New Rules to stop “Hate Speech” censor everyone

Unless speech breaks the law by threatening or inciting harm it should not be censored or criminalised.  People think that they can make life better by restricting what they loosely call hate speech but it only makes life worse for everyone as this blog post from America shows.

A couple of weeks ago, the Archdiocese of Washington sued the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) because they wouldn’t accept a simple ad that said “Find the perfect gift” that encouraged people to give God a try this Christmas. Instead, the Catholic Church was told the ad violated the WMATA’s guidelines.

This wasn’t some anti-Catholic sentiment. For the WMATA, this was the equal application of a policy prohibiting all “issue-oriented advertising” from buses and trains. The policy was adopted to prevent an anti-Muslim hate group from putting ads up, but it’s gone way too far in blocking otherwise acceptable ads from atheists, Catholics, non-profit groups, and others. (In August, the WMATA was sued by a coalition of people that included the ACLU, PETA, an abortion clinic, and conservative troll Milo Yiannopoulos.)

The bias of the writer shows here as the group mentioned is anti-Islam, not anti-Muslims and it is not a Hate Group. They do not incite or justify harm to others. The American Freedom Defense Initiative has tried to run many factual ads including this one.

screenshot-whaleoil

The odd thing is that the ad would’ve been acceptable if the Church was selling, say, a plastic cross because that would’ve been seen as marketing. But by just urging people to try religion, it was seen as advocacy, and therefore a violation of the rules. The Archdiocese said in the lawsuitthat the policy has “established a regime that is hostile to religion.”

In order to stop a group that they disagreed with the WMATA have shot themselves in the foot. Their new rule now has to be equally applied to every group who wants to advocate for something.

Unfortunately, a federal judge doesn’t agree with that assessment. The judge, on Friday, denied the request by the Archdiocese to get its ad on the buses.“[…]

The judge wasn’t wrong to side with the WMATA here. They were applying their own rules, without discrimination, to the Church. It would’ve created a whole new set of problems if the Metro allowed the Catholic ad while rejecting ones from other groups.

The problem was, and still remains, the policy itself. There’s no good reason to prohibit advertising from groups that have a particular agenda, whether it’s to get you to buy into the Jesus myth or get you to stop eating animals. It’s entirely possible to say no to hateful speech without closing the door to reasonable ads that have a point of view.

That is only true if “hateful speech” is narrowly defined as speech that breaks the law because it incites harm or justifies harm to others.

It’s not just bad for business. It’s an irrational policy that goes way too far in trying to achieve a goal of not offending anybody.

-patheos.com


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