Freedom of speech is exactly what it means.

Freedom of speech is freedom of speech, that is what it means, its a right that every human should have, you don’t support or defend free speech when you say “free speech should be defended at all times; but there should be no place for hate speech at any time” as Kayode Komolafe did in his piece here http://www.reubenabati.com.ng/index.php/others-view/item/467-the-virus-of-hate-speech-kayode-komolafe

When you say there should be no place for hate speech you are in effect advocating for censorship, you don’t combat the menace of hate speech by censoring speech, that doesn’t fix the underlying social or cultural issue. The person that thinks the hateful things he thinks still exists, he isn’t corrected, he isn’t shown facts, his hateful ideas aren’t even ridiculed and made to seem daft and ignorant. All you end up doing is creating a society where people hate in silence and perpetuate hate crimes. You end up ostracizing debate and education which is a more effective counter measure to hate speech.

In Mr Kayode’s piece he made another classic mistake most people make, he confused criticisms of religion as hate speech, I will like to correct that notion, religion is an idea, that’s all it is, its an idea that perpetuates a way of life, an idea can and should be criticized, especially bad ideas. If I criticize sharia law and islam for seeking the death penalty for apostasy or if I criticize the catholic church for its criticism of condom and contraceptive use, that Mr Kayode is not hate speech.

Its important to note that with freedom of speech comes the right to offend, if we are only allowed to say what people like then that isn’t free speech, how can that encourage debate and exchange of ideas?

I do agree with Mr Kayode on the menace and danger of hate speech, I am by no means denying that hate speech does exist and bigots certainly use the protection of free speech to spread hateful messages but you should not counter hate speech by censorship, that will lead us down a slippery slope, what you should do is attack hate speech by counter speech, attack bigotry with education, ensure that governing bodies have minorities included in leadership roles.

I will end this with a quote by the ACLU “the right of free speech is indivisible: When one of us is denied this right, all of us are Denied”.

Here is a link to the ACLU blog, it also educates on free speech. https://www.aclu.org/other/hate-speech-campus

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