "they eat pork, A filthy animal that has been declared unclean in the Holy Quran", Or, In case of the recent floods in Kerala, There were statements saying "no wonder they were smited by God, They eat beef" (eating beef is prohibited to Hindus). Such statements may not directly inciting violence (not yet), But if left unchecked, Can cause communal violence which can and have killed thousands of people.

At the end of the day, One has the social responsibility to be respectful to others. If this is not guaranteed by laws, Then
repeated disgracing of a particular community (religion, Caste, Race, . . . ) due to certain peculiarities will cause an uprising, Which our past has shown can be a very violent situation resulting in a lot of loss of life. Even without such a Sword of Damocles above us, One must question if it is ethical to condone such repeated disparaging of someone. If it is not, Then exactly due to that, I believe hate speech must be restricted in some form or another.
Debate Round No. 2


Yes, Exactly, They get to decide what hate speech is, Meaning that there could and would be a huge bias depending on the judge that you get and it'd go down to luck.

Yes, I think it should be legal, Why? Because that would simply be impossible for a TV channel like that to exist in a normal country. Please tell me, Who would fund an extremist group? Extremist are just that, Extremists, And they are a very small percentage of the populus and normal people wouldn't be watching this. People want FACTUAL news. (Why do you think "news" sites like Buzz Feed are dying off? )

And that is, Why there is a trial. Each court case is different. I mean, If it would be so simple why won't the judge just say "he's guilty" or "he's not guilty. "?

Alright, But please tell me what will punishing people that use hate speech achieve? Will they think to themselves: "Oh, I guess I was wrong, Well I'm going to stop being homophobic, Racist, Etc. Etc. " No. They are going to strengthen their beliefs, They are going to think that a tyrranical government is supressing them from telling the truth. The only way that you can change those people is with external influence, Meaning a debate for example. But there won't be any external influence, If nobody knows that those people are extremist, Besides their extremist friends.


Well, It was a short debate, And this is the last round. From what I understood, The main problem the pro side has with laws against "hate speech" is the inherent ambiguity that gives rise to bias. However, As the pro side rightly said, Each case is different, And hence a bit of ambiguity in the law allows the judge latitude to decide how much provocation, Bullying, Incitement, And so on is too much, And then decide whether the present case breaches that boundary. Furthermore, There is scope for bias across the breadth of the judicial system, From whether to allow a case to be contested (many cases are directly thrown out due to lack of evidence or other reasons) to which crime a person is guilty of (for example, Murder is divided into first degree, Second degree, Voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter, And in many cases, It is up to the judge to finally decide on how heinous the crime is). This does not mean that all laws should be banned. Yes, It may mean that judges should be trained so as to reduce the effects of personal bias on a case, But that's a different debate altogether. The courts also provide the right to take the case to a higher authority if the contestants feel the judgement is wrong. In most of the higher courts, There exists a panel of several judges from different backgrounds so that the effect of judges is mitigated.

The final argument, That punishing people will not achieve anything is patently false. The judicial system works on the basis of negative reinforcement, Wherein people follow the rules to avoid penalty. Being convicted adversely affects the life of any person, And hence, People will try to not be convicted. This may not stop homophobic people from remaining so, But the danger of conviction will force a modicum of respect in any conversation they make with or regarding the LGBT community. This is similar to how a person who destroys public property will, Upon conviction, At least be aware of the consequences of doing so, Even if in his heart he still believes he is entitled to destroy public property. These consequences then persuade the person to not continue this past behaviour.

I have greatly enjoyed this discourse and thank you for the opportunity.
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by politicsfortherun 3 years ago
I believe that hate speech should not be banned, Because it is a form of free speech, Although people should keep their opinion to themselves. "If you don"t have anything nice to say, Don"t say anything"
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