TRUE OPINION: Hate Speech & the paradox of our digital age

TRUE OPINION: Just how much hate speech should we ‘tolerate’, wonders Chris Mordd Richards.

Not all disrespect towards humanity results in violence. But all violence against humanity starts with disrespectful behaviour.

Not all disrespect towards women results in violence. But all violence against women starts with disrespectful behaviour.

Following the Christchurch massacre of 50 people in a mosque in March, there has been a lot of debate online and elsewhere about the willingness of the “left wing” to use censorship as a tool after New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, ordered that the shooter’s name, his livestreamed video and his manifesto not be pronounced in any public shape or form.

A lot of questions have been raised on social media – I’m sure you seen a few at least – about whether this goes against freedom of speech, and how come certain information is censored when the left supposedly believes in equality and the rights of all.

I would argue censoring hate speech is different to censoring other kinds of speech.

It is not only necessary; I think it is our duty to censor speech which literally inspires terrorists as in this latest tragic example.

TRUE OPINION: Hate Speech & the paradox of our digital age

There is a popular meme that went around in the days after the attack, which is based off a piece of writing known as ‘The Paradox of Tolerance’, by political philosopher Karl Popper.

The Austrian-British professor is widely regarded as one of the 20th century’s greatest philosophers of science.

This meme uses a selective, out of context quotation from ‘The Paradox of Tolerance’ in order to reinforce the notion that we must not tolerate the intolerant. It is worth looking at the complete text though, in order to get the full understanding of his message.

“Less well known is the paradox of tolerance: Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them,” Popper states.

“In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise.

“But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols.

“We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal.”

Let us be clear, white supremacists or Nazi’s, whatever you want to call them it’s mostly all the same ideology anyway, literally want you and everyone you love wiped from the face of the planet, for most people reading this article anyway.

If you are not a White European descent, with no mixed race, not disabled, not LGBTIQ, and most importantly not opposed to a bit of murdering everyone else, then these people want you to literally wipe you from the face of planet.

There is no room here to tolerate the intolerant, as Karl Popper says, we must claim them outside the law of reasonable persons, and consider their incitement and persecution as criminal.

The New Zealand shooter, who I also refuse to name, published a manifesto ‘which a security analyst described as “straight out of the white supremacist playbook”’ according to this Sydney Morning Herald article.

Personally, I would describe the manifesto as not that dissimilar to reading the policy pages of the One Nation website. This white supremacist ideology is already out in the open in Australia, in One Nation, in the Liberal Party as Waleed Aly pointed out so well in his interview with the Prime Minister last week.

When it comes to those who literally advocate mass murder, I don’t think their ideas and thoughts should be given the same opportunity as other speech, they are advocating for terrorism ultimately and we should suppress that in the same way we suppress any other violent speech that aims to kill.

TRUE OPINION: Hate Speech & the paradox of our digital age

Brenton Tarrant and his terrorist manifesto: The NZ Prime Minister nor the author of this article wish to hear the name of the Australian terrorist and alleged mass murderer (Image: Supplied)

Neither did Karl Popper arguably, there is a point where tolerance of the intolerant simply gets the tolerant killed by the intolerant.

I can already here some of you saying, “Oh but if we shine a light on it its better than it going underground” or “But we can debate the issues in a mature way, in the marketplace of ideas”, or similar sentiments.

I am seeing that expressed a lot at the moment.

The simple answer to all of those propositions is: NO.

Those propagating white supremacist propaganda literally want most of us dead, and there is no debating that concept.

Comedian Aamer Rahman says it best in his skit titled ‘Is it really ok to punch nazis?

“You know what we should do with Nazi’s? We should debate them, and we should defeat them, in the marketplace of ideas…” the comedian starts.

“I don’t really know where that is…. I would like to defeat Nazi’s on planet Earth first, and then after we eradicate them here, you can fight them in the marketplace of ideas, fucking Narnia, Mordor… whatever imaginary realm it is that you think Nazi’s can be constructively debated in, go for it, right?”

When it comes to domestic violence, the message is pretty clear by now: If you see it, and you say or do nothing, you are part of the problem as well.

Well the same thing applies to hate speech, whether it’s coming from One Nation, or your Aunt Bev on Facebook, or your best mate.

If you see hate speech, and you do or say nothing, you are part of the problem as well.

It is time we stopped letting anyone in Australian society – politician, media outlet or just someone you know – engage in hate speech against anyone.

The New Zealand massacre is what it leads to.

We are all responsible for ensuring hate speech like the kind of which inspired the NZ shooter has no more place in our society.

It is not censorship, it is keeping people safe.

Not all speech is equal, and not all speech should be treated equally. Jacinda Ardern has demonstrated that admirably on behalf of her grieving nation, and we should all learn from that.

Some things just can’t be debated in the marketplace of ideas, and it’s okay to not give those concepts the light of the day.

Australia fought a World War to help rid the world of Nazis, and here we are debating whether they should have a right to share and spread their sick beliefs on the rest of the population.

If not now after New Zealand, when will we wake up to what this kind of hateful ideology eventually leads to?

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About Chris Mordd Richards 3 Articles
Chris Mordd Richards is an independent freelance student journalist, currently enrolled at the University of Canberra studying a Bachelor of Journalism. Chris has been writing and publishing regularly since 2016 for a variety of online news sites, including Independent Australia. Sine 2017, he has covered a number of events from Federal Parliament. You can follow him on Twitter at @Mordd_IndyMedia.

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