In most other Western countries, "hate speech," or speech which incites hatred or violence against a group or individual within that group, is specifically prohibited and excluded from free speech protections. In the United States, only speech which incites immediate violence or criminal activity would be restricted, and courts have generally been pretty strict about their definition of "immediate." For example, the kind of discussion and language frequently used to describe Muslims in some media in the United States is considered hate speech in other countries. In fact, all sorts of really vile speech qualifies as protected speech in the U.S. Advocating violence against black people and Jews? Protected. Neo-Nazis marching through a predominantly Jewish town? Protected. Burning a cross on a black family's lawn? That's protected too.
Yelling, "GO BACK TO WHERE YOU CAME FROM DUCKS!" Protected.
I don't know if I'm really qualified to say which of these approaches is better or worse. On the one hand, silencing free speech for things you don't like hearing feels like a cop-out. It's not free speech then, is it? Offensive, irredeemable speech is, in the end, just speech, and can be easily refuted, exposed, or mocked once it's out in the open. Silencing it may not end it so much as force it underground. And to use the United States as an example, even though it protects really vile speech, groups persecuted based on race, gender, or sexuality have generally experienced growing prosperity and acceptance over the past few decades. So something must be working.
On the other hand, let's consider the example of Europe, where, quite famously, a majority used its power and the volume of its speech to belittle, mock, and otherwise spread hatred against a minority group, which led to some very bad things. If hatred of a particular race led to the biggest crime in the history of humanity, then yeah, maybe we should do anything we can to stop racism from spreading, even if it does mean bending another cherished right. And again, Europe and the rest of the world that has hate-speech laws have also generally seen improving conditions for persecuted groups. Something's working there as well.
So I don't know. I guess the moral is, if you want to be really vile, you should do it in the United States. Although another option perhaps worth considering is to just not be vile at all? Maybe try that out?
Those ducks deserve to find their piece of happiness.
Chris Bucholz is a Cracked columnist and REDACTED. Join him on Facebook or Twitter to learn the dark truths he was prevented from sharing with you here.
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