@Ben Franklin, your comment is exactly what this article is about.
Your presumption that “liberal socialists” “steal” your money borders on being comical to most people, yet you find it personally real and threatening.
No one is out to get you. Yet you actually feel as though “those people” are committing a crime against you, and that makes you angry.
Had you done the math, you’d learn that in order to steal $700 from each American, the total take would be around a quarter trillion dollars. That’s not what’s happening. But facts be damned. Facts don’t fit your prejudice. Reality just gets in your way.
Yet you still feel threatened. Perhaps you should read this article again. It’s about you.
Someone, somewhere, (often a parent) taught you how to hate complete strangers (no one is born hating people). I expect it gives you some twisted form of comfort, but you are misguided and will pay a price for your unwillingness to treat your neighbors as brothers rather than others.
That’s what this article is about.
Hi David, I think that strongly held opinions need to be expressed dispassionately corroborated with facts, research outcomes and statistics. Then the views cannot be labelled hate speech, however distasteful they are. Unfortunately some people don’t understand evidence, particularly when there is some evidence for both points of view.
Hi, Mr. Leedom,
Thank you for taking the time to comment. As the author of the essay under discussion, I appreciate the issues you are raising. Your “Where do you draw the line?” argument is certainly a conundrum for all manner of legal and ethical issues. For example, in legal parlance, “libel” requires that “a published false statement” be “damaging to a person’s reputation”–but who is to say, really, what is or is not “damaging” to someone’s reputation? For that matter, who is to say what is or is not “false”? We can paralyze ourselves in almost any sphere by positing borderline cases that defy easy classification. (A philosophy professor of mine once put it this way: “On a completely bald-headed man, it’s hard to tell where his forehead ends and the rest of his head begins. But that doesn’t mean we can’t define the word “forehead” for ordinary purposes.”)
Yes, as you say: sometimes the line between “strong disagreement” and “hate speech” is hard to define, but–as I think you will agree–that doesn’t mean we should abandon efforts to do so, or that we can’t teach our children to recognize clear-cut instances of hate speech and bigotry. There is, after all, a difference between saying, “I strongly and fervently disagree with the policies of the Netanyahu administration, with respect to its treatment of the Palestinians” and saying, “The f—ing Jews are genocidal pigs!”. Surely we can agree on that? There will, of course, be “middle cases” that are not so easy to classify, but that doesn’t let us off the hook. We must try to sort these things out as best we can.
As for comparing my proposal to “communist governments who put dissidents in hospitals”, I think this comparison goes far beyond anything remotely suggested in my essay. Nowhere do I even hint at forcibly confining anybody, any more than I would suggest forcibly quarantining smokers–yet smoking is a public health problem and merits a public health approach. In my view, bigotry may also be approached via a public health model, which involves voluntary education, increasing self-awareness, and encouraging ethnic and racial tolerance. This is a light-year away from involuntary confinement in mental hospitals. (And please note that I explicitly deny that bigotry is a “mental illness” in the first part of my essay).
I am glad, Mr. Leedom, that we agree on the need “to educate people about the destructive nature of hatred.” In my view, we should not allow “Where do you draw the line?” arguments to discourage us from doing so. Again, thanks for contributing to this discussion.
Ronald W. Pies, MD
OK. Then treat liberal socialism as a larceny crime. Misdeamanor if the theft is below $700, a felony ff the socialist streals more than $700 from a productive American citizen.
A micro bio on me: I’m a mid 50s white guy. I’m not racist, or anti-Semitic. I am conservative, christian and am influenced by people like Ben Shapiro and Jordan Peterson.
To keep things simple I see all physical violence as evil (except self defense). My concern is in hate speech. Where to draw the line between clearly hate speech and a strong disagreement. Threatening violence and calling people names is crossing the line. Blaming general groups of people on your specific misfortune in life or threat of misfortune is crossing the line. But what about having conversations about controversial issues like transgenderism, immigration, feminism, or abortion?
When I hear you talk about treating hate as a public health issue I am reminded communist governments who put dissidents into mental hospitals. To say that a trans-women is still biologically male is a rational statement but will be seen as hate speech or even violence by some. A rational case can be made that mass immigration will have a negative effect on my life, but some will say that is racist hate speech.
The real question is who decides what is hate speech? Advocating violence and verbal abuse clearly crosses the line, but where is the line…exactly. My contention is that it is not clear. We need do need to educate people about the destructive nature of hatred, but at the same time not to overreach and label strong disagreement as hate.
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