Hate speech should be included in freedom of speech and expressions or not?

by Tanya Sharma

No, hate speech should not be included in expression of freedom in the Constitution. It is because there exists a broad difference between free speech and hate speech. Free speech is essential for maintaining democracy because it facilitates the exchange of diverse opinions and essential to the enjoyment of personal autonomy. However, hate speech is something that perceived to disparage a person or group of people based on their social or ethical aspects such as caste, language, nationality, disability, appearance and other distinction that might be considered by some as a liability.

The term speech covers written as well as oral communication and some forms of behaviour in a public settings and hate speech always carries some hate content and impact in public domain by public authority or representatives of people against existing supreme law of land. It effects the integrity of nation, any human action against ethics of organisations, any diplomatic activity against standard protocols, any motion against public order may all come under “hate speech” which are not guaranteed by freedom of speech and expression.

 As our Constitution already gave its citizen various rights to express themselves, adding this culture of hate speech in the existing rights may conflict two human rights i.e. freedom to advocate distasteful opinion or to convey distorted or false information and the conflicting right not to be a victim of discrimination and prejudice. So, on that note to prefer freedom of speech and expression is not prefer the countervailing freedom from discrimination as one right is subordinate to other.

Hate speech that has now become a fashion and a short cut to get publicity, poses vexing and complex problems for contemporary constitutional rights. The law allows a citizen to seek the punishment of anyone who shows the citizen disrespect on the grounds of religious, race, and place of birth, language, caste or any other ground whatsoever. The law specifically forbid anyone from outraging someone dignity, and allow authorities to prohibit means of expression which someone finds insulting.

In the present age of faster mode of communication and social networking hate speech can now almost instantaneously spread throughout the world, and as nation become increasingly socially, ethically, religiously and culturally diverse, the need for regulations become ever more urgent. In view of these important changes, the state can no longer justify commitment to neutrality but must embrace pluralism, guarantee autonomy and dignity and strive for maintenance of a minimum of mutual respect.

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