“Hate Speech” Hysteria Spreads to Japan

“(These demonstrations are) not the exercise of freedom of expression, but constitute an act of violence that incurs grave pain and wounds to Korean residents in Japan”, says a resolution from South Korea demanding that Japan crack down on “hate speech” demonstrations against Korean residents. The demonstrations against Korean residents in Japan that South Korea speaks of have been organized by a fringe far-right group called Zaitokukai – a motley group of ultra-nationalist extremists whose rallies tend to attract around 20 people at the most. The group’s rallies are exceptionally small and unpopular, being widely condemned by mainstream Japanese society at large.

By contrast, the movement to ban “hate speech” in Japan has been massive. Thousands and thousands of people – citizens, “human rights activists”, politicians, lawyers, musicians, journalists, writers, celebrities, and others from all walks of life – have been persistently lobbying, protesting, petitioning, and campaigning for the Japanese government to pass comprehensive legislation outlawing all forms of “hate speech”, including “hate speech” disseminated through the Internet.  This is also being demanded by the United Nations in accordance with “international human rights law”, which mandates bans against a wide range of speech.

Public “anti-hate speech” marches and demonstrations like the “March on Tokyo for Freedom” (an extremely ironic and Orwellian name) and “Tokyo No Hate 2014” – among others – have drawn thousands and thousands of participants (way more than the tiny racist demonstrations organized by Zaitokukai).  These “anti-hate speech” marches and demonstrations call on the Japanese government to “sincerely adhere” to “international human rights law” and outlaw “hate speech”. Numerous assemblies have also been held demanding a Japanese government crackdown on “hate speech” and “human rights” organizations have conducted polls which found that all politicians in Japan believe that “hate speech” should be outlawed. Not only are “human rights” groups and the United Nations loudly campaigning to enact “hate speech” legislation in Japan, but entire groups have been created for the sole purpose of combating “hate speech” (including online “hate speech”) through the law.  Why?  To “protect society”, of course – the rallying cry of every censor in history.

“Human rights” groups have demanded “hate speech” laws in Japan for many years, but the campaign to outlaw “hate speech” in Japan has really been picking up steam with the activities of Zaitokukai making headlines. As one might expect, there has been quite a lot of scare-mongering about “hate speech” in the Japanese media recently, including hysterical fear-mongering about the so-called rise of online “hate speech” (fueled by the UN, which has made censoring the Internet in the name of “human rights” one of its top priorities and has been relentlessly harassing Japan to implement “hate speech” legislation). Every single argument about the need to ban “hate speech” is, of course, a painfully naive appeal to emotion, and these arguments always inevitably go on about the need to “protect human rights” and to “balance freedom of expression” against the “human rights” of others – in particular, extremely vague and impossible-to-define “human rights” like “dignity” and “honor” (one can find some examples of these arguments here, here, and here).

Censorship advocates also repeatedly stress how “hate speech” makes Japan look bad, how it could cause tension with Japan’s neighbors, how it “dishonors” Japan, and how it could tarnish Japan’s image during the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, when the entire world will be watching. Most of these censorship advocates seem to think that “hate speech” is against the law in the US, and they often use “the West” as an example for Japan to follow in outlawing “hate speech”. These cheerleaders for censorship never even consider the numerous unintended consequences of allowing the government to regulate ideas and opinions – instead, they simply focus on the evils of racism and bigotry, as if outlawing these opinions will simply cause them to magically disappear.  And what constitutes “hate speech” is, of course, entirely subjective, as the label could be applied to literally anything. “Human rights activist” Yoshifu Arita – who, like any “human rights activist”, considers “hate speech” to be a form of “violence” – is among the Japanese politicians pushing the hardest for a legal ban on “hate speech”, and has even described insulting speech about politicians as “hate speech”. Like most modern-day censorship activists, Yoshifu Arita bases his pro-censorship arguments on “human rights”.  “For other nations, Japan’s sense of human rights probably appears to be going against (the times)”, Arita says. In a stunning example of meaningless postmodernist discourse, Arita has also stated, “I would venture to say that we need to restrict hate speech in order to protect freedom of speech.”

Ironically (but unsurprisingly), many of the same people pushing for “hate speech” laws in Japan are upset about Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s stated intentions to change the Japanese Constitution and limit freedom of speech by making certain vaguely-defined kinds of speech “contrary to public order” and consider this to be the sign of a coming police state – even though “hate speech” has been used as a justification for Abe’s plans. “In our country, we currently have organizations spewing hate speech without any regard whatsoever for fundamental human rights”, reads one editorial in support of Abe’s plans.  Many of these same people are also highly outraged about Abe’s new whistleblower-muzzling State Secrets Law, seeing it as a gross infringement on freedom of speech.  Being a censorship activist requires an extreme level of mental gymnastics – convincing oneself that censorship does not curtail freedom of speech in some cases, but does in others.

Many people have pointed to views held by Japanese politicians (some of whom allegedly have links to Zaitokukai themselves) as a reason for passing “hate speech” legislation in Japan – such as, for example, this “human rights activist” who describes one Japanese politician’s controversial Twitter comments about the Ainu people as constituting “violence” against a minority. But what these people fail to consider is that “hate speech” laws will be wielded not by minorities, but by those in power – the very same people in the Japanese government who tend to hold racist views themselves. Some of the people currently pushing for “hate speech” laws in Japan include far-right nationalists like Sanae Takaichi and Toru Hashimoto, among others. Takaichi is a far-right politician and Hitler admirer with links to neo-Nazism who has already stated that she intends to use “hate speech” legislation to silence people protesting against the government because, in her view, lawmakers need to work “without any fear of criticism”. Hashimoto is another far-right politician who has publicly stated that Japan’s historical wartime “comfort women” were “necessary”.

These are the people who will have the power to censor speech, and it is 100% guaranteed that these people will abuse that power. If anything, they will use these laws allegedly intended to “protect minorities” in order to silence minorities. The path to hell is paved with good intentions, and “anti-hate speech” campaigners are nothing more than useful idiots for politicians who have far more insidious purposes for wanting to pass speech-restricting legislation.  At any rate, “hate speech” laws could very easily be used to shut down pro-North Korean schools in Japan – the very same schools that Japanese racists hate so much. These schools – known as chongryon – teach allegiance to Kim Jong-un, hatred of Japan, and hatred of the West.  Wouldn’t it be more than a little bit ironic if “hate speech” legislation actually allowed Japanese racists to finally shut down pro-North Korean schools, which they’ve always wanted to do?

If someone holds hateful and despicable views, then the best thing you can possibly do is to encourage them to make those views as widely known as possible.  To quote the free speech activist Harvey Silverglate, “you want to know who openly hates you because you want to know whom not to turn your back to.”  People who hold hateful and despicable views NEED to be seen publicly so that we know who the enemy is.  In the US – where people are free to speak their minds openly – there have been countless cases of politicians and public figures making offensive comments publicly and then losing any chances that they had of gaining any more power.  Take, for example, Missouri politician Todd Akin, who was slated to become a Senator until his career was completely destroyed when he publicly stated that women who are victims of “legitimate rape” don’t get pregnant.  The outrage following these comments was enormous, and Akin’s political career was utterly destroyed.  However, if Akin had been a politician in a culture where “hate speech” is criminal, he would not have made these comments for fear of being prosecuted, and the public would never know how despicable and misguided his views truly were.  As a result, he may very well have gained more political power.

Rather than getting rid of bigots, “hate speech” laws have the effect of pacifying bigots, forcing them to make themselves appear more civil and reasonable.  This simply helps them gain support, as the public would never actually support a raving lunatic bigot.  The more extreme and outrageous bigots are, the more they damage their cause and the more they drive people against bigotry.  Indeed, one suspects that a key reason why so many Japanese far-right-wingers and nationalists want to ban “hate speech” is because extremists like Zaitokukai are making them look bad.  If you really want to make people hate bigots, then you should encourage bigots to be as loud, obnoxious, vile, offensive, and extreme as possible.  A perfect case-in-point here would be the Westboro Baptist Church, whose disgusting homophobic demonstrations at funerals have done more to advance the cause of gay rights and to unite people against homophobia than perhaps any other group ever has.

Likewise, the disgusting racist demonstrations of Zaitokukai have brought the issue of racism in Japanese society to the forefront and have united people against racism in a way never before seen in Japan, driving people to speak out against racism in Japanese society rather than simply ignoring it and pretending that it doesn’t exist.  Compare this to the recent anti-Islam demonstrations in Germany – a country which has extremely strict “hate speech” laws.  These German demonstrations against “Islamification” have gained huge support by not coming across as overtly bigoted.  If these demonstrators had been waving Nazi flags and chanting “KILL THE MUSLIMS!”, they would gain no support and would, in fact, do a great deal of damage to the anti-immigration movement.  But, in countries like Germany, bigots are required by law to hide their true feelings, so the public has no way of knowing how bigoted they truly are and, as a result, the public may very well end up supporting them.

There is absolutely zero evidence – none whatsoever – that “hate speech” laws (which were originally spread worldwide by the Soviet Union) have ever done anything to reduce bigotry. In fact, all evidence points to the fact that they have done exactly the opposite. In Weimar Germany, numerous prosecutions for “hate speech” turned the Nazis into martyrs, gave them a platform through the courts, and helped them gain public support. The exact same thing is happening again in Europe right now, as the far-right continues to surge across the continent, emboldened by “hate speech” laws which turn them into sympathetic martyrs and give them a “persecuted prophet” complex.

Take, for example, the case of France.  When France banned anti-Semitic comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala from giving shows, he was immediately transformed into a superstar and public martyr figure, with the “hate speech” cases against him providing him with tons of free advertising and attracting countless new supporters, who even marched through France chanting anti-Semitic slogans in support of Dieudonné. Likewise, when France recently banned pro-Palestinian protests, the protests immediately escalated into violent riots. And, for an even more recent example, France prosecuted the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo numerous times under “hate speech” legislation, but that most certainly didn’t stop the tragic shooting at the magazine’s headquarters from occurring. Censorship never gets rid of the things that it aims to censor – if anything, it only makes the problems that it attempts to solve even worse.  Censorship either gives the censored much more exposure and magnifies their views or it attempts to forcibly sweep them under the rug, driving them underground where they grow stronger and more dangerous.

“International human rights law” – which was heavily influenced by the Soviet Union – mandates the banning of “hate speech” and “hate groups” along with “propaganda for war”, and the UN’s “human rights” bodies have used it to demand bans on everything from Australia’s E. S. “Nigger” Brown Stand (which, by the way, had absolutely nothing to do with race) to Salman Rushdie’s book The Satanic Verses, which the UN’s “human rights” leaders called an “incitement to racial hatred” and attacked France for not banning. The UN has harassed every nation from Germany to Sweden about not enforcing “hate speech” laws strictly enough, making it abundantly clear that it is simply not possible to censor speech enough to satisfy the international “human rights” lobby.

If this “human rights” cancer spreads to Japan, then it will inevitably spread to the United States as well, despite America’s stubborn insistence on maintaining near-absolute freedom of speech in the face of increasing international pressure to pass laws against “hate speech” and “blasphemy”. Freedom of speech remains a uniquely American value, but there are already “human rights” groups pushing for “hate speech” laws in the US, including the Montana Human Rights Network, for a recent example. “Human rights activists” are pushing for blasphemy laws in the US as well, particularly in response to “blasphemous” content which has provoked a violent reaction overseas. As of right now, the only reason that the Internet is so free is because the United States controls most of it. The UN has made “stopping online hate speech” one of its top priorities and so have the various “human rights” groups all over the world. If the “human rights” lobby gets its way, then the Internet as we know it will be subject to the whims of “human rights” bureaucrats who can ban or censor any online content that they wish the masses not to see.

Every “human rights” group – from Amnesty International (which implicitly called for the prosecution of the Danish Muhammed cartoons) to Civil Rights Defenders – strongly supports laws against “hate speech” while still claiming to champion “freedom of speech”.  One can plainly see how extremely dangerous the ideology of “human rights” is. This is a dogma which – like all tyrannical dogmas – sincerely believes that it is driven by a core, unique goodness which must never be questioned, and that, as such, any opinion or idea that questions or opposes it must always be outlawed since any opposition to an ideology that believes itself to be objectively good must therefore be objectively evil. Censoring allegedly “hateful” speech has become one of the core aspects of the “human rights” doctrine, and this is indeed what “human rights” legislation has done all over the world.

In Australia, the “human rights” lobby almost passed a law called the “Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill”, which would have made it illegal to “offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate” anyone for any reason, including for their “political opinion”. The law stated that people were to be declared guilty until proven innocent. It also would have outlawed any expression of religious belief if someone were “offended” by it, and it would have effectively outlawed all criticism of the government.  The Australian Greens felt that this proposed law – which was only narrowly defeated – “didn’t go far enough”.

In Europe, the “human rights” lobby has tried to get criticism of feminism outlawed and has even tried to set up total state surveillance and “tolerance camps” for “intolerant” citizens, including for citizens who voice “anti-feminist” views or “overt approval of a totalitarian ideology”.

In Spain, the “human rights” lobby has passed a law that declares people automatically guilty of “hate crimes” against LGBT people unless they can prove their innocence.

In Canada, the Canadian Human Rights Commission has actually hacked into an innocent person’s unsecured wi-fi router in order to investigate a “hateful” website, and has also deliberately built up neo-Nazi organizations just so that they would have a boogeyman to fight against and therefore justify their existence to the public.

In the United Kingdom, “human rights activists” – including many so-called “free speech activists” – have campaigned vociferously for total state licensing and regulation of the press.

In Belgium, the “human rights” lobby passed a law criminalizing a wide range of “sexist” speech, including speech that “reduces [people] to their sexual dimension”.

The United Nations and “human rights activists” have tried to pass “international laws” against “cultural appropriation”.

There are many, many more examples, of course. “Human rights” is used not only to justify Orwellian government censorship, but it is also used to justify war, imperialism, disarming the masses, and even genocide. “International human rights law” has provided a very powerful weapon for dictatorships to use to undermine freedom of speech on a global scale, and dictatorships are now using that weapon to attempt to pass a worldwide ban on criticism of religion in exactly the same way that the Soviet Union once succeeded at getting “hate speech” legislation passed worldwide. This is all done, of course, in the name of “human rights” – the brutal dictatorship Saudi Arabia, for example, insists that Norway is violating the “human rights” of Muslims by allowing criticism of Islam. There is a worldwide war against freedom of speech, and “human rights” has become the most deadly weapon in the battle.

A key aspect of the “human rights” doctrine is that speech and action are identical, and that “hurtful” speech is no different than violent action. Indeed, people in Japan do not seem to understand that “hate speech” and “discrimination” are not necessarily the same thing. They constantly refer to “hate speech” as “discrimination“, and they talk about people “engaging in racial discrimination” on the Internet. They speak of the need to pass an “anti-discrimination” law to curtail “hate speech” (Japanese courts have ruled that “hate speech” rallies “constitute racial discrimination” and have repeatedly upheld that decision).  To them, an “anti-discrimination” law would automatically outlaw “hate speech”. They don’t seem to comprehend that you can outlaw “discrimination” (e.g. discrimination in employment and service) without going into the realm of speech. In addition, much of the “hate speech” debate in Japan has been dominated by claims that not only does “hate speech” cause violence, but that “hate speech” itself is violence. This postmodernist blurring of the lines between speech and action is incredibly dangerous, and it’s what characterizes dictatorships like Pakistan, North Korea, and Saudi Arabia – dictatorships which no free and democratic society should ever seek to emulate in any way.

Japan’s Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of speech – but, in today’s postmodernist world where language is meaningless, the universal consensus outside of the United States is that the right to freedom of speech does not protect “hate speech”, with “hate speech” being anything that the government deems undesirable.  What happens in Japan will foreshadow what will be the future of free speech in the rest of the world as well. In Japan, the “human rights” lobby is not only attempting to pass laws against “racist” speech. The “human rights” lobby in Japan has also been persistently campaigning for laws against “sexist” artwork, rape-themed pornography, and more.  If Japan does not reject the wretched tyranny of “human rights”, then the cancer of “human rights” censorship will inevitably expand until all areas of life are censored subject to the whims of “human rights” bureaucrats. If “human rights” censorship finds its way to Japan, then it will eventually spread even further and the censorship laws that were once a thing of the past may very well end up being the wave of the future. And, if the “human rights” lobby has their way, then the entire world will end up being like North Korea.

Japan will not eliminate racism by sweeping it under the rug with highly dangerous “hate speech” legislation. Only by confronting bigotry head-on and responding to hateful speech with more speech – not with enforced silence – will Japan be able to tackle the deep-seated bigotry in its society.  Japan needs to follow America’s example and provide the maximum possible protection for freedom of speech, even when that speech is ugly, vile, hateful, and disgusting.  Right now, Japan takes “international human rights law” very seriously, and seems to think that it’s actual law rather than meaningless gentlemen’s agreements pushed onto sovereign nations by dictators. Japan needs to stand up to the dictator-dominated UN and the UN’s pet “human rights” lobby, and it needs to fight the scourge of bigotry by defeating it in the marketplace of ideas rather than by burying its head in the sand with “hate speech” laws intended to make the problem of bigotry less public and overt.

What is legal and what is moral are not necessarily the same things, nor should they be. Just because something is considered to be wrong by most people does not mean that it should be made the subject of legislation. In Japan and elsewhere, the argument for banning “hate speech” is based around the need to reject racism and bigotry, but racism is not something that can ever be defeated with legislation. Racism is something that must be defeated by civil society and individuals – not by the legislation of thoughts. Only by exposing bigotry to the light can bigotry genuinely be defeated.  Bigotry can in no way be defeated by forcing hate groups into underground echo chambers where their members will only grow more zealous and motivated, free from public ridicule. Sunlight is always the best disinfectant.

There is absolutely no objective criteria for determining what constitutes “hate speech”. “Human rights activists” often cite the “emotional harm” caused by “hate speech”, but “emotional harm” is not something which can be objectively measured in any way, and passing laws based on emotions is an incredibly dangerous path. If racists are harassing or threatening people, then such conduct can simply be dealt with through laws against harassment and threats – not through the banning of ideas or opinions.  Once a government steps into the realm of regulating which opinions its citizens are allowed to hold, there is no turning back – the spectrum of prohibited opinions will inevitably expand and change over time, as one can see currently happening in the UK and all over the world.  Once “hate speech” laws are passed, they always grow more restrictive with time.  Like all moral panics, the hysteria surrounding “hate speech” is driven by a deeply naive desire to “protect society” and to create a peaceful, safe, and secure world where nobody is ever hurt or offended by anything.

“Human rights activists” are fueled by a paternalistic and condescending drive to “protect” the savage, plebeian masses from their baser instincts.  But the people campaigning for “hate speech” legislation simply do not consider the long-term, unintended ramifications of allowing the government to regulate speech. What constitutes “hate speech” to you will not be the same as what constitutes “hate speech” to the government, and what is deemed “hateful” will always change over time. Thailand, for example, now refers to all criticism of its government as “hate speech”. And, in places where homosexuality is not widely accepted, “hate speech” laws are often used to censor anyone who speaks out in support of gay rights. In Russia, “hate speech” laws are used not only to silence LGBT activists, but also to silence people like Pussy Riot and other artists who “incite religious hatred” against the Catholic Church. That’s what happens when you allow mob rule and state power to determine which ideas can be legally proscribed. You may very well find your views falling out of favor with those in power and thus legally outlawed as “hate speech”.

Ultimately, Japan has to ask itself: does it really want to be more like China?

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One thought on ““Hate Speech” Hysteria Spreads to Japan

  1. Pingback: ‘Hate Speech’ Hysteria Spreads to Japan | Thought Catalog

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