Free Speech on Hateful Thoughts: Building Barriers Vs. Setting an Open Discussion

Friday, 20 July 2018: 18:50
Oral Presentation
Cenk OZDAG, Middle East Technical University, Turkey
Free and just society seems to be a widely accepted motto of our age. Yet, in certain cases being free and being just seem to be in conflict. The conflict between the concept of freedom of speech and the concept of hate speech provides a prominent exemplar.

In this paper, I compare various conceptions of hate speech and critically evaluate the assumptions behind these conceptions, and considering the goals of the use of this concept, I question the condition of freedom of speech in a public medium where hate speech is restricted.

In response to my standpoint, one can provide certain restrictions the notion of hate speech. And yet, under this restriction, this notion would continue to be in conflict with freedom of speech. Furthermore, it would undermine the grounds for a just society and reinforce the barrier between opposing or at least differing social groups.

In order to build a just society, following Mill, I propose to face with hate among individuals or groups and with discriminatory thoughts and understandings, rather forbidding individuals to express these sentiments and thoughts. Otherwise, the walls among individuals and groups will continue to be built by those who oppose to publicly discussing prejudices and real discriminations pervading our quotidian lives. In proposing this open discussion, I appeal real life examples, taken from Turkey, focusing on hate speech cases addressed towards different religious groups or taken to be addressing religion as a whole.