Hate Speech: A Theoretical Analysis

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Whether it is implicit stereotypes, or explicit derogatory words, hate speech affects us no matter what skin color or gender we are. Some could argue that hate speech is just words, and should never be seen as the equivalent of assault, however people that have experienced it may tell a different tale. They may debate that hate speech is so emotionally and physically hurtful, that it is the verbal equivalent to spitting in someone’s face. As such, we may also use theoretical philosophical concepts such as deontology and consequentialism to attempt to solve this ethical topic. Although hate speech could be regarded as free speech, it infringes on an individuals rights, thus I will argue that it should be criminalized.

The old saying, “sticks
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To a certain extent this is true, but regarding hate speech, it should have no constitutional protection, according to Charles Lawrence. Lawrence believes that “Face-to-face insults are not deserving of constitutional protection because they are immediately injurious like a slap to the face” (Burke, October 2,2015). Anyone from a minority group that has ever been a victim of hate speech will say that this is true. For example, a Middle Eastern man flying on an airplane is sitting down. Another women is about to sit down next to him, but refuses to do so. When the stewardess comes and asks what is the problem, the woman says, “I don’t want to sit next to this raghead”. In this example, any comeback that the Middle Eastern man had before she said “raghead” was completely wiped away. These derogatory words are so powerful, that they have the ability to render the victim speechless (Burke, October 2,2015). They are the kind of words that will have a person contemplating where they fit in in society, and also cause the individual to feel as though they are inferior. This can be so traumatic, that sometimes they may lead to both physical and emotional damage that may stay with someone for the rest of their lives. As hurtful as these words may be however, skeptics could also raise the idea of groups…show more content…
Hate speech are comments that cause harm to individuals, and promotes division and intolerance. Individuals, who exercise their freedom of speech in this manner, must of course be aware of and face the consequences that may come with it. Although freedom of expression should be protected, it should not protect what happens to you after you say it. Calling someone a “nigger”, or a “faggot”, is the equivalent to spitting in someone’s face. As such, it is a form of assault, as you are causing pain and have no regard for an individuals well being. You completely disregard them as a person, and may cause emotional pain, such as depression or physical pain, as there may be a physical altercation that comes after you say it. This is why it should be a criminal offense, as it deters individuals from acting in a way that is dangerous towards the solidarity of society. Now of course there will be people that will disagree with this logic, on the basis that although hate speech is wrong, it should be protested and challenged, rather than criminalized. To these people I say that although this is a valid point, the ethical disparities that it casts on society are why hate speech should be a criminal offense. We strive to live in a society that is fair and virtuous, and

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