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Govt. will not enforce hate speech codes equally

To make sure there are no double standards, do not regulate speech

October 11, 2012

By Matt Stafford

Religion is a deeply personal thing for many people. When you insult a person’s religious beliefs you insult the very core of who a person is.

My colleague, Samah Assad, put it best when she said, “It can be considered to be group libel and defamation as it attacks the human dignity of an entire race and community.” This is one of the reasons many on the left seek to regulate so-called “hate speech.”

This idea of regulating hate speech, be it against religious groups, racial groups, or people of differing sexual orientation, has been an idea that has become popular among the cultural left. At least up until the speech is against Christians.

If you turn on prime time television on most nights, there is a very good chance you will see insults aimed and fired at Christians at every turn. Seth MacFarlane’s shows insult Christians a lot and often, going as far to depict Jesus as a self centered man-child in one episode of “Family Guy.” ABC recently had a show called “Good Christian B*tches,” wherein most of the Christian women were portrayed as hypocritical bullies in a swipe at the faith of many actual good Christian ladies. It was a flop. Seems you cannot get a successful show by insulting the majority of Americans. I wonder what would happen if someone made a show called “Good Muslim B*tches?”

The music world has no shortage of anti-Christian material. Many metal artists, including Marilyn Manson and Bad Religion, have made a career of bashing Christianity and Christians in a litany of vulgar ways. The left has routinely defended them on free speech grounds and denounced stores who refused to carry their music.

In the art world, it’s no different. Images of Jesus on the cross, which are little different from Muhammad to most Christians in terms of sacredness, in beakers of urine, and Mary splattered with elephant dung are just among the most publicized insults to Christians lobbed by artists in the last few decades. Most of it has been subsidized by the National Endowment for the Arts, a left wing pet project that they claim should never be cut from the budget.

Did anyone on the cultural left cry about hate speech? Nope. In fact, they were falling all over themselves defending these artists. They painted the Christians who protested as backward hillbillies who wanted to stifle “artistic expression” for simply not wanting their tax dollars to go to something that would be considered hate speech if we replaced Jesus and Mary with Mohammed. Doubtlessly, they would not rush to an artist’s defense if they made a piece that could conceivably be seen as an insult to Muhammad or Islam itself.

Therein lies the problem with hate speech regulations. They will never be enforced equally by the party in power. Many on the cultural left have what I can only call a blind hatred of Christians and Catholics if their support for blatantly anti-Christian media is any indication. They have cried censorship whenever someone calls out these artists who insult their faith while making off with their tax money. They burst into laughing fits when Christians are insulted in the most vile ways on public airwaves. They will never allow regulation of anti-Christian speech. On the flip side, look at how favorably the right has reacted to “Innocence of Muslims,” “Satanic Verses,” or the cartoons that mocked Muslims in Europe. They will censor anti-Christian speech but anti-Islam speech will be given a free pass.

There is simply no way to fairly deal with this issue in the legal system. We cannot trust those in charge to enforce it equally. The only way to make sure there are no double standards is to not have hate speech codes.

Which is just fine. Freedom of speech, no matter how horribly offensive, is one of our founding principles. We cannot allow it to be curtailed by religious extremists half a world away who riot at the drop of a hat —or when they see girls going to school, whatever comes first.

Will it mean people will say horrifically offensive things about Islam as well as everything else? Yes.

Will it mean that some perpetually offended radical Muslims will do terrible things using it as an excuse? Yes.

However, this is the price paid for living in a free society. Freedom is messy and things happen as a result. However, I would rather live in a free and messy society than one that selectively regulates speech in the name of “safety.”