Hate speech or free speech?

Hate speech or free speech?
This image: Freepik

France wants to fine social media platforms if they don’t remove hate speech within 24 hours.

Hate speech is too broad a term. Everything one says has the potential to offend someone else, and can be categorised as "Hate Speech" by way of clever argument. Hate speech that incites violence; now there is something that really needs to be tackled. We should be very careful about making that distinction clear. We should never confuse hate speech with freedom of speech and expression of opinion.

Years ago, I got into a very heated debate on Twitter under an old, deleted account. The debate lasted about a month, and resulted in my account being suspended and unsuspended several times. Many of the people I was debating with on the opposite side of the argument suffered the same fate.

We ended up by moving the conversation off Twitter due to the relentless trolling and hashtag hijacking by individuals who sought to shut down the conversation because they disagreed with certain views. Some of our posts were reported to Twitter as hate speech, simply because they offended – or might have offended – some protected minority group.

The topic we were debating was God; if there is a God, et cetera, and we examined several religious and belief systems and lack thereof. We were civil and sought to conduct the debate in a civil manner. The only rule was if someone got personal, they were kicked out of the debate; essentially ignored or blocked by both sides. At it’s peak, a few hundred people participated and suffice to say, it was a very heated discussion.

Lessons Learned

Twitter, Facebook and Reddit are not platforms fit for intelligent, uncensored debate; it is as simple as that. Too many people equals too much emotion and emotional debates never end well. Plus, nowadays, you will be hard-pressed to find someone on these platforms who is capable of posting without memes, GIFs, stickers and emoticons. Sarcasm aside, these platforms are absolutely full of people who want you to think, behave and believe the same as them, and if you dare to be different, woe unto you! Additionally, the platforms themselves play the role of censor, acting on reports but mostly doing so out of context.

Free, uncensored debate must continue

If you find that your views are censored, take it offline. When debates on certain platforms are shut down, move to another. Twitter, Facebook and Reddit are not everything. I still use IRC because it is mostly uncensored. I don’t need the whole world reading and agreeing with my points of view; that would be boring. I don’t need approval for what I believe in either.

The beauty of life is in its diversity. Stay true to yourselves, and never change who you are, what you think and what you believe in for the sake of fitting in.

Never, ever, self-censor. And when censored, always find a way around that censorship.

Tags: free speech

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