It’s a fine line between exercising freedom of speech and advocating harmful acts. But freedom of speech should be absolute, otherwise you’re trampling on people’s liberties to satisfy the status quo. There’s no definitive guideline as to what constitutes “unacceptable speech.” It’s all self-policing, moderated by entities, a mob or the generally public. Regulatory bodies regulate freedom of expression, impose censorships but on very specific terms. What’s more it’s culture-specific, what’s unacceptable speech in the US maybe acceptable in other countries, and vice versa. Unfortunately for people who speaks their mind unfiltered, sensitivity tolerance these days is very low. Hate-speech only becomes dangerous when people act on them.
Perhaps stifling people’s liberty for the sake of safety isn’t the most sensible approach. Shutting down hate-fuelled websites won’t prevent people from continuing to do what they do online or offline. Isn’t it more helpful to keep these things on the surface? They’re breadcrumbs and clues that could be helpful in solving incidents… even prevention.
Perhaps it’s a question of audience restriction. If like-minded people keep to themselves then opposing groups won’t cry wolf whenever they feel threatened. And they will feel threatened because it’s the nature of the beast.
It’s no different from religious groups advocating conversion therapy on gay people. It’s no different from political figures advocating discrimination, incarceration of minorities or individuals who don’t fit the mainstream mindset. It’s no different from separating children from their parents at the border.
Yes it’s appalling, but so are lots of things on social media, the news and reality television. Besides… no one is forcing anyone to read them.
Shutting down hate-filled websites won’t solve anything, but it’s a convenient scapegoat that satisfies the status quo. And unfortunately right now this is what it all amounts to.
Shutting down a hate-fueled site – how it works