Making Hate Speech Illegal
What would happen if we were to make hate speech illegal? Hate speech can be defined as “verbal, written, and symbolic acts that convey a grossly negative view of particular persons or groups based on their gender, ethnicity, race, religion, sexual orientation, or disability.” ("Glossary." Glossary. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2012. .) Would making hate speech illegal disable it’s force or would it affirm its power?
In the article, Performing Gender Identity Young Men’s Talk and The Construct on of Heterosexual Masculinity, by Deborah Cameron, a conversation is recorded by five young men having casual conversation. In the conversation that they have, we see evidence of hate speech when the males speak negatively of fellow classmates, stating that they were gay and the “antithesis of a man”. Evidence of stronger hate speech is when the male named Ed says, “he’s I mean he like a really artsy fartsy fag he’s like he’s so gay he’s got this like really high voice and wire rim glasses and he sits next to the ugliest ass bitch in the history of the world… it’s like four homos hitting on her”. But why are these men saying these things? It is because the deviance indicated by the term gay is gender deviance and not sexual deviance. According to the article, “being ‘gay’ means failing to measure up to the group’s standards of masculinity or femininity.” Nonetheless this is still considered hate speech.
In the chapter, Language Acquisition and Socializations, by Elinor Ochs and Bambi B. Schieffelin, we came to the conclusion that “the process of acquiring language and the process of acquiring sociocultural knowledge are intimately tied”. We have seen that through the patterns of early- childhood interaction, cultural values and identities are transmitted. So what would happen if hate speech was illegal from earlier on? Would banning hate speech during early- childhood interaction alter the power of hate speech?
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