Will Killing Hate Speech Kill Freedom of Speech?
by Ilias on September 18, 2017 - 1:57am
The article "Will Germany's new law kill free speech online?" written by Patrick Evans and posted September 17, 2017 on BBC News portrays the fear surrounding a new law in Germany. This law, called Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz, will be established in October. It would force social media to take down "blatantly illegal" hate speech in 24 hours and less "blatant" hate speech within a week. This rises concerns for some, as "hate speech" is not something clearly defined. The German definition can vary from the specific "forming terrorist groups" to "defamation of religions". Who can pinpoint what is defamation and what is not? It is definitely a problem. Trying to censor an entire population on something as fuzzy as hate speech is dangerous. We could face a "thought police" at some point. The definition can be changed slowly to things we wouldn't define as hate speech. It could be criticism towards the government. That kind of loopholes is menacing. What should we do? Well, it depends on what country you live in. If you live in Germany, watch out for what happens next. If you see that there's any change to the definition of hate speech, be sure that it's safe. If you judge it's not, then protest it. A government cannot win against a united population. If you live outside, inform yourself about your right to freedom of speech and what level of censorship you have. If you feel the latter is too high, then claim your right to free speech, if you have it.
I must say that freedom of speech is extremely important for me for multiple reasons. My family and I immigrated to Canada when I was very young for many reasons. One of them was that a lot of subjects were censored where we lived before. I'm often on the Internet, and I've been witnessing the "adpocalypse" on YouTube. To summarize, a lot of Youtubers have seen their videos demonetized for various and doubtful reasons. It forces them to stay away from sensitive topics, like gay rights or simply talking about more mature subjects, if they want to keep receiving their paychecks. In the end, I see a lot of my favorites content creators being indirectly obligated to do videos that do not touch what they want to talk about. This article can tell you a bit more about it. Finally, I am quite a fan of novels talking about dystopias. 451 Fahrenheit by Ray Bradbury and 1984 by George Orwell. The first one helped me understand the consequences of censorship while the second introduced me to the idea of a "thought police". We're definitely not at that level, but those books really influenced me. I hope, of all of these experiences I lived, one helped you to grasp the idea of censorship and its power.