What is free speech?
"If liberty means anything it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear" George Orwell
As a staunch Libertarian Freedom of speech is very important to me I see it as one of the most important of all the human rights. It is what we use to discuss controversial subjects. It was what we use to express our opinions, critique, joke and complain about things in our lives. You will often hear people quote Voltaire saying "I disapprove of what you say, but I defend your right to say it." You could even argue without freedom of speech we would all still be learning that the world is flat or that Pelicans blood can bring the dead to life.
Recently there has been legislation proposed to force universities to commit to free speech.It saddens me deeply that legislation has had to be proposed in order for this to be accepted universally. As an institution of knowledge, it’s the duty of every university to make sure free speech is protected. All ideas need to be discussed good and bad. In 2017 there has been significant de-platforming of controversial speakers such as race realist, alt-right hero Milo Yiannopoulos. This has been detrimental as de-platforming such ideas instead of debating them just cause them to fester further and gain even more followers. The violence has to lead to reactionary violence from the white nationalists who were a pretty low key small group of people which resulted in someone being killed. Similarly, in France, they made holocaust denial ILLEGAL now they have a major problem with holocaust deniers. it’s a completely bogus idea but its lead people wonder why would they make it illegal if it's not true maybe there’s something to it? Its everyone’s duty to debunk such obviously silly ideas and not the governments job to legislate their opinions. Ignorant free speech works against the speaker that’s why it is so important we maintain it and allow them to speak.
What about hate speech?
Those Opposed to free speech claim that hate speech incites violence and segregation in society, therefore, it should be made regulated. Recently here in Scotland YouTuber Mark Meechan made a short prank video where he said “Gas the Jews” and his girlfriend's pug would do a Nazi salute he said at the start of the video it was a joke and sorry for any offence but that wasn’t enough for the Scottish Government. He has been taken to court and could be charged with a hate crime. This is one of the problems with hate speech, jokes fall under that bracket too. should the Monty Python crew be charged as well? It’s quite the dilemma what should the punishment be for hate speech? Prison time? A hefty fine? Lose their voting rights?
What is worse is that no one can come to an agreement as to what constitutes a hate crime/hate speech because it is all contextual and the court decides the context, not you. What if someone’s wife were to leave him for a woman, and he decides all LGBT people are evil? Is he really a bad person that needs to be punished for feeling like that? I would strongly argue no; it might be irrational but you can't blame them. Some would argue slander is worthy of imprisonment as it can cause a significant financial loss for businesses or even violence against an individual, however, Slander comes under fraud defined as wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in a financial or personal gain.
One last point... Do you like the current government? well if you want hate speech laws THEY will be the ones creating them and regulating what YOU can say a slippery slope. The same legislation proposed can be used against you do you really want the next Stalin or Hitler deciding what hate speech is for you?