Free Speech vs Hate Speech (again)

This is a familiar subject. I’ve written about this topic a few times. It’s even been the subject of a YouTube video of mine. It’s come up again because the subject of David Irving, the notorious Holocaust denier, is in the news again.

Except he’s not, and perhaps he should be. It’s come to light that government minister Michael Gove owns one of Irvings books, and also The Bell Curve, a book that, it can be argued, supports racial segregation along IQ lines. Now, owning a book does not automatically mean that the owner endorses the author’s positions. It could be that Gove was merely curious to understand a viewpoint he is opposed to. On the other hand, to own such material could (it can be argued) be a tacit approval of the author’s material.

Leaving aside the presence of such books on a government minister’s bookshelf, the wider question is whether Irving, given his history, should still have his books in print. Some have tried to claim he never denied the Holocaust (because apparently the claim is not explicit enough), and the same people have also complained that another David, David Icke, has had his YouTube channel deleted, along his Facebook page. Icke has been claiming all kinds of absurdities about the coronavirus, including things regarding 5G towers, and these kind of remarks can carry serious consequences.

This is the root of this post. How far is too far? The line can be blurry at times, and there’s no easy answer, but sometimes, when people are perpetuating hate, or saying outrageous lies that can harm others, surely that crosses the line?

It’s as I have said before. Freedom of speech is important, but it carries a responsibility to use it wisely. Using our various and far-reaching social media platforms to spread disinformation and deny the truth is a dangerous practise.

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