Free Speech is for Jerks
by Harley Voogd
Recently an Edmontonian man was charged with hate speech for a blog he wrote called The Baconfat Papers (www.sunrayzulu.blogspot.com). The blog has been removed, but I found some of his articles via Wayback Machine.
Now, while I hate racism and think it’s evil (and this guy’s blog was especially despicable — basically at the Westboro Baptist Church level), if a guy wants to write a racist blog, he has the right to do so. That’s free speech, and free speech is for jerks too. If you are offended, don’t read it.
If a guy writes a blog which physically threatens someone or calls for others to physically hurt someone, that’s different. That’s no longer free speech of course, since someone’s life may be in danger.
I don’t know if the author of Baconfat, Barry Winters, actually physically threatened anyone; maybe he did. If he did, yes he needs to be charged — but not with hate speech.
“Hate Speech” is one of those ambiguous terms that confuse the issue and leave too much room for abuse. If Barry Winters physically threatened someone, then let him be charged specifically for that. Or, if he called for others to physically hurt someone, let him be specifically charged for that. But if he just wrote a bunch of blogs about how he hates Natives and gays, so be it — that’s just his opinion. It’s evil and wrong, and you can either write to him and tell him why he’s wrong, or, more wisely, just ignore him. There are plenty of guys like Barry Winters out there. They pose no threat unless we give them a platform. And the way to remove their platform is to ignore them — not remove free speech for everybody. Because in the end, who will it be that defines “Hate Speech?”