If the Trump administration needs further evidence of why it’s important to distance the U.S. from the United Nations, or at least certain committees within the organization, they got it on Tuesday. After President Trump had already made the decision to keep the U.S. out of the Human Rights Council due to concerns about anti-Israel bias, a UN official is now calling on governments around the world to crack down on free speech.
On International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (did you celebrate?), the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights – Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein – said that governments “have a legal obligation to stop hate speech and hate crimes.”
This, while member UN states have totalitarian systems in place that control everything the citizens hear and everything they say, at least in public. But, no, that’s not the problem. The problem is that there’s TOO MUCH liberty in some places. So much liberty that people are just out there, freely expressing their nasty opinions.
“It is not an attack on free speech or the silencing of controversial ideas or criticism, but a recognition that the right to freedom of expression carries with it special duties and responsibilities,” Al Hussein said in a statement. “Words of fear and loathing can, and do, have real consequences.”
No one could argue otherwise, and that’s why we have laws that address those very consequences.
But put the concept of freedom aside, because maybe there are some liberals who simply don’t believe in it. In fact, there’s no maybe about it. But in any case, there’s no use in arguing about liberty if that’s not important to the other party.
So let’s just sidestep that and talk about human nature. Because the conceit behind these “hate speech” laws is that by criminalizing certain opinions, those opinions will vanish. Outlaw hate, and magically, there’s no more hate! Why didn’t we think of this sooner?!
History tells us that this doesn’t work. You don’t get rid of the hate, you drive it underground. There, out of the spotlight and away from any reasonable mainstream debate, it festers and grows more extreme and antisocial. That is when you get problems that go well beyond words and anything that could be politely called “discrimination.” That is when you get violence.
When these leaders and thinkers and activists and liberals talk about the need for hate speech laws, perhaps some of them really believe they’re doing the right thing. Some of them don’t. Some of them know exactly what they’re doing. But either way, we don’t have to draw conclusions about their motivations. We just need to understand where their ideas will lead us.