Banning 'Hate Speech' In America Will Only Make It More Popular

Authored by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

Liberty is meaningless where the right to utter one’s thoughts and opinions has ceased to exist. That, of all rights, is the dread of tyrants. It is the right which they first of all strike down. They know its power. Thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers, founded in injustice and wrong, are sure to tremble, if men are allowed to reason…There can be no right of speech where any man…[is] compelled to suppress his honest sentiments. Equally clear is the right to hear. To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker.”


– Frederick Douglass

A recent survey conducted by the Brookings Institution adds to my already festering concerns about American attitudes when it comes to our most precious civil liberty. Free speech.

Let’s start out by highlighting some of what we learned. First, via an opinion piece in The Washington Post:

Here’s the problem with suggesting that upsetting speech warrants “safe spaces,” or otherwise conflating mere words with physical assault: If speech is violence, then violence becomes a justifiable response to speech.


Just ask college students. A fifth of undergrads now say it’s acceptable to use physical force to silence a speaker who makes “offensive and hurtful statements.”


That’s one finding from a disturbing new survey of students conducted by John Villasenor, a Brookings Institution senior fellow and University of California at Los Angeles professor.


When students were asked whether the First Amendment protects “hate speech,” 4 in 10 said no. This is, of course, incorrect. Speech promoting hatred — or at least, speech perceived as promoting hatred — may be abhorrent, but it is nonetheless constitutionally protected.


Students were asked whether the First Amendment requires that an offensive speaker at a public university be matched with one with an opposing view. Here, 6 in 10 (mistakenly) said that, yes, the First Amendment requires balance.


The most chilling findings, however, involved how students think repugnant speech should be dealt with.


Let’s say a public university hosts a “very controversial speaker,” one “known for making offensive and hurtful statements.” Would it be acceptable for a student group to disrupt the speech “by loudly and repeatedly shouting so that the audience cannot hear the speaker”?



It gets even worse.


Respondents were also asked if it would be acceptable for a student group to use violence to prevent that same controversial speaker from talking. Here, 19 percent said yes.


What’s more, colleges alone are not to blame for these findings. Other data suggest that freshmen are arriving on campus with more intolerant attitudes toward free speech than their predecessors did, and that Americans of all ages have become strikingly hostile toward basic civil and political liberties.

Here’s some of how Reason covered the same story:

new study conducted by the Brookings Institution’s John Villasenor, a professor at the University of California-Los Angeles, asked 1,500 students at four-year universities about their views on the free speech, and the results are unsettling.


The greatest number, 44 percent answered “no” when asked if the First Amendment protects hate speech. Just 39 percent of students answered correctly and 16 percent answered “don’t know.”


Men were more likely than women to say hate speech was protected (51 percent vs. 31 percent.) And while conservative students are often thought to be more in favor of free speech than their liberal counterparts—at least in the present campus censorship wars—the study suggests this reputation is undeserved. Just 44 percent of self-identified Republicans said that hate speech was protected by the First Amendment, compared with 39 percent of Democrats and 40 percent of independents.


“Across most categories, and in the aggregate, the majority of students appear to prefer an environment in which their institution is expected to create an environment that shelters them from offensive views,” wrote Villasenor.


Teenagers are somehow making it through 12 years of primary education without absorbing the most basic civics lesson: The founding documents of the United States of America zealously protect people who make offensive statements from censorship at the hands of government officials or violent mobs.

Free speech defenders such as myself tend to focus most heavily on the idea that if we allow free speech to be whittled away, before long, government will be able to stifle dissent by placing increasingly expansive swaths of speech into the banned category. As such, the more narrowly we define the First Amendment, the more susceptible our society becomes to a totalitarian state down the road. While I completely agree with this argument and think it’s central to why free speech is so important, there’s another less discussed threat. Specifically, I believing banning certain types of speech will actually make them more powerful and subversive. Hateful thought which is pushed underground can fester and strengthen without the light of day and public debate exposing it for the demented ideology it is.

In the post, Nazi Fears and ‘Hate Speech’ Hysteria are Being Amplified to Attack Civil Liberties, I described my attitude toward neo-Nazis as follows:

The general proclivity to obsess about how one’s group, whether it be a nation, political tribe, or race/religion is superior to all others represents such an immature and unconscious way of seeing the world, it’s really hard for me to believe so many people still see reality through such a lens. This type of thinking tends to attract very insecure people. People who cannot look at themselves individually and be proud of the person they see. As such, they scurry around looking for a group with an established superiority myth which they can then latch themselves onto in order to feel better about themselves.


The good news when it comes to Nazism/white supremacy, at least here in the U.S., is that most people appear to be at least conscious enough not to fall for the most basic and primal type of tribalism — i.e., finding a race-based superiority cult attractive. In contrast, the more nuanced superiority cults, such as those based on mindless nationalism or political identity, are far more entrenched here at home, and present a much greater danger to our future.

I’d say somewhere around 90% of Americans see things similarly to me when it comes to bigotry based on race, religion, etc. That said, the moment “hate speech” becomes illegal is the moment it transforms from grotesque and pathetic to rebellious and subversive. It’s far more productive to keep unconscious views legal but socially unacceptable (as opposed to banning them), or you’ll drive people toward a bigoted position just to flip the bird to the state. In other words, we could see a very similar phenomenon to how Donald Trump got elected. By denying the public a real choice in forcing Hillary Clinton down our throats, enough people either voted for Trump or stayed home simply out of spite. The exact same thing can happen with bad ideas.

Whereas being a Nazi is the antithesis of cool or cutting edge right now, it could rapidly become anti-establishment and subversive to be one in the face of an official ban. This is particularly likely to occur in a society where institutions have lost almost all credibility amongst the public, which perfectly describes America today.

To summarize, any speech deemed illegal by a state that has lost virtually all credibility amongst the public will invariably become more popular simply because it will be seen as an another means to express dissent against a despised governing status quo. This is another dangerous blowback I foresee from any deranged push to narrow the definition of free speech in America. It will help transform what is currently clownish, grotesque speech into something rebellious and popular.

The best thing we can do to fight back against terrible, unconscious ideas is to allow them to be expressed and debated out of existence in public. You can’t legislate consciousness, and banning ideas will not make them to go away. Rather, in the context of the America we have in 2017, it is likely to make them far more popular. Let’s not be stupid and shoot ourselves in the foot yet again, as we’ve done so many times as a culture over the past two decades.

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knukles J S Bach Tue, 09/19/2017 - 18:22 Permalink

Fuck yeah!  All the Progs out here have called me a racist since before Bammy's election (Never been accused of such before in my life) because I disagreed with several economic policies, etc., none of which had squat to do with race.  Their clarion call was "Anybody against the nigger is a racist"  (I mean they pushed the race concept)So what do you think happens?  Call me a racist once, twice, etc., and at some point I drop any civil pretense that my gentlemanly behavior is socially acceptable and that now such is .... now I'm justified ... now I can say ...Oh you betcha!Now to bring Vonnegut up to date, since all the people crying racism seem to be triggered by simple verbiage, they should all have their eardrums punctured to alleviate their sickness.Uses the very same logic as the Dutch to eliminate autism through abortion = EugenicsAnd there we are complete with a symbolic stand in for the book burnings  Fascism lives.My Daddy, God rest his soul, was right when he told me there were commies trying to take over.All they've done is change their names and chants.Still commies.

In reply to by J S Bach

Manthong J S Bach Wed, 09/20/2017 - 00:18 Permalink

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If you ban hate speech in America, university course lectures and campus discussions will have to be done in sign language, semaphore or Morse code.

In reply to by J S Bach

knukles DEMIZEN Tue, 09/19/2017 - 18:28 Permalink

I thought it would be more like freely banned free speech. Where has humanity emerged?  A land of hate, injustice, malevolence and evil dressed as the Messiah.  Of overwheling instant gratification of the gimme more ego, thinking that useless crap will fill the hole in their souls.Are we in Hell serving terms or what?

In reply to by DEMIZEN

ThePhantom Tue, 09/19/2017 - 18:03 Permalink

what difference at this point does it make? first they locked up the people who thought they could use safe natural medicine, then they came for the thinkers and speakers...we just watched our TVS like normal people, till one day they came for me..

sheketebaka Tue, 09/19/2017 - 18:14 Permalink

Reasonable laws should exist. I've seen cartoon characters berate my daughter personally using profanity including the f-word on Disney Jr. If you don't watch television you are an enemy of the state.Also, debasing the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) is punishable by death. No statute of limitations and no exceptions. It is also a crime to debase the Prophet Jesus (pbuh).

CRM114 Tue, 09/19/2017 - 18:08 Permalink

If you remove the right of peaceful protest, including free speech, then violent protest becomes the only option.If a Government is obliged by a Constitution to protect peaceable assembly and free speech and does not, then violent overthrow becomes the required option since that Government has lost its moral right to rule.

consider me gone Tue, 09/19/2017 - 18:22 Permalink

The law bans illegal aliens. How'd that turn out? If they illegalize hate speech, we'll be swimming in Antifa, Raza and BLM calling for the death of all white men. Wait.....

moorewasthebestbond Tue, 09/19/2017 - 18:29 Permalink

I really hate flag-waving, tax-paying, fake-conservative, fake-Christian, MIC-supporting voters. They, not the demoncrat Marxists, are the reason the country has been going down the shitter.

Curiously_Crazy Tue, 09/19/2017 - 18:39 Permalink

"It’s far more productive to keep unconscious views legal but socially unacceptable (as opposed to banning them), or you’ll drive people toward a bigoted position just to flip the bird to the state."Look at what happened with the DMCA. As soon as the state got involved, usage of VPN's skyrocketed.. over the past few years there's been another resurgence with the crackdown on torrent sites - even from people who couldn't give a stuff about torrents, they just see the writing on the wall. People have had enough.

NuYawkFrankie Tue, 09/19/2017 - 19:15 Permalink

It just so happens that the #1 Purveyor Of "Hate Speech" - with its wanton lies, falsehoods & fabrications leading inexorably to WORLD WAR 3 - is none other than that USSA ZIO-Thug Entity squatting in the swamp that is Washington DC, masquerading as a legitimate Government.

Kagemusho Tue, 09/19/2017 - 18:46 Permalink

It wasn't just civics classes that were removed from most public school curricula starting in the mid-1970's, it was also the teaching of 'rhetoric', or how to dissect sentences to determine if those speaking or writing those sentences were engaging in manipulation of the target audience. All quite deliberate, and intended to produce what has been graduating from public school systems ever since.Human Resources: Gatto explains the seedy origin of public education-indoctrination

Is-Be Kagemusho Tue, 09/19/2017 - 20:14 Permalink

Persig argued persuasively that Quality exists in the world independent of subject or object.
From this we can derive that Aristotle (left brain) was wrong and the Rhetoricians were correct.(Right brain)
Dr. Iain McGilchrist addresses the psychology of the issue on YouTube succinctly.

So an argument can rightly be assessed on its Quality.

Those who use the phrase "only Rhetoric" display a lack of enlightenment.

In reply to by Kagemusho