Hate Speech

Author: Smithereens ,

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  • Smithereens
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    Let's talk about hate speech.

    In the context of this site, it's been defined as "derogatory words which apply to a specific class of people." (Bish, 2018)

    What is the rationale in enforcing their non use? Is moderation of hate speech beneficial to a debate site? Does hate speech have any non-trivial consequences? I'm going to make a few points here:

    1. If hate speech is banned for it's capacity to offend, then all offensive speech should be banned.
    The rationale behind banning 'hate speech' is surreptitiously to protect minority classes from... something. I know I'm not going to face consequences for using the term 'white trash' when referring to Trump voters, or egregiously labeling all men misogynists. Bish has said previously that hate speech can describe anything that derides a class, but mainly applies to marginalised groups (minorities). Hate speech is therefore derogatory words which apply to specific minorities. So why ban it?

    The worst effect of hate speech conceivable is that you will offend someone. You calling someone a tranny has no ability to impact their actual lives, only their emotions. The basis of hate speech censorship is therefore to protect the feelings of individuals who identify with a minority. This is a fair assessment of the rationale to ban hate speech.

    The issue herein is that the fundamental justification for the censorship is to prevent offense. Hate speech is merely something which easily causes offense. It doesn't always cause offense (not all African-Americans will care if someone calls them a nigger), but because it is expected to cause offense, it's banned. How do we know this standard I've just concocted is true? Because words and terms that are labelled hate speech must simply be derogatory to a certain class of people for it to qualify.

    'Hate speech' is a misnomer, as it infers the intent of hate in loaded terms when hate may not exist. If it's the hate part you want to ban, then let's be intellectually honest and understand that it's the offensive speech that needs to be banned. How do we know what constitutes offensive speech? That's for me to decide, and I elect to be offended by the suggestion that hate speech ought to be moderated. Thus, out of consideration to my feelings, you should not censor anything I say lest you offend me.

    2. When faced with subjectivity, moderation should reflect group norms (barring Mike's whim)
    From point 1, hate speech is subjective, it may or may not cause offense, and it's the offense that is actually the intent of censorship, not specifically the words themselves. If the site does not have any transgenders on it, is there any justification behind banning the word 'tranny?' Maybe, because a tranny might be watching. If the discussion is between two or more members however and both or all participants implicitly consent to using offensive words on each other, what does censorship accomplish? 

    A group of white kids comes to an agreement that when talking among themselves, they will not call each other 'nigger.' Why? If there is nobody around to be offended by your 'hate' speech, the rationale for censorship sinks. Again, hate speech must be offensive for it to qualify, thus a statement that won't offend anyone cannot be considered hate speech. Subjectivity is inherent in this definition, and on this site that subjectivity is the basis for moderation. Naturally, censorship of speech on a platform intended to promote free discussion is an antithesis to the site's values. 

    To police something which isn't the same for every person, there comes a point where you are going to have to draw an arbitrary line and declare that any statements north of here go too far. The basis for this should be a product of site culture and consensus. It can also be an explicit declaration of Mike, who as the owner gets to decide the rules irrespective of member opinion. It does not fall to a single member of the community, particularly a mod, to decide for the community where these lines should be drawn.

    3. Abuse and harassment rules are better than hate speech rules.
    All this can be solved by considering the speech at the individual level. If an individual insults someone with the malicious intent to degrade their self esteem or otherwise emotionally harm them, then that statement is abusive. We have rules in place that prohibit abuse and these are great rules. For the most part they are black and white. When they aren't, mod discretion fills in the gaps. There is no need for hate speech rules on top of this.
    "It could be symbolically offensive to others who could theoretically be present in this discussion." No. 
    "Minorities are harmed by your use of derogatory words." No.
    "People exist in class structures, many of these classes are victims of an oppressive system that is perpetrated through the words you use." No.
    "Your identity can be threatened by the words others use to describe you." No.

    Take all your assumptions listed above and discard them. Not only are they not true, they are harmful subjective opinions that you should keep to yourself. Using them as a basis for policing the behaviour of others is called something very special in the modern political climate: Oppression. 










  • RationalMadman
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    I don't know but the fact zeichen can speak to me in such humiliating way and get away with it disgusts me. Zeichen can speak I'll of my mental health, tell me I'm a pathetic jo-life loser and bsh1 won't do shit about it, tells me it's my fault for talking to her. When it suits bsh1 he victim blames.
  • RationalMadman
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    I agree with Smithereens and zeichen broke version 3 with me
  • Smithereens
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    I don't know but the fact zeichen can speak to me in such humiliating way and get away with it disgusts me. Zeichen can speak I'll of my mental health, tell me I'm a pathetic jo-life loser and bsh1 won't do shit about it, tells me it's my fault for talking to her. When it suits bsh1 he victim blames.
    tough luck boi, you're a white guy. No minority privilege for you!

  • RationalMadman
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    --> @Smithereens
    Sorry for typos, I am aware they make me look dumber but it was a case of laziness and rushing to type on a phone.
  • Death23
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    --> @Smithereens
    This is a debating site. It needs users with diverse viewpoints. If users feel bad then they're liable to leave. That's the practical problem with hate speech, ad hom attacks or whatever else people feel like doing that has negligible debate value and causes other users to feel bad.
  • drafterman
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    --> @Smithereens
    I agree completely. However, I don't think anyone in a position of moderation has any interest, whatsoever, in changing their style of moderation.
  • Death23
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    --> @RationalMadman
    Sorry for typos, I am aware they make me look dumber but it was a case of laziness and rushing to type on a phone.
    Your typos justify punishment. Your attempt to excuse your typos merits the most extreme punishment.

  • RationalMadman
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    --> @Death23
    ? which rule says that?
  • Smithereens
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    --> @Death23
    This is a debating site. It needs users with diverse viewpoints. If users feel bad then they're liable to leave. That's the practical problem with hate speech, ad hom attacks or whatever else people feel like doing that has negligible debate value and causes other users to feel bad.
    Ad homs and personal slurs are harmful, regardless of them being valuable to discussion. "Hate speech" is not harmful to discuss and whether it contributes to discussion is contextual and entirely plausible. If I want to deligitimise and mock transgender individuals as being mentally ill then that's fine. No group is protected from ridicule and there's no grounds to protect a group from ridicule either. Feel free to mock Christians, Muslims, straights, gays, liberals, conservatives etc. Nobody is special and nobody gets protection from scorn and derision. 

    Being offended means absolutely nothing.
  • Death23
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    --> @Smithereens
    Ad homs and personal slurs are harmful [...] Being offended means absolutely nothing.

    What's the harm in ad homs and personal slurs if it's not the offensive nature of them?
  • Smithereens
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    --> @Death23
    What's the harm in ad homs and personal slurs if it's not the offensive nature of them?
    If an attack is directed at your person then you are being personally attacked. The difference between that and an attack that is not directed at your person is whether you are being targeted for harassment or not. Being a target of harassment can have psychological effects above and beyond merely being offended by what others say. Cyber-bullying for instance may have real life consequences on an individual, hate speech does not.

  • Smithereens
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    The difference between abuse and hatespeech can often be the difference between calling someone a nigger, versus using the term nigger in general. One is (contextually and conditionally) abusive and the other is hate speech, however the latter does not need to be moderated.
  • Death23
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    --> @Smithereens
    You don't see the consequences. This is a debating website. It relies on user generated content and fulfills its purpose best when there is a broad diversity of opinions within the user base. Hate speech may create an environment that's intimidating, hostile or offensive to reasonable people. Users will leave in response to that environment.

    If there happens to be any social value to a particular example of hate speech then it's incidental, not intrinsic. That value can be had without the consequences by expressing oneself in a way that isn't intimidating, hostile or offensive.
  • ResurgetExFavilla
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    I agree with everything that you said, but it's pretty clear that nothing will be done about it. When people raised questions about these clauses in the CoC a few months ago bsh promised laissez-daire modding. He obviously lied (inartfully), and unless the site owner intervenes this site will just become a place where you can't even say 'tranny' without being moderated for it, despite promises to the contrary. We may have looked at this place as a successor to DDO, but I don't think that that's the case. From what I can see, even if 80% of the site disagrees with the direction in which moderation is being taken, nothing will be done to reign it in. It'd be nice to be wrong, but oh well.
  • ResurgetExFavilla
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    --> @Death23
    As probably someone with some of the most 'out there' views on this site, someone calling me a stupid name doesn't bother me. The idea of investing time in a site where you can get 'warned' for something that isn't cut-and-dry, dickish harassment does. It's just not entertaining or fun, and there are only so many hours in the day to spend. The idea that enforcing 'hate speech' moderation will increase the diversity of ideas is just frightfully dim. There are trannies out there who don't mind being called trannies. There aren't many people who see transexualism as a mental disorder who will also enjoy debating their PoV on a website where you can't even truncate the word 'transexual' without getting finger-wagged.
  • Death23
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    The idea that enforcing 'hate speech' moderation will increase the diversity of ideas is just frightfully dim.
    But that's not what I said, is it?
  • RationalMadman
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    --> @Death23
    In the sense of a net-increase, not gross amount, that is actually what you ended up saying.
  • ResurgetExFavilla
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    --> @Death23
    You said that this regulation is needed because, otherwise, the diversity of views would decrease. That a good benefit of the policy which justifies it is an increase in the diversity of ideas. They are completely corollary to one another on the most basic level. So while you may not have typed those exact words, the information was implicit within your statement, unless the most basic laws of logic have broken down and I somehow missed it,.
  • Death23
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    The primary consequence I cited was erosion of the userbase. I suspect that diversity in opinions is related to that in a more complicated way but I didn't articulate how because at this point its just a suspician. But if you'd like to understand my thinking it goes like this:

    Say you have an online community with rampant hate speech. There are 3 schools of thought within this community; Groups A, B and C. The hate speech from group A will offend groups B and C. The hate speech from group B will offend groups A and C. The hate speech from group C will offend groups A and B. As users are offended, they stop participating in the community. Eventually, what will happen? Well, here's what's going to happen - The group that makes the most hostile and offensive environment will drive the other 2 groups off the site until what remains is a homogenous community of one school of thought. One school of thought - There's not much diversity in opinion coming from that situation.

    The example is illustrative and not argumentative, and erosion of the userbase is sufficient to cause a decrease in diversity of opinions simply because less users = less opinions.

  • ResurgetExFavilla
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    --> @Death23
    That's not how people work, though. It would mean that thin-skinned people from each group will leave, because people are offended at different rates. If hate speech were laissez-faire, it wouldn't favor any one group because no one group is universally thin or thick skinned. The hate speech regulation supported by bsh actually creates your nightmare situation intentionally by only extending 'protection' to 'marginalized groups' - i. e. members of the generally leftist coalition, people who are 'marginalized by society' as determined by explicitly leftist intersectional theory. And since this is being applied to just those groups, one ideological group would be subjected to regulation and one would be protected from silly words, a situation which actually is more insufferable to one group than the other.

    On a debate site where diverse opinions are good, I would rather have thin-skinned people who cannot handle a debate leaving the site than I would have disproportionate pressure placed on one ideological clique. And even if the pressure was equal, I would rather lose 'thin-skinned people' because they are usually emotional thinkers who are ill-suited to heated discussion topics anyway, especially when enforcement is guaranteed to grate on those who are equipped to debate issues without taking things personally. It cultivates precisely the worst population for debate and discussion, while driving away the people who take naturally to it.
  • Death23
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    --> @ResurgetExFavilla
    You're correct in pointing that out and the example scenario isn't realistic. I exaggerated intentionally for illustrative purposes, but even with a more realistically attenuated impact, as you're suggesting, there may still be some "natural selection" going on in the marketplace of ideas and usership, rewarding hatred rather than merit. Ideas can evolve teeth and claws, so to speak.

    Anyway, I'm not bsh and I don't necessarily agree with what he does. The CoC lacks clarity in many respects and users would have better notice as to what is and isn't prohibited regarding hate speech if the CoC hate speech prohibition was modeled after, or perhaps even copied from, the clearest speech codes available. Though, I'm not convinced that bsh is using a double standard as I haven't seen anything substantiating that. The topic here is related to and probably caused by the bsh things but more generalized.

    I agree that there's probably some correlation between people who can't handle debates and people who are offended by hate speech. It sounds like you're saying that we don't want people in the kitchen who can't take the heat, but how hot should it be in our kitchen? If they can't handle debates then it's doubtful that they'd sign up for a debating site in the first place. Even if they did, they would likely be weeded out by the debating environment which would make the hate speech functionally redundant - With the added cost of the loss of users who can handle debates but are driven away by hate speech.
  • ResurgetExFavilla
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    --> @Death23
    I think that there's a perfectly sensible 'heat' for the kitchen that doesn't involve hate speech at all:

    - Ban people for sustained harassment, credible threats, and doxing

    - Let users block one another

    I simply cannot imagine a sensible person who would, beyond blocking someone who says a word they don't like, demand that said person be removed from the site. If someone is being harassed, then I agree that it should be addressed, but it has nothing to do with slurs qua slurs. It's always motivated by moderation seeking to control the 'tone' of the site even when members themselves have the means to cut off contact with anything that they find 'offensive'.
  • Death23
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    --> @ResurgetExFavilla
    Do you think revolutionary socialists should have the right to advocate their political views? We don't. It's a federal offense with a 20 year prison sentence. Some free speech we got here. Guess bsh can't fix that one though.
  • Smithereens
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    --> @Death23
    You don't see the consequences. This is a debating website. It relies on user generated content and fulfills its purpose best when there is a broad diversity of opinions within the user base. Hate speech may create an environment that's intimidating, hostile or offensive to reasonable people. Users will leave in response to that environment.

    If there happens to be any social value to a particular example of hate speech then it's incidental, not intrinsic. That value can be had without the consequences by expressing oneself in a way that isn't intimidating, hostile or offensive.
    No, this is entirely untrue.

    To claim that anything that creates an environment that's intimidating, hostile or offensive to reasonable people should be banned goes way beyond hate speech. Half of all the posts in the last thread were unambiguously hostile, people may have been offended and the default argument of choice in the religion forum is intimidation. You're not specifying hate speech here.

    When you come to a debate site you are expected to understand that other views may offend you. Other people may hate you. If the aim of our censorship is to increase the number of individuals on the site by making it less hostile, you're dealing with etiquette. Refer to my first point, this is not specific to hate speech. All offensive speech should be banned if the aim is to prevent "intimidation, hostility and offense." In fact far more that just offensive speech.

    The assumptions you're building off, such as 'hate speech is too hostile for a debate site' are wrong to begin with. You need to take a few steps back and address them first before basing a claim on their falsely supposed infallibility.