Dalrymple has an excellent essay on hate speech laws in the Summer, 2011 edition of The Salisbury Review that amounts to a strong defense of America’s first Constitutional amendment:
…hatred is by far the most powerful and durable of political emotions. One’s feelings for one’s political enemies are warm and lively, while those for one’s political friends are cool and torpid. It is obvious that the rich and the foreigner are in general hated much more than the poor and the fellow countryman are loved; while hatred of oppression is much stronger than love of freedom, especially when it is other people’s freedom. To hate injustice is easy, to love justice, or even to know what it is, is difficult. Hatred, in short, makes politics, and much else besides, go round; and while Freud spoke of the narcissism of small differences, he might just as well have spoken of the hatred caused by small differences.Nor is hatred exhaustible. On the contrary, it is indefinitely expandable. It often increases with its own expression, becoming more virulent with every word uttered; it is not a fixed quantity like fluid in a bottle. It is very easy, as most people must surely know, to work oneself up into a fury of indignation and insensate rage merely by dwelling on some slight or humiliation. Above all, hatred is fun: it gives a meaning to life to those who otherwise lack one.The idea therefore that hate speech can be banned, is of course, is [sic] a sign of impatience with the intractability of the human condition. It wants to legislate people into kindness, decency and fellow-feeling. It appeals to the sort of people who forget (or never knew) that supposed solutions to human problems frequently throw up further problems that are greater than that which the solution is designed to solve. For its protagonists, it has the advantage of creating a bureaucracy of virtue with pension arrangements to match.
There follows a step-by-logical-step analysis of the difficulty of defining oppression and of delineating hate speech from legitimate commentary, and the question of the effect of one’s words vs. one’s intent. His conclusion:
The American approach is best (of course, American universities, with their speech codes, are trying to subvert it). We have laws against incitement to riot and other crimes, and laws against insulting behaviour. That should be enough.
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