Good Speech Is the Solution to Hate Speech

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The line between harm and offence is often indistinct, yet the two are separate. People who are harmed have a limited choice in reaction, while people who are offended can choose to respond in different manners. For instance, a person is crossing the road when a car appears. The driver is drunk and unable to notice the pedestrian. Since the driver is unable to come to a halt, he collides into the pedestrian. The pedestrian suffers from emotional trauma as well as physical injuries, he is harmed. In another situation, the driver manages to stop in time. The pedestrian is unharmed, but he may take offence at the driver. In this essay, hate speech is viewed as the main means of creating offence, and censorship as a solution to hate speech is discussed.

What is hate speech? Hate speech is language spoken with the purpose of inciting violence, intimidation, degradation, prejudicial action against a person because of differences in skin color, race, religion, nationality, sexual preferences etc. Good speech is language that avoids causing offence or harm. Censorship is the avoidance of issues with the potential to offend or harm others. Although censorship and good speech are slightly different, they are used interchangeably in this essay. Is censorship the answer to hate speech? In the following example, although censorship was in place so no students would be insulted by the text, it was still unable to prevent offence being taken.

Mrs. Heifetz coincidentally found an altered excerpt in her child’s exam paper. The comprehension passage had missing words from a book excerpt which she was very familiar with. Initially she thought it was just one of the occasional quirks used by teachers to avoid misinterpretation of the text. Driven by curiosity, she then checked several other Regents English exam papers for the past three years. She discovered that a vast range of the text had been sanitized to avoid sensitive topics such as race, religion, ethnicity, sex,...
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