Hate speech laws cover up the truth

After terrorists massacred 12 people at the offices of Charlie Hebdo last month, there was a massive outpouring of defenses of free speech in France and worldwide. But many people noted the irony that some supporters of free speech came from countries that don’t have it. Some leaders claiming to support the free speech marchers came from Islamic countries where ‘blasphemy’ is illegal and can bring down severe punishment. Meanwhile in France there are laws against hate speech. In fact Charlie He do had been taken to court over its cartoons featuring Mohammed. The magazine won, but the law gives judges a pretty arbitrary choice about whether speech is insulting enough merit punishment. Charlie Hebdo could have been legally punished for satire; others have been.

There’s another casehighlighting the dangers of hate speech laws that’s gotten very little attention in the USA. It comes from Sweden, where Michael Hess, a politician for the anti-immigration Sweden Democrat Party tried to draw attention to high rates of rape among Muslim nations and Muslim immigrant groups.

The frightening things about the Swedish case is that, if the reporting is correct, the court ruled that the truth of Hess’ claims don’t matter.

"The Court [Tingsrätten] notes that the question of whether or not Michael Hess’s pronouncement is true, or appeared to be true to Michael Hess, has no bearing on the case

Apologies for splitting this into two posts. If a mod could merge this one into the OP, I’d be thankful.

No argument here. Hate speech laws – even for despicable things like Holocaust denial – do more harm to liberal values than the actual speech would, in my view.

I’m not clear – exactly what “truths” are hate-speech laws covering up, here? If Sweden is the rape capital of the West, that is a fact that has not been covered up, since you were able to provide a cite.

Here is the actual quote from the courts - ITR only quoted a bit of it to make it sound like the courts in Sweden don’t care about the truth.

The Courts are saying that it doesn’t matter if Hess is right or wrong *at this time, *because, at the time he made his statement, he couldn’t have known if it was true or false, because he didn’t bother to do any research until afterwards. Therefore his statement was not based on facts, whatever the facts might be.

ITR’s representation of the Swedish Court’s opinion of the truth is incorrect.

I’m not sure that the full quote paints Sweden in a better light than ITR’s claim. The idea that it can be illegal to speak the truth is absolutely Orwellian, as is the idea that some people (those who do research beforehand) have more rights than others.

Of course, the Swedish commission that examined those numbers pointed out that Sweden has the most liberal definition of “rape,” (and other personal assault crimes), in the world. Before one joins your linked article in leaping to the conclusion that the addition of Muslims to Sweden has led to a staggering rise in rapes, one should first find out when the Swedes instituted their current definition of rape and then make sure that the rise is not due to new definitions rather than more events. Your link’s chart shows the spike beginning after 2000. Where are the numbers that show that the Middle Eastern or Muslim immigrant population rose at the same rate in the same years as the rise in rapes?
This appears to be an example of the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy.

(And while the article tries to dismiss one aspect of the discussion:

They are quite possibly engaged in swapping goalposts. I suspect that, given the close cultural ties, this article examining Norway’s reporting of rape in the home would have a strong bearing on how it is reported in Sweden, as well.

There very well may be an issue regarding rapes and immigrants. However, the clearly sensationalist report to which you have linked, with its cherry-picked numbers and its clever failure to support several of its assertions if they seem too far out, does not appear to actually support your thesis in this thread.

In countries where there are hate speech laws, are said laws popular? I see no irony in a French citizen who opposes France’s hate speech laws speaking out in favor of free speech.

Here in Canada, I don’t think I’ve heard anyone speak in favor of the hate speech laws we have on the books; those who do voice an opinion of the subject generally say that the cure is worse than the disease.

Hate speech laws are generally approved of in Norway. I expect if I searched I’d find that most writing about them are by people of the opinion you cite, but I expect the lack of opposing opinions is that they are not necessary, since there is no significant movement calling for the laws to be changed or removed.

It seems to me that the full quote completely changes the whole story.

Ummm… what you call “those who do research beforehand” would normally be referred to as those who speak the truth based on facts that they know and reasonably believe to be true, as opposed to those who maliciously make shit up. If you were to look at things like libel, slander, and defamation laws, or laws governing legal testimony and laws against perjury, you would see that in most societies those who tell the truth do indeed have a whole pile more rights than malicious liars, and quite properly so.

Well, now you have. :slight_smile: In fact most folks I know feel much as I do, the key being that the laws are carefully limited to incidents that cause serious societal harm. They’ve been used, for instance, to deport a virulent anti-Semite neo-Nazi, who I believe was subsequently arrested and jailed in Germany. Conversely, when a right-wing bigot named Mark Steyn wrote a series of articles critical of Islam in a Canadian magazine, and an Islamic advocacy group brought suit against both Steyn and the magazine, freedom of speech was upheld and the suit was dismissed. As I’ve said before, most western nations have some form of hate speech law, and it’s really the US that is the outlier in its absolutism about the First Amendment.

Probably Alberta libertarians! :smiley:

It’s worth acknowledging that the US has plenty of restrictions on speech. Everyone draws a line somewhere.

It’s laughable to suggest one is committing a crime when he or she speaks the truth, regardless of whether the government deems “you have done your research.”

An absurd load of dogshit. Seemingly a new load of dogshit coming out or Europe every week with regard to free speech.

It’s not quite the same. A Swedish politician or media outlet should be able to openly cite these statistics without the threat of imprisonment. A poster on SD citing it from the safety of his own home is not equivalent. Imagine a politician in the US or US not being able to cite certain stats but some poster on SD can. It’s not exactly a healthy situation, is it?

And one can’t? Cite?

And a Swedish politician can openly cite these statistics. What they can’t do, is make up a bunch of defamatory shit which may or may not be true.

The second sentence being the all important one. Politicians make statements of dubious accuracy all the time. They should be able to do this without threat of imprisonment or curtailment of their democratic rights. Nevermind, the cracking down on free speech will benefit those who are censored. Censored(and censured) politicians are the ones who will benefit from this. We are seeing this over large parts of Europe in recent years.

Yep. Hate speech laws allow the hate-speech-ers to legitimately portray themselves as victims – they are being forcefully sanctioned for simply writing or saying something. It makes them into martyrs. Far better for them to be challenged, mocked, belittled, and dismissed by the public and free press.

Hmmmm . . . Wait, let’s not be so hasty, here . . .

True, but we have to remember that the US is a rare state that guarantees nearly unlimited free speech as a bedrock right of its citizens. (Is there a second country that does so - not just in a top clause, but without a gotcha takeaway clause later?)

There are many admirable things about the European nations. But if you don’t pick and choose your admiration, there’s some real shit clinging to the bottom of them.

Are you arguing that those who spout unfounded blather are equal to those who know what they’re talking about and can prove it?