There have always been violent haters. Always. One problem they had in the past, however, is that their ideas were not popular in the media, so they got the idea that it wasn’t okay to be violent and hateful and stuff. But now they have their own media — their own Radio Rwanda, spouting around the clock “Kill the cockroaches! Kill the Tutsi! Kill the Jews! Kill! Kill! Kill!”. Maybe not in such explicit words, but you listen to Hate Radio, to the Michael Whiners and Rush Limpdicks, you read Stormfront and other such sites, and that is the overwhelming message you get — one of hate beyond words, hate that can, in the end, have only one outlet — killing.
And that’s a problem. It’s a problem because it leads the Timothy McVeighs and Wade Michael Pages of this world to think it’s just fine and dandy to shoot and kill “inferiors”, or blow them up, or otherwise inflict violence. Because there’s others who agree with them. As isolated people they might never have engaged in violence. But after reading violent literature like The Turner Diaries, or listening to the rants of some Hate Radio gasbag urging them to hate anybody who isn’t a white Protestant, they get the idea that they’re one of many, maybe one of even a majority, and thus it’s okay to act on those urges. Yes, it takes someone who is weak-minded to come to such a conclusion, but weak-minded people are everywhere.
The United States is the only — ONLY — Western nation where it’s okay to engage in hate speech of this sort. In every other nation, even in nations with a strong right of free speech written into their Constitution like with Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, it is understood that falsely yelling fire in a crowded theater — or preaching hate via lies in a nation where there’s weak-minded people who will act on it — is harmful and dangerous and is not the kind of speech protected by the right of free speech. As someone else put it, “you have a perfect right to throw your fist, but that right ends at the tip of my nose.” I.e., you have the right to say whatever you feel like saying, but that right ends at the point where it is not truthful and causes harm to other people.
At this point, the free speech absolutionist then says “but… but… who decides? What prevents the government from outlawing *all* criticism of the government?” Well, we have these things called votes, see, where we can vote out any legislators who voted to do such a ridiculous thing. Furthermore, we have these things called juries, where a jury has to agree that the speech is not truthful and causes harm to other people. These two factors keep every other Western nation from becoming the sort of tyrannical hellhole that people predict would happen in America if there were restrictions on hate speech. Indeed, from 1919 to 1969 it was constitutional to pass a law outlawing inciting violence via false speech… and I frankly haven’t noticed that America has become any freer since Brandenburg v. Ohio in 1969 restricted the ability of the government to outlaw false hate speech.
So either America is so weak-willed that unlike every other Western nation it would turn into a tyranny if it outlawed hate speech… or America enjoys, indeeds cherishes, its hate speech, strokes it and hugs it and calls it pretty names. I report. You decide.
– Badtux the Democracy Penguin