Whether you agree or disagree with the Wall Street Journal columnist linked below, the term ‘hate speech’ is a constantly sliding scale. And it usually slides in ways that benefit the current political power. The first act of dictators is to ban some kinds of speech. Certainly, some speech is in bad taste but if you allow any ruling power to regulate what can and cannot be said in public, then you’re on a decidedly slippery slope.
On the Neighbors At War blog we frequently take note of certain Homeowners Associations where a battered neighbor who tries to run for the board is banned from speaking out, banned from handing out campaign literature, forbidden from expressing opinions to neighbors. That kind of fascism threatens the very homes and neighborhoods in which we live.
At the same time, censorship of any kind is a double-edged sword. On a website like this, the moderator has the power to permit or to edit out language or thoughts that he deems are simply in bad taste. But this website is not a government institution. It’s a place where we share concerns, thoughts, feelings.
Our Republic is unique in that the very first right granted to Americans was the right to express thoughts without government censorship. Are there limits? Of course. And we granted the Supreme Court the power to analyze certain kinds of speech to see if they constituted an endangerment to others. In some cases (yelling fire, libel, slander) the Court ruled that freedom of speech is not absolute.
Although Wall Street Journalist Bret Stephens is being pilloried for writing this column, in my opinion he should be congratulated for his analysis.