An interview discussing free speech, hate speech, compelled speech, political correctness and more from C2C Journal, Canada.
Do you believe that society should draw the line at all when it comes to limitations on hate speech?
No. Hate speech laws are wrong. The question – not a question, but THE question – is ‘who gets to define hate?” That’s not to say there’s no such thing as hate speech – clearly there is. Hate speech laws repress, and I mean that in the psycho-analytical sense. They drive [hate speech] underground. It’s not a good idea, because things get ugly when you drive them underground. They don’t disappear, they just fester, and they’re not subject to correction. I made these videos, and they have been subject to a tremendous amount of correction over the last six weeks. I don’t just mean from my public response, but also partly from the university’s response, partly from a group of friends who have been reviewing my videos and criticizing them to death. This is why free speech is so important. You can struggle to formulate some argument, but when you throw it out into the public, there’s a collective attempt to modify and improve that. So with the hate speech issue – say someone’s a Holocaust denier, because that’s the standard routine – we want those people out there in the public so you can tell them why they’re historically ignorant, and why their views are unfounded and dangerous. If you drive them underground, it’s not like they stop talking to each other, they just don’t talk to anyone who disagrees with them. That’s a really bad idea and that’s what’s happening in the United States right now. Half of the country doesn’t talk to the other half. Do you know what you call people you don’t talk to? Enemies.
If you have enemies, you have war.
If you stop talking to people, you either submit to them, or you go to war with them. Those are your options and those aren’t good options. It’s better to have a talk. If you put restrictions on speech, then you can’t actually talk about the difficult things that need to be talked about. I have about 20,000 hours of clinical practice and all I do for 20 hours a week is talk to people about difficult things – the worst things that are going on in their lives. These are hard conversations all the time. The conversations that are the most curative are simultaneously the ones that are most difficult and most dangerous. Most normal people will not have those conversations. That’s why so many marriages dissolve. People don’t like to have those conversations. Part of that too, is because – let’s say you have a little tiff with your wife, and you know there’s more to it than the little thing that’s bothering her, and you ask ‘what are you REALLY upset about’? Try peeling that back. You might find she’s upset about something her grandfather did to her grandmother two generations ago that hasn’t yet been resolved within the family, and that’s the determining element of her attitude at the present moment. If you unpack it though, then you don’t have to live it over and over again.
There’s also this idea that you shouldn’t say things that hurt people’s feelings – that’s the philosophy of the compassionate left. It’s so childish it’s beyond comprehension. What did Nietzsche say: ‘you can judge a man’s spirit by the amount of truth he can tolerate.’ I tell my students this too, you can tell when you’re being educated because you’re horrified. So if its pleasant and safe, it’s like you’re not learning anything. People learn things the hard way.
Occasional foul language.