This week has not been a good week globally. The killings in Syria, in North Lebanon, Iraq, then in Britain and France – all due to religion. In Myanmar, there was a law passed regarding Muslim Rohingyas and a 2 child policy. The use of social media, the pulpit and other sources of power are being used to make hate statements. Taken separately, it may not be enough to to use the word hate and then related to it to hate speech.
This issue is important when we add gender and sexual orientation.
In Canada, born-again Christian William Whatcott was guilty of hate speech against homosexuals. Global leaders denounced what they called a spike in anti-Islamic sentiment in Europe and Asia. Countries such as India have used laws to prevent hate speech – an example – Swami Kamalanand Bharathi, Tanzania has banned religious hate speech in all its manifestations and in Myanmar while Buddhist monk Wirathu speaks out against Muslims; multifaith activists there taking to the streets to counter the violence. US citizens have free speech and therefore cannot do much against those who spew hate. Hate speech is not free speech.
There must be accountability and action.
When we hear religious leaders denouncing Western values in Western countries and then the analysis regarding this speech as a “Clash of Civilizations” we need to question what this means. I consider some points in this analysis as false discourse. We do not have universal aspirations for dignity and we see actions that kill women and children without thought.
The 38 + countries that have a human rights and social justice agenda have struggled with minority rights and have progressed to a point where women, LGBT groups, people with disabilities, and racialized groups have obtained in policies their rights. Those who wish to live in these countries must know they are in countries that allow women to make their own decisions, have equal rights and status. I am told that many come to Canada and like countries for economic reasons and not for our values that allow women to be who they wish to be, keeping their daughters and wives as “in the old country.” We saw in London this week two British born men using violence to make a point. It is therefore not a Clash of Civilizations but rather a disrespecting of other peoples norms and values to the point of taking lives. Where did they learn to hate so deeply and disrespect a life?
Hate speech must be stopped, and it our political systems around the world that must take the lead. When they do not use their laws against those who encourage hate, that country will only encourage more hate.
In the name of religion, appointed leaders and some of their followers think they have the freedom to speak hate towards the other. They incite youth and those who are socially dislocated to be filled with hate. For some this hate becomes action.