Most of the democracies have given their citizens the freedom of expression and freedom of opinion in their constitutions. However, in some instances, people go overboard and act or say words that get seen as offensive by other members of the public. Hate speech, being a dangerous social phenomenon, is defined as advocating sentiments, ideas or statements that are insulting based on gender, religion, ethnicity or race and can trigger hatred. Although being limited by the internationally recognized freedom of expression, different countries have created regulations and laws to prevent the ideas and statements that disturb, offend, or shock other individuals within the country or beyond it. Hate speech has been observed in several instances as a causative agent of hatred, violence, and in its worst manifestations chauvinism and genocides. As a result, different measures should be taken to ensure that hate speech within a specific community, be it local, national or global, is reduced or even completely nonexistent. This essay describes hate speech and outlines the ways in which this issue can be resolved.
According to Fisch (463), hate speech is the incitement to hatred, especially against certain individuals regarding their national origin, race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and religion among others. In some countries, however, hate speech is somewhat protected by the constitution. In the US for example, expression of hatred towards an individual or a group is protected by law (Fisch 463). The protection continues even though such sentiments may have negative psychological and social effects on the people whom they are directed to. In the US the limits of hate speech are only encountered when the hatred is actualized by unlawful actions such as violence. Even in such cases, the unlawful actions that are triggered by hate speech are the item of concern instead of the hate speech. Different people have supported the need for the freedoms of expression and opinion. The US and Western Europe continually hold these rights as their core values (Bleich 929). From this perspective, the need to create the legislation that limits hate speech has in most cases been opposed by the defenders of the freedom of expression and this can be observed in periods between 1689 Bill of Rights and the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Bleich 317). Therefore, it may be seen that regulations have hindered the limitations of hate speech.
The two most serious consequences of hate speech are mass violence and genocides. Different methods can be put up to prevent these consequences caused by hate speech. According to Timmermann (353), to effectively prevent issues related to mass violence and genocides emerging due to hate speech, it is crucial to effectively address the issue of systematic incitement to hatred. Lesser forms of hate speech should be addressed by human rights law obligations to the government in question. In cases where hate propaganda seems to be organized by the state the international law should be used to criminalize it (Timmermann 351).
From the above issues, it is clear that hate speech is sometimes in the collision with provisions in the constitution. As a result, to be able to resolve this issue the legislators should modify laws to ensure that there is a provision of protection from hate speech. Regulations play a huge role in ensuring that limits to hate speech are put. Apart from domestic legislation, the international bodies should also come up with better regulations for hate speech to prevent massive violence and genocides.
In conclusion, hate speech is a critical issue that affects many democracies. Due to the diverse population in these countries, there is a likelihood of statements offending people. Sadly, the loose laws around hate speech enable the vice to thrive. To ensure that it is limited, various laws should be passed by the legislators both domestically and internationally.