STATEMENT
Censorship cannot create a more equal society
28 Aug 2019
BY INDEX ON CENSORSHIP

Proposals to address so-called hate groups put forward by the Tony Blair Institute risk damaging freedom of speech in the UK, Index on Censorship warned.

“You do not create more equal societies through censorship and the growing enthusiasm for shutting down other people’s speech in a misguided belief this promotes greater tolerance is depressing. Hatred needs to be addressed – but banning people from expressing hateful views is not the way to do this,” Jodie Ginsberg, CEO of Index, said.

The institute proposed the creation of a new designation the government would use to differentiate between legitimate criticism and commentary on “Islamist extremism or white supremacy” and the “indiscrimate targeting of a group to foster hatred”. Groups that were tagged with the new designation, the institute imagines, “would be banned from appearing on media outlets like the BBC or engaging with public institutions.”

Ginsberg said: “The government already has legislation it can use to tackle those who deliberately stir up racial and religious hatred, and in particular laws that address incitement to violence. We do not need new laws – we need better enforcement of the ones we have. Governments have for decades tried – and failed – to find a way of defining extremist language in a way that would not end up simply scooping up vast swathes of legal political speech. Proposals to give the government greater powers to define and outlaw new kinds of speech simply open the door to more and more state censorship of speech.”  

“The idea that the government – or a state body – should be able to designate emergency periods when certain kinds of speech should be removed from the internet is even more troubling. Relying on tech companies to implement emergency algorithms that only isolate ‘bad speech’ betrays a woeful ignorance of the way in which such algorithms work. Using this kind of blunt tool inevitably ends up preventing much essential expression – including distribution of life-saving information and evidence gathering of crime – as well as any hateful content.”

Jodie Ginsberg: “The only speech that ought to be restricted is speech that directly incites violence”

Laws targeting hate speech can be counterproductive, especially amid the rise of leaders who aren’t afraid to cause offence, Index on Censorship Jodie Ginsberg tells ABC News’

Jodie Ginsberg: “The idea that we can prevent future crimes by policing expression is a dangerous road to go down”

Crimes motivated by misandry — a contempt for men — ageism and prejudice against certain alternative cultures, such as goths or punks, may soon be added to hate crime legislation in England and Wales.

Governments should not be policing thought

The Law Commission will review how sex and gender characteristics are treated within existing hate crime laws and whether new offences are needed.

HATE: Why We Should Resist it With Free Speech, Not Censorship

What is hate speech? What is behind the rise of hate-speech legislation and codes? Are some words and ideas just too hateful for public life? Is policing hate speech the best way to protect equality and freedom — or is free speech, more speech, the answer?

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