Thursday, July 07, 2005

Hate-Speak in Politics

We respectfully ask that you read the entire post before commenting the first time, but for your convenience we have put a jump to the comments section right here, so that you can easily find them.

For today's post, I want to discuss what I refer to as hate-speak in American politics. While I personally believe there is more hate-speak in the Republican half of the political spectrum, I am forced to admit that hateful language is prevalent in BOTH sides of the political aisle. My goal with this post is to prove that hate-speak exists in politics today, examine why it is a serious problem and finally, make suggestions on how to remedy this situation. Let's take a look at this now shall we?

First, let's look at the proof that hate-speak is prevalent in both major political parties. We'll attack the Democrats first. Earlier this year, while on the campaign trail for the Democratic Party Chairmanship, Howard Dean said, "I hate Republicans and everything they stand for, but I admire their discipline and their organization." This proves that the Democratic Party is infested with hate-speak. Dean's attempt at a save at the end of his statement was a failure. What about the Republican Party? Anyone who believes the GOP is innocent in this matter is sadly mistaken. Remember what Congressman Tom DeLay (TX) said of the judges in the Terri Schiavo case last spring? "The judges need to be intimidated, they need to uphold the Constitution. If they don't behave, we're going to go after them in a big way," he said. Pretty hateful? You bet. What about Karl Rove's long history of hateful comments? "As people do better, they start voting like Republicans," he said once a few years ago. Is it really appropriate for our nations highest leadership to be acting like this?

Ok, now that we have established the existence of this kind of rhetoric, is it truly harmful to our nation? I believe it is. Think back to your childhood folks. As a kid, did you get along better with your siblings when they were nice or when they called you a name? Think of high school now. Didn't fights result from name-calling? It certainly wasn't the compliments. Now consider Washington or even your local city council and state government. How many times can you remember the work of the government bogging down because one or both sides of the aisle were too busy slandering the other to get down to work? Do you have a better time at work when you are being called names? Does that make it easier to function in your job capacity? Does that give you inclination to compromise with your co-workers to solve problems? The answer is no to all of these questions. This is why something must be done about the hate-speak so inherent in our political system.

Now we can discuss our options. What can we do to put a stopper in the ever-increasing flow of hate-speak from our political leaders? I suggest that the first thing voters should do is educate themselves on the issues instead of letting their leaders tell them how to vote. Too many on both sides of the aisle vote the way their party leaders say. The second thing we can do is to mail and email leaders who choose to use such language, whether they be of our party or not. The third thing we can and should do is remember that we elect leaders and we can un-elect them and even call for their removal if they do not stop using hate-speak. What is needed here is an end to party line loyalty. It might be hard but it is the cure to this problem. That will send a message to extremists like Dean, DeLay, Durbin, Frist and Rove that we won't take this anymore. It's up to us. This tripe only happens because we haven't done anything about it.

Joseph - The New Oklahoma Democrat

Why do liberals whine about hate speech? They defend burning the flag as free speech, why is hate speech any different? Burning the flag is not speech in my opinion, but it makes the point of how liberals talk out of both sides of their mouth. What is hate speech? Does it only apply when race or sex is involved? Should your free speech to hate America be defended? If not, there are a lot of far lefties out there that would be in trouble. If free speech is free speech unlimited to things such as filth, porn, NAMBLA, KKK, Nazis, etc...where are we saying that the line should be drawn between free speech and hate speech? Am I free to hate you, but not free to open my mouth about it? Who will enforce this? The FCC? I do believe there should be limits to free speech. Let me make this appeal to you liberals out there. First off, lets define what hate speech is and where we draw the line. Is it name calling? Flag burning? Racial slurs?

One of our most cherished rights as citizens of this great nation is freedom of speech. But nowhere in the Constitution is there language relating to freedom from speech. Perhaps there should be.

With that in mind, I will leave you with a few quotes from a book I've been reading.

"Years ago, movie critics panned Clark Gable's line, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn," in the movie classic Gone With The Wind. They said it was too risque even for the adults of that day. That was in 1939. The film's screenplay writers even suggested that Selznick change the script for censorship protection. They wanted Gable to say either, "Frankly, my dear, I just don't care,"or "I wish I could care what you do or where you go, but frankly, my dear, I just don't care." Selznick obviously didn't give a damn. He allowed Gable to use the word that, in those days, was a certified "cuss word" as we mountaineers would say. I guess he never suspected that one little word would become the talk of the entire world.

Contrast that word with a recent song sung by teen idol Eminem titled "The Kids." Embodied within that one song, the rapper sings of cruelty to animals, drug use, explicit sex acts in a parking lot, murder, dismemberment, hiding a body for the "cops to find", the size of his penis, parental drug use, G-strings, and magic mushrooms grown in cow dung. Now imagine, for a moment, the millions of impressible adolescents trying to figure out who they are and where they are going in life as they listen to that toxic brew of trash.

Someone once said, and I'm sure we all agree, that if you want to change the world, you must begin with the children. It's just as certain that, if you want to guarantee the downfall of a nation, you must begin with its young people. It is a decay from within that has destroyed many of the world's most prosperous nations. George Washington warned us of that in his farewell address when he cautioned that religion and morality are inseperable and that no true patriot would attempt to weaken the relationship between God and government."

Zell Miller in his book Deficit of Decency

In closing I'd just say that free speech is a fragile issue. If we decide to limit it, lets be careful exactly what we limit. And if we are going to limit free speech on issues of hate, then we better damn well limit it from burning flags, and talking about molesting little boys.

Jay - Stop the ACLU

The political process is characterised not by its ends, but its means. The ends of all politicians are identical to each other and to private individuals: prosperity and peace. Even the regimes of horror in Soviet Russia and National Socialist Germany held those as their final goals. No political movement ever promised misery and abject poverty to its followers; even the ascetic theocracies of Iran and Saudi Arabia promise their citizens eternal prosperity in exchange for their obedience to the laws.

The means of the political process is coercion, whereas the means of private social relations is voluntary agreement and cooperation. Government only possesses that which it has first extracted through taxation or inflation. It acts through decrees, which forcibly replace the will of the many private individuals with the will of a few in government. The means government has to attain its ends are founded in coercion, whether against the criminal or the innocent. Regardless of the justification, it cannot be denied that the political process is inextricably connected with the use of coercion.

The coercive element in politics, when government is limited by isonomy, popular sovereignty, and equal rights, is reduced to its application against criminals. Debate is narrowed to, not whose rights are more valued than another's rights, whose benefit is worth more than the harm to another, but whose rights have been violated. There is no consideration entered between which rights outweigh other rights, whose well-being is more valued than another. A government so limited possesses a focused application of coercion in which disagreement is characterized by the application of coercion to criminals, not innocents. Political debates focus on the subject of crime, people who have violated rights. Antipathy toward criminals is an antipathy toward those who disintegrate social cooperation and bring harm; such antipathy may result in extreme policies against criminals but will leave innocents unharmed. An innocent man has no need to fear his neighbor's politics in such a limited government.

A government which rejects isonomy, and begins creating laws specific to a certain segment of the population, simultaneously casts the apparatus of coercion into a wider arena. One portion of the population must inevitably be harmed to benefit the other portion. Equal rights and popular sovereignty yield to the widened application of coercion to innocent individuals.

It is this expansion of the means of the political process beyond criminal activities and into the realm of voluntary and peaceful social relationships that produces the emotional element in political debate. The moment the law takes on a specific target, rejecting isonomy and equal rights, some one must be harmed for every person benefitted. The benefits government provide come at the expense of harm to others. As a rule, the benefit will be focused and specific, provided to a delineated portion of the population, while this harm will be diffuse, scattered among the remainder. Those groups which benefit will possess more incentive to increase their privileges than will those groups which are harmed will possess to decrease their burdens.

With the collapse of isonomy, a nation fractures into groups competing with each other by proxy of the government. Each vies for some privilege with an inherently greater drive than they vie for the absence of burden in providing privilege to another group.

The only result possible is antipathy. A man must now fear the politics of his neighbor. Subsidized farmers seek to extract more benefits from burdened mothers, who in turn seek their own subsidies. A manufacturer seeks protection from a rival, this protection to come at the expense of the tax-payers and the rights of all the parties involved. One man's protection is another man's burden: each group will have an incentive to paint the necessity of its own well-being higher than the harm which must come to other groups to provide it. Each group will see an incentive to not only cast the other groups seeking to extract benefits as less important to public policy, but will seek to portray their well-being in antipathy to the interests of the rest of society.

In such a fractured society, the well-being of one group is detrimental to another group. In the voluntary cooperation of a society ordered on equal rights, isonomy, and popular sovereignty, the well-being of one man benefits every other man. No one is harmed through voluntary charity and voluntary exchange. In contrast, through political processes, the well-being of one man necessitates that harm come to another man. When well-being is sought through the political process, it becomes synonymous with the idea of a "zero-sum game," in which each man's health is another man's disease. Neighbors look upon each other's prosperity as a threat to their own. And what we see in our politics is what one would naturally see in response to a threat.

I note here that classical liberalism and Jeffersonian conservativism embrace isonomy and equal rights as the fundamental basis of a constitutional republic, as our nation is. It is quite easy to see which political beliefs reject isonomic law, and it is also quite easy to see the correlation between these beliefs and the ferocity of emotional responses.

Tom - Hamster Motor

I think that Joseph does a great job of summing up what is an increasingly nasty problem not only in politics but also, in our entire WORLD today.

Once upon a time, you knew a man (or woman) by how they spoke. You could tell the "good eggs" from the "bad eggs" and I think that the analogy between childhood name-calling and what we are seeing now, is indeed a good one, because in its baseline --that is where it all begins, in sandbox squabbles where whomever could insult whomever's mother the worst was the "top dog".

Long time ago, the bards knew the value of words. A bardic study was upwards toward 20 years and they had to memorize the stories, lore and lineage of their tribe. Thus, words had a lot of power and importance. It is truly a shame that we now use our gift of linguistics to hatefully debase others in a ploy to make ourselves "bigger", "more important" or "more right".

Hate speech is the way that hateful actions continue to perpetuate them selves in our world. It creates whole sections of people that hate others, based solely on what they learned from some other hater that came before them. It is degrading, demoralizing and definitely has no place in our modern day world.

Calling for the removal of those that consistently use it in the political world is an option, however, won't some say that it then infringes on their right to freedom of speech?
I think we would have a hard time doing it.

Perhaps a grassroots effort -- "The Earmuff Brigade" could make a statement by appearing at the Conventions and Rallies with something to cover up their ears to remove them from the rhetorical drivel that is spouted at the podium. At least, it would be making a visual statement. First name calling, or hate speech moment-- on go the earmuffs and they won't come off until the speaker says: "I apologize".

Funny, that we need to even consider such childish reminders and punishments for grown, educated adults but I for one, think that it just might work!

Nariel - Ancient Eyes for Current Times

Hate Speak in Politics? Give Me a Break
According to Joe's post, calling the candidate for President, and then the President when he's running for re-election an ape, a buffoon, a dunce and an idiot would qualify as "hate speech" in either the 1860 or 1864 elections. I suppose calling Thomas Jefferson an adulterer and an atheist would have also qualified when he ran against John Adams twice. We won't even go near the election of Andrew Jackson.

The point is that politicians have been saying and doing stupid things since the nation was founded. I would agree that what Senator Dick said was stupid, and being from Illinois, downright embarrassing. But hate speech?!?!? Nope.

And frankly, I firmly agree with Joe's quote from Tom Delay. Judges are out of control. I suppose one's man's hate speech is another man's thoughtful comment. :-)

The politically correct term "hate speech" frankly chills me to the bone. Are the Chris Muir cartoons at the beginning of my blog hate speech. Some would say so, especially the one the other day about Nancy Pelosi. How about the picture of Bush dressed as Darth Vader on Joe's site the other day?

Speech, most especially political speech, should be free. As a general rule, The People can tell who's being an idiot, and who's speaking the truth. And they voice their opinion in Elections. You don't like what someone says, rant and rave on your own blog. Don't have a blog? Start one.

Mark - Liberty Just In Case
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