Free Speech vs Hate Speech

Disclaimer: Before trying to take apart my arguments, please do some research first about the boundaries of free speech and hate speech. It’s a centuries old problem with no easy solution. Therefore, what I present here is just my opinion as I take one of the two sides. No matter which side you take, it’s a problem without a clear solution, so there’s no much point debating my position. It’s been debated to death already.

Yesterday, a French court has fined former film star Brigitte Bardot 15,000 euros for inciting racial hatred. She said she was “tired of being led by the nose by this population that is destroying us, destroying our country by imposing its acts“, referring to a mass sheep slaughter/eating tradition by Muslims (similar to the one us Greeks have for our Easter too).

Personally, I disagree with her that people should not eat lamb and that this is a tradition that can ‘destroy’ France. However, I also disagree with the court’s decision to deem that opinion as “hate speech”. I agree that “defamation” should be something that should exist on a law system, but not “hate speech”. I don’t think that “hate speech” even exists in the vast majority of the cases that do get prosecuted. According to Wikipedia, “hate speech is a term for speech intended to degrade, intimidate, or incite violence or prejudicial action against a person or group of people”.

Honestly, I don’t think that Bardot’s reasoning was to intimidate or incite violence against the Muslims of France. Instead, she simply loves animals, and she has the opinion that allowing people from other cultures to enter France changes the French way of life in a way that she doesn’t wanna let go. It’s an opinion. She is a French citizen, she grew in the traditional French culture, and she doesn’t like to see things incompatible to her culture taking place in her own country. You agree with it or not, it’s just her opinion. In fact, in EVERY country there are countless people who feel similarly (e.g. Americans about the Mexicans, Greeks about the Albanians, Germans about the Turks etc), and when people feel something like this, they should speak out EVEN if they are wrong about it. If they can’t take it out of their chests, it’s ALSO wrong you see. If you don’t agree with these views, simply IGNORE them.

France has hate speech laws that restrict the open expression of anti-Semitism, and ethnic bias in public, according to Wikipedia. If that’s true, then France has no free speech in my opinion. USA is the only major country to not have regulation for hate speech, but only for defamation or intention to riot. I have to hand it to the Americans here, that’s the way to go, and I kneel before its forefathers. It’s very sad to see all these EU countries on the Wikipedia article not guaranteeing free speech.

You see, when I listen to Pat Condell’s videos, taking apart the whole Muslim culture, 10 times more vigorously than Bardot, I just feel bad for her for living in a country that doesn’t guarantee free speech. Condell was once accused of hate speech last year, but he doesn’t seem to take shit about it. The thing with Condell is that he is able to articulate the opinions of countless people that simply don’t have the strength to say it for themselves because of fear of lawsuits. When I watch Condell’s videos, I don’t just see someone who rips apart religions and cultures, but I see true free speech. I see someone who is not afraid to speak his mind. And same goes for all those religious activists who reply to his videos either with comments or with video responses disagreeing with him! That’s how our civilization and culture can grow, free speech is essential.

So if Condell can (thank God) speak his mind and not get punished by anything and anyone, why Bardot can’t? Is the blame on a restrictive French law, or he is simply luckier that his videos are hosted in USA, or is it the fact that he masquerades his opinions with stand-up comedy helps his cause? Whatever the answer is, people should not be fined for their opinions.

And btw, I love lamb. My mom told me on the phone the other day that when we finally go back to Greece she will slaughter a lamb for us and roast it. Yummy.

Comments are closed as this blog post is now archived.

Lines, paragraphs break automatically. HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

The URI to TrackBack this blog entry is this. And here is the RSS 2.0 for comments on this post.