Geert Wilders, a politician who heads the third-largest political party in Holland is being tried for “hate speech.” What we’re really talking about here is censorship, plain and simple. Mr. Wilders speaks out against immigration to Holland, particularly by Muslims. In too many formerly free, supposedly democratic countries, such as Holland, France and Canada, among others, it has become fashionable to define certain speech as “hate speech.” In some cases, such as Wilders’, this is subject to criminal prosecution.
In fact, there are elements in the U.S. who advocate censorship of speech which they define as “hate speech.” I suppose, if I were Dutch, and with a broad smile on my face I said “I love Muslims and the Koran,” but there was HATE in my heart as I said it, then this would be defined as hate speech. My “hate” could be detected and punished regardless of my words or my expression. However, if I said “I love Elvis and his guitar,” but there was HATE in my heart as I said it, then this wouldn’t constitute hate speech, because a. Elvis was male, b. Elvis was white, and c. (only incidentally) Elvis is dead. Only certain groups of people qualify for protection under the hate speech doctrine.
We all wish to live in a conflict free world. Social friction has historically been relieved by good manners, not strict laws. The solution is to teach manners to children and insist on the same from adults.
This same phenomenon is reflected in the recent suicide of Tyler Clementi at Rutgers University. The tragic outcome of a prank is being packaged as a “hate crime” by the left-wing media pundits. But in reality it is a case of horribly bad manners with an exaggerated consequence. There are multiple principles of good manners that should have prevented Clementi’s room-mate, Dharun Ravi, from planting a camera in the dorm room and broadcasting Clementi’s private behavior. Respect for the privacy of another is certainly a very basic concept of good manners. Ravi’s behavior was not a “hate crime” as some are characterizing it. It was, however, a stupid, grave violation of one person’s obligation to treat another with courtesy and restraint, no matter whatever else he may have had in his mind when he did it.