Monday, August 07, 2006

Breaking with gay rights groups on libertarian grounds

Hate speech and hate crimes....

I think I'm in danger of falling into the trap of the first-year uni student: I've read a few books and got some ideas from them, but a few books don't give me a full grounding in all the relevant facts and theories that may be out there, so my perspective is limited in ways of which I'm not even aware yet. But I do know a little stuff, and try to apply it. As long as I remember that my understanding is imperfect, I should be okay I think.

For hate speech, my thinking is currently beholden to John Stuart Mill's ideas on freedom of speech, that even the most inaccurate and hurtful speech must not be censored because (a) if the speech isn't publically shared, then it can't be publicly shown to be wrong (assuming even that it is in fact wrong, and not merely unpopular or challenging deeply entrenched ideas), and (b) because censorship only drives an idea underground where it can potentially do more damage. This puts me at odds with almost every gay rights organisation out there I think. So am I wrong? Is my understanding incomplete somehow?

To go from theory to practice, here's a recent example of what might reasonably come under the umbrella of hate speech, as said recently by a man named Guy Adams on an Internet Radio station called The Right View, as reported by Truth Wins out:
"The newest thing in Chicago, it's becoming a trend, and you're gonna find this hard to believe… sex with infants,” Adams said, without offering evidence to back his preposterous and offensive claim. “It's not enough that they have… you know when you engage in perversion, and homosexuality is perversion, we don't hate the gays mind you, we don't hate them, we hate what they're doing… pretty soon that perversion is like addiction, it's not enough, so you need to graduate to something else. You need to move on. So now they're having sex with animals, a small group that's getting bigger, sex with infants, sex in the street in Chicago out in the open, it's just getting more and more perverted."

I think Mill has it exactly right here: people shouldn't be deprived of hearing this. In fact, I would specifically encourage the propagation of this message to as many people as possible. They should know exactly who Guy Adams is, who he works for, and just how round the bend on gay issues he really is: he's the Deputy National Grassroots Director for an organisation called Renew America, run by far-Right former US Senate candidate and Presidential candidate Alan Keyes, who is best known in gay circles for kicking his queer-identifying and anarchist-leaning daughter Maya out of home. Truth Wins Out is demanding that Adams get sacked, with no response so far. A blog from a man named Joe Brummer is tracking Adams' comments, and has posted some e-mails that Adams sent.

The host of the Right View has a blog, and interestingly enough is engaging in self-censorship: the current blog has no record of what happened on it shortly after the Adams interview was, er, podcasted, stating only "Unbelievable....I'm not even going to comment on what has happened with my blog, but I'm back" and promising a podcast "talking about the 'controversy' that has taken place on this blog this week." I love me some well-placed inverted commas.

Fortunately, as of writing, the original article is still available via Google's cache, including access to the comments on that article. Note that both the comments and the trackbacks feature have both now been disabled in The Right View's blog.

So I stand by Mills on this, based on the fact that The Right View is attempting to censor the vocal objections that have been raised in response to Adams' rantings: freedom of speech includes freedom to be exposed as a nutbag. The fact that the host of The Right View is trying to initiate a cover-up tells me that free speech in abundance is the way to go on this.

As for hate crimes....more complex. I hope to get to it eventually.

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