Friday Forum: Should Hate Speech Be Outlawed?

It’s that time of the week, when Queerty takes a break from the opinion-making and puts you, the readers, in charge. Each Friday, we invite you to be the pundit on a hot-button question facing the LGBT community and its allies. As always, we expect people to be respectful and considerate of others by refraining from personal attacks. We present the information, you make the decision.

hate_speechThis week, Westboro Baptist Minister Fred Phelps was denied entry into the United Kingdom after promising to protest a production of The Laramie Project. Meanwhile, in the U.S., Utah State Senator Chris Buttars is allowed to gleefully compare gays to Muslim terrorists and say we’re the biggest threat facing the country.

Over 20 countries have laws against various forms of hate speech, arguing that they represent real and demonstrative injury, but in the U.S., free speech is protected more so than any other country on Earth, considered part of that whole “rich tradition of democracy” thing.

Widely misattributed to Voltaire, the declaration “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” is a lot harder to stand behind when the things being said are that you are less than human, void of morals and a threat to the country. Still it seems ironic that you can be arrested in Germany for advocating Nazi beliefs or that in homogeneous Iceland you can be arrested simply for saying something racist publicly.

The flip side of the argument is that pervasive culture of intolerance makes it all the easier for homophobic violence to happen. Doesn’t a culture that tolerates intolerance implicitly endorse it? Where do we draw the line?

As people who are all too often victims of the last socially acceptable bigotry, we put it to you: Should hate speech be outlawed?