Saturday, April 30, 2022

Does Hate Speech Lead to Hateful Action?

Now that the Biden administration has bestowed upon us a Ministry of Truth, we ought again to return to the basic, unexamined premise behind this despotic action.

The argument against misinformation suggests that if only people had only good information to assess, they would naturally make the right decision, that being the decision dictated by their overlords.

And yet, we know, from behavioral economists, that anyone who feels that he is being forced to do something or to believe something will naturally recoil. 

And we also know that scientific fact always comes with a side order of skepticism. Any decent scientist will tell you that there is no such thing as settled science. And that means, differences of scientific opinion must be allowed, lest science stagnate. One would do well to read Thomas Kuhn’s important work, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, the better to assess the extent to which accepted scientific theories are subject to revision and expansion and refutation. 

Those who want to control your mind, who insist that they and only they know what is true and what you should be allowed to think, have been warring against hate speech. Now they have glommed on to the notion of disinformation. They insist that if they do not have complete control of what you can read and think, that people will die… or some such.

As for the argument against hate, our enlightened overlords insist that if we can shut down hate speech, and especially all bigoted expressions, we will be striking a blow for democracy and will be saving the world from Nazis. You would think that their schtick about Nazis would have gotten tired by this time, but alas, such is not the case.

The argument goes something like this. If only Weimar Germany had had the proper hate suppressing laws, Nazism would never have taken root in that country. If only Weimar Germany had suppressed hate speech and jailed those who trafficked in bigotry, things would have been ever so much better.

Now two authors, from the left and the right, refute that argument, yet again. Greg Lukianoff and Nadine Strossen point out that, effectively, Weimar Germany had very strict laws against hate speech, and that it had prosecuted leading Nazis for their language.

Lukianoff explains:

Weimar Germany had laws banning hateful speech (particularly hateful speech directed at Jews), and top Nazis including Joseph Goebbels, Theodor Fritsch and Julius Streicher actually were sentenced to prison time for violating them. The efforts of the Weimar Republic to suppress the speech of the Nazis are so well known in academic circles that one professor has described the idea that speech restrictions would have stopped the Nazis as "the Weimar Fallacy."

A 1922 law passed in response to violent political agitators such as the Nazis permitted Weimar authorities to censor press criticism of the government and advocacy of violence. This was followed by a number of emergency decrees expanding the power to censor newspapers. The Weimar Republic not only shut down hundreds of Nazi newspapers — in a two-year period, they shut down 99 in Prussia alone — but they accelerated that crackdown on speech as the Nazis ascended to power. Hitler himself was banned from speaking in several German states from 1925 until 1927.

Of course, this has been known for some time. People who care to conduct a smidgeon of research before shooting their mouths off know the truth. And yet, being ignorant buffoons, they continue to call for the repression of hate speech on the grounds that if only Weimar Germany had done the same, it would have shut down Nazism.

What else happened? It turned out that Nazis used the repression as an argument in favor of their movement:

Far from being an impediment to the spread of National Socialist ideology, Hitler and the Nazis used the attempts to suppress their speech as public relations coups. The party waved the ban like a bloody shirt to claim they were being targeted for exposing the international conspiracy to suppress "true" Germans. 

And then, once the Nazis took power, they used the same laws to suppress the speech of anyone who opposed their rule:

Indeed, censorship that was employed ineffectively to stop the rise of the Nazis was a boon to the Nazis when it came to consolidating their power. The laws mentioned earlier that allowed Weimar authorities to shut down newspapers, and additional laws intended to limit the spread of Nazi ideology via the radio, had their reins turned over to the Nazi party when Hitler became chancellor. Predictably, the Nazis used these preexisting means of censorship to crush any political speech opposing them, allowing for an absolute grip on the country that would have been much more difficult or impossible with strong legal protections for press and speech….

Dare we say, this is not news. It did not just happen. The fact that no one considers it seriously shows the ugly and stupid side of American public debate.


jmod46 said...

If the new Ministry of Truth pursues censorship with zeal it will be a very short-term victory and eventually a pyrrhic victory, if even that. What, in theory, would happen if the next Republican administration decided to politically weaponize the same Ministry of Truth?

IamDevo said...

Dear jmod46: What you propose simply could not exist under current circumstances. You see, our popular media, being composed of doctrinaire democrat fascists would not allow it to happen. Whereas everything that those of their political persuasion do is perfectly acceptable, in fact preferable and righteous to them, when their opponents (nominally "Republicans," although there is doubt regarding the true allegiances of many who wear that cloak) attempt to use the same tactics, they shriek and cry out at the top of their lungs, "Hate speech," "racist," "tyranny," "oppression," etc., and create an atmosphere in which they make it impossible for the actions of which they now disapprove to continue. As evidence of this, I offer Exhibit A-the treatment of Elon Musk and Exhibit B-the Biden regime, which has the support of the popular media (did you check out the recent "Correspondents' Dinner"?) its efforts to throttle publication of dissenting political/social views. There is only one "approved" line of thought, and to fail to mouth/print/publish the approved platitudes is tantamount to a media death sentence. In case you were wondering, those who now control most of the popular media are quite comfortable with adopting the same tactics as their counterparts on Russia and China, where to hold contrary views can be an actual, not merely theoretical death sentence.

Anonymous said...

Does Hate Speech Lead to Hateful Action? It would seem so. And The "Ministry of Truth" shows that the Dems are ALL-IN on that.

bobby said...

Even if one accepts the Wiemar argument, look past it. If we had such speech repression earlier, we would have never had female voting. We would have never had a civil rights movement. We would have never had most any social "advancement", good or bad.

That's because speech repression doesn't repress "bad speech." It represses change. It is a tool for the empowered to retain their power.

ErisGuy said...

If we had Weimar laws repressing irresponsible and dangerous speech we would never have had Jim Crow, Prohibition, feminism, or anti-slavery and pro-slavery arguments.

Both Weimar and the Nazis imprisoned Carl von Ossietzky for his use of freedom of the press.

Anonymous said...

Ah, the "Ministry of TRUTH!!!!" The first lie...