Why no hate speech allowed here?

This is not a complaint, but a discussion of board policy. I am a sometimes member of another board, and they just had a poster post a hate-filled, bigoted post which is being allowed to stand unchallenged, the poster unwarned. We have a rule here against posting hate speech, and I’m just curious as to why.

The United States government, as far as I can tell in a rudimentary Google search, is having a hell of a time figuring out what to do about hate speech, so how does the Straight Dope deal with this extremely slippery subject? How do you decide what is actually hate speech, and what is simply an unpleasant opinion? Do you use that oh-so-useful rule, “I know it when I see it?”

In my opinion, it appears that hate speech against some groups of people is permitted or ignored.

Depends on who you’re hating. If you hate Republicans, you’re golden around here. Post the most hate-filled screed you can write. It’ll stay up and get enthusiastic support from The Usual Suspects.

Pretty much. Moderators have posted a list of *verboten *words, all the while asserting that no such list exists. It has been stated that some phrases cannot be hate speech, regardless of the intent of the speaker, while others must necessarily be hate speech, again regardless of the intent of the speaker.

From what I’ve seen in my time here, isn’t it OK to be hateful towards people with certain opinions, but not OK to be hateful to people because of who they are? Does that make any sense to anyone?

But we all know being Republican isn’t a lifestyle choice.

Of course it does. You choose your opinions, you don’t choose your race/ethnicity/etc.

I was going to point out that that is silly because hate-filled screeds against democrats are permitted, and challenged by The Usual Suspects.

But then I realized that your item here is even more silly by ignoring that that is not the hate speech the OP is referring to, and, what **Struan ** said.

Interesting (if somewhat unhelpful) discussion. So, by those standards, Contrapuntal, if I said that the hate speech to which I was referring in my OP was directed agaisnt Muslims, and I have thought about changing the word “Muslim” to the word “Nigger” in the bigoted post to drive home the point that not all speech should be freely allowed, would I then be guilty of hate speech for using the word “Nigger,” although I obviously haven’t used it as an epithet here (assuming that’s one of the words that are always hate-speech)?

Good post, Struan, but does religion count as an opinion or something that you don’t choose, like race?

The rule in question:

What exactly “hate speech” is, is not defined and is kept vague (probably deliberately), but it sounds like racist remarks either are, or are the best example of, what the rule has in mind.

I can’t think of any situation in which an expression of hatred or contempt for a particular race or ethnic group would be a good, or even a neutral, thing for the Board, so I don’t have a problem with the rule as thus interpreted.

Depends on whom you ask. As for me, I could no more deny my faith than I could deny my experience. It’s like asking someone who has been to France to deny that they’ve ever been to France. I didn’t choose my conversion. I didn’t even want or seek my conversion. It just happened is all. (If a person without faith disagrees, then I would ask you whether you think you could flip a switch right now and turn on genuine faith. If not, then please understand that I can’t switch it off either.)

I see a fair amount of poo heaped upon rednecks and, despite their vaunted pride, not much said about it.

I thought the rule was “don’t be a jerk,” but that’s just as subjective and randomly enforced as a rule against hate speech. :shrugs:

That’s a question I’ve asked myself many times featherlou, and I don’t honestly know. I suspect there is an element of indoctrination, but I can’t say for sure because I don’t have terribly much experience with hardcore religious people. From what I’ve read the situation here doesn’t compare at all to that in some other countries, particularly the US. In my own family, I’m pretty much hard atheist, my Dad has been an Elder of the Church of Scotland for as long as I can remember (but he’s more or less an agnostic), and my Mum goes to Church at Christmas because she likes the singing. The most “religious” people I know are Irish-descended Catholics, who went to a Catholic school, and still go to Mass occasionally, and still confess their myriad sins. Their “faith” strikes me as a relic of once being forced into a slightly alien culture, and the most honest expression of it they have now (the ones I know anyway) is supporting a certain football club.

I’m not sure what I mean here frankly. Religion as cultural artifact, or freely chosen?

Pretty much. The problem with trying to precisely define hate speech is that it’s hard not to end up being overly restrictive on speech that is merely offensive or controversial, which we very much don’t want to do. Honestly, I have a hard time imagining cases where we’d apply the rule without also applying the “no trolling” rule, so one could argue that the two are somewhat redundant. That said, it is useful to have specific guidelines in place to let new posters know that the Pit isn’t a complete free-for-all. Like the rule against not wishing death on other posters, the goal of the current hate speech rule is to allow for heated exchanges and insults while still maintaining some basic standard of decency.

I think it’s important to note that the hate speech rule is rarely if ever used. Since I’ve been a mod, we’ve had quite a few reported posts suggesting that a range of terms be considered hate speech, but in all cases it was decided that the rule did not apply.

Is “I hate all New Jerseyans” hate speech? That’s certainly not a choice, especially if interpreted to mean all those born in the state.

To me, ‘hate speech’ should mean advocating harm against any category of people. You can say whatever nasty ignorant shit you want, but when you start so much as hinting at violent or otherwise unsavory motivations, you’re either a troll or a toad we don’t need.

What do you have against toads?

You’re right. Toads are fine creatures. I retract my baseless slander against them. How about ‘nazi scum’?

Admiral Canaris was a brave man.

Just in defense of rednecks and this board, we’ve had long discussions on if White Trash was a racial slur or not. I think we came to a decision it probably was.