News Free Speech vs Hate Speech

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So I dont know if many of you know but a few days back there was a teacher suspended from a school in Howell, Michigan for kicking two kids out of class. One of them was wearing a confederate belt buckle. The school is in an area that used to be a central point for the KKK as recent as the 80s so the teacher wanted the student to remove it for sensitivity's sake. Well, it didn't quite end there. The student with the belt buckle and one of his friends argued that he should not have to remove it because he thought it was no different than a recent event at the school where kids wore purple to raise awareness of anti-gay bullying. The local union says the student also made "inappropriate and offensive statements regarding gay students."

Here is an article on it. And in the article there is a video of a 14 year old gay student who gives a speech on the issue: http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_thelookout/20101115/us_yblog_thelookout/gay-michigan-student-defends-suspended-teacher" [Broken]

So what do you guys think? I think that the teacher should not have been suspended. First off, these kids were obviously causing a disruption in class. I have seen kids being sent out for much worse. It is not like the teacher hit the kids. He didnt even try to suspend them or take further action. He just kicked them out. A teacher should have the right to manage his own classroom. Also, more on the point of the issue, I dont have a problem with a teacher getting mad at kids for promoting a way of thought that is clearly immoral. It is not like the student was wearing the belt buckle as a symbol of southern pride (again, this happened in Michigan) he was wearing it to make an offensive statement. To offer some proof to you that this was meant as an offensize statement here is a quote from the article, "Two years ago, a group of students were investigated by the Department of Justice for starting a Facebook group that used the Confederate flag as its profile photo and featured hate speech. Two students were suspended." Schools should be safe havens from bullying and abuse.
 
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Hate speech doesn't exist.

End of story. :)

it's a belt buckle, if people can't handle a belt buckle, they need to grow up

maybe the student has a preference for state power over federalism

saying something isn't assaulting someone

harassing someone is different, but calmly saying something or defending yourself verbally is not harassment
 

Evo

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Federal Appeals court has ruled against displaying confederate symbols on school grounds.

http://ftp.resource.org/courts.gov/c/F3/324/324.F3d.1246.-.02-14931.html [Broken]
 
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Hate speech doesn't exist.

End of story. :)

it's a belt buckle, if people can't handle a belt buckle, they need to grow up

maybe the student has a preference for state power over federalism

saying something isn't assaulting someone

harassing someone is different, but calmly saying something or defending yourself verbally is not harassment
1. I dont know how you can say hate speech doesnt exist. That is being extremely naieve. Look at neo nazis. I dont think anyone can deny that they exhibit hate speech (whether or not the hate speech should be allowed is a different debate, but it obviosly exists).
2. It is not that people cant handle the belt buckle it is that the belt buckle is a symbol of hatred and oppression towards certain groups.
3. Really? You think that this student who was saying hateful things towards gays was wearing the belt buckle to show a preference for state power over federalism? Stop being intentially dumb (sorry, I know dumb isnt a good word but I cant think of another one right now).
4. When did I say anything about assaulting people? And yes, harassment is different but are you saying that it should be allowed in schools? Kids should feel safe and welcomed in school. Not fearful of their health.
5. These kids were not calmly defending themselves. They were causing a disturbance in the class by shouting homophobic remarks.

Federal Appeals court has ruled against displaying confederate symbols on school grounds.

http://ftp.resource.org/courts.gov/c/F3/324/324.F3d.1246.-.02-14931.html [Broken]
Then I wonder how they can suspend the teacher. Hopefully the union finds this ruling.
 
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Evo

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Then I wonder how they can suspend the teacher. Hopefully the union finds this ruling.
If her lawyer isn't brain dead, he should have this. Obviously what the teacher did was right. Previous rulings are in her support. The school acted inappropriately due to ignorance and fear.
 
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Hate speech doesn't exist.
You are sadly misguided.

This isn't a case when you can claim "it is only hate speech if you disagree with it". This isn't like discussing a moral value where you can claim it is only moral if you feel it is.

Hate speech is clearly defined:
Hate speech is, outside the law, any communication which disparages a person or a group on the basis of some characteristic such as race or sexual orientation.[1][2] In law, hate speech is any speech, gesture or conduct, writing, or display which is forbidden because it may incite violence or prejudicial action against or by a protected individual or group, or because it disparages or intimidates a protected individual or group. The law may identify a protected individual or a protected group by race, gender, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, or other characteristic.[3] In some countries, a victim of hate speech may seek redress under civil law, criminal law, or both.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hate_speech

A person on a street corner preaching how they feel abortion is wrong is freedom of speech. It is a person voicing their opinion.

A person on a street corner preaching how they feel abortion doctors should be killed is hate speech. You are inciting violence towards the doctors.

There is a distinct difference between voicing your opinion on a subject and spouting how you wish [insert denomination here] should be harmed / killed. You can't rationalise the latter and it has no place in civilised society.
 
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Is stating that wearing a belt-buckle with a confederate flag is similar to a anti-bullying campaign a form of hate speech?

Sounds like the school board is getting a little touchy...
 

Hepth

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A person on a street corner preaching how they feel abortion is wrong is freedom of speech. It is a person voicing their opinion.

A person on a street corner preaching how they feel abortion doctors should be killed is hate speech. You are inciting violence towards the doctors.
What if you are not explicitly inciting violence, but preaching that those who did were right? (Id assume its still hate speech.)
What if you are not explicitly inciting violence, but wear an emblem of those who did to show your support? (I'm not sure, seems like a grey area)
 

russ_watters

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While that may be interesting to discuss from a theoretical perspective, Hepth (and jardenjames), it doesn't really have much to do with this specific case. A student's right to freedom of speech is much more restricted than is typical in other settings. The speech/expression doesn't have to be much more than legitimately disruptive in order to be censurable by the school.

The Confederate Battle Flag is a divisive symbol at best and at worst is overtly racist and rebellious.
 
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The confederate flag is generally more of a symbol for southern heritage.
 

russ_watters

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The confederate flag is generally more of a symbol for southern heritage.
That's true only insofar as the "heritage" the flag represents is treason/insurrection and oppression. Recognize, this is the battle flag of the Confederate Army we're talking about - a symbol of the Confederate side of the war itself.
 
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That's true only insofar as the "heritage" the flag represents is treason/insurrection and oppression. Recognize, this is the battle flag of the Confederate Army we're talking about - a symbol of the Confederate side of the war itself.
Simply put, you just have no idea what you're talking about.
 

Char. Limit

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While that may be interesting to discuss from a theoretical perspective, Hepth (and jardenjames), it doesn't really have much to do with this specific case. A student's right to freedom of speech is much more restricted than is typical in other settings. The speech/expression doesn't have to be much more than legitimately disruptive in order to be censurable by the school.

The Confederate Battle Flag is a divisive symbol at best and at worst is overtly racist and rebellious.
This. While I wouldn't call the belt-buckle hate speech (come on people, it's a belt buckle. They aren't even visible if you're sitting down in a desk...), I would call his offensive comments against gay people hate speech. And also, while he's in school, he needs to obey the rules of the school officials, which includes teachers. This isn't a moral problem at all.

Which is good, because I hate moral problems.
 
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For the record Russ (and possibly Char. Limit), I was simply defining hate speech for Goethe who denied it's existence.

Confederate Flag, Nazi Swastika or any other perceived 'symbol of evil' isn't something I would see as a problem (specific circumstances aside - walking through Poland with a Swastika isn't appropriate for example). I would be moe concerned with the comments about gay people.
 

Char. Limit

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For the record Russ (and possibly Char. Limit), I was simply defining hate speech for Goethe who denied it's existence.

Confederate Flag, Nazi Swastika or any other perceived 'symbol of evil' isn't something I would see as a problem (specific circumstances aside - walking through Poland with a Swastika isn't appropriate for example). I would be moe concerned with the comments about gay people.
Oh, don't worry about me. I was just using the bold line in Russ's post as a stepping stone to state my own opinion.
 
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As far as I'm concerned, the teacher has authority in the classroom (or anywhere on the school premises).
 
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The confederate flag is generally more of a symbol for southern heritage.
Again, this happened in Howell, Michigan (in case you are from another country, Michigan is way north). The most logical reason to be wearing a confederate belt buckle in Howell would be in reference to the KKK. The KKK has been based there and had an active membership as recently as the 80s. So this is not about heritage. It is about hate.
 
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could you be more specific...?
The confederate flag is no more a divisive symbol than any state flag.

When the confederate flag is displayed it is a symbol of the south, nothing more. It doesnt mean "grrr, slavery was right!" or other such nonsense.

If you are truly this confused by the symbolism of the confederate flag, why aren't you actively pushing for the removal of mississippi, georgia, south carolina, etc's state flag? They are all based on the confederate flag. Such a divisive and hateful state flag should not be allowed to stand!

What about the hundreds of courthouses that fly it along with the american flag? What were those citizens and politicians thinking? Flying such a symbol of hate in a place like that?

I am sorry the symbol is wildly abused in your area. This would be as ridiculous as brits viewing the american flag as a symbol treason, rebellion, and war rather than just a symbol of the area and the people who live there amd their heritage.

Just as there is a lot more to american heritage than the revolutionary war, there is a lot more to southern heritage than just the civil war. If you cant understand that then im sorry, i cant help you.
 
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The confederate flag is no more a divisive symbol than any state flag.

When the confederate flag is displayed it is a symbol of the south, nothing more. It doesnt mean "grrr, slavery was right!" or other such nonsense.

If you are truly this confused by the symbolism of the confederate flag, why aren't you actively pushing for the removal of mississippi, georgia, south carolina, etc's state flag? They are all based on the confederate flag. Such a divisive and hateful state flag should not be allowed to stand!

What about the hundreds of courthouses that fly it along with the american flag? What were those citizens and politicians thinking? Flying such a symbol of hate in a place like that?

I am sorry the symbol is wildly abused in your area. This would be as ridiculous as brits viewing the american flag as a symbol treason, rebellion, and war rather than just a symbol of the area and the people who live there amd their heritage.

Just as there is a lot more to american heritage than the revolutionary war, there is a lot more to southern heritage than just the civil war. If you cant understand that then im sorry, i cant help you.
I agree completely.

When I was an undergraduate I had a friend, Ryan, which displayed the confederate flag on his laptop.

Being Hispanic, I was always told by other ethnicities that it was sign of hatred. I never bothered to ask Ryan why he freely displayed it. Put simply we always studied and he was always very helpful with homework and test problems. He seemed very comfortable with me and we became good friends that semester.

One day, a fellow Hispanic friend of mine asked me why I talked to that individual since he displayed the confederate flag. So, I asked Ryan. He's answer was simply about tradition and heritage of the south. He was proud of his family legacy. Nothing more.

What's perplexing is that I realized many of my ethnic friends find it groosly offensive but they themselves don't understand anything about the meaning of the flag. Just because other groups have linked it to unacceptable social behavior doesn't mean that's what the flag stands for.

I have no issue with it.
 
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readaynrand

All speech should be allowed, as long as it is only speech, and not objective threats (like "give me your money, or I'll kill you").
 

BobG

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Lost in this discussion is the fact that no disciplinary action was taken against the girl that wore the Confederate flag belt buckle. She removed the belt buckle, so it's not known what the consequences would have been for refusing to do so.

The belt buckle incident was the instigating factor for the discussion (i.e. the hate speech) that resulted in two other students being suspended (not the girl wearing the belt buckle).

A better story about what happened:

http://www.livingstondaily.com/assets/pdf/C6166296111.PDF [Broken]

http://www.livingstondaily.com/assets/pdf/C6166315111.PDF [Broken]

Even by McDowell's side of the story, I disagree with his actions regarding the main character in the incident. The student's comments were an honest statement of his beliefs. He didn't resort to insults, hyperbole, or rhetoric in stating his beliefs. The comments weren't totally out of the blue. The girl had to remove a belt buckle because the teacher felt the meaning behind the belt buckle was offensive, while the teacher wore a T-shirt whose meaning the student found offensive. The student's comments were about the conflicting standards; not comments aimed at offending gays.

I'm not really concerned with the second student being disciplined because it sounds like he was just being a smart aleck. Even so, suspension might have been extreme for the offense.

While the Confederate flag wasn't the reason for the students' suspension, it does make interesting background, since there seems to some indication (at least from McDowell) that the flag was routinely banned from display on school grounds specifically because of its use on a hate website created by that particular school's students.

So it does raise an interesting side question. Can the context of use determine whether a symbol is hate speech or not. In other words, while the normal interpretation of the flag may not (or may, considering its history) be hate speech, does the specific intent it was used for make it hate speech?

You asking me whether your dog can mate with my ***** has a completely different meaning depending on whether you're referring to my dog or my girlfriend. (And our website has definitely made its own decision about which you were referring to.)
 
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What some people here arent getting is that the belt buckle in this instance was not taken as a symbol of heritage or southern pride. Rather it was taken as statement of hate. When a teacher sees a symbol of hate in his classroom he is within his power to have the student remove it. Maybe the heritage arguement would make some sense if this took place in Alabama. But people, this took place in a Michigan city that was recently a hot bed of KKK activity.
 

Al68

Maybe the heritage arguement would make some sense if this took place in Alabama. But people, this took place in a Michigan city that was recently a hot bed of KKK activity.
While I'm no fan of the Confederate flag, I don't get this argument. Should the actions of the local KKK dictate local school policy? Should we prohibit students from wearing crucifixes because of their "association" with some local hate group?

Should only students in Alabama be allowed to display the confederate flag? No KKK in Alabama?
 
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While I'm no fan of the Confederate flag, I don't get this argument. Should the actions of the local KKK dictate local school policy? Should we prohibit students from wearing crucifixes because of their "association" with some local hate group?

Should only students in Alabama be allowed to display the confederate flag? No KKK in Alabama?
You are misunderstanding my point. If the confederate flag is for heritage purposes I dont mind. So in Alabama, it would be understandable for someone to wear it to display one's heritage. However, in Michigan this is not the case. This was taken to be a reference to the KKK. A group of, let's be honest, murderous bigots. By the way, if someone were wearing the belt buckle in Alabama in reference to the KKK then I would still have a problem with it.
 

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