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The so-called ‘hate speech laws’ are contrary to fundamental rule of law principles and they are a threat to democracy. They are often promoted and protected by three groups, which would make strange bedfellows: secularists, gay lobby and some Muslim groups.

In May I gave a presentation on this issue and trends at a global conference in Madrid, Spain. Click here to see a 7 minute presentation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jrX4C0v3NQU

It will give you an introduction to freedom of speech vs. hate speech. It will help you understand the basic concepts, and describe the dangerous flaw of hate speech laws.

Freedom of speech is about making room for opinions that may make us uncomfortable. It is for the politically incorrect, for minority views, for the odd, and also for the ordinary. This is the basis for political debate and activity. It is a basis for freedom of press, art and religion.

You cannot have freedom of speech and at the same time guarantee that no one should feel offended or hurt. However, it is guaranteed that if freedom of expression is curtailed then democracy is endangered.

As Salman Rushdie says: “The idea that any kind of free society can be constructed in which people will never be offended or insulted is absurd. So too is the notion that people should have the right to call on the law to defend them against being offended or insulted.”

2 Responses to “Freedom of speech vs. hate speech laws”

  1. This is the first time I’ve chosen to respond to one of Mats’ blog posts (which I thoroughly enjoy and heartily approve of). This time, though, I’d like to make an addendum.

    As a Christian, I would LOVE to be free from hearing profanity, or vile attacks against my faith (and the object of it). I would be happy to live in a world where people are loving, forgiving, and faultlessly kind…and indeed, I think that is the world we are actually made for. So when Mats suggests that we must allow for speech that makes us uncomfortable, that offends us, I squirm.

    Is that really Biblical? Is that the position dictated by our FAITH, or solely by our reason?

    I believe that it is. God’s decision to create human beings with free will is the foundation for all of our freedoms, and our very desire for freedom. Freedom reinforces our dignity as human beings, even as we make undignified choices.

    That’s not a theological treatise, and I’m sure there are people with better arguments – both for and against. But those are my thoughts, for now. I’d love to hear yours.

  2. […] blogger Mats Tunehag wrote in July of this year: “Freedom of speech is about making room for opinions that may make us […]