The Clare Spark Blog

May 16, 2015

What is hate speech and where did the notion come from?

Demo after Gabrielle Gifford shooting

Demo after Gabrielle Gifford shooting

Google and Facebook are supposedly enlisting the public’s help in removing “racist” screeds from their websites, according to an article in The Times of Israel (

At first glance, this may seem like a good idea, but there is a latent subtext that I find disturbing, for there is no consensus regarding what constitutes “hate speech” but more, the notion harkens back to a discredited (social democratic-“liberal”) notion that Hitler prevailed because of his superior grasp of “propaganda.” (See, especially the discussion of a conference at UCLA arguing that “propaganda kills.”

That notion was advanced by the Frankfurt School philosophers, the “critical theorists/cultural Marxists” in league with New Deal social psychologists who were appalled by the advent of mass media and the all-too-gullible mobs it aroused. What they left out was the history leading up to the victory of the Third Reich over its conservative nationalist opponents (initially in coalition with Nazis). “The People” were asses, as classicists had ever averred (see

We must go back to Plato’s Phaedo to find a classical example of such nonsense, for according to Plato (a favorite of the liberal left), the “Body” was the site of illusions, particularly the passions that favored the senses that foolishly identified “the truth”, with speech. So ordinary people (including women and slaves—the lower orders) could not be trusted to lead the Republic, blabbermouths that they are, for as New Deal social psychologist Dr. Henry A. Murray insisted, the People are “not trained to rule.”

It was a hard, long slog to achieve such (arguably limited) free speech as we enjoy now. Beware of efforts to give too much weight to rhetoric over other socioeconomic institutional factors. What is needed is better, more widely disseminated history and political science, not more censorship.

Left-liberal propaganda poster

Left-liberal propaganda poster


  1. […] The ideological impulse to explain the rise of Nazism/race riots to rabble-rousing new mass media (; 2. The belief that speech creates reality (derived from Plato and the social democrats who […]

    Pingback by Hate speech, revisited | YDS: The Clare Spark Blog — June 24, 2015 @ 7:47 pm | Reply

  2. At first glance it didn’t seem like a good idea to me and at no glance does it ever begin to look like a good idea to me.

    Speech consists of words; words (not including threats) are just words; words are really only understood fully by the person who speaks them (and sometimes even then you have to wonder); others involved (the listeners) are just translating words of speakers into ideas; ideas based on the listeners’ background, bias, education, understanding, circumstances, standards, belief system, etc.). Where can you positively LOCATE or LABEL the HATE? The tongue of the speaker, the ear of the listener, the brain of translator; no two of which will translate the words the same? Much too many factors in speech (words) for anyone, particular at any level of social media for goodness sakes, to be doing any judging, censoring, removing, etc. There are individuals on facebook who judge and censor their own walls; while I don’t agree with the idea; those are the only people who should be able to remove speech because it is only from their own walls. Sharing is optional past that. Those type of people often have mostly friends of like-mindset, so not likely to be offended by the removal anyway.

    Otherwise, social media gives the public a platform; PUBLIC (definition) exposed to general view, open). They should not be in the business of deciding what constitutes hate. Americans have enough entities trying to curtail, censor, stop, abolish their rights and freedoms without being judged, labeled, rated, and ranked a bunch of technological individuals who had the forethought to create a social media platform, but are otherwise individuals just like those posters who make use of the platform.

    Comment by justalady21 — May 24, 2015 @ 7:02 pm | Reply

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