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Congress vs. Nasty Words

This is an article in which I defend Nazis.

Disclaimer:

Rule 1: I am not a Nazi. I do not support Nazis. Both in their historical and modern versions, Nazis are sinners living in sin.
Rule 2: If there is any confusion, re-read Rule 1.

In recent years, a new category of discussion has appeared on the political scene: “hate speech.” People advocate for the idea that “hate speech is not free speech.” If hate speech is not free speech, it may be criminalized. However, hate speech is an inherently difficult concept to define. If it is defined as merely any speech attacking a specific segment of the population or a minority, in some circumstances we may not be allowed to verbally attack evildoers for being evil. This is unconscionable in a free or just society. Conversely, one might define it as speech using certain pejoratives. This second option is to attack the branches rather than the root. Lawmakers will discover the immense creativity of the human mind in fashioning insults. Such a law is worse than useless, because it costs much and accomplishes little. A nation would sacrifice freedom, money for enforcement, a little bit of the glory of language, and the stress of having to comply with the smallest details of the new law, when all one must do to get around it is attach some spiteful meaning to “flamjimmergob.”

Perhaps it is for this reason politicians normally advocate for the first of the two options. This ought to particularly concern Christians, who are commanded to “teach…[all the nations] to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). God’s commands are often unpopular, as shown by the sheer number of prophets and apostles who have died for the faith. To allow governments the power to outlaw expression of general sentiments is most dangerous to our greatest calling as believers. Some might object: “God appointed the magistrate for the punishment of evil (Romans 13), and hate speech, normally racist speech, is indeed evil.” But to argue for the criminalization of something is inherently to argue that at the extreme, man may kill men for acting in a certain way. The threat of lethal force is the final compulsion of civil government. So to argue for criminalizing something for which the Bible does not create a civil penalty is literally to argue for legalizing murder (or more realistically, theft by financial penalty or kidnapping by jail sentence) in a specific instance. This is indeed the greater of the two evils.

The Bible does not lay down a principle of law that allows for the criminalization of speech. There was an exception for the land of Israel for speech attacking God in the form of false prophecy, blasphemy, or enticing others to false gods. We may truly say this is a specific exception in the case of Israel, because these laws were specifically meant to take attackers of God’s divinity directly into the throneroom of God. However, Christ declared to Peter that His divinity was the rock upon which He built His church. Defending God’s divinity is now the jurisdiction of the church. Therefore, to argue for the criminalization of speech argues for great evils to attack smaller ones. But this is theoretical, right? Think again.

S.J. Res. 49, signed into law merely weeks ago by President Trump, “rejects White nationalism, White supremacy, and neo-Nazism as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contradictory to the values that define the people of the United States.” How does this law intend to back up its rejection of a group of people based merely upon their speech? The law commands: “(i) the Secretary of Homeland Security to investigate thoroughly all acts of violence, intimidation, and domestic terrorism by White supremacists, White nationalists, neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, and associated groups in order to determine if any criminal laws have been violated and to prevent those groups from fomenting and facilitating additional violence” [emphasis mine]. Congress has quite literally authorized the hunting down of citizens based on their speech, as well as the physical prevention of speech that some low-level bureaucrat somewhere decides might foment violence. Saying this is dangerous would be an understatement.

Although Christians are commanded to stand against evil, using the threat of force and coercion that the state represents in order to shut down an evil–one with which God has not licensed the state to deal–merely allows evil to propagate. Discerning Christians ought to forswear the targeting of speech by civil authority.

Sources:

U.S. Congress, S.J. Res. 49, https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-joint-resolution/49

Photo attribution: https://flickr.com/photos/44550450@N04/29862053990 originally posted by Fibonacci Blue under cc 2.0. Fibonacci Blue does not endorse this article in any way.

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