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  • Writer's pictureBrain Booster Articles


Author: Surya Pratap Singh, I year of B.B.A.,LL.B. from Raffles University, Neemrana

Hatespeech is defined as "public speech that expresses hate or encourages violence towards a person or group based on something such as race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation" Hate speech is "usually thought to include communications of animosity or disparagement of an individual or a group on account of a group characteristic such as race, colour, national origin, sex, disability, religion, or sexual orientation". Legal definitions of hate speech varies from country to country.

There has been much debate over freedom of speech, hate speech and hate speech legislation. The laws of some countries describe hate speech as speech, gestures, conduct, writing, or displays that incite violence or prejudicial actions against a group or individuals on the basis of their membership in the group, or that disparage or intimidate a group or individuals on the basis of their membership in the group. The law may identify a group based on certain characteristics. In some countries, hate speech is not a legal term. Additionally, in some countries, including the United States, much of what falls under the category of "hate speech" is constitutionally protected. In other countries, a victim of hate speech may seek redress under civil law, criminal law, or both.

Several activists and scholars have criticized the practice of limiting hate speech. Civil liberties activist Nadine Strassen says that, while efforts to censor hate speech have the goal of protecting the most vulnerable, they are ineffective and may have the opposite effect: disadvantaged and ethnic minorities being charged with violating laws against hate speech.Kim Holmes, Vice President of the conservative Heritage Foundatinand a critic of hate speech theory, has argued that it "assumes bad faith on the part of people regardless of their stated intentions" and that it "obliterates the ethical responsibility of the individual".Rebecca Ruth Gould, a professor of Islamic and Comparative Literature at the University of Birmingham, argues that laws against hate speech constitute viewpoint discrimination (prohibited by First Amendment jurisprudence in the United States) as the legal system punishes some viewpoints but not others, however other scholars such as Gideon Elford argue instead that "insofar as hate speech regulation targets the consequences of speech that are contingently connected with the substance of what is expressed then it is viewpoint discriminatory in only an indirect sense."John Bennett argues that restricting hate speech relies on questionable conceptual and empirical foundationsand is reminiscent of efforts by totalitarian regimes to control the thoughts of their citizens.

Michael Conklin argues that there are positive benefits to hate speech that are often overlooked. He contends that allowing hate speech provides a more accurate view of the human condition, provides opportunities to change people's minds, and identifies certain people that may need to be avoided in certain circumstances. According to one psychological research study, a high degree of psychopathy is "a significant predictor" for involvement in online hate activity, while none of the other 7 criteria examined were found to have statistical significance.

Political philosopher Jeffrey W. Howard considers the popular framing of hate speech as "free speech vs. other political values" as a mischaracterization. He refers to this as the "balancing model", and says it seeks to weigh the benefit of free speech against other values such as dignity and equality for historically marginalized groups. Instead, he believes that the crux of debate should be whether or not freedom of expression is inclusive of hate speech. Research indicates that when people support censoring hate speech, they are motivated more by concerns about the effects the speech has on others than they are about its effects on themselves. Women are somewhat more likely than men to support censoring hate speech due to greater perceived harm of hate speech, which researchers believe may be due to gender differences in empathy towards targets of hate speech.

Recently, there’s been a Hate Speech in Haridwar at news. Hindutva leaders Sadhvi Annapurna – also known as Pooja Shakun Pandey – and Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati, along with others, went to a police station on Tuesday to file a counter first information report in the Haridwar hate speech case, NDTV said. According to the report, the seers alleged that Muslim clerics have been “conspiring against Hindus and should be punished”, but the police said that no FIR was filed.

In a video that is now viral on social media, Annapurna is seen telling a police officer that a message must be sent to the people that the police are not biased. “You are a constitutional officer and you will deliver justice equally,” she added.

Following Annapurna’s comments, Narsinghanand said, “Why are you asking him to be neutral...he’s on ou[i]r side,” evoking laughter from those present, including the police officer.

A first information report filed on December 23 named just one person – former Shia Waqf board chief Jitendra Narayan Tyagi. He had changed his name from Wasim Rizvi after converting to Hinduism on December 6.

Three days after the FIR was filed, the Uttarakhand Police added the names of Sadhvi Annapurna, and priest Dharamdas Maharaj. Annapurna is general secretary of the Hindutva organisation, Hindu Mahasabha.


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