Are Religious Texts Hate Speech?
I had an interesting discussion the other day concerning the rise of the 'alt-right'. Basically white supremism of some kind. It gets associated with Nazis, Mein Kemph, and all the regular white hate people are used to comdemning.
We can all imagine what they say that is classified as hate in its various forms
- Jews are evil
- White people need to stick together
- White people need to be on top of society
- Homosexuality is wrong
- Society would be better of if everyone was white
It got me thinking. In our current anti-hate culture, what happens to religious texts? It was actually a genuine curiosity. Like people sue over everything these days, so someone must have seen what happens.
I got a few hits on the Google.
There's a lot more mainly on blogs and commentaries, so I'm not going to link them. Suffice to say it is starting to shine it's head.
I think from a rational perspective is very hard to not classify many religious texts as hate speech when a lot of other similar speech is classified as hate. Now I'm a big believer in free speech, so I wouldn't want these books banned, but I also wouldn't want other hate speech banned. But it is the lack of consistency that is turning some heads.
Now this happens a lot in the legal system where things are not 'perfect' but they are workable. Obviously to make the Bible on the same level of Mein Kamph would be a political nightmare. Few politicians or courts would take up that battle.
Yet, it is pretty hard to argue the texts of these religious books contain homophobic, sexist, violent, segregationist, and some down right hateful and evil messages taken at face value. You can of course say we should interpret them another way, but hey, I guess you can make the case that Mein Kamph should be interpreted differently. I think more likely 'publicizing' or 'quoting' the offending religious versus will be classified as hate, but the book most likely won't just for political purposes.
ExamplesI'll mainly pick traditional Islamic areas as that is what I'm most familiar with. As usual, it often helps to replace the targetted groups with 'black people' to get the modern context
Koran 5:51: “O YOU who have attained to faith! Do not take the Jews and the Christians for your allies: they are but allies of one another and whoever of you allies himself with them becomes, verily, one of them; behold, God does not guide such evildoers..
Wow, that's pretty harsh. Imagine a white person saying do not take Blacks and Mexicans as friends...Koran 3.12: Say to those who disbelieve: You shall be vanquished, and driven together to hell; and evil is the resting-place.
Wow, so if you don't believe, you should be burning in hell fire. Well that's pretty objectionable to me. A book calling for large numbers of humanity to be killed in this manner. Imagine saying that about blacks. Those blacks who do not act white are destined to burn in hell fire forever. Heck, I've always found the idea of hell to be one of the most repugnant ideas ever and totally immoral on its own.Koran 9:29: Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Apostle have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection.
Damn. Pure Islamic supremism here. I'm glad the lesser people will just have to pay a special tax to live under subjugation of Islamic rule
Hadith Bukhari (Book 83, 17) The blood of a Muslim who confesses that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that I am His Apostle, cannot be shed except in three cases: In Qisas for murder, a married person who commits illegal sexual intercourse and the one who reverts from Islam and leaves the Muslims."
So ummm yeah. If you leave the religion, you should be killed. Advocating people be killed... pretty sure that is a hate crime.Koran 5:82: Certainly you will find the most violent of people in enmity for those who believe (to be) the Jews and those who are polytheists, and you will certainly find the nearest in friendship to those who believe (to be) those who say: We are Christians; this is because there are priests and monks among them and because they do not behave proudly.
Yep, Jews and polytheists are the most violent against the Muslims.
Hadith Muslim, (Book 41, 6985) Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the jews and the Muslims would kill them until the jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a jew behind me; come and kill him; but the tree Gharqad would not say, for it is the tree of the jews.
And yes, in the end, all the Jews will be slaughtered... even the trees and stones will help the Muslims kill the Jews.
I could go on, but you get the point.
There's more here:
http://yaminb.blogspot.ca/2012/08/islamic-sources-time-and-place.html that goes on about slavery, concubines, war, pedophilia...
Now as mentioned, can you read any of this in context to make it 'nicer'. Probably. But the point is you can make any hate speech 'nicer' in context. Hitler wasn't talking about Jews themselves being evil, just Jews against the German state you know... a particular Jew at a particular time you know...
Compared to say Main KamphI don't have a copy of Main Kamph, but I googled a bit to see it's most controversial quotes.
I'll give a few in context here.
- The Jewish doctrine of Marxism rejects the aristocratic principle of Nature and replaces the eternal privilege of power and strength by the mass of numbers and their dead weight. Thus it denies the value of personality in man, contests the significance of nationality and race
- Schopenhauer called the Jew "The Great Master of Lies". Those who do not realize the truth of that statement, or do not wish to believe it, will never be able to lend a hand in helping Truth to prevail.
- For once this book has become the common property of a people, the Jewish menace may be considered as broken.
- The democratic people’s Jew becomes the blood-Jew and
tyrant over peoples. In a few years he tries to exterminate the
national intelligentsia and by robbing the peoples of their natural
intellectual leadership makes them ripe for the slave’s lot of permanent
The most frightful example of this kind is offered by Russia, where he killed or starved about thirty million people with positively fanatical savagery, in part amid inhuman tortures, in order to give a gang of Jewish journalists and stock exchange bandits domination over a great people.
Heck, Main Kamph doesn't even read that bad relative to the Koran. Probably the Bible is the same.
ConclusionThere's little question in my mind that given an objective standard, a lot of the religious books would be classified as hate speech. Now, I don't see them being banned as politically it is impossible, but I think you could see quoting a verse with a purpose to be classified as hate speech.
As I said, I'm a big free speech person, so I don't think any books should be banned and I'm very wary of hate speech laws, but if we're going to be enforcing it, I sense a lot of conflict with religious texts and views.
I think you're likely to see some interesting political forces as well. For example, the so called right-wring Christians in the United States tend to be big on some rights like guns and free speech in the US constitution. In a sense, they have a leg to stand on, because their views on free speech seem consistent with being able to use their religious texts.
Other groups like say Muslims I think are more hypocritical. Especially in places like the the Western world, where they have generally adopted a much more anti free-speech big government mind set where they don't want bad things said about Islam that could be classified as hate. How does that jive with the Islamic texts being full of hate speech?