Since the results of the American election, many of us at FLIF have debated how to handle this and what our actions should be in the coming months.
Quite simply: FLIF stands by its mandate to defend intellectual freedom and stand up for social justice. We believe, as Desmond Tutu said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
Hate speech is generally categorized as speech, gesture, conduct, writing or display which may incite violent or prejudicial action by disparaging or intimidating an individual or group. When a person is acting in an inflammatory manner by categorizing minority groups with negative attributes and perpetrating views that are deliberately harmful to said groups, the result is that the use of these words, expressions, gestures or displays cause and reinforce the subordination of these groups.
A presidential nominee calling for a registry of Muslims or a vice presidential nominee creating a law to jail same-sex couples applying for marriage licenses clearly meet these guidelines. Their words, especially when spoken from a position of power, are detrimental to civil liberties and used to justify violence towards minority groups. Citizens of a country should not be involuntarily placed on a registry based on the colour of their skin or their religion. Press outlets should not be denied access or threatened with lawsuits by government officials.
Freedom of speech is a person’s protected right to criticize its government, not a government official’s right to disparage a populace. Human rights are not political issues, nor are they privileges to be doled out by a governmental official. They are to be protected against suppression and incendiary behaviours by all responsible citizens.