American Elephants

What the Heck is “Hate Speech” Anyway? by The Elephant's Child

I do worry rather a lot about language, perhaps because I was an English major. More correctly, because the Left attempts to control the dialogue by changing the meaning of words. Immigration or immigrant is one example, by conflating the term with illegal immigrant, illegal alien, (both perfectly acceptable and accurate terms) refugees (and how that word is defined). But I have posed this question before.

The more problematic case of language is much more difficult.  The words are “hate speech.” Exactly what is hate speech? From the current dialogue, it is apparently any speech that you don’t agree with. Clearly that is an impossible definition, yet that is the basic problem in college campuses all across the country.

Students have been taught that they do not have to listen to speech that offends their delicate sensibilities by not agreeing with their preconceived ideas. Enough professors have spoken out in the media to indicate their despair that the students they are expected to teach—simply don’t know anything. They are unfamiliar with the most basic history, geography, civics and science. Not the hard stuff. They don’t know who won the Civil War. They don’t know who we fought in the Revolution. I could go on at length, but just those two missing facts summarize the situation fairly well.

Headlines from the battle: “Student activists demand college ‘take action’ against conservative journalists.” American Thinker.  “Students claim Objective ‘Truth’ is a ‘White Supremacist Myth,”Breitbart. “Why Colleges Have a Right to Reject Hateful Speakers Like Ann Coulter” New Republic.  “It’s Time to Crush Campus Censorship” National Review, “Those ‘Snowflakes’ Have Chilling Effects Even Beyond the Campus” WSJ, “On Political Correctness” The American Scholar  “Report: Women’s and gender studies courses have increased 300% since 1990” The College Fix  “College makes it easier to graduate by requiring students to learn less: The College Fix.  Those are just a few of dozens.

Middlebury has become famous for rioting to refuse to listen to Dr. Charles Murray, a noted social scientist.  Claremont students refused to hear Heather MacDonald. It was very clear that the students had no idea whatsoever what the speakers represented, or what they might say. In the case of Dr. Murray, the Southern Poverty Law Center (a far-left fringe group made false claims about Dr. Murray). In the case of Heather MacDonald, it was “Black Lives Matter” giving a completely false impression of what she might say. Sad. The kids in both cases would have profited from and learned something valuable from the speeches.

The students are wrapped up in the idea that they should not have to listen to anyone with whom they might disagree, and completely ignorant of the facts. The fault lies with faculty and administration who should have packed up the offenders the following morning and sent them home to perhaps be admitted the following semester — if they had learned anything. That’s what happened to friends of mine for significantly lesser offenses, but that was a long time ago.

You see how the words “hate speech” have corrupted the situation. There is no such thing as hate speech. There are inflammatory words, there is incitement to riot,  there’s shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded theater, but I submit there is no such thing as hate speech. We are watching daily, people thrown in prison, sentenced to hard labor for 15 or 20 years, as the fat junior Kim just did to two Americans, as happens throughout the Middle East — and some people can’t get it through their heads that the Freedom of Speech guaranteed to us by the Constitution matters. There aren’t all that many places in the world where you can’t be jailed for speaking your mind. In a moment in time when the language out there (do you read the comments?) has been vile, insulting, vulgar, and just plain offensive. Well, we do live in interesting times.

ADDENDUM: Over at the Federalist, John Daniel Davidson also wrote about Hate Speech, and wrote even more thoroughly about what it is and isn’t, and it’s very well done. The photo at the top of his post is not of college students, but of older folks with pre-printed signs from the “antiwar committee” urging viewers to “Stop the War on Muslims at Home and Abroad,” “Unite Against Islamophobia,” “End Racism,” and “Stop Racism, Islamophobia and War!” It should be observed that there is no war on Muslims, no such thing as Islamophobia, our problems with radical Islam have to do with their war on the West, their habit of chopping off heads, throwing people off of tall buildings, or burning them alive if we don’t submit to their radical religion. We have not yet declared war, since Obama abruptly pulled the troops out of a hard-won peaceful Iraq, but he has left a nuclear North Korea and a nuclear Iran for his successor to deal with. Again the Federalist photo is a good example of using language inaccurately to make their point, which thanks to our Constitution, they are completely free to do. But we are also completely free to make fun of them.

7 Comments so far
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Sociology is a good example of hate speech.

Arnold Kling’ wife defined sociology as there is poverty and America sucks. All that rhetoric about the rich screwing over the poor is very hateful towards the rich


Comment by Jim Rose

Good definition. When your whole program depends on America being dreadful so that you can move to socialism or neo-communism –definitions are inclined to get all screwy.

Liked by 1 person

Comment by The Elephant's Child

“Hate speech” simply a another label the left uses to attempt to silence ideas it disagrees with or simply doesn’t like. It’s a purely subjective term, having zero legal value. Using the left’s own standard, recent comments from a UC-Davis instructor that Trump should be lynched (“The higher, the better!”) could be prosecuted.

Iowahawk put it perfectly: “I’ll let you ban hate speech when you let me define it.”


Comment by Lon Mead

Iowahawk is always right on! Good one.


Comment by The Elephant's Child

If you say “illegal immigrants should be detained” – many will say this is “hate speech”. But by their very nature a person that evades and crosses borders is a known risk of absconding from justice, they are illegal and therefore almost be definition they need to be detained. So aren’t those practising hate-speech those using foul language to attack those merely trying to enforce the law?

Another great example I had was of some feminist who eventually after I explained that leaving the EU was based on economic grounds, resorting to the last resort of her type and suggested that as a British white, man (I had not told her my race), that I was a racist.

Which is great – because isn’t attributing views and attributes to people merely because of their race the definition of a racist? So in fact, it was she who was being the racist calling me a racist because she assumed my views were because of my race.

The truth is that in many cases “racist”, “hate-speech” and similar PC-nutter allegations are used solely for political reasons to silence perfectly reasonable people with perfectly reasonable views.


Comment by Scottish Sceptic

Didn’t I just read that at Oxford failing to make eye contact is racist? or was it the other way around? Of course it’s all political, but the kids take it seriously.


Comment by The Elephant's Child

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