The Moral Weakness of Hate Speech Laws

Yesterday, at the United Nations, Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi expressed support for laws banning hate speech, claiming that, while he respects freedom of expression, he restricts this respect to only one that:

is not used to incite hatred against anyone. One that is not directed toward one specific religion or cult

You can listen to the entire speech here; I was unable to locate a transcript.

The President of Yemen, Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi, was more to the point:

There should be limits for the freedom of expression, especially if such freedom blasphemes the beliefs of nations and defames their figures.

This policy of illegalising what has become known as “hate speech” is held by many leaders in the Middle East, and enshrined in many legal codes not only in the developing world but even in many western countries. Today I would like to put forth an argument that these laws and the beliefs that sustain them display tremendous moral weakness.

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