Posts Tagged ‘hate speech’

Great moments in U.K. hate speech law

After a professor’s denunciation, West Midlands police in the United Kingdom recorded as a reported “hate incident” a cabinet minister’s speech to a Conservative Party conference. In the speech, Home Secretary Amber Rudd, whose duties include the oversight of policing itself as well as immigration and citizenship, had “suggested tightening rules that allow UK firms to recruit workers from overseas.” Oxford University professor Joshua Silver reported the speech as a hate incident, and later explained himself in a BBC2 interview, “It’s discriminating against foreigners – you pick on them and say we want to give jobs to British people and not to foreigners. It was interpreted that way.” Britain’s hate speech law is a departure from centuries of free-speech tradition in the island nation; under relevant police guidelines, “Where any person… reports a hate incident … it must be recorded regardless of whether or not they are the victim, and irrespective of whether there is any evidence to identify the hate element.” The West Midlands police are reported to have “assessed” the claim without launching a formal investigation, and say no crime was committed. [BBC]

Free speech roundup

Can and should the classroom remain politically neutral?

It’s a common hope that public schools will maintain some semblance of broad political neutrality between the great parties and causes in U.S. society. But many have been failing badly at this [Frederick Hess and Chester Finn/U.S. News, AP/Fox News (San Francisco teachers’ union lesson plan)] Related: Washington Post [Montgomery County, Maryland; liberal excused-absence policy following street protests by high school students; dissident student injured]

I’ve got a letter in the Frederick News-Post responding to the paper’s editorial on these topics, which begins with the unfortunate headline “Hate speech is not free speech” and never recovers its footing from there. Related, from Eugene Volokh last year: “No, there’s no ‘hate speech exception to the First Amendment.” (& welcome Instapundit readers)

Free speech roundup

  • “EEOC to Gadsden Flag Lovers: Shut Up or Face Costly Lawsuits” [Hans Bader]
  • Ellen de Generes raises First Amendment defense in suit by real estate agent with joshed-over name [Ronald Collins]
  • Background: in England (generally unlike U.S.), tasteless jokes and online insults have been prosecuted as crime [Guardian on moves there to classify “misogyny” as hate crime]
  • Melania Trump’s defamation suit against U.K.-based Daily Mail is filed in Maryland, also names obscure blogger from that state [Mike Masnick, TechDirt]
  • Tale of ginned-up out-of-state defamation lawsuit meant to aid in “reputation management” takedowns gets even weirder [Paul Alan Levy, earlier]
  • University of Tennessee, a public institution, cites First Amendment in dropping probe of Prof. Glenn Reynolds over controversial tweet [Robert Shibley, FIRE]

International free speech roundup

  • As government’s grip tightens in Turkey, Erdogan begins rounding up journalists [New York Times, Jonathan Turley on aftermath of coup attempt]
  • German court fines man $2,480 for comparing state politician’s IQ to that of “a piece of toast” [Deutsche Welle]
  • University of Cape Town disinvites free speech hero and Cato fellow Flemming Rose, of Danish cartoons fame, prompting letters of protest from Nadine Strossen, Floyd Abrams, Kenan Malik [John Samples]
  • “If it’s perceived by the victim, then it is” — adviser to London police on online insults as hate crime [Express] “Nottinghamshire police to count wolf-whistling in street as a hate crime” [Guardian, quoting three backers and no critics of idea]
  • Maybe our state AGs could offer tips on punishing wrongful advocacy: campaigners in UK want to prosecute public figures for fraud in promoting Leave side in Brexit referendum [Business Insider on “Brexit Justice” effort]
  • Meanwhile, here: prominent Harvard Law professor says “rule of law” and “First Amendment” are “almost entirely without content” [David Bernstein on views of Mark Tushnet]

Free speech roundup

  • No, the “government can’t make you use ‘zhir’ or ‘ze’ in place of ‘she’ and ‘he'” [Josh Blackman, Washington Post; earlier on NYC human relations commission guidelines; Hans Bader/CEI on new D.C. rules along similar lines]
  • Matt Welch on New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and the “casually authoritarian” movement to harass and legally penalize climate deniers [Reason] While styled as fraud probe, AGs’ climate denial investigation is essentially a SLAPP suit meant to silence advocacy [Ronald Bailey; letter from 13 attorneys general critical of probe] As one skirmish ends, expect wider war to continue, as Virgin Islands AG withdraws widely flayed subpoena against our friends at Competitive Enterprise Institute [John Sexton] Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey now chasing “right-leaning groups that have never received a penny from Exxon” including local political foe Beacon Hill Institute [Hans Bader/CEI] We’re the ones asking questions around here: AGs dodge public record/FOIA requests on probe [Chris Horner/Fox News]
  • “N.Y. Senate passes bill banning funding for university student groups that ‘encourage’ ‘hate speech'” [Eugene Volokh]
  • Licensing and other laws often restrict what members of professions and occupations can say, a problem that deserves more and better First Amendment scrutiny than it’s gotten [Timothy Sandefur, Regulation]
  • Ninth Circuit will review ruling striking down Idaho ag-gag law [Baylen Linnekin on appellate amicus, Idaho Statesman, NPR last year]
  • Ken White on why it’s okay to loathe Gawker and its actions but still see the danger in Thiel/Hogan episode [L.A. Times, related Dan McLaughlin, earlier]

Hate speech laws and the assassin’s veto

“Should the legal system protect or punish the kind of inflammatory speech and drawings that prompted the assault on the Charlie Hebdo offices?” The U.S. Supreme Court in recent years has interpreted our First Amendment so as to ratify and strengthen protection for such speech; Europe, on the other hand, has moved toward punishing it, both from disapproval in itself and, increasingly, on the rationale that allowing it might lead to violence.

In a new Cato Policy Analysis, “Hate Speech Laws: Ratifying the Assassin’s Veto,” First Amendment litigator and Cato adjunct scholar Robert Corn-Revere defends America’s as the correct approach. Executive summary excerpt:

The United States Supreme Court has generally restricted government limits on speech. Some speech, however, does not receive protection, including expressions closely tied to violence. In the past, “fighting words” were judged unprotected by the First Amendment; the development of Court doctrine has largely eliminated this exception. American jurisprudence is based on the assumption that protections for freedom of expression will not long endure if they can be abandoned when the message is particularly repellant or its target especially sympathetic.

European law also protects freedom of expression, although in a less robust way than does U.S. law. Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights subjects freedom of speech to important limitations understood generally as “hate speech.” In contrast to the United States, officials may apply criminal or civil sanctions to prohibited political advocacy.

The United States faces a choice. Should it defend the right to offend, or opt instead to champion a right not to be offended? We have learned from hard experience in the United States that free expression cannot long survive without protecting outrageous and offensive speech.

International free speech roundup

  • Tonight in New York City, Cato presents its Milton Friedman Award to Danish journalist Flemming Rose, a key figure in the [still-ongoing] Mohammed cartoons episode, and author of The Tyranny of Silence [David Boaz, Cato]
  • Troubles in Turkey: journalists sentenced to two years in jail for reprinting Charlie Hebdo cover [Reuters, Reason] Erdogan’s campaign against foreign critics assumes extraterritorial reach with complaints against comedian in Germany and Geneva exhibit [Colin Cortbus/Popehat, Foreign Policy]
  • Ya mad wee dafty: “Man faces hate crime charge in Scotland over dog’s ‘Nazi salute'” [Guardian]
  • Publish a “wrong” map of India, face seven years in jail and a huge fine [Hindustan Times; “crore” = 10 million]
  • United Kingdom man fined £500 for calling romantic rival “fat-bellied codhead. [Blackpool Gazette]
  • Emulating USA tycoon D. Trump, China pressures finance analysts against negative forecasts [WSJ, Barron’s on the Marvin Roffman story, which I used to tell when giving speeches on my book The Litigation Explosion]

Free speech roundup

  • Unbowed by terror: interview with heroic Danish editor Flemming Rose [Simon Cottee/The Atlantic]
  • “If The Left Had Its Way On Citizens United, ‘Funny Or Die’ Would Not Be Allowed To Ridicule Trump” [Luke Wachob, Independent Journal]
  • Justice Department considers push for law criminalizing support of domestic terror groups [Reuters] Per federally funded police-support center, possible indicators of “extremist and disaffected individuals” include display of “Don’t Tread on Me” flag [Jesse Walker, Reason]
  • U.S. BigLaw firm Squire Patton Boggs represents Venezuela as it tries to shut down U.S.-published DolarToday for publishing data about inflation [Jim Wyss/Miami Herald, Cyrus Farivar/Ars Technica, earlier here, etc.]
  • When scandal broke about IRS targeting of opposing groups, even President Obama talked about accountability. After press attention waned came refusal to press charges, whitewash, denial [Glenn Reynolds, USA Today]
  • Bad, bad bar: behind recent rise in blasphemy prosecutions in Pakistan is a lawyers’ group [Reuters]