“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press….”
There’s a reason this is the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights. In our society, the ability to speak your mind, or your bulls**t, is perhaps something we should be most proud of. The Constitution protects all speech, including an unpopular form typically categorized as “hate speech.”
The view that hate speech is equal to free speech is not a popular one; there are many in this university who feel that this freedom is free until you say something that may be offensive to a person or group of people. Hate speech often gets confused with speech that targets, threatens, harasses or incites violence, which is not protected whatsoever.
I know some of you may read my name and think, “It’s just some white-privileged dude trying to make hate speech acceptable,” but my mother is a refugee of Chinese ethnicity who fled Vietnam, and my father is half Panamanian and half Irish (that’s where the Macdonald comes in). So I am neither a fan nor do I agree with hate speech more than any other rational person, but it’s important to ask ourselves — why are these people so full of hate?
Hatred of entire cultures, races, religions, sexual orientations or genders — these kinds of hate are projections. These people are angry and insecure with themselves, their own cultures, religion, sexual orientation, so they project that hatred onto others, but it only serves to exemplify how much they hate themselves and reveal their deepest insecurities.
There is no scientific basis that basic human nature is either “good” or “evil” — our environment is the most important factor that determines our prejudices and biases. So not only is hatred a projection of insecurities, but a reflection of the environment in which that person was brought up.
If you are told by the people you love that your God is the one true God, and that all other Gods are false, you will start to believe that idea. If you are raised to hate non-whites and you’re told your whole life by those you love that people of color are to be feared and hated, you will start to believe that idea.
These people learn to hate because the insecurities of their families are passed down to them — they are products of their environment. But even haters are human, and even haters are capable of love and compassion.
The best way to tackle hate speech is with more speech that is kind, compassionate and loving. These hateful people want you to be angry at them. They want you to feel hurt because they are angry; they are hurt. We must show them love by challenging their beliefs with kindness, engaging them in rational, not emotional, discussion and assist in their understanding and perception of other cultures.
We may never eradicate hate from this Earth and spending our time trying to do so would be foolish. However, we are capable of increasing the love, compassion and kindness in our hearts and on our campus.
So how do we tackle hate speech? Not with more anger, hate and bitterness, but by facing that hatred head-on with sincere kindness and compassion. Martin Luther King, Jr. said it best: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”