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Old 01-25-2010, 06:50 PM   #1
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Default Hate Speech

Hate speech is exactly what it is in the words used to make it up: speech that is purposefully (and sometimes, accidentally) used to make a person or an entire group of people feel inferior, hated, oppressed, and/or disrespected even though the person or people charged under these circumstances could have nothing to do with the source of the strife to begin with. To say that one bad apple makes the apple tree bad is, thankfully, far from the truth.

Almost all private (colleges, business) and public (government) institutions have had to confront the issue that is probably the most heated debate when it comes to protect the people's right under the First Amendment, that they have the right to say whatever they want. However, as a Supreme Court case has already mentioned, the First Amendment does not cover any speech that "by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach to the peace."

Before moving on, let me explain what the First Amendment is, for those who don't know what I'm talking about. The First Amendment claims that every individual is able to speak whatever they please, write and publish whatever they wish, have a right to assemble peacefully, and petition to the Government when it comes to despair of the public.

I'm reading an essay that Derek Bok wrote in 1991 when Confederate flags were hung from a window at one of Harvard University's dorm rooms. For some background information, Derek Bok was president of Harvard from 1971 to 1991, so he must have written this just before he was leaving office. I'll be quoting him and another guy from time to time, but I want to bring up is when he says in the introduction, "For several years, universities have been struggling with the problem of trying to reconcile the rights of free speech with the desire to avoid racial tension. In recent weeks, such a controversy has sprung up at Harvard. Two students hung Confederate flags in public view, upsetting students who equate the Confederacy with slavery. A third student tried to protest the flags by displaying a swastika."

According to Derek Bok, the displaying of the Confederate flag and the swastika are protected under the First Amendment. As he says, "... the display of swastikas and confederate flags clearly falls within the protection of the free speech clause of the First Amendment and cannot be forbidden simply because it offends the feelings of many members of the community. These rulings apply to all agencies of government, including public universities."

In another statement, Bok says that inhibiting what 'free speech' covers and why it should not be expanded to anything else is because the '"power of censorship" is a ridiculously slippery slope. I agree with him, because when rules are put down, a select number of people are going to test the limits of the rules, and whatever they can get away with, they will exploit. It is also considerably unfair because if there were rules, things would have to fall into case-by-case scenarios, and violators might say something like, "I know that they did this, so what I did is just the same," and protesters might say, "We've seen this before, but this time it was just ridiculous!"

Bok says that when people cause an uproar among the community and make the surrounding the environment an uncomfortable for many people, the first thing to do is to ignore it. By refusing to look at the problem, the ones who caused the problem will eventually discover that they wasted their energy in doing it, and won't do it a second time. However, to me this just screams, "We have to try something even bigger to get people's attention!" However, if ignoring the problem is not possible, it should be confronted.

Charles R. Lawrence III highly disagrees that people should do nothing, instead they could confront the ones who are causing the problem immediately and they should be dealt with responsibly. His article was written in 1989 in the Chronicle for Higher Education, a publication- at the time, that was mostly read by faculty and staff members of colleges and universities. To clear any obscenities about his background, Lawrence opens his essay admitting that when he was young, he was an advocate for First Amendment liberties. But, he does say, "There are very strong reasons for protecting even racist speech. Perhaps the most important of these is that such protection reinforces our society's commitment to tolerance as a value, and that protecting bad speech from government regulation, we will be forced to combat it as a community."

Charles Lawrence is more concerned about racist speech than hate speech, but I think that what he says can also be applied to hate speech, as well. While the courts have done great jobs in trying to keep the prohibition of racist and hate speech out of government hands, Lawrence mentions where the courts have fallen short. "Courts have held that offensive speech may not regulated in public forums such as streets where the listener may avoid the speech by moving on, but the regulation of otherwise protected speech has been permitted when the speech invades the privacy of the unwilling listener's home or when the unwilling listener cannot avoid the speech. Racist posters, fliers, and graffiti in dormitories, bathrooms, and other common living spaces would seem to clearly fall within the reasoning of these cases." He also mentions that it is unfair that students (and people) of the minority have to resort to the safety of their own homes just to avoid being verbally assaulted.

Lawrence criticizes the people, because they ignorantly acknowledge the fact that racist speech (and hate speech) exist, yet do nothing about it when they hear it. Lawrence believes that the only way to remedy society of hate and racist speech is if everyone takes an active responsibility of taking care of it when it arises. He says that when we choose to do nothing, we are giving the oppressors power, thus by doing nothing we are unwillingly showing the ones who suffer that we are on the oppressor's side.

I can tell of a few personal accounts, not where I was subject to verbal violence, but a observer of it in a public space. When I heard this, is there anything I can really do anything about it? Though I can completely understand that if no one chooses to do anything, things don't change, I can't wholeheartedly say it is my place to say anything. Perhaps there is some truth to it, but there are two other, more cowardly reasons why I don't want to say anything. Number one, because I don't want to leave my comfort zone. Number two, because I don't want to see it for what it really is. However, as I can understand from the Tragedy of the Commons, when one person refuses to participate, others question whether they should when this one person has not. Then they choose not to because it has no longer become the responsibility of everyone to take care of it. This one person who becomes an idiot in the literal sense of the word exponentially increases, bringing us to where society is today.

We were also discussing this in my writing class. The reason why I'm writing this down is because I chose to do an essay on these two authors, but since I don't really know what I want to write about, I decided best to write it here and see what I come up with.

One of the my co-students said this, "The confederate flag and swastika thing is debatable in itself, though. What if I do that, because I'm proud of my ancestors and my heritage? I'm not inherently doing anything wrong, I'm just expressing what I believe in. It's acceptable to make jewelery and stuff about religion and the crucifix and what-not, but it isn't just because the swastika is connected to Nazi Germany and the Confederate states supported slavery?" She was right, though. Christ died on the crucifix and brought the undertaking of many things both good and bad, but no one complains about that. This is probably the same thing that the courts were thinking, too, thus why it is okay to express such things in public, no matter how uncomfortable it may be to the majority of the public.

It bothers me so much more, as my instructor recounts of a time when she was working in a Persian restaurant. The cooks- whom were all from Europe would say, "Where's that stupid American?" and "What the f%#^ is that American doing?" Anyway (lol), the point I'm trying to bring up here, is that I don't understand why some people from other nations want us to give them respect when they talk like they're better than 'the American' and can say whatever they want. No normal person is going to willingly submit to that. I would like to say that it's different now, but I've never worked in a restaurant like that, before, much less in a space where the American is truly the minority.

I would not want this happening the other way around either. If anything, that would be worse because one of my own countrymen are doing it. However, coming across this situation, I do nothing. Why? I have every rite to step in and say something, but at the same, I can also say that it's none of my business and it's not my problem. According to Lawrence though, it IS my problem, because I'm letting someone else get away with it.

Another co-student that I've worked closely with has a different perspective of what hate speech has done to communities. She believes that whether or not we force rules that deter hate speech, it won't stop the fighting. If we do have enforced rules, some people will be unable to channel their anger towards certain people verbally, and may become more prone to attacking others physically, which is even worse than the current situation. If we don't have rules- which is how it kind of it right now, people have a right to say whatever they want, so if they want to be verbally abusive, they have all of the rite to do so. However, the common strategy when threatened is to either say nothing or retaliate. Lawrence has written that one of the primary reasons why the minorities choose to do nothing is because despite the fact that they are the victim, most know that throwing the same words at the accuser only makes them as criminal. However, the second reason Lawrence describes is the same that I feel: Fear.

Where does that fear come from? What am I so scared of? Being hurt? Hurting someone else? Being told that I'm wrong? Being told that I'm right and someone else is wrong?

Don't forget though, as mentioned earlier, the Supreme Court- the highest interpreters of U.S. law, have the final say. According to them, speech that is purposefully used to intimidate, assault, or libel others are NOT covered by the First Amendment.

Lately, it seems as though many people are concerned about order and justice. Having all of the time to ponder my feelings and reflect on this essay, I have to say that I am concerned about neither. I think it's time to add another idea to that grand list of two: civility.

I'm not saying that society hasn't made progress, because it definitely has (in most places of the world, at least). However, considering that there is the anonymity of the internet, people from everywhere scrutinize a lot more than I think people tend to realize. Remember what Uncle Ben told Peter Parker? "With great power, comes great responsibility." I find it ironic how the most sensible things said in novels and stories have morals that we say we know, but never take seriously. If we want to keep our social liberties, we have to work hard to keep them. I just feel that more and more people are beginning to slack off because individuals have thought about taking them away. While it may be true that it's just one of those things that we as a whole take for granted, I don't want to be in that group, and joining the bandwagon will only gradually make our situation worse.

Kurt Vonnegut wrote "Harrison Bergeron", where the ultimate, degrading solution to our problem would be to force people into being the same. If you're strong, you are forced to wear weights. If you're beautiful, you must wear masks and shawls. If you're smart, you get a chip implanted in your brain that produces awfully loud, disturbing noises every few minutes. This might happen one day, because we have surrendered our social liberties. My dear reader, if you have read this all of the way through and have not taken anything from it, if you would please just acknowledge what follows afterward, then I've done my part, and I thank you.

"There is no point in having committed the brain if one cannot commit the heart."
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Old 08-14-2010, 12:19 AM   #2
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As cool as all this is, why have you brought it up?

Quote:
It bothers me so much more, as my instructor recounts of a time when she was working in a Persian restaurant. The cooks- whom were all from Europe would say, "Where's that stupid American?" and "What the f%#^ is that American doing?" Anyway (lol), the point I'm trying to bring up here, is that I don't understand why some people from other nations want us to give them respect when they talk like they're better than 'the American' and can say whatever they want. No normal person is going to willingly submit to that. I would like to say that it's different now, but I've never worked in a restaurant like that, before, much less in a space where the American is truly the minority.

Because they feel inferior to us, that's why people act that way
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Old 08-17-2010, 04:11 AM   #3
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In the market, a seller would usually charge a price that is higher than the value of his merchandise. The natural reaction of the buyer would be to offer a price that is lower than the actual value of the merchandise and the two would eventually reach a settlement of the right price. If the buyer has offered the right price of the merchandise, the bargain would probably end at a higher price than the true value and the buyer would feel defeated.

In physics, an object under a conserving force that was excited and moved to a new location would react by moving back past the original point and further towards the opposite direction. It would then oscillate back and forth until it loses enough energy and stop at the origin. This is nature

If someone walks up to you and says: "I am more superior then you are." the response would most likely be: "No! I am more superior than you are." And only the ones with strong and well educated minds would say: "No! We are equal".

All people have pride, and that pride makes them retaliate when offended. It is natural that when a person from a supposedly superior nation is in the presence of a person from a so called third world nation, the third world country person would try to degrade the other person to disprove the claim. It isn't the right thing to do, but it is what that person's pride urges him to do.
The people there didn't feel inferior, it is because they refuse the so called superiority of others that they do such things (insulting others is the worst way to complement your self, but many people still do that).

Saying whatever you want to is a right given to you by the capability to do so, but considering the feelings of others and the consequences of your act is a responsibility that one should acknowledge due to having such right. When people demand laws to guaranty their rights, they shouldn't object to laws that enforce their responsibilities.

It shouldn't be so hard to be proud of your heritage without hanging a flag or carrying a certain symbol, especially when that flag makes some people uncomfortable and even unsafe. If you must hang that flag no matter what, it shouldn't be a problem to hang a sign saying that you aren't a supporter of whatever bad interpretation of it (I am against slavery), taking that extra step to make sure that your right doesn't violate the rights of others is a civilized behavior.

Since ancient times, labels to declare humans who show inhumane behavior unfitting of being part of our race were created and used in every civilization. But when denying the humanity of another person became tabooed by religion and social concepts, labels to declare some people more fitting of being called human were created, civil is one such label.
Being civil means acting in a way that doesn't violate the rights of others while maintaining or boosting the order where you stand. A group of civilized individuals would have justice and order even in the absence of law and regardless of the nationality and circumstances of the individuals forming that group. From this point of view, law and order are the consequence of civilization and not its backbone the way some people try to say.

When people started showing deviation from the civil behavior, stories were made to remind them of the right way to behave and that is why most old (and some of the new) stories are constructed to show a certain moral. At the same time, laws were formed to warn people from straying off the right path and that is why the first written laws were actually a declaration of a set of punishments that would befall any who misbehave.

The declaration of human rights and the American constitution are sad proof that a text to show people what they can do and what they can't is needed. In other words, it shows that the majority of our race is no longer civilized.

Observing law and order is just a solution for the symptoms of the real problem: The decline of civilization.
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Old 08-17-2010, 06:23 PM   #4
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Dark, that's a great example of why I doubt I can ever doubt you. Thank you for that reply. Not only does it comment and answer my essay, it extends the main idea and provides new ideas to think about.
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Old 08-18-2010, 02:46 AM   #5
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But it doesn't answer my question >_<, please enlighten this idiot
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Old 08-18-2010, 05:10 PM   #6
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Well, "The reason why I'm writing this down is because I chose to do an essay on these two authors, but since I don't really know what I want to write about, I decided best to write it here and see what I come up with."

This was a great way of organizing my essay. I didn't use the whole thing; as in matter of fact, after I turned in my paper, I came back to work on it some more.
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"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love,
I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge,
and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing."

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Old 08-18-2010, 07:47 PM   #7
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Ohhhhhhhhhh...
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