Regulating Hate Speech is Easier Than You Think
Who will decide the truth?
Whenever the topic of hate speech comes up, this is often the answer that people give. First off, why do we have to decide the truth? It’s hyperbole. We don’t have to figure out what the truth is. We only need to figure out who is lying. And that’s easy to figure out. Just ask for evidence.
Free speech isn’t free. It’s regulated. Dishonest speech is often illegal. Fraudulent speech is criminal when combined with the sale of a product. Bernie Madoff is a great example. Bernie told investors that his returns were because of his investment choices; the reality was that he was taking new investors and giving their money direct to older investors: he was lying to them. Donald Trump is also a good example, paying out $25,000,000 to students of Trump University. The only thing that separates Donald Trump from Bernie Madoff is that Donald Trump was smart enough to donate $25,000 to Florida AG Pam Bondi’s re-election campaign and his victims weren’t rich people looking for a sure thing. Remember, bribes are illegal, donations are not. Apparently, a rose by any other name isn’t a rose.
Slander, defamation, and libel are also illegal, depending on who you slander. Slander a police officer, and you are likely to face jail time. Slander a public worker and you could be sued but won’t face jail time. Slander a politician or public figure and nothing will probably happen because that person has to prove malice? The SCOTUS ruled that political speech was as free and didn’t have to be completely accurate. (New York Times Co. v. Sullivan)
Regulations against cheating and dishonesty are built into our fairness genes. The best example is the Capuchin monkeys who experience unequal pay for the same work. They throw the cucumber back at the researcher, smack their hand against the plexiglass and even I might say, try to break the plexiglass by grabbing it and shaking it. Grape, accept no substitute.
Since dishonest speech can be regulated, hate speech can also be regulated. My premise is rather simple — hate speech is dishonest speech. The Nazis blamed the Jews for their economic problems after WWII and claimed that the German people were the real victims. This was and still is a lie. White supremacy is a lie. White people aren’t superior. Take Donald Trump’s speech when he announced he was running for president. It was hate speech. He lied about people coming over the border from Mexico to promote hate. All you have to do is treat speech as the product it is and you can ask someone like Donald Trump to support their claims with evidence. If they can’t, it’s hate speech.
There is a whole division of the FTC devoted to policing speech around product claims, simply do the same for hate groups. The hate group is the product, their speech is what they use to sell that product. Go after that.
You see, we don’t have to figure out the truth, we only have to figure out who is being dishonest and dishonesty is easy to establish — just ask for evidence.