Is it time to treat hate speech as the crime it is?

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The European Commission defines hate speech as expressions intending to “spread, incite, promote or justify hatred, violence and discrimination against a person or a group of persons for a variety of reasons”.

Most hate speech offences in the UK are motivated by race, religion and sexuality. 41% of hate crimes reported in 2018 involved some form of violence. Therefore, indicating an overwhelming number of offences to be hate speech.

Article 10 of the Human Rights Act (1998) deems “everyone has the right to freedom of expression”. This key statute in the UK constitution can make hate speech challenging to prosecute. This is because those being convicted argue their legal right to freedom of speech is being infringed.

A landmark case that attempted to draw the fine line between freedom of expression and hate speech was Redmond-Bale v Director of Public Prosecutions (1999). The case upheld that freedom of speech cannot be restricted by law enforcement, determining that the right to free speech includes the right to be offensive.

There is no UK statute law explicitly making hate speech illegal. However, clauses found in a number of statutes make reference to it. For example, the Public Order Act (1994) refers to racially motivated hate speech. It says a person who uses “threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with the intention to stir up racial hatred” can be prosecuted under the Act.

Additionally, the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act (1994) prohibits the “intent to cause a person harassment, alarm or distress”. In 2001, an Evangelist preacher was arrested in Bournemouth city centre under the former Act for carrying a placard reading “Stop Immorality, Stop Homosexuality”.

However, many pressure groups, such as Liberty, are ardent defenders of freedom of expression. They oppose any attempt by the government to prevent individuals “using public spaces to make their views known”.

This Sunday, the editors will be debating if hate speech should be regarded as a criminal offence. Or, whether limiting one’s ability to express themselves freely infringes their human rights.

Written by POI correspondent, Emer Kelly

A Liberal with callings back to Mill. Put into English, they must be allowed to speak – Liberal Article

As I have just finished writing an essay on John Stuart Mill, I must admit it was somewhat coincidental to find we were writing an article on hate speech this week. For me, it is really hard to argue my point, the point most liberals have. Anyone can speak no matter their view. It is their right to. However, most will ask me ‘so you would allow KKK, Muslim fundamentalists and all the rest to preach hate?’. Here I would say… maybe?

That is extremely hard to say. It is even harder to defend this argument, so all I ask is to keep an open mind. As I said, I finished writing an essay on Mill, and a lot of what he said spoke to me. But it is hard to explain, let alone in 500 words.

So why do I think they should be allowed to speak? Firstly, it creates debate. In which hopefully the right argument, i.e not being racist, will win or people will be convinced. For example, Daryl Davis, an African-American blues musician has spent his life befriending KKK members. Along his long journey, he has convinced 200 KKK members to give up their membership. In fact, he is still friends with many who have yet to denounce their clan. This is simply by talking and debating.

Another reason is the reaffirmation. If we simply outlaw the discussion, how will we be able to show to further generations it is wrong? As we can see, hate crime is rising, with 103,379 cases in 2018-2019 – a 10% increase. If the debate is never had, if we never show why it is wrong to younger generations, they will never learn. Especially the need for publicly shaming those who are outspoken.

This is the debate post-World War Two in Germany. Those who lived through the war wanted it removed from their educational syllabus. When the next generation came through, there was a huge cry for it to be brought back. The reason? To learn from your mistakes, to make sure that the right is reaffirmed while the wrong is battled back.

Silencing people can also remove something really important. Why have they turned to this opinion? Is there other factors involved? It is a simple case of one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. There will always, no matter how small, be something. Take Muslim radicalisation. If you listen as to why they radicalised, it isn’t religion, but hatred for the West. Why do they do this? Because of mistakes that have been made.

For example, it was the invasion of Iran that caused the rise of ISIS. It was British promises in Israel that have caused the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Now it is our rising alienation of Muslims in the UK that is causing them to radicalise. It is only through listening that we can make changes to prevent hatred growing. There are small lessons that can be learnt.

I do note there should be boundaries. For example, the Westboro Baptist Church can speak but must remain an appropriate distance away.

I am not saying through this article in any way I condone what hate speakers are saying. I also accept the irony of a middle-class, white, male talking on this subject. Never will I understand what being targeted by hate speech must feel like and I am eternally sorry that you go through this.

However, I know that the best way is not to tell them to be quiet and shut up. That simply excludes them from society, feeding into their hate – the main reason why they are outspoken the first place. Take a note of Daryl Davis. Go, talk, convince, don’t alienate and feed into it.

Written by Liberal Writer, Max Anderson

Point of Information

A Patchwork of Ideas and Irrelevant Examples – A Labour Response

Mr Anderson’s argument lacks strength and direction. My central issue is the completely unfounded claim that hate speech laws have caused an increase in hate crimes. I’d suggest that the increase in crimes is most likely due to an increase of reporting such crimes, since society has become more progressive. It has also been officially linked to the Brexit vote, and normalisation of xenophobia by established politicians, as well as recent terrorist attacks. I ask Mr Anderson to provide more evidence next time he makes such a claim.

My other problem is his suggestion that it is the victims of hate speech who ought to combat the problem, that it is their responsibility to “take a note of Daryl Davis. Go, talk, convince, don’t alienate and feed into it.” Clearly Mr Anderson has never experienced the fear created by racism, sexism, or discrimination, and therefore lacks the empathy to understand that hate speech alienates, marginalises, and terrorises the victims, not the perpetrators.

Finally, his use of world war two being excluded from the curriculum has no place in this particular debate. He has conflated censorship of history with criminalising hate crimes. Mr Anderson clearly lost direction in this paragraph, as it is a nonsensical argument; clearly stopping children from learning about the horrors of war, and atrocities like genocide is wrong.

Letting hate speech free is only condoning the discrimination of minority groups, and will cause further division and inequalities.

Written by Labour Writer, Isabella Jewell

Freedom of expression should be moderated – Labour Article

Only a few days ago, we commemorated the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. With this milestone, many vigils, talks, and memorial ceremonies have been taking place across the globe. This, to remember the 6 million Jews who were slaughtered, alongside people of the LGBT community, travellers, and disabled people.

To coincide with this important moment, we decided to tackle the question of hate speech this week. Considering whether it should be criminalised or not. The Holocaust and other genocides are extreme examples of what hate speech can do. It normalises a dynamic of superiority versus inferiority in society, marginalising and dehumanising groups of people.

The Labour Party is determined to make society better by ending racial, religious, or gender discrimination, by putting an end to the politics of hate.

Labour will always promote the right to freedom of expression. However, we believe that it must be balanced against other important human rights. This includes article 14 of the Human Rights Act, protection from discrimination.

In this way, we support the current UK law, Section 4 of the Public Order Act 1986. This makes it an offence for a person to use “threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour that causes, or is likely to cause another person harassment, alarm or distress” or language which incites “racial and religious hatred.”

Words are not a mere collection of letters, they have the power to radicalise, to empower, and to demean. With social media facilitating access to a platform and an audience, words have become more dangerous than ever. They can arouse a hatred so strong that it incites violence and discrimination against marginal groups in society, leading to horrifying acts and intense division.

To exemplify the power of language, look no further than the Charleston church shooting in 2015. The killer, Dylann Roof, wrote a manifesto before killing nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. It cited the website of the Council of Conservative Citizens as one of his inspirations.

The group uses the website to document crimes committed by black people against whites. Implying that people of colour are “inherently dangerous,” as well as calling for “opposition to all efforts to mix the races of mankind.”

Without being exposed to this radical hate speech online, perhaps Dylann Roof wouldn’t have been prompted to target and kill black worshippers, under the guise of starting “a civil war.”

There are so many more examples of violence carried out by people who have been radicalised on the internet that it would be ridiculous to allow such propaganda to be decriminalised. We need to ensure greater surveillance of such platforms to avoid the manichaenisation of society; the belief in absolute good versus absolute evil.

Letting hate speech take place unchallenged by the law implies there is nothing wrong with dehumanising certain parts of society. Furthermore, implies inciting hatred and violence is acceptable. We should be criminalising hate speech wherever we see it, or the rise in hate crimes in the UK will continue.

Written by Labour Writer, Isabella Jewell

Point of Information

Ms Jewell is right to notice social media, but is there more than she says? – a Liberal response

Ms Jewell’s article’s are always strong. Although she disagrees with my point of view, she certainly provides some really good examples and arguments to show why hate crime should be cracked down on and i wouldn’t blame you for siding with her.

However, I do not. I think you have to look at why people are becoming radicalised? Why is it increasing now? The banning of hate speech hasn’t stopped racism, sexism, or religious persecution – it is only increasing. The problem is that people feel alienated. They feel alone, and that loneliness always boils into hate and jealousy.

Where can they find other people who feel the same? Online. That is the problem here. We see people taking advantaged of young, confused and lonely people usually men. This is the problem, not social media. Should that not be the concern? I’m almost disappointed Ms Jewell.

The Labour party is about helping people. These people need that help. Don’t beat them with a stick, talk to them, help them, offer support especially with mental health. We should not be fighting hatred with hatred, and although everything they say is awful, usually there is much more there than meets the eye.

Written by Liberal Writer, Max Anderson

Does Labour have an actual plan? – a Conservative response

Though as fascinating as my colleague’s article is I am still, however, unable to see what the Labour party’s plan is. In my article, I clearly state what the Conservative government is doing in order to deal with hate speech. For example, we have seen more money go towards education, helping prevent youngsters from falling into the trap of simply hate speech. My article clearly shows this though I do not see this in Miss Jewell’s article. We see her promise that the Labour is determined to make society better and reduce hate speech however, easier said than done. I do not believe that the Labour party is strong enough to deal with such an issue. It is only the Conservative party who can do it.

Written by Conservative Writer, Jack Kane

How this Conservative government is dealing with Hate Crime – Conservative Article

When you read my article this week, it will be when the United Kingdom has finally left the European Union. Long time coming.

Leaving the EU gave me an idea on how to approach this week’s topic of hate speech. The referendum was hostile with two very polarised campaigns. Both trying to address what you could call the toxic issues of immigration, nationality, and race.

It was during this referendum that we saw a heavy increase in hate crimes. This from a small minority of idiots getting carried away with nationalist rhetoric. So as we leave the EU on the 31st of January, it is vital that we reflect and address this problem.

As the conservative writer, I feel it is my job to explain the government’s position and policies on hate crimes. As well as elaborating on what is next for hate crime legislation and further initiatives.

There are multiple laws governing hate speech, with the most prominent being Section 4 of the Public Order Act. This was passed in 1986 making it an offence to use “threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviours that causes, or is likely to cause, another person harassment, alarm or distress.” This has been updated in various forms catering to new ways to stop hate speech.

Unfortunately, catering to new forms of hate speech has become the norm since the EU referendum. There has been an increase of 10% in recorded hate crimes between 2017/2018. Moreover, there has been a 37% increase in transgender identity hate crimes. This is all part of the “103,379 hate crimes recorded by the police in England and Wales.”

These are saddening facts to which the government must take full responsibility. However, the government is acting by creating new initiatives and public campaigns to raise awareness.

In 2016 the Hate Crime Action Plan was launched in order to prevent hate crime by increased reporting, as well through education and providing more support to local communities. There has been an increase in recording hate crimes by the Police showing improvements in the UK dealing with these horrendous acts.

The government has also started funding schemes to “protect places of worship from hate crime,” awarding over £1.5 million in grants to these places of worship. The government has also “committed £1.6m for the fourth year of the scheme and a further £3.2m for 2020/21. Evidently, strong action has taken place to deal with this disease which if not eradicated will rot the core of our society.

As I said earlier, the UK had 103,379 hate crimes and this is a nasty statistic. However, I can leave you on an optimistic point. This year was the lowest increase in hate crimes since 2013/2014, showing that the government’s efforts bit by bit will make the difference. Time and a strong Conservative government are what is needed to eradicate hate crime.

Written by Conservative Writer, Jack Kane

Point of Information

So what needs to be done? – a Liberal response

Mr Kane does a good job of explaining the situation and is right to tie in Brexit with the rise of hate speech. However, there is much else. I agree with his small statement about the need to educate, but i’m not sure this is his belief.

In terms of replying to what the Conservative party are doing, it is very much just going with the flow. Throwing money at the situation is not really the solution, but I suppose it is a place to start. In schools now most are taught about other religions, expanding their minds and trying to teach children not to religious persecute others.

I was looking for more from Mr Kane, hoping he would possible agree more with me this week but other than explaining the situation, I feel he is lacking.

Written by Liberal Writer, Max Anderson

A sensible stance, but take a look at your leader – a Labour response

Mr Kane puts together a reasonable and insightful article. I am grateful that he underlines the role of Brexit in the increasing toxification of politics, and that we need to take action to reduce this xenophobic rhetoric.

He has effectively underlined the importance of making the reporting of hate crimes more simple for victims, as many may feel the system is unsympathetic to their cause; it’s heartening to hear that this is becoming better.

The only issue I take with Mr Kane’s article, is that he praises the Conservative party’s stance, without accepting the role that Boris Johnson has played in normalising xenophobia and racism. The Conservative party should be leading from the top, and demonstrating that hate speech is wrong, rather than ridiculing Muslim women, gay men, black people, and every other minority that Johnson has taken public aim at.

Written by Labour Writer, Isabella Jewell

Max Anderson
Publisher/ Founder at | Website

I am currently in my second year of reading Politics at the University of Exeter. My first interaction with politics was at the tender age of four years old.

Isabella Jewell
Labour political writer at | Website

I have just finished my second year at The University of Manchester studying French and Italian and am about to leave the Northern Powerhouse for a year abroad.

Jack Kane
Conservative political writer at | Website

Hello, my name is Jack Kane and I am third year undergraduate at the University of Exeter. I am a studying Politics and will graduate Exeter in the summer of 2020. I have been interested and engaged in Politics since a very young age.

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