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My position on hate crime vs hate speech

A quick clarification of positions I've taken earlier in comment threads. This issue is undoubtedly going to come up in the context of the events of the past hate-filled week. I'm not going to elaborate that much; I just want to state where I stand.

* I am in favour of legislation against hate crimes. Motive already plays a role in the sentencing of criminals, so no new principle is introduced into legislation by punishing a crime motivated by hate against a group more harshly than one motivated by, for example, jealousy or fear against an individual. Better to formalise this rather than allow one judge to ignore the motive entirely and the other to impose harsh sentences on the basis of motive. Also, hate crimes often have the intended and actual effect of intimidating members of the hated group, and are thus a form of terrorism.
* I am against legislation against hate speech. Part of my motivation for this is that the principle of freedom of speech is an important one under the Dutch constitution and one or two others. But I also have selfish motives: I like being able to badmouth people, and if someone hates me or a group I belong to I would rather know about it than find out seconds before they slit my throat. Actual threats, on the other hand, should be actionable.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 13, 2004 12:28 PM.

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