FREEDOM OF SPEECH AS A SHIELD FOR HATE

By on August 23, 2017 in Columns

anti

The “alt-right” movement has been on the rise in public surroundings around the world. Black boots and salutes have turned into ties and suits. White supremacists and neo-nazis are well aware of the extreme nature of their opinions and ideologies. Some have therefore chosen to associate themselves with the more vernacular “alt-right” and pose as the everyday teacher, doctor or engineer. With freedom of speech by their side they’ve flooded the internet with comments, and have begun to bring up their concerns publicly – in a quite violent manner.

Holocaust survivors and other relevant stakeholders have recently spoken out about events such as Charlottesville and about the poor response from politicians and the public. They have noted with regret that we are letting history repeat itself. That we have let down our fundamental human values. Despite these statements, many people claim that we should allow white supremacists and other extremist groups to demonstrate in Almedalen or anywhere else, because we have freedom of speech – something which applies to everybody.

The question is if freedom of speech is justified when it’s preached alongside force, fear and violence? Does this not contradict the Universal Declaration of Human rights? Where freedom from fear is central? Or the first amendment of the U.S constitution, under which peaceful assemblies are protected? Many “alt-right” demonstrations target ethnic and religious minorities, but shouldn’t some of these minorities be protected under the “freedom of religion” as stated in the Swedish constitution? It seems as if the contexts in which freedom of speech is used as a key argument, are contexts in which it is used to harm others? Contexts in which this freedom is used entirely against other freedoms that remain unmentioned in public debates.

I undoubtedly believe in every citizen’s right to express their opinions and values – as they are protected by law. But if there are groups that use this opportunity exclusively for the right to abuse it, and are notorious for their recurring history of violence – why should they be excused? Why should people allow them to spread their hateful message at the cost of public safety and peace? Why are we letting it happen again?


By