Are there limitations to free speech? Imagine for a minute we apply no limitations to free speech and people take that freedom to the furthest extent. In this essay we will look at content that pushes free speaking rights passed reasonable limitations to a place where not only people have broken laws by publishing Nazi Nostalgia, but where platforms like Facebook are even looking into further regulations for political news & false information. We will also look at when free speech is abused for an issue like bullying and the teen suicide epidemic of 2008.
What is hate speech? Hate speech is anything said publicly and on record that maliciously targets a protected group based on Canada’s Charter of Human rights. The charter protects people based on religion, gender, sexual orientation & race. In this we will look at clear violations of the bill and how they have applied in both the modern world & in the past.
First let us take a look at Ernst Zündel a german publisher made infamous by publications in support of the Nazis in World War 2 & Holocaust denials. He is widely known for his anti semitic ideals and being a proud Nazi. He owned Samisdat Publishers which was the catalyst for the use of publishing his illegal publications. Which would find him in court on two occasions in 1985, & 1988. He was found guilty of of breaking section 319 of the Canadian Criminal code. Below when we look at why it is reasonable to limit free speech in publications, two of his publications are examples of offensive publication works.
What is the problem with free speech and unlimited rights to publish what you want? Unlimited speaking rights allows the overwhelming storm of publications such as Did 6 million really die? By Ernst Zündel. The Hitler We Know & Love by Ernst Zündel. Should people really have the right to publicly flaunt their love of nazis? This was after all Ernst Zündel’s interpretation of free speech.
Censorship of speech & Publication is viewed both negatively and positively. People want the extent of full democratic societal rights, and they want to be safe. However what can not be denied? One can’t denied that hate speech when used by political leaders & officials create an influenced attitude which makes the living in the community for certain protected groups a lot harder when hate speech is seen regularly in the case of a prejudice leader. The hate is normalized when seen from a political official. Then hate becomes embraced by the public and like you see in the United States, hate crimes increase when your leader is interpreted to have prejudicial views towards population segments.
This quote from Erna Paris speaks to hate speech like metaphorically it is a boiling pot of water & society is the frog. Eventually without noticing it views shift so far to extreme when influenced that we don’t even notice how much we have changed until it is too late.
The Canadian consensus by normalizing previously unacceptable levels of speech.
And normalizing is exactly how it happens. Shifts in the general consensus regarding minorities are progressive and incremental. We don’t notice. Then we wake up to find ourselves in a changed environment. (Paris)
The other matter of censorship is the persuasion of public opinion towards government officials, while some say in cases of election Integrity. A lot of people think social media is the perfect place to discuss politics because there is no formal regulation of what can be said. However I would argue that social media should be regulated no different than Newspaper, Radio & Television. Any medium that has the ability to persuade the population should be subject to the media regulations established in common media platforms set by the Canadian Radio, & Television Telecommunications Commissions . In particular Canada is looking in Facebook’s role in persuading voters with false information going into the 2019 election and looking to limit that damage. Kevin Chan is Facebook’s Canadian head has said this to the New York times
“We expect to take many more actions as part of the Canadian Election Integrity Initiative in the next two years,” (Chan)
What does this prove? Not only does limiting free speech type actions need to be taken in 2017 on social media platforms, but the action will in fact be taken. Hopefully what this action consists of is News sites having to share more accurate information and less not transparent news with hidden political agenda. It is one thing to write an editorial with no established bias on recent events.There is also talk with the government and various news mediums on changing restrictions to Native advertising as it disguises itself with the integrity of journalism.
In high school in 2009 I was called it all, faggot, fairy, girl. One could argue my peers were using free speech. I didn’t learn until college they were in fact compromising my chartered human rights.(Deroy)
In 2008 North America had a teenage suicide epidemic.It is estimated 500 Canadian youth 10-24 commit suicide yearly. 33% of those students are expected to be LGBT. The suicides could be tracked back to rejection from peers & even family. Justin Preston is the founder of Rise Against Bullying, an anti-bullying project established in 2013 in Niagara Falls Ontario is trying to change this culture in schools across Ontario.
Rise Against Bullying is a global campaign passionate towards bullying, mental health and the LGBTQ+ community. We support individuals by promoting love and acceptance while encouraging kindness towards one another everyday (Preston)
As a conclusion, free speech is a fundamental right of any democracy. However if censorship is a necessary step to maintaining harmony in a society filled with people with different orientations, gender identities, religions & beliefs. It is also a necessity in protecting our electoral integrity & protecting identifiable groups from the prejudice of harmful publication. So while as a democratic society we should support free speech to some degree, we obviously should allow for some reasonable limitations based on the freedoms & rights of others.
Kalvapalle, Rahul . “Facebook Canada unveils plan to fight fake news, hacking in lead-up to 2019 election.” Global News, 19 Oct. 2017, Accessed November 26 2017
Paris, Erna. “There *Are* limits to free expression.” The Globe & Mail, 28 Oct. 2011, Accessed November 26 2017 www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/there-are-limits-to-free-expression/article559442
Chan, Sewell. “Ernst Zündel, Holocaust Denier Tried for Spreading His Message, Dies at 78.” The New Yorker, 7 Aug. 2017, Accessed November 26 2017.
Preston, Justin. “Future Goals.” Rise against Bullying, http://www.riseagainstbullying.ca/about.php. Accessed November 30 2017
“What You Should Know About LGBTQ Youth Suicide in Canada.” Egale, 27 Sept. 2017, egale.ca/backgrounder-lgbtq-youth-suicide/. Accessed November 30 2017