There are limits to freedom of speech. All countries in Europe have laws against harassment, incitement to commit crimes, and restrictions on libellous, defamatory, or slanderous speech. Some countries make it illegal to deny crimes against humanity such as the holocaust, or to promote certain extremist ideologies or groups.
Where should the line be drawn? If hate speech legislation is overly-strict, can it impinge upon the right to freedom of expression? Who should decide where the limits lie and what is acceptable? The question becomes particularly relevant in the 21st century, when individuals have the ability to publish content that is read, watched, or listened to by millions of people around the world. It’s also an issue for platforms such as Debating Europe, which have to balance the right to freedom of speech with their responsibility to prevent hate speech (not to mention their desire to foster a positive, inclusive community).
What do our readers think? We had a question sent in from Catherine from the UK, who asks: “What is hate speech?” (with the implicit subtext that nobody can really define it).
To get a response, we put Catherine’s question to Julia Mozer, Hate Speech Advisor to the organisation CEJI – A Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe. How would she define “hate speech”?
We also had a comment sent in by Pedro, who thinks social media has made the problem of hate speech much more complex. He believes the issue is that ordinary people have now become “publishers” and can broadcast their personal thoughts to millions of others without really understanding the laws around hate speech. Is he right? If so, how can we ensure that citizens can stay safe, make their voices heard and play a positive role as online consumers and producers of content?
To get a response, we put this question to Laurentiu Bunescu, CEO of ALL DIGITAL, a pan-European association based in Brussels representing member organisations that teach and promote digital skills and competency. How would he respond?
For another perspective, we put the same question Myles Dyer, a YouTube creator and an ambassador for YouTube’s ‘Creators For Change‘ programme, which works to promote awareness around issues such as tackling hate speech, and ending online harassment and abuse. How would he respond?
What is hate speech for you? Has the internet made hate speech worse (or, at least, more obvious)? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!
IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – SAJV CSAJ
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