Saturday, May 16, 2015

Freedom of Speech - HAHABT 2015

Isn't it strange how people who speak out against the LGBT community tend to paint themselves as the victims? We see it happen all the time. A recent example from the USA is a small pizza place that said they'd refuse to serve at a same-sex wedding. They got nearly $840,000 from people who saw the owners of the pizza place as the true victims for the backlash they received. According to their supporters, they had a right to state their opinions, even if it showed massive bigotry. A recent example in Iceland is a musician spreading and advocating hate against LGBT people when a town decided to add education about homosexuality into their schools' curriculum. Sadly, he had supporters, about 400 of them the last time I knew. That may seem like a tiny number to the big world out there, but there are only about 320,000 people living in Iceland, so 400 is a lot. They set up a Facebook page and called it "Protect the Children" and hateful things were said. But the difference between the USA and Iceland is that ten of those people are now facing lawsuits for their words.

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Of course, the musician and his followers are now the "true" victims in all this, not being allowed freedom of speech and stating their "humble" opinions. What they failed to understand is that freedom of speech has its limit in Iceland. You're allowed to say whatever the hell you want as long as it doesn't ridicule, calumniate, insult, or assault a person or a group of people because of their nationality, color, race, religion, or sexual inclination (General Penal Code, article 233 a). In other words, they're not allowed to verbally attack what is already a vulnerable minority group. If these ten people people are found guilty, they'll get heavy fines or prison for up to two years (but most likely it'll only be fines). 

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So, people over here are allowed to have their opinions, but they're not allowed to express them however they please in public. It sounds bad when you say it like that, but given the alternative of allowing hate speech without consequences, it isn't bad at all. Many countries forbid hate speech and are certainly not worse for it. Countries like Sweden, The Netherlands, France, and South Africa. Canada has banned the Westboro Baptist Church for entering their borders because of hate speech ("Church members enter Canada, aiming to picket bus victim's funeral", CBC News, 8 August 2008.).
You see, when Freedom of Speech was first introduced, it did have its limits. John Stuart Mill introduced the "Harm Principle" that would put limitation on freedom of speech. He said "the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others." ("Freedom of Speech". Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 17 April 2008.).

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Prevent harm to others, he said. But what are anti-LGBT activists doing? They are spreading nasty messages about LGBT people to cause harm. "Harm" doesn't always mean that it's physical, it can be financial, libel, and injustice. It can be a mob yelling demeaning things at a single person, and no one can convince me that it wouldn't cause the person psychological harm. Hell, they're allowed to spread lies about minority groups without having to face any consequences. Really, outright lies!

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I think that officials in these countries - especially the USA that prides itself of free speech - are afraid of actually trying to put legal restriction on hate speech. They're afraid of backlash from the public and their fellow congressmen (because congressmen will use everything to attack one another in elections), of being accused of trying suppress opinions. Because that's what bullies do: they're loud, they act out, and they throw around big words and accusations to get their way. But these officials wouldn't be suppressing opinions, they'd only be limiting how these opinions are expressed in public, and the only reason they would do that would be to protect minority groups from harm. Freedom of speech is a human right, but how is it a human right not to be able to get justice for someone spreading lies about you and trying to get others to hate you because you're Hispanic/gay/Muslim/disabled/etc.?

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Now, most of my readers and fellow authors are United States citizens. I respect that you may have a different opinion about freedom of speech. This post is not about ridiculing Americans. It is simply about me being unhappy with acceptance - even protection - of hate speech when it does more harm than good (in my opinion ^.^). 

In relation to this, but also on a completely different note, a study was made in 1996 about homophobes. The result? "...students who had the greatest sexual identity conflict -- young men and women who reported a straight identity while scoring highest on homosexual tendencies -- also exhibited a number of behaviors consistent with homophobia. They tended to report more negative or fearful attitudes toward gays and lesbians, tended to be biased against homosexuals in hypothetical situations, and were more likely to endorse anti-gay policies." ( Meaning that those who protest the loudest are most likely to be homosexual. Here's a video that explains the study:

I should have started the post with the below introduction, but I wanted to dive right into the issue. Today is the International Day Against Homopohobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia. For the last four years, I've been organizing the Hop Against Homophobia, Bi- and Transphobia with friends. The hop starts today and ends on the 24th. Over 100 authors, publishers, reviewers, and cover designers of LGBT literature are taking part in the hop to spread the message about bi-, trans-, and homophobic discrimination, and stand together against discrimination of our books. It is tradition to offer a prize. I'm offering one of my ebooks to four people who comment. The winners will be chosen at random and may choose which ebook and in what format. I will draw the winners on the 25th and contact them, so please include your email or a way for me to contact you (e.g. a facebook link) in your comment. But everyone can get something: I have a number of free works that anyone can download.

If you're interested in more articles about the issue in Iceland, here are a couple of links:
Freedom Of Speech
Come On Kids, Let's All Join Hands And Be Gay!

Here are other links on free speech vs. hate speech:
Free Speech isn't Free
Here Is Why It's Time To Get Though On Hate Speech In America
Hate speech or free speech? What much of West bans is protected in U.S.

And below are the links to the rest of the people taking part.

Happy hopping :)

Edited: The winners are redtigerburninglust, Kassandra, MA Church, and Trix. Congrats :) You will receive email shortly.