I came across the following article posted on Politicus USA, a liberal, independent news site focusing on American politics:
In a nutshell, a 15 year old Wisconsin high school student wrote an article for his student paper, and parts of it were then published in the local paper. The article focused on what the bible says about homosexuals (they should be put to death) and what the student thinks about gay adoption (it's completely wrong, as the child will grow up in sin).
Oddly enough, a gay couple found the article somewhat offensive, and the school apologised. At which point a conservative action group decried "bullying" of the school student, and discrimination for having religious views.
Get it? Got it? Good. Now, my question is, as much as I believe the boy to be an absolute moron, and as the school said "cultivating a negative environment of disrespect", he also has the right to say it. Or does he? I always find this Free Speech and Censorship issue a hard one to get my head around. How much does Hate Speech actually influence society? The answer to that would effect my answer to whether controvesial topics should be censored. Other issues I have grappled with in relation to Censorship include
- Pro anorexia websites, which include tips on how to hide your habits
- Pseudo child porn websites, where the participants are of legal age (18) but drerssed and edited to look much younger
- Websites selling Neo Nazi paraphenalia
- Facebook groups that trivialise rape ( see http://rapeneverfunny.wordpress.com/).
I'm interested to hear what people think, about this particular incident with the Wisconsin student, and Hate Speech in general. I know most of my friends are intelligent enough to not be effected by such articles, but what about more impressionable people, the young, the uneducated? How much responsibility can we place on individuals to consume media wisely, and how much power do we give the law to shut down people who are spreading words of inequality?