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EU Moving to Ban Online Hate Speech

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the slippery-slopes dept.

The Internet 452

WED Fan writes "Several members of the EU Parliament are moving to ban online hate speech. 'The draft of the declaration, which heise online has seen, calls on providers in somewhat vague language to make provisions against "hate pages" part of their standard terms and conditions.'"

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Yeah, and... (5, Insightful)

Khaed (544779) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876561)

...How long before the definition of "hate" is expanded to speech politicians don't like?

Re:Yeah, and... (4, Insightful)

mpickut (721322) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876613)

This is why the first amendment matters. You can say what you want about the US, but our founding fathers got a few things right. Matt Pickut Sigs are for losers

wait a minute (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18876663)

I thought Europe was a bastion of freedom and civil rights. Oh wait, it isn't that at all.

Re:wait a minute (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18876717)

Grass is always greener on the other side effect, I fear. America and Europe are roughly equally fucked, modulo the fact that europeans have perhaps slightly less apathetic youth - but unfortunately are mostly disarmed and foolishly pacifistic - European youths taking more of an interest in weaponry would be a good step.

Re:Yeah, and... (5, Informative)

katani (1090285) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877379)

Just because we have a first amendment doesn't mean that the powers-that-be will follow it.

For example, consider the Alien and Sedition acts, passed by the Fifth congress (1798) under the direction of John Adams. The Federalists at that time were trying to consolidate their hold on the government. The Alien and Sedition Acts were passed, as part of a Federalist blitz to prepare to defend the United States from French attack. Never mind the fact that France currently busy invading Europe, making an attack on the US unlikely. The Federalists were fearful of foreign subversion by French and Irish immigrants, especially since both groups were active in the Jeffersonian party, the Federalists opposition. To counter this threat, the Federalists passed the Alien and Sedition Acts.

Part of the A&S acts, the Sedition Act, "made it a crime to publish 'false, scandalous, and malicious writing' against the government or its officials." (Wikipedia: Alien and Sedition Acts). Publishing such offensive information against the government would lead to fines and imprisonment. This act was used to stifle the Jeffersonian opposition, and lead to the imprisonment of several key Jeffersonian printers, such as David Brown.

Fortunately, all of the A&S acts, except the Alien Enemies Act, were repealed. However, the fact is that the constitution was blatantly violated for the reason of protecting the nation from the dangerous French subversives.

The scary part is, our congress and president are now casting similar laws (*cough*Patriot Act*cough), to protect us from dangerous Islamic terrorists.

Re:Yeah, and... (3, Funny)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877741)

but our founding fathers got a few things right.

But our new step daddy is out to take care of that.

Re:Yeah, and... (5, Funny)

harrkev (623093) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876693)

...How long before the definition of "hate" is expanded to speech politicians don't like?
The logical error in your statement is that you assume that there will be some period of time where this WON'T happen.

Re:Yeah, and... (4, Insightful)

gillbates (106458) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876863)

Or expressions of religious belief?

This is little more than a thinly veiled attempt by the EU to outlaw religion (both Muslim and Christian religions believe homosexuality to be immoral; the reasoning goes that even condeming immoral behavior (as opposed to people)is sufficient to trigger the statute.

IIRC, a similar law has been passed in the Netherlands, with pastors being warned that there are certain sins they are no longer allowed to mention in public.

Even if you are an atheist, the premise is troubling. I would be likewise disturbed if questioning the existence of God was made illegal - certainly this development is not going to expand and enlighten public discourse on sensitive subjects.

Truly a troubling development.

Re:Yeah, and... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18877299)

Actually, to make your argument more general, The EU wishes to outlaw bad thoughts. Religious beliefs are just a set of thoughts / ideas. If you want to hate homosexuals, then hate them. Saying it is in the name of Christianity is just an excuse or reason for that thought.

If this passes, it will be scary times indeed.

Re:Yeah, and... (2, Interesting)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876873)

...How long before the definition of "hate" is expanded to speech politicians don't like?

This is already the case. French right-wing politician Jean-Marie Lepen once publicly declared that the Nazi gas chambers were a detail of history (which, however horrible, they technically are, since history concerns much more than 3 years in some spots of Germany and Poland). Mr. Lepen was sued in court and condemned for having said that.

Re:Yeah, and... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18876983)

Indeed, the true measure of the freedom of speach is being able to tolerate speach you don't like. Many political parties in europe are banned, which I think is a travesty. In a free society people should be able to express their political views, no matter how distastful.

Re:Yeah, and... (5, Insightful)

moronoxyd (1000371) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877439)

Many political parties in europe are banned, which I think is a travesty.

I can't talk for all those parties and all members of the EU, but here in Germany a party is going to get banned when it doesn't accept the democratic basis of the country's society.

Why should a democracy allow and even support a group with the declared aim to destroy that democracy?

You shouldn't assume that parties get banned lightly.
A lot of people call for banning two right-winged (and I mean _right-winged_, not just 'very conservative') parties here in Germany. But because they don't openly talk against democracy and because their actions stay within the limits of the law, they are free to do their political work.

Every freedom hast limits and has to have limits.

it's "speech," dammit! (-1, Troll)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877657)

I have mod points right now and I almost modded you down but then nobody would have known why. So, attention all slashdotters! "SPEECH" is spelled "S-P-E-E-C-H," not SPEACH. If English is not your first language, I suppose you find this strange because the verb to speak has an "a" in it. Well, ok, it's weird, but deal with it -- the word "speach" has no meaning whatsoever in the English language. In the US we have freedom of speech and we have the freedom to speak, but we do not have freedom of speach because there is no such thing!

This has been a public service announcement from your local spelling nazi. Have a day!

Re:Yeah, and... (1)

extra the woos (601736) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877389)

In reality didn't most of the people in the concetration camps die even worse deaths? Ie starvation or horrible diseases? That is what I had figured out from doing some reading. The gas chamber would have been BETTER than the deaths many in the concetration camps received. Torture, suffering, dying of starvation over weeks and weeks. Shudder. All the talk of gas chambers makes the camps look LESS horrific than they really were, imho.

The idea that the Nazis wanted to kill other groups of humans is less scary than the fact that they saw the people they hated as NOT EVEN HUMAN.

(no karma bonus as it's off topic)

Re:Yeah, and... (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877001)

Politicians?
How about religious fanatics? Criticizing a religion is controversial enough (as if superstition deserved protection) but these laws will obviously be used to stifle religious debate. Religion IS politics, but the debate will be manipulated (first, by cartoon-hating Muslims since they are the last active religion in the EU) and these laws will be part of that.

Re:Yeah, and... (2, Insightful)

Tekzel (593039) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877259)

I dispise this development. While I am not a fan of hate, I am less a fan of this kind of censorship. People need to just grow a frigging spine and be less offended by stuff, then we wouldn't need this kind of ridiculousness. Who defines what hate speech is? I guarantee you it will not be a reasonable definition.

How long? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877271)

Ancient history.

Re:Yeah, and... (1)

treeves (963993) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877369)

But the politicians are only doing it because others are demanding that they do it.

Re:Yeah, and... (2, Informative)

Pantero Blanco (792776) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877387)

...How long before the definition of "hate" is expanded to speech politicians don't like?


"Hate speech" is just a label placed on a subset of what some politicians don't like. Since politics differ from country to country, the meaning changes along with the politicians. In Canada, publicly disparaging Muslims or homosexuals without a list of references is "hate speech". In some European countries, claiming the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust is less than six million is "hate speech". The US has a somewhat vague cultural definition of it, but it doesn't hold much legal water, rendering it more of a character assassination weapon than a criminal charge.

As far as I'm concerned, if one person is threatening another with violence without provocation, they're already violating an existing law in most countries, and there doesn't need to be another one. If they aren't threatening another with violence, it's none of the government's business.

Re:Yeah, and... (1)

rlp (11898) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877567)

> ...How long before the definition of "hate" is expanded to speech politicians don't like?

Too late.

Re:Yeah, and... (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877575)

Very long. The EU actually has a functioning democratic system with checks and balances on powers to prevent that kind of thing from happening. This may seem strange to those who are not used to it, but it is actually the case, and it works fairly well.

Finally (5, Funny)

zantolak (701554) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876563)

At last, freedom from speech!

No, only speech the gov't doesn't like (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18876673)

You won't be able to get enough of that... :-P

I hate this ban (2, Funny)

EntropyXP (956792) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876573)

*BANNED*

garn! (1)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876577)

I really hate this, and having said that, can't vacation in Belgium any more.

Re:garn! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18876887)

Is that what you do on vacations? Give speeches?

I hate people like this (0, Troll)

glomph (2644) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876579)

You just have to hate people who are smart enough to preempt free speech. They want it to be like America?

Re:I hate people like this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18876695)

I think you're trying to simultaneously use too many layers of sarcastic and stupid. You might want to go with just one of each. And be sure to raise your eyebrows, like Jon Stewart, so we know which is which.

What is Hate Speech? (5, Insightful)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876599)

How do they ID hate speech? Is a cartoon Mohamed hate speech? How about a cartoon Jesus (South Park anyone?)

Re:What is Hate Speech? (1)

TFGeditor (737839) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876907)

The whole notion of "hate speech" is bullshit anyway. True freedom of speech means I can write/say "Linux users are monkey butts" or "Microsoft users are hamster butts" with legal impunity. It is my *opinion* and none of the government's damned business.

Let the government and its minions take a flying leap at the nearest alimentary orifice.

Governments vs the Internet (3, Interesting)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876605)

Gotta love how some governments think they have power over the internet.

This is a hate page (1)

Higaran (835598) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876609)

Isn't this article a "hate page" it's even in the topic. But then again, you could take all the anti MS stuff around here for the same thing.

does this mean (0)

phrostie (121428) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876639)

they are going to quit bitching about each other?

This is a bad thing. (5, Insightful)

Skadet (528657) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876645)

The preamble to the declaration mentions anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and anti-Romany campaigns. Should the providers refuse to act more forcefully the five initiators of the declaration have vowed to pressure the European Commission into drafting appropriate legislation.
This is a bad thing. Freedom is based upon the ability to express your ideas without the threat of Government backlash. Some ideas can be called "bad", certainly, but they should not be preemptively squashed because of the possibility that they might turn into action.

It's the beginning of a slippery slope that ends up where web pages, emails, documents, or speech that is anti-establishment becomes illegal as well. It's important to set precident with the less-obvious things early on so this slope is avoided altogether.

Re:This is a bad thing. (1)

RomieGalaxy (1092247) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876797)

Agree with 100% - you have to be able to know you can say whatever you want without having someone at your doorstep soon after to take you away. The original rules about copyright infringement (you can talk about, but not reuse) was the only thing that really worked, but even that gets abused.

Re:This is a bad thing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18876951)

It's the beginning of a slippery slope that ends up where web pages, emails, documents, or speech that is anti-establishment becomes illegal as well. It's important to set precident with the less-obvious things early on so this slope is avoided altogether.

Except that this is just an extension to the interwebs of laws that Europe has had since WWII. Your definition of freedom hasn't existed there since then. So if it's a slippery slope it's not very steep (or slippery) since they seem to be doing fine regarding individual rights.

Re:This is a bad thing. (1)

OS24Ever (245667) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877535)

The thing that bothers me is that the definitions of those three main areas can cover almost anything.

You can be 'islamaphobic' because you belive that they should not be able to hide behind a veil in identification photos and a person needing to identify you can require you to remove said covering to confirm the identity.

You get told you need to respect their religion and force the 'non-believer' into doing things like forming special queues for them, special rooms for them, all because their guys need the women hidden so hard because they can't control their passion.

Why do *I* have to bow down, cow tow, and do things to not offend their religion? What makes their right to assemble and whatever override mine? When did that happen?

I mean I shouldn't be able to go smear ham in their face or dangle bacon over their heads sure, thta's what I'd call pretty damn islamaphobic. But asking them to be a part of the rest of society and not force their beliefs on me (alcohol in a cab, guide dogs in a cab up in MN) seems to be a two way street to me.

Of course did what I just type violate this new EU law even though I'm posting from china on a system in the united states?

Godwinning this Topic (0, Troll)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876677)

Hitler also hated free speech. Except for the "correct" thoughts of his side.

Europe, grow up.

Re:Godwinning this Topic (2, Interesting)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877117)

Hitler also hated free speech. Except for the "correct" thoughts of his side. Europe, grow up.
Where do you stand on the Don Imus case and his freedom of speech?

Re:Godwinning this Topic (2, Interesting)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877209)

Imus' freedom of speech was never at issue. He can say whatever he wants, and his employers can fire his ass if he's not bringing in the money anymore because people get sick of him.

-jcr

Re:Godwinning this Topic (2, Insightful)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877293)

Imus' freedom of speech was never at issue. He can say whatever he wants, and his employers can fire his ass if he's not bringing in the money anymore because people get sick of him.
He wasn't fired because he wasn't bringing money in. On the contrary, the case actually boosted the amount of coverage he was getting. I'd never even heard of the fella until that all blew up. He was fired because he exercised his 'freedom of speech' and society determined that doing so in the way he did was unacceptable. Maybe not illegal, but definitely unacceptable. It now sets a precedent where no radio DJ dare refer to 'nappy-headed hoes' not because of any statutory provisions but because of a redefinition of what is socially acceptable. Is it a good thing or a bad thing that this particular freedom of expression has been curtailed?

Re:Godwinning this Topic (4, Insightful)

EllisDees (268037) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877589)

In this country, you have the right to say just about anything you like, including "nappy headed hoes." Nobody, however, has any obligation to listen to you or provide you with a venue to do so. Don Imus can stand on any street corner in the US and repeat that phrase over and over and he'll never wind up in jail over it.

Societal disapproval is not the same as illegal.

Re:Godwinning this Topic (1)

extra the woos (601736) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877609)

Imus will probably get a bigger job or write a book and make even more money, or god knows what. He's famous now. Before this no one had heard of him. Grats to him.

Being able to be fired or made fun of because of public outcry over something you've said or done is FINE. He has free speech just as the rest of society can shun him or his employer can fire him for saying something dumb. Personally, I don't think he should have apologized one bit. He shoulda called all the offended people nappy headed hoes too, but whatever.

The difference here is he isn't being threated with charges or put in jail or anything like that.

Society is free to stop giving the guy any money. His employer is free to fire the guy. The government isn't going to come after him, though. Huge, HUGE difference.

Say I worked for a company that was ran by a jewish guy. I then go out into the street a few years later with a huge "jews worship satan and are all fags" sign. I get fired because my boss was offended. This does not mean i odn't have free speech. The government isn't going to come arrest me. Instead, society is goign to laugh at me for being an idiot, I'll lose my job, and people will make fun of me for saying something dumb. Doesn't mean I don't have free speech. If, like in some places in europe, you could get in trouble from the government for saying something like that, then we wouldn't have free speech.

Re:Godwinning this Topic (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877647)

He was fired because several large advertisers publically distanced themselves and their money from the show. No advertisers, no money, no show - no matter how many listeners you have. That, ultimately, is why I think he got fired. Doesn't change a lick about the fact that what he said showed him to be racist and sexist, but that's beside the point.

Freedom of expression means that you can say whatever you want, and I can't enlist the government to sop you from saying what you want. However, it doesn't mean that I'm forced to subsidize anybody's attempts to make themselves heard. Don Imus could get into pod-casting (though there's no guarantee he'll be carried by iTunes). Due to the ISPs common carrier clause, they'll take his money and host pretty much whatever he wants. So Don, you wanna talk about nappy-headed hos - go get a server, a T1 (or 10), and set up shop on the internet. But don't complain that your constitutional rights were infringed, because they weren't. Your constitutional right to be an ass does not preclude my constitutional right from calling you on it, and pressuring your advertisers to drop you like a hot potato.

I have to stay, I'm stumped by the amount of people who misinterpret the first amendment as a requirement for others to stay silent when they say anything.

Re:Godwinning this Topic (2, Interesting)

anti-pop-frustration (814358) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877711)

The Imus case is a perfect illustration:
Europe: Hate speech is banned by law (state censorship)
US of A: Hate speech is curtailed through auto-censorship (commercial censorship)

The question is, in the end, which model is the more restrictive one ?

Hate speech banned eh? how much do you bet... (5, Insightful)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876721)

hate will grow as a result. This is a common human trait : when something is forbidden, people are attracted by it. Just ask any teenager smoking a cigarette in hiding.

But here's the proof, imho : in the US, where you can pretty much say any old darn thing short of direct calls to violence, neo-nazi, KKKs and other white supremacist groups exist, express themselves (much to the dismay of the local populace around them) and... they look like a small group of retards. On the other hand, in Europe, where you can't say something even remotely critical of the jews, and where naziism has become taboo to the point where it's not even possible to discuss the official head count of the holocaust without landing in the pokey, antisemitism, racism and extreme-right groups are growing at an alarming rate. Why? because these people stay hidden, embedded in the general population, by force of law, instead of coming out and showing themselves as the numbskulls they are like in the US.

So in short, banning hate speech will do nothing but promote hate. Well done EEC, some insight...

Re:Hate speech banned eh? how much do you bet... (4, Insightful)

darkshadow (102598) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876883)

Exactly, I want the idiots to expose themselves so I know who to avoid.

Re:Hate speech banned eh? how much do you bet... (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877267)

That's precisely why the ACLU sends Jewish lawyers to defend the nazis who want to march through Jewish neighborhoods.

-jcr

Re:Hate speech banned eh? how much do you bet... (1, Troll)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877149)

On the other hand, in Europe, where you can't say something even remotely critical of the jews,

Sure you can, as long as you're cheering for head-choppers and burning a car while you do it.

-jcr

Re:Hate speech banned eh? how much do you bet... (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877155)

hate will grow as a result. This is a common human trait : when something is forbidden, people are attracted by it. Just ask any teenager smoking a cigarette in hiding.
That's exactly what is happening. Germany is one of the countries where hate speech is prohibited. Neo-Nazism in Germany is growing stronger every day - but it's hidden from Government view by being restricted. Thus Government thinks it isn't as serious a problem as it really is.

Re:Hate speech banned eh? how much do you bet... (1)

fsmunoz (267297) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877279)

Actually, you can see it the other way around: whenever you need to know something about the habits of humans in the past a list of prohibitions are a good place to start: they are generally enacted when what they are supposed to prevent is growing within a population.

In the case of Europe it's not difficult to see why: in most countries there is a growing antagonism towards immigration - especially extra-european immigration, and this laws are a result of that. From wht I've heard the final law covers just about everything considered "racist", I think the main objective is to prevent the anti-immigration - which are generally racist at some level - to campaign. I have serious doubts that they will be able to stop this trend by decree though.

Euope vs. US Hate Comparisons unfair (3, Insightful)

alexhmit01 (104757) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877419)

There is a HUGE cultural gulf between the US and Europe with regards to minorities. The United States, from the days of the colonies onward, has generally tolerated heretics and offshoot groups outside of local areas. While a town might have had an official religion, or even a county, it rarely expanded beyond a small local area. In addition, from the founding of the republic, the concept of all people here being citizens (except for Indians and black slaves) helped form that culture. In Europe, Jews were not considered citizens until relatively recently, and while having to contribute taxes to the crown were generally left alone complete with their own courts for civil and criminal matters, and communities. Similar rules applied to other groups of "others."

With Napoleon's conquests, the idea of people as citizens took hold, but it was culturally foreign, and integration never happened. Combine this with relatively small areas with different languages and religions, and you have homogenous countries that have been reared to hate the other because one was often at war with them.

Indeed, the initial efforts of the Nazi's were not the extermination of the Jews (although that was the end goal, they took stages), the first effort was to separate the assimilated Jews out of German culture, restoring their status as "others" to be distrusted by the people. Before they rounded my ancestors up into camps, they prohibited inter-marriage, and forced them to be separated from the culture. This was an important first step, because in Germany, the Jews were highly assimilated into the local culture, indeed the Reform movement was born in Germany setting the goal to assimilate, which is why so much of Reform cantorials and other German Jewish customs are borrowed from Lutheran protestant Curches through the assimilation there. In order to rile the people of Germany up against them, they needed to draw a line between Germans and Jews, which naturally made Jews the enemies and ripe for being attacked.

Europe's problems of racism and xenophobia stem from a culture of being at was with other groups and having them nearby. In contrast, in the United States, the former Slave and Jim Crow states, which have had a much shorter history of integration, suffer from more severe attitudes towards different races. It's not that racism and persecution doesn't exist in former Union States (it does, and may often be more severe), but the portion of the populace that would support race based laws is more minor.

I don't think that one can simply point to the US's First Amendment and Europe's post-War speech regulations and attempt to show that the latter causes growth of neo-nazism and the former stops it. I think that we have yet to see Europe get 3 generations from killing people for being "other" and Americans outside of the deep south haven't fought over the matter in 150 years and even in the deep south the civil rights movement was accomplished with relatively minor violence. Sure their were showdowns over integration of schools, but no pogroms. Even the worst abuses of people by the KKK pale in comparison to the European's behaviors, including wars over churches, kidnapping Jewish children if someone claimed the child was baptized, prohibitions of land ownership, etc.

There is a massive cultural gap between the US and Europe in these regards, the Europe's cultural elites are so removed from it they don't understand it. While the gulf is smaller in the US, our elites understand it enough to make fun of those that hate others, which is probably better than ignoring it... call someone an idiot or wrong, they fight back, just mock them, and they get embarrassed...

Can't really call it "godwinning" (0, Troll)

sehlat (180760) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876739)

Laws like this make it clear that Europe has learned NOTHING from the lessons of the Nazis or Stalin.

Re:Can't really call it "godwinning" (0, Troll)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877059)

Europeans learned not to go invading random countries for political gain back home. I think that Europe has done a much better job of learning from its imperialist history than the US.

Re:Can't really call it "godwinning" (2, Insightful)

owlnation (858981) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877227)

Laws like this make it clear that Europe has learned NOTHING from the lessons of the Nazis or Stalin.
Most of the countries pushing for this are, in fact, the countries that were indeed run by Nazis or Stalin - interestingly the UK and many of the Scandinavian countries are completely opposed to it.

Sound familiar?

Anything that removes the liberties of thought... (5, Insightful)

fudgefactor7 (581449) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876757)

...is something to which I must express my disdain. People shouldn't be afraid what they say will be illegal. Think what you like, speak how you feel, but do not play innocent: your words can call you to be held accountable--but that doesn't mean you have no right to speak them. Should anyone attpemt to silence you, your writings, your thoughts, your person--this is even more of a reason to speak louder. I would rather there were a thousand Hitler-wannabe's speaking openly, than one doing so clandestinely. The evil we see can be defeated; the evil we don't see can defeat us.

Re:Anything that removes the liberties of thought. (1)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877079)

I would rather there were a thousand Hitler-wannabe's speaking openly, than one doing so clandestinely.
A million dead jews might disagree, and I think that's where the Europeans are coming from. Let's not forget that free speech unchecked led the continent to ruin in the 1930s/40s. Never understimate the power of the spoken word. One man in front of a microphone can be a very powerful thing for good or ill.

Re:Anything that removes the liberties of thought. (1)

Who235 (959706) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877559)

Let's not forget that free speech unchecked led the continent to ruin in the 1930s/40s.


Come on, man. That is probably the lamest thing I've heard all day. Just because someone used the power of speech and propaganda for the purposes of evil certainly doesn't mean speech was to blame.

That line of reasoning will get people into way more trouble than whatever these laws are supposed to prevent.

Re:Anything that removes the liberties of thought. (2, Informative)

owlnation (858981) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877667)

Let's not forget that free speech unchecked led the continent to ruin in the 1930s/40s.
Actually - and we should NEVER forget, it was 5.7 million Jews, and about 13.5 million Europeans in Total. The holocaust was truly awful, but it is still only a part of the true evil that Germany protracted in the 1930's and 1940's. (you can add in another 10 million if you want to include the American, and Pacific related deaths which Germany is either directly or indirectly responsible for)

Having spent some time living in Germany, and more than a little touched by the horrific things the Nazis did myself, let me point out that freedom of speech in the 1930 and 1940's did NOT do that.

It was simply a streak of evil that ran through the Axis, and one that is still not fully resolved today. That streak was exploited by the DDR for example - freedom of speech was not something East Germans knew about, but murder, torture and discrimination were still common right up to 1989.

Today Nazism is rampant in the former Eastern German states (nearly 1.8 million votes at the last election) and the current policy on banning free speech in Germany disguises what a truly significant and growing problem it really is.

Prohibition doesn't work. (3, Insightful)

JesseL (107722) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876827)

Prohibition doesn't work for:
Alcohol
Drugs
Guns
Bad speech/thoughts

All attempts to enforce prohibition result in oppressive government, reduced civil liberties for all, and greater dissemination of the originally prohibited contraband.

Re:Prohibition doesn't work. (1)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877189)

Prohibition doesn't work for: Alcohol Drugs Guns Bad speech/thoughts All attempts to enforce prohibition result in oppressive government, reduced civil liberties for all, and greater dissemination of the originally prohibited contraband.
What say we add to your list:
  • Theft
  • Murder
  • Rape
All attempts to outlaw these things have failed to erradicate them. Shall we just give up and legalise them in the interests of freedom?

Re:Prohibition doesn't work. (4, Insightful)

JesseL (107722) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877333)

Theft, rape, and murder are crimes that affect people beyond the criminal. The laws against these crimes don't involve any kind of prior restraint on the populace, intended to prevent the crimes from happening. You don't support the criminalization of hands, penises, or the infinite multitude of objects that could serve as murder weapons, do you?

If someone actually does you harm, by all means call them a criminal.

If the actions of someone hurt your feelings, gross you out, strike you as immoral, or irrationally frighten you: get over it, ignore them, and mind your own business.

Re:Prohibition doesn't work. (1)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877451)

If the actions of someone hurt your feelings, gross you out, strike you as immoral, or irrationally frighten you: get over it, ignore them, and mind your own business.
You say that, but, I don't think that 'hate speech' refers to somehting that 'hurts your feelings, grosses you out, strikes you as immoral, or irrationally frightens you." They're probably thinking of things that are likely to lead to violence against vulnerable groups. Someone farther up the page says that this is an example of Europe not learning the lessons of the Nazis. It is quite the opposite, the Europeans are very familiar with the power of words for good or ill and are probably just trying to make sure that they aren't used for ill.

Re:Prohibition doesn't work. (1)

JesseL (107722) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877569)

The problem is clearly NOT speech. The problem is "violence against vulnerable groups". Prosecute the people who initiate violence. Ignore the spiteful little morons that enjoy spouting of their hateful diatribes.

Prosecuting someone like Fred Phelps would only make him a martyr.

Re:Prohibition doesn't work. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18877707)

Someone farther up the page says that this is an example of Europe not learning the lessons of the Nazis. It is quite the opposite, the Europeans are very familiar with the power of words for good or ill and are probably just trying to make sure that they aren't used for ill.

You don't combat ignorance by trying to brush it under the rug. Expose it to light and let everyone see how bad it is. Trying to hush the Nazis wouldn't have changed anything.

Re:Prohibition doesn't work. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18877503)

> If someone actually does you harm, by all means call them a criminal.

So you agree that hate speech should be criminalized since it harms people emotionally.

Note, if you say emotions don't count, then you're in favour of decriminalizing rape since that's the only *real* difference between consensual and non-consensual sex and why something like non-consensual kissing isn't criminalized.

--
All generalities are false, including this one.

Re:Prohibition doesn't work. (1)

BgJonson79 (129962) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877539)

I'm emotionally harmed by censorship.

Now what?

Rape == offensive speech?!?!?! You're an idiot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18877763)

If you really think rape is the same as getting your feelings hurt by what someone says, you really are an idiot.

I'd tell you to go play in high-speed traffic, but that solid block of stone you call your head would be dangerous to the automobiles. Why do I get the feeling your mother gave you a toaster and an extension cord for tub toys?

Re:Prohibition doesn't work. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18877607)

Murder, rape, and theft are actions that harm other people while drugs, alcohol, guns and bad thoughts are not harmful in and of themselves. It is only when they are misused that they become a problem, and that misuse is most likely already covered by other laws. Possessing alcohol doesn't make you a drunk driver and driving recklessly and/or causing accidents is illegal no matter your BAC. Hating people because of their race/religion/whatever doesn't make you a murderer and murder is illegal regardless of your motivation.

Heinlein Quote (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877323)

Heinlein says it again:"

For the first time in my life, I was reading things which had not been approved by the Prophet's censors, and the impact on my mind was devastating. Sometimes I would glance over my shoulder to see who was watching me, frightened in spite of myself. I began to sense faintly that secrecy is the keystone of all tyranny. Not force, but secrecy...censorship. When any government, or any church for that matter, undertakes to say to it's subjects, This you may not read, this you must not see, this you are forbidden to know, the end result is tyranny and oppression, no matter how holy the motives. Mighty little force is needed to control a man whose mind has been hoodwinked, contrariwise, no amount of force can control a free man, a man whose mind is free. No, not the rack, not fission bombs, not anything---you can't conquer a free man; the most you can do is kill him.
== John Lyle, "If This Goes On..."

2 wrongs don't make a right (0)

notbob (73229) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876877)

Hasn't the EU ever heard the saying "2 wrongs don't make a right".

While some people hate hate speech, that doesn't make it wrong for people to be able to express their opinions.

Censorship is wrong, in any way shape and form.
I may disagree with what you have to say but I'll defend to the death your right to say it.

I'd rather have an internet full of neo-nazi's and hate groups then people trying to tell me what to say & think.

Censorship is worse then racism, I'd rather be killed physically then controlled mentally.

I think you can pretty clearly define hate speech (4, Insightful)

hellfire (86129) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876911)

First, let me say I'm an American. Second, let me say that I think the constitution is a great thing, but it's by no means perfect, which why it's important that the constitution can change and can be re-interpreted. Third, I think you can clearly define "hate speech" in the current culture and there's no reason we shouldn't make an effort to stop it.

To me hate speech is a severe form of slander and libel which is pushed upon one entire ethnic group or race. I think laws for hate speech are possible as long as you put strict requirements on it. Should I be able to walk down the street and call you a N*****? Legally, yes I should be able to. Should I be able to create a book detailing with no real scientific proof, that african americans are an inferior race of stupid people who should be shot an hanged on site for merely existing? Absolutely not. To me it's an extention of the same slander and libel laws. I could walk down the street and call you an asshole if you cut me off, but if I cook up some lies and speak about them publically or write an article on the web about you just to damage your reputation and make it harder for you to keep or find a job, then that should be illegal.

No society is absolute. Americans hold up the constitution as the ultimate black and white definition of what should and should not happen, but as time marches on, people evolve and grow ever more savvy about how to game the system.

And to those who think that the hate speech would evolve into squashing all free speech are offering up a red herring. Libel and slander as they are now are laws that limit your freedom to speak your mind, because in those cases you are hurting someone else. Same with yelling fire in a crowded theater. Freedom of political and social speech can been preserved just fine. Free speech is not a simple black or white philosophy and we forget exceptions and how we frame them when look at the freedom of speech.

The EU countries already have bans on hate speech, as does Canada and probably others. Different countries deal with different problems differently, and the US, while it has a strong protection of freedom of speech, also has problems with evil reactionary groups who are allowed to exist and spread what I consider the most evil of lies under the banner of free speech. I don't see the EU collapsing now because they crack down on hatemongers and I don't see it happening any time soon either.

Re:I think you can pretty clearly define hate spee (4, Insightful)

kabdib (81955) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877029)

"Should I be able to create a book -- ?"

Yes. Absolutely. End of story.

Re:I think you can pretty clearly define hate spee (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18877041)

"Should I be able to create a book detailing with no real scientific proof, that african americans are an inferior race of stupid people who should be shot an hanged on site for merely existing?" People express harsh opinions all the time. You can't be a little bit pregnant and you can't have a right to free speech "except for" yada yada.

Re:I think you can pretty clearly define hate spee (1)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877345)

> ...you can't have a right to free speech "except for" yada yada.

Yes you can.

Re:I think you can pretty clearly define hate spee (4, Informative)

JesseL (107722) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877089)

Libel and slander, like yelling 'fire' in a crowded theater, are not crimes of speech. They are crimes because of the actual harm they cause (such as monetarily verifiable damage to a professional reputation or physical injuries caused by a panicked mob).

We already have laws for the things you are talking about, involving things like inciting violence.

How often have you heard about a case where someone caused actual harm to anyone, that went unprosecuted, that would have been a violation of your vision of a hate speech law?

Re:I think you can pretty clearly define hate spee (4, Insightful)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877365)

How often have you heard about a case where someone caused actual harm to anyone, that went unprosecuted, that would have been a violation of your vision of a hate speech law?
I'm thinking of some short Austrian guy with a funny moustache back in the 1930s...

Re:I think you can pretty clearly define hate spee (1)

JesseL (107722) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877443)

There were quite a few nazis tried for various war crimes and crimes against humanity. If Hitler hadn't punched his own ticket straight to hell, you can bet that the Nuremberg Trials would have done it for him.

Re:I think you can pretty clearly define hate spee (1)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877483)

There were quite a few nazis tried for various war crimes and crimes against humanity. If Hitler hadn't punched his own ticket straight to hell, you can bet that the Nuremberg Trials would have done it for him.
True, but the human race lost a hell of a lot of people by the time that happened.

I told you not to be so stupid, you moron (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18877175)

"Should I be able to create a book detailing with no real scientific proof, that african americans are an inferior race of stupid people who should be shot an hanged on site for merely existing? Absolutely not."

So if I write it down in my computer, it's okay, but if I print it on my printer, and call it a book, I've slandered "a group"?

That's so retarded I've got to think you're the product of a bad private education (or none at all). Right now, all of your teachers are slitting their wrists rather than be shamed by what you're saying.

There's no such thing as hate speech. You can't define it in any kind of meaningful way. It comes down to "if it makes somebody feel bad, it's hate speech".

You're worse than a KKK guy. You want to suppress free speech, and wrap it in the guise of being reasonable. You're all in favor of free speech, as long as it doesn't offend anyone. Pansy. Freedom is dangerous. It should scare the crap out of you. It should offend you. It's exciting. If you want to be non-offended in your safe little cocoon, might as well get out the razor, take some vicodan and slit your wrists.

Re:I think you can pretty clearly define hate spee (5, Insightful)

gillbates (106458) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877199)

So you can define hate speech.

And we could probably agree on what is acceptable and not.

But, the effect of an a priori prohibition speech based on its content damages society as a whole.

  • Those who hold errant and hateful views are not known - as they are afraid to express their views.
  • Those who hold errant and hateful views are never held accountable for their views. The topic discussion of discussion is prohibited. Instead, their hatred turns into action, and then the evil manifests itself in ways far worse than name-calling.
  • Those who hold errant and hateful views in secret never have their views challenged or corrected - that is, prior to their arrival in court. Even a rational person can grow up racist if their views on racism are never challenged. Societies which encourage open and unlimited discourse provide a mechanism for reform of would-be offenders without ever having to resort to legal proceedings.
  • Those unafraid to express their opinions can appeal to government for change, rather than having to resort to violent revolution.
  • The prohibition of certain topics of discussion prevents the study and greater knowledge of the subject, and withholds legitimate research. Furthermore, it prevents legitimate social progress through changing of public opinion.

The battle over free speech isn't merely about public statements. It is also a battle over how best to address the problem of troubled individuals, who, while not criminal (yet), exhibit pathological tendencies. Without freedom of speech, we would have to wonder if everyone was out to get us. With freedom of speech, I have a reasonable assurance that I'm on good terms with others because they are free to let me know if they hate me or love me, or are merely indifferent. Hence, our collective sense of security and civil stability is very much tied to our freedom of speech.

Re:I think you can pretty clearly define hate spee (1)

Elyas (59360) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877207)

I wonder how many people that got inflamed by this post read the name of the poster's website....

Re:I think you can pretty clearly define hate spee (1)

rabbit994 (686936) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877215)

Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. -Possibly Franklin

The boisterous sea of liberty is never without a wave. - Thomas Jefferson

You don't see EU collapsing because they crack down on hate mongers but you do see them putting up cameras and proposing DNA databases. Little steps at a time. Hitler didn't come to power either in one day, he took gradual progress steps till it was too late.

If you want to write a book about how Asians are devil race and problem with America and use some crappy facts to back it up, go for it. Same 1st Amendment that gives you the right to write such a book gives everyone else the right to write a book calling you a crackpot.

What are you going to do when that "evil revolutionary group" has now been declared to be ACLU or NRA which you might be a member. (At least NRA will be armed)

Re:I think you can pretty clearly define hate spee (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18877331)

Thats the rub. Who gets to decide what is legitimate criticism and what is slander?

If I publish a book that says Blacks have lower average IQ and back it up with scientific studies, am I afoul of your proposed law? Is it automatically assumed that all people are 100% equal and that any stated deviation, by its nature, is 'hate'?

What about the holocaust? What if I believe it did not happen, or did happen but the numbers were exaggerated and want to publish my ideas with some interpretations of evidence and history to back up my claim? Many people are in jail right now for doing just that.

These kinds of laws are severe assaults on objectivity and freedom of conscience as well as freedom of intellectual pursuit. Many people are more interested in keeping people from being offended and protecting ideologies from being questioned because it may hurt feelings or question widely accepted dogma.

In the words of Harrison Ford... (1)

SARSpatient (679467) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877407)

Not black and white. Right and Wrong.

You are right that the Constitution is a living document, open to interpretation by the Supreme Court. However, stilfling free speech no matter how reprehensible, goes against the core tenet upon which the United States was founded. Once you hand over to the Government the power to decide who can say what, democracy will have failed. It becomes a slippery slope, and all it would take is another 9/11 for the Government to expand the definition of hate speech to unforseen things. Pre-9/11 would you ever have thought wire-tapping, secret prisons, and torture would be openly condoned by our Government? The Bill of Rights are not subject to withdrawl, they are Rights, not priviledges. As people like to say, freedom isn't free. And one of the prices you pay for freedom is giving the most vile and evil citizens their voice too. They also say the price for freedom is eternal vigilence, and that too is apropos. Just because you allow hate groups to voice their thoughts, does not mean you don't keep close tabs on them.

Re:I think you can pretty clearly define hate spee (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18877547)

Why exactly are you afraid of someone publishing a book making claims about another group of people? Under what moral basis do you believe this is dangerous to society?

What kind of people make up 'evil reactionaries'? You say you can make clear exceptions, yet you cannot define exactly what you mean.

If I believe in a country that has one languages, bans foreign immigration, and preserves the rights of the native citizens of that country, am I an evil reactionary?

For the record, I am 100% against libel and slander laws. I think that people should judge statements on their merits and by who said them. Yelling 'Fire' in a crowded theater is not a free speech issue at all, its an issue about intentionally and willfully causing social disorder and putting public safety at risk.

Yawn. (-1, Troll)

pla (258480) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876919)

Several members of the EU Parliament are moving to ban online hate speech.

Well, I hate the EU. Suck it, US-extraditionless cheese-eating surrender monkeys!



Seriously. Banning a form of speech (or writing, in this case)? Grow up, boys - "Sticks and stones" and all that...

Hate speech (3, Funny)

Arthur B. (806360) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876959)

You hateful hating haters, I hate you with hatred!

Rights disappear whenever people stop using them. So I suggest we let go on the hate speech in this specific thread and have a hateful conversation (you fucking nerdy retards)

Re:Hate speech (2, Insightful)

Commander Doofus (776923) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877137)

So I suggest we let go on the hate speech in this specific thread and have a hateful conversation

Hey Slashdotters, which is better, Linux or BSD? How's about emacs vs. vi? PS3 vs. Wii? Gnome vs. KDE? Best distro out there? Gun control: good or bad? What's hands down the very best language out there?

There, that should do it.

Re:Hate speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18877491)

Hey Slashdotters, which is better, Linux or BSD? How's about emacs vs. vi? PS3 vs. Wii? Gnome vs. KDE? Best distro out there? Gun control: good or bad? What's hands down the very best language out there?

There, that should do it.


Hey! None of those things managed to piss me off. Now I feel left out. You insensitive clod!

1> Spread hate speech
2> ?
3> Profit!

But will it stop me (-1, Troll)

Garry Anderson (194949) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876981)

But will it stop me calling for Blair, Goldsmith, Scarlett, Campbell and all the rest of war criminals to be strung up by the neck until they are dead?

Why wait for war crimes trial - they helped to kill thousands of Iraqi men, women, children and babies - haven't we seen enough to know they are guilty?

We know the intelligence was correct - being very shakey - Scarlett simply removed caveats from report - prompted by Campbell.

We know the legal advice was changed after Goldsmith was given a bit of friendly persuation - indeed his own written legal advice is clearly wrong - using opinion in place of fact:

http://community.channel4.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/5 03603557/m/3490049144/p/1 [channel4.com]

OR

http://www.hosted-forum.com/index.php?boardid=notn ews&showtopic=1499 [hosted-forum.com]

We know these people helped their master, Mr Bliar, to back the Bush agenda.

Hang on - there's a knock at the door....

Why this is a problem ... (3, Insightful)

Syncerus (213609) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877061)

The core issue here is that we ultimately end up with a government sanctioned list of approved ideas. Any idea not on the approved list becomes anathema. In any sane society, the government has no business deciding on the merit of individual ideas. It exists to exercise the existing ideas and will of the electorate.

Remember, freedom to choose is the freedom to make bad decisions; there is no controversy in making good decisions.

Sure, why not.. (-1, Troll)

k1e0x (1040314) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877077)

I see no problem with this.. if the people in europe will submit to a socialist government then they should have their liberty taken away.

Same thing will happen here once we elect Obama.

damn (1)

AlgorithMan (937244) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877101)

damn, how can I talk about microsoft then?

They shouldn't. They should promote hate speech. (1)

Etherwalk (681268) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877115)

There is little argument nearly so good against bigotry as the exposure of that bigotry in its naked form. You want to see something that will sicken, and make you realize how truly small-minded these people are? Visit the forums of white supremacists, anti-semites, or anyone that such a law would legitimately be used against.

Show people the worst malformed logic and ranting and hatred of that world, so they know better to check themselves of its beginnings.

Re: Teh Topic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18877193)

I ****ing hate pot noodles. I find their very existance to be repulsive. Am I now an evil bastard because there's the possibility that I might one day shoot one of these bastard snacks?

Treat Me Nice (1)

Some New Person (1093341) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877275)

Hello. I am new. I hope everyone treats me well. I am pretty sensitive.

Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18877427)

Let's start with the bible [nobeliefs.com] , the most hateful book ever written!

Every EU citizen should write to their elected whore in support of this attack on Christian bullshit.

Not a simple matter (1)

Plutonite (999141) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877723)

I would love to jump on the bandwagon here, and I do think this is a silly move, but it is not always easy to pass judgments like this about free speech issues. Slightly offtopic, but this comes up alot on slashdot:

In places where the concerned population is largely homogeneous in their beliefs, interests..etc, the public voicing of sentiment that is aggressive towards the said populace/causes them considerable disturbance is not always easy to defend. This is because the "hate speech" is seen as an affront to the nation as a whole, and the government is supposed to be a collective representation of that nation. Defending the right to that kind of speech in public places/widely publicized media would mean that the government would have to protect the speaker against an overwhelming majority of its own populace, and in recent times that kind of defense becomes food for extremism of all kinds.

The solution is not always to uphold free speech defiantly. That would be a great ultimate goal, but it doesn't happen overnight. Solution: education. The said public needs to understand and embrace the notion of free speech fully before a government can protect those rights.

In this case of course, the internet does not apply, and the proposed law is stupid, taken from any angle. Also, that this is being proposed in Europe of all places is very, very sad. What happened to France, champion of liberty, and the eastern block which remembers the horror of totalitarianism to this day? Haven't they learned from their post-Nazi policies that have produced nothing but xenophobia and racism in their countries?
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