What exactly is hate speech?

From the SDMB registration agreement:

I was refreshing my memory of the rules when it suddenly struck me that I have no clear idea of how the SDMB defines hate speech. So what does constitute hate speech?. I checked the definition on Wikipedia but it seems far broader than would fit. For instance, attacking a group of people based on their ideology is included and that clearly isn’t in force here (nor should it be.)

Could a misogynist set forth his principles on the board? A White Supremacist? Someone who hates fat people? A eugenecist?

I have no intention of testing any limits, I’m just interested as to how exactly you define hate speech.

They know it when they see it. That’s the best you’re going to get.

I don’t know about the board, but I find that the Wikipedia definition is pretty accurate[

](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hate_speech)For the board, it seems the question is mostly which of those examples is considered a valid target of hate speech. But the basic idea that you must be “disparag[ing] a person or group of people based on their social or ethnic group” seems to hold true.

Like with every other rule, we really don’t want to try to set up legal definitions. It would take volumes, and once we’d set up a definition that hate speech is abcdefghij, someone would want to push the envelope and ask about how about just abcdefghi.

So, no, you’re not going to get a clear-cut definition. We’ve usually followed US anti-discrimination rules and said that degrading or insulting comments directed at a group (based on religion, ethnicity, disability, nationality, gender or sexual orientation.) Ageism hasn’t been so much of an issue. From the Wikipedia cited by BigT, I can’t see us caring much about “social groups” (insulting jocks or nerds, for instance, is a different order of magnitude from insulting a nationality or religion.)

We’ve fortunately had very few instances of hate speech, and they’ve usually been clear and overt . We tend to attract a fairly intelligent group of posters, who are pretty much accepting of other ethnicities, religions, gender orientations, etc. We can disagree, without insulting the other party.

If you’re worried whether some snarky aside or Pit-comment might be mistaken as “hate speech” when it wasn’t intended, I don’t think that’s really a worry. There’s usually no question when we stumble on hate speech.

White separatists have been allowed (by Gaudere) to debate here under the same rules as everyone else. Some years back, there was a lady from Stormfront who spent a few weeks debating, and she did comport herself admirably. Although her ideas were wrongheaded and her arguments were mostly weak, she expressed her views with civility and as much sensitivity as one could expect. She wasn’t calling anyone names or using ugly words. She just advocated segregation. And I should add that not every aspect of her argument was bogus. I recall that she linked to a reputable source (if the US government can be considered a reputable source) that reported on a phenomenon that amounted to a sort of voluntary segregation, not just among whites but among blacks as well. Of course, that was years ago, and I think the trend has shifted somewhat, at least from what I’ve observed.

I see hate speech against people with disabilities (eating disorders, mental illnesses) and differing orientations (including regionalism and religion) frequently. They don’t come from a lot of different people, but the comments show up often.

I’ve seen plenty degrading or insulting comments directed at a religious group on this board. Should we start reporting them as hate speech?

If you see such, Zoe (or anyone else, of course), please hit the REPORT POST button (the little ! in the red triangle in the upper right corner of the post) and let the mods decide. There’s often a fine line between a “friendly joke” about (say) a mental illness, vs hate-speech directed against the disabled. Anyhow, please REPORT it and let the mods decide.

As Liberal has noted, it should be possible to hold civil discussion with people whose ethics are different from yours. A racist, bigot, anti-semite, homophobe, whatever-else who can engage in civil discourse without insulting other posters (or groups) should be able to converse on these Message Boards. Who knows, someone might find the right words to talk them out of their bigotry?

Heh… there’s a reason the Pit’s become a bit more friendly in the last year or so, and it’s because of reasons similar to this.

It’s a slippery slope, and I don’t really have a dog in this fight, but I’m fine with it being undefined. Just… amusing to see how such a small seeming incident at the time rolled into no usage of certain words, moderator changes, and even splinter boards. In retrospect, who really saw that coming?

I reported a post where the term “Indian giver” was used to describe someone derogatorily. No action was taken. Why do you suppose that is?

The rules concerning which expressions are insulting are utterly arbitrary. There is no logic to them at all, other than that some groups are “out of bounds” and others aren’t. Nobody would ever report someone for saying “go Dutch” even though that expression originated as an insult insinuating that the Dutch are cheap. Probably no one even knows that.

Probably because you could get away with saying that on prime time TV and people wouldn’t raise a fuss. I sorta use that as the litmus for what’s harsh or not. If it would get in trouble playing at 8pm on a major channel, it’s probably not kosher.

I guess you just got gypped there.

“Hate speech” is usually more than just a single word or phrase. There are some exceptions, such as “nigger” or “kike” that imply a lower-than-human status, and which tend not to exist outside of hate-speech rants.

We certainly agree that phrases like “Indian-giver” or “Dutch-treat” or “Oriental” or “wop” are insulting, but they’re also commonly used by people who are NOT intending insult, and certainly not intending hate speech. We don’t want to try implementing some sort of “political correctness” – requiring people to say personufacturing or huperson beings, sort of thing. We want this to be a place where people can have open discussions, and where practically anything goes. At the same time, we don’t want to give a forum to out-and-out racism and bigotry. So, we try to find the reasonable balance.

A poster had to change her name from “Hottentot” because one person complained, even though she meant no offense, and no one around here had used it derogatorily.

I personally think there’s a diff between username and posting. If I post something and mention Spanish fly, and then get told by someone that “Spanish fly” is offensive to Spaniards, I can learn from it, and then decide whether I want to continue to use that term in the future. If the term is my username, it’ll appear everywhere I ever post. There’s a major diff, seems to me.

We’ve had to deal with LOTS of usernames that are offensive in lots of different ways. We all learned from the “Hottentot” situation, most of us had no clue it was offensive. As I say, we don’t want to be in the “politically correct” camp, but we don’t want anyone causing hurt or spewing racism. There’s not always a clear dividing line.

Yeah, you really are batshit crazy. :slight_smile:

The rules prime time TV applies should not be a guide for anybody. The advertisers (and they’re the ones with the clout there) are fearful of giving the slightest offence to practically anybody, it might harm product sales. They err so far on the side of caution that it becomes silly. That’'s not a yardstick that anyone else should use.

OK, I understand that this is a joke, but… We don’t permit personal insults in this forum, not even as a joke.

Sorry, I should have been more clear. My comment wasn’t meant as a personal insult at all. I’m new to SDMB, but I’ve been surprised by how often the phrase “batshit crazy” is used in a joking manner to characterize a third party, rather than as a direct insult. I think it’s an offensive phrase, but I do understand that (as I’ve seen it used at SDMB), it’s intended as a good-natured joke rather than as an insult to people with mental illness. I just wish that mental illness was something that people felt less OK joking about.

Well, Ive heard someone called a nigger on NYPD Blue. Just last night someone was called “faggy” on a Will and Grace re-run, and “faggot” on the Daily Show. All those are off limits here.