Free Speech rules
#13
This New York Times opinion piece dated 13th November 2012,

Going In Circles With Hate Speech

examines two suggested approaches to dealing with hate speech, namely, the zero-tolerance approach and the marketplace-of-ideas approach. The following are quotes from the article weighing both these options.

The case for zero-tolerance of hate-speech:
Quote:You can’t cogently debate whether to regulate something unless you have first identified the harms it produces. Bhikhu Parekh, political philosopher and a member of the British House of Lords, is quite confident in his account of those harms. Hate speech, he says, “lowers the tone of public debate, coarsens the community’s moral sensibility, and weakens the culture of mutual respect that lies at the heart of a good society.” In addition, hate speech “violates the dignity of the members of the target group” who lead “ghettoized and isolated lives with a knock-down effect on their children’s education and career choices.”

The case for engaging hate-speech in the marketplace of ideas
Quote:We are not, she (Nadine Strossen, a professor of law and a past president of the A.C.L.U) insists, “automatically diminished just because some bigot says something negative about us.” Indeed, we are better off knowing about the hateful things being said, first because it provides “valuable information,” second because it gives the targeted individuals “an opportunity to respond” and third because it “highlights … issues that can be addressed in other ways, for example through education.”

Why this is an enduring dilemma
Quote:In the end, none of the alternative ways of dealing with hate speech is entirely satisfying. Allowing it all leaves unanswered the question of what to do about the harms it causes. Banning it all reopens the question of just what it is and what it isn’t. Selectively banning this but not that only reanimates the divisiveness that hate speech regulation promises to diminish. We’ll be at this for a long time, going in exactly the same circles.
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#14
Comments on the link above on hate speech.

Though US has no laws against hate speech, the market place (the real one, not the market place of ideas) does separate what is permissible from what is not with a not too clearly defined line. People who cross that line are not punished by the law but by the market. Several media personalities have lost their job for being stupid enough to cross that line by making racist and homophobic statements in public.

Should this be viewed as a zero-tolerance approach to hate speech or as marketplace-of-ideas approach to hate speech?
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#15
(15-Nov-2012, 09:01 AM)Captain Mandrake Wrote: Though US has no laws against hate speech, the market place (the real one, not the market place of ideas) does separate what is permissible from what is not with a not too clearly defined line. People who cross that line are not punished by the law but by the market.
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Should this be viewed as a zero-tolerance approach to hate speech or as marketplace-of-ideas approach to hate speech?

However these restraints on speech by the 'market' maybe characterized or conceptualized, they are not draconian nor are they a manifestation of tyranny. The market is after all as much an archetypal site of negotiation of contracts as a parliament is, and both are common metaphors for intersubjective or consensual approaches to morality. Each metaphor seems to emphasize a particular aspect of such an approach, with the parliament metaphor emphasizing the binding nature of the resulting contract which becomes enforceable, and the market metaphor emphasizing the bargains inherent in the process that indicate collective preference.

We may think of this force of public opinion, mediated by the market, as an instance of 'soft power', which as described by Shashi Tharoor, is 'not exercised but evoked'. While exercise or enforcement is often expensive and doesn't constitute guarantees against relapse of deviant behaviors once withdrawn, it becomes superfluous when the desired behavior has become second nature in the community to the extent of being self-sustaining and compatible with self-regulation.

One way of gauging how far a community has 'come of age' is to see to what extent is its value system upheld by exercised authority and to what extent by internalized values and voluntary self-regulation. Greta Christina offers this instance from the humanist movement, where homophobia was countered by the soft-power of allies obviating the exercise of hard power by administrators. Count Leo Tolstoy goes as far as saying that all moral progress is owed to 'the force of public opinion' rather than to any lawmaking. It maybe more reasonable to say moral progress is most durable when society's hard power is used sparingly and only by exception, and soft power is used discerningly and not simply as a submission to habit or the crowd.
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#16
(15-Nov-2012, 09:01 AM)Captain Mandrake Wrote: Though US has no laws against hate speech, the market place (the real one, not the market place of ideas) does separate what is permissible from what is not with a not too clearly defined line. People who cross that line are not punished by the law but by the market. Several media personalities have lost their job for being stupid enough to cross that line by making racist and homophobic statements in public.

Should this be viewed as a zero-tolerance approach to hate speech or as marketplace-of-ideas approach to hate speech?

It is not often that Suhel Seth is approvingly quoted in forums like this one, but he clearly articulates how a state where 'people who cross that line are not punished by the law but by the market' may actually be, on balance, a desirable state of affairs.

Quoting him from an NDTV panel discussion 'Is rapper Honey Singh just an easy target?' aired Jan 4, 2013,

Quote:I think there is a reality of commerce that plays out. Whether it is music stations, whether it is record companies, they will, by this public outrage itself, introspect. The Honey Singhs cannot be banned by you and I(sic). A ban is not the solution. When you choke their money supply, they will automatically disappear.
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So you are creating conditions which to my mind are very good on the one hand and very tokenistic on the other. The good conditions are: We as a society are awakening to crudity and depravity in the manner in which we both treat, and define, our women...But don't confuse the wood for the trees, because you will not stop lewdness qua women by this kind of tokenism. You need better policing, you need stricter laws and you need laws that demonstrably enforce punishment.

Quote:... Look at what happened that day. A hotel called Hotel Bristol outside Delhi was forced to cancel Honey Singh's concert. Why? Because they believed that they were upsetting a large constituency of their consumers. It was the fear of losing consumers and therefore commerce that prompted them to do this, in addition to reputation. So, if Twitter and social media can force companies, corporations, hotels, to be more ethical, more responsible, more sensitive, I am all for it.
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