BP#12 Hate Speech

Facebook has recently started to fight back against the proliferation of fake news across its platform. The fake news has been put out by many different organizations with varying goals, some to just gain wealth from advertising and others to try and obfuscate the truth. In Germany, there are strict laws against hate speech to the point where denying the Holocaust is an automatic prison sentence. A white nationalist group in Germany had posted a list of local Jewish run businesses on the 78th anniversary of Kristallnacht, which was the start of the Nazi’s program to round up people of Jewish origin.

Should Facebook be forced to take down such a post? Many could argue, even with its hateful nature and obvious intent to incite harm, that a list of Jewish businesses is not a hate crime within itself. Yet, it being posted to right wing site with the title “Jews Among Us” and the aforementioned businesses then receiving hate mail and harassment, it’s very easy to see that the list was a tool for hate crimes. There is a fine line between free speech and hate speech. I believe that hate speech needs to be combated as it can easily incite action, but at the same time banning speech can set a dangerous precedent, especially if the government is run by a thin-skinned orange autocrat. In social contract theory, the moral laws are decided by all rational individuals who make up the society, but that might not be enough. What is rational to us one day might be thought of as immoral the next. Allowing for such flexibility means our morality can adapt and evolve with society, but at the same time if society devolves into a lesser state, the rational morality goes with it.

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