Tuesday, 10 July 2018

FaceBook deletes Declaration of Independence

The US Declaration of Independence is hate speech, according to FaceBook.

An obscure American newspaper, the Vindicator, has been publishing extracts from the US Declaration of Independence. The paper has a FaceBook page. When the Vindicator published part of the Declaration which denounced merciless Indian savages, who kill indiscriminately, FaceBook stepped in and deleted the post on the ground that it constitutes hate speech. FaceBook was, of course, entirely correct, as a matter of definition. However, in response to complaints, FaceBook apologised, stated that it had made a mistake and reinstated the post.

FaceBook's removal of the post was correct. The characterisation of native Americans as merciless savages, who kill indiscriminately, is "hate speech". FaceBook routinely deletes posts that are far less negative in their characterisations in respect of "protected" attributes, such as ethnicity, race, national origin, gender, religion, etc. Yet, FaceBook apologised and reinstated the post.

However, FaceBook's apology is was anything but sincere. FaceBook has not changed its policies and it does not intend to. FaceBook will continue to exercise its censorship on the basis of so called hate speech. The reason FaceBook apologised is not because it made a "mistake" and it now recognises that the Declaration of Independence is not hate speech. FaceBook apologised because the Declaration of Independence is a sacred document in America. Banning it is simply not politically possible. But let anyone try writing on FaceBook about native Americans (or any other social category) as the Founding Fathers did and their post will be censored.

What this episode shows is that the liberal opposition to hate speech is selective. Some hate speech is perfectly acceptable to the liberal political media elite and some hate speech is completely unacceptable to the same elite. This selectivity reveals the political motivation of the hate speech censorship campaign. The liberal political media elite do not want free discussion of certain issues, and characterising some speech as hate speech is an effective way of closing down debate without being accused of censorship; indeed, the censors get to wrap themselves in the robes of liberal, humanitarian concern for the welfare of others: it's not censorship, it is altruism. Better yet, it does not even need an explanation because anyone who cannot see its justice is obviously a racist, sexist, homophobe, anti-Semite, or whatever. This is censorship by name calling.

When FaceBook censored the Declaration of Independence, they did everyone a favour: because their action showed how pernicious this anti-hate speech campaign is. The anti-hate speech campaign denies human rights, it denies reality, it creates the pre-conditions for totalitarianism. When a minority gets to decide what can and cannot be said, there is no crime they cannot commit with complete impunity.

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