In the last few days and weeks, the German government has been ‘following up on complaints’ made against¹ Facebook¹, its founder¹, and other social media companies regarding ‘hate speech’. Specifically, the lack of action regarding deleting social media posts which “incite racism or hatred”. But when does speech become ‘hate speech’ and when is it simply ‘inconvenient speech’?The German government, together with media around the world, has often downplayed the ‘refugee crisis’ as best it could in regards to numbers and criminal actions (or in some cases, tried¹ to hide¹ completely¹). Throughout the EU, the media often presents the image that the real problem is those opposed to refugees, a viewpoint attributed by and large to simple racism¹ or xenophobia¹. Ignoring the concerns and often the will of the people is something that can only end in disaster.Protest marches against ‘open door’ immigration policy and support of those marches and movements are increasingly seen as violent, dangerous and of course, Nazi-inspired. Around the world, even ex-Muslims¹ have been barred and banned from social media and speaking engagements¹ for speaking out against their former religion because they ‘may* incite hatred¹‘ or ‘antagonize Muslims¹‘, though regardless of its content, all opposition to Islam seems to bring about the label ‘hate¹ speech¹‘. These are examples of ‘inconvenient speech’ which are often silenced. Silenced because they go against the current trend and dare to paint a picture different to that of government, media and popular culture.This is, concerningly, only part of the issue raised by deciding that speech, or rather the content of speech, should be decided by those in power. Largely under the guise of defending the sensibilities of those who may be easily offended.Hate speech laws, particularly in the EU, are often so vague in their wording that they can include anything. Whether it’s a video highlighting a legitimate issue with accurate and relevant information¹**, or opposition to government policy¹. In most cases, the ‘hate speech’ being charged is not something that is released to the public for review, which unlike other crimes, could very well be interpreted differently to the number of ‘hate speech’ instances¹ recorded¹.A lack of transparency from leadership will ultimately bring about hatred, especially when that leadership appears to not be answerable for the situations it deems necessary for the average citizen to endure.Image via Index Archive hereIf we are to close the doors on opposition and ban alternative opinions and ideas, then it what way is freedom of speech applicable? Who is to decide what is correct or not?Should we not encourage people to speak and propose ideas –no matter how ‘offensive’, and let those ideas sit on their own merits and evidence as opposed to a preconceived idea of how things should be?If ‘hate speech’ and ‘illegal speech’ are to be the norm, then how long until others are declared ‘hate groups’? Political opponents ‘hate parties’? And how, if media is bound to ‘hate speech’ laws, would an unpopular truth or ‘inconvenient speech’ ever see the light of day?And finally, if ‘hate speech’ is truly a problem, then why would an example not be made and openly racist¹ regimes be denied assistance¹? Or perhaps fought against¹.*Audio clip only, not archived. Source; BBC**Additional reading. Archive link.
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