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The concept is nicely summed up here:
Free speech-even speech you don't like; especially speech you don't like-is one of the things that literally makes America great https://t.co/G6M3PZTdjk— Richard Dreyfuss (@RichardDreyfuss) April 29, 2017
International human rights law also protects freedom of expression. The government may only ban limited types of speech such as that which immediately and directly incites violence, but the government may not impose criminal sanctions for the expression of thoughts or opinions, merely because they are deemed offensive.
Brendan O’Neill - editor of spiked
It’s time to get serious about freedom of speech. It is unacceptable to repress the expression of ideas. It is unacceptable to repress the expression of hatred. ‘Hate speech is not free speech!’, people say. But it is. By its very definition, free speech must include hate speech. Speech must always be free, for two reasons: everyone must be free to express what they feel, and everyone else must have the right to decide for themselves whether those expressions are good or bad. When the EU, social-media corporations and others seek to make that decision for us, and squash ideas they think we will find shocking, they reduce us to the level of children. That is censorship’s greatest crime: it infantilises us. Let us now reassert our adulthood, our autonomy, and tell them: ‘Do not presume to censor anything on our behalf. We can think for ourselves.'
In April 2008, during his keynote address to the first conference of the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa, Professor Bernard Lewis warned of the ominous limits on scholarly analysis of Islam imposed by political correctness and multiculturalism:
The degree of thought control, of limitations on freedom of speech and expression is without parallel in the Western world since the eighteenth century and in some cases longer than that. ... It seems to me it’s a very dangerous situation, because it makes any kind of scholarly discussion of Islam, to say the least, dangerous. Islam and Islamic values now have a level of immunity from comment and criticism in the Western world that Christianity has lost and Judaism has never had.
A damning indictment of the term 'Islamophobia':
The objective of using the word "Islamophobia" appears to have been to make Islam untouchable by placing any criticism of it as equivalent to racism or anti-Semitism.
The word "Islamophobia" deliberately intends to transform the critique of a religion -- a fundamental right in Western societies -- into a crime.
"The term 'Islamophobia' serves several functions....Above all, however, the term is intended to silence Muslims who question the Koran, who demand equality of the sexes, who claim the right to renounce their religion, and who want to practice their faith freely and without submitting to the dictates of the bearded and dogmatic." – Pascal Bruckner, in his book, Un racisme ordinaire : Islamophobie et culpabilité, Grasset, 2017 [English version: An Imaginary Racism: Islamophbia and Guilt, Polity 2018]
It is not Muslims people "hate," any more than they hate Hindus or Buddhists or Shintos. It is the violence and coercion that some adopt -- what is known as jihad or holy war -- that people reject.
In the attacks at the Bataclan Theater and other sites in 2015, terrorists murdered 131 persons and wounded 413. Is it irrational to remember who was calling those shots?
How stifling criticism of Islam is counter-productive to reform of Islam and sharia:
On the surface, for those who wanted to reform Islam, the only place to do so appeared to be the West. We all assumed that here in the West, it would be safe to question and criticize. Instead, so many institutions utilize a far more subtle method of silencing criticism.
The more you conceal or disregard constructive criticism of Islam, the harder you are making it for reforms to occur in the religion and the easier you are making it for Muslim radicals to prevail.
The reason I criticize the radical elements of my religion is not because I have hatred in my heart, but because I desire to protect those who have been abused and abandoned by their leaders.
What is it that I say that rankles the left so much? I refuse to be apologetic for radical Islam in the West. I refuse to gloss over the darkest consequences to which rampant extremism has led. I do not waffle beneath the idea of multiculturalism or tolerance; some things are not meant to be tolerated. The message of the apologists is clear: Get in line. Send out the same messages that others are: about all aspects of Islam being a loving and benevolent religion. Focus on this and sweep the crimes against humanity under the carpet.
This point on tolerance is also very apposite:
Tolerance demands conditions, something that the great Catholic preacher Fulton Sheen knew a century ago. The following piece is an excerpt from his 1931 book, Old Errors and New Labels, and is provocatively titled “A Plea for Intolerance.”
I’m sure his words were timely then, but perhaps moreso today. This line sums up his argument:
“Tolerance applies only to persons, but never to truth. Intolerance applies only to truth, but never to persons. Tolerance applies to the erring; intolerance to the error.”
What a crucial point! The greatest barrier to dialogue is our failure to separate people from their ideas. When that happens, people become afraid to challenge bad ideas because they feel like they’re demeaning the person who holds them. But people are not their beliefs—they have beliefs, but they are not identical with their beliefs. That’s a vital distinction, which Sheen helps us see.
This professor also makes the valid point: ‘Hurling labels doesn’t enlighten, inform, edify or educate.’
What those of us in academia should certainly not do is engage in unreasoned speech: hurling slurs and epithets, name-calling, vilification and mindless labeling. Likewise, we should not reject the views of others without providing reasoned arguments. Yet these once common standards of practice have been violated repeatedly at my own and at other academic institutions in recent years, and we increasingly see this trend in society as well.
One might respond that unreasoned slurs and outright condemnations are also speech and must be defended. My recent experience has caused me to rethink this position. In debating others, we should have higher standards. Of course one has the right to hurl labels like “racist,” “sexist” and “xenophobic”—but that doesn’t make it the right thing to do. Hurling such labels doesn’t enlighten, inform, edify or educate. Indeed, it undermines these goals by discouraging or stifling dissent.
This article on how language manipulation can be used to manipulation beliefs:
How language manipulation distorted national identities
Not all indoctrination is bad. Helping someone understand their own thought processes to help quit smoking or other addiction, for example, is arguably also a form of brainwashing. But in this instance, the intention is to help the individual. Crucially, the individual is aware of what is about to take place.
What should be of concern is when this takes place without our conscious awareness. Because, and you don’t need me to spell this out, that if it’s being done deceitfully we can pretty much guarantee that it isn’t in our interests. So how do we know? It can be difficult, but here are some pointers:
- When you see or hear a headline, first ask yourself why this story is being aired? Or how much air-time it is getting? Who benefits from you buying into the narrative? There are endless stories all over the world the media can choose from, so why did they choose this one?
- What and how is language being used? Are there any words or phrases that are being repeated often? This is important because if this is the case, you will notice people around you repeating the same phrases as their own
- Spend time on numbers 1 and 2 before you get involved in the story. The moment you delve in and get involved in the arguments, you are psychologically much less able to step back and evaluate with the same effectiveness. It is, literally, the perfect example of: ‘Can’t see the wood for the trees’.
Finally, this legal blog makes some very interesting points on the laws currently used to monitor 'hate' speech in the UK.