Archive for : October, 2018

Adam posed me questions on hate speech

Questions

 

Is it not possible that such a legal concept as “hate speech” is an artifact of an unsustainable way of life?

Is it possible for there to be a NON-heteronormative or racially heterogeneous polity over the long term? I do not know. I guess in a few centuries we will know.

 

Responses

 

With respect to your question about the future, I would not venture a guess, but I would have a hope. I believe that understanding ‘cultural constructs’ and deconstruction will breed tolerance. To the extent we can avoid religious directives, we can accept that such differences are unimportant though interesting.

With respect to ‘hate speech’ as a legal concept, it is itself a culturally constructed offence: as such you could label it a ‘cultural artifact’. Condemnations, calumnies, aspersions and threats were not hate speech when the cultural standard approved of aggression against competing faiths or races or lifestyles. When you mandate tolerance, you need to sanction intolerance. Intolerance can be offences against human safety, human rights or human dignity: each level has a more subtle threshold.

Certain groups seek greater government (legislative, regulatory and legal) control over forms of human expression. As often as not, new rules do not express an elevated moral understanding, but an attempted imposition of cultural values. By all means push towards tolerance, but do not shame past values.

The Saudi Keystone Kops play Istanbul

The Saudi assassination, horrible and disgraceful, has nonetheless elements of black comedy. I love the initial Saudi protestations that the assassination hit team were merely tourists: including a tourist who travels with his personal bone saw. After all, even on a one-day tourist outing one can never tell when a body might need to be dismembered. And what a coincidence that the embassy rooms needed a paint job in the days immediately following the dismemberment.

This reminds me of a Python sketch about a bicycle trip through Cornwall, which somehow ends up in the British Consulate in Smolensk where the consul has been replaced by a mandarin imposter who explains the absence of the original consul as an accident: “He have heart attack and fell out of window onto exploding bomb, and was killed in a shooting accident.”

Slightly more seriously, I wonder whether the Prince was culpable in the way Henry II was culpable for the death of Becket, by uttering “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?” His toadies thought they could solve the problem for him, but their methods ended up making the KGB look subtle. Quite an achievement.