Option to ban a specific troll from the comments (Updated)

Update: The poll closed early at fred’s request. fred is now banned.


In order to improve the quality of the comment section, yet uphold the ideals of free speech and democracy, readers of the blog Restructure! can vote on whether commenter ‘fred’ should be banned. I will honour the results of the vote. (If the motion to ban fred does not pass, I can put it to vote again sometime in the future.) fred may appeal the ban by submitting a persuasive essay on whether or not minorities are at a disadvantage within a democracy.

Here is a sample comment by fred:

At first, I wasn’t sure whether you were black. But after reading that last comment it’s obvious. Its devoid of reason and logic. […]

The poll closes in a week.

Some thoughts on voting by Spider Jerusalem of Transmetropolitan are below the fold (trigger warning for a description of sexual assault with a weapon). Vote first, then, if you choose to, read the comic.

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“Political Correctness” is a reactionary term against the loss of privilege.

Excerpted from Whitey Don’t see that: The rising recognition of ‘white privilege’ in Western academia (PDF) by Momoko Price at The Ubyssey, November 2006:

Laurence Berg, Canada Research Chair for Human Rights, Diversity and Identity, disagrees with the
idea that PC language and policies are oppressive. Why? Because he doesn’t really believe that PC policies existed in the first place.

“What [they]’re calling the ‘PC movement’ I would call a social movement by marginalised people and the people who support them,” he said. “[A movement] to use language that’s more correct—not ‘politically correct’—that more accurately represents reality.”

Berg is referring to a way of thinking that many of us students were too young to catch the first time around. For us, the term ‘politically correct’ survived the 90s, but the term ‘human rights backlash’ did not. Will Hutton, former editor-in-chief for the UK publication the Observer, described in his column how the term ‘PC’ was never really a political stance at all, contrary to popular belief. It was actually perceived by many as a right-wing tactic to dismiss—or backlash against—left-leaning social change. Mock the trivial aspects of human rights politics, like its changing language, and you’ll succeed in obscuring the issue altogether.

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Canada outlawed First Nations political activism until ~1970.

Excerpted from Whitey Don’t see that: The rising recognition of ‘white privilege’ in Western academia (PDF) by Momoko Price at The Ubyssey, November 2006:

Dominique Clement, a human rights historian at the University of Victoria, said researching the First Nations social movement during the 20th Century is a funny thing, because there are very few documents on the topic to research.

“First Nations is interesting. There’s very, very little written on First Nations human rights activism. There’s this weird period between 1910 and 1969 where First Nations were not terribly politically active.”

You might wonder why this might be the case. And unless you’re up-tospeed on graduate-level Canadian history, you probably won’t guess the real reason. It wasn’t simply because First Nations were poor, or displaced, or lacked support (though these reasons obviously contributed.) It was because Aboriginal activism was explicitly against federal law.

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Can hate speech be free speech?

Hate speech may stifle free speech by monopolizing the marketplace of ideas. Some types of arguments hinder rather than contribute to productive discussion (such as logical fallacies), and some hate speech may fall into this category. Additionally, some hate speech, or rather certain framings of how the world is, limit the scope of discussion and who is allowed to debate.

Generally, some practises can never be questioned in debate. Logical fallacies are not acceptable arguments, and persisting in logical fallacies is considered bad form rather than a valid avenue of discussion. Is it possible that some types of hate speech are inherently fallacious?

Is hate speech ad hominem?

Description of ad hominem:

An Ad Hominem is a general category of fallacies in which a claim or argument is rejected on the basis of some irrelevant fact about the author of or the person presenting the claim or argument. Typically, this fallacy involves two steps. First, an attack against the character of person making the claim, her circumstances, or her actions is made (or the character, circumstances, or actions of the person reporting the claim). Second, this attack is taken to be evidence against the claim or argument the person in question is making (or presenting). This type of “argument” has the following form:

1. Person A makes claim X.
2. Person B makes an attack on person A.
3. Therefore A’s claim is false.

The reason why an Ad Hominem (of any kind) is a fallacy is that the character, circumstances, or actions of a person do not (in most cases) have a bearing on the truth or falsity of the claim being made (or the quality of the argument being made).

Not all personal attacks are ad hominem, as sometimes a negative characteristic about a debater is relevant to the topic. For example, if the debate is about one debater’s level of sexual attractiveness, a claim that the debater under discussion is ugly would not be ad hominem. However, is hate speech (directed against ethnic minorities, queer folk, people with disabilities, etc.) necessarily ad hominem?

For example, let us say that the debate is about whether all members of a minority group are involved in a global conspiracy. An implicit assumption in this debate is that any member of that minority group is not allowed to participate in the discussion. If a member of that minority, Person A, provides reasons why he is not involved in a global conspiracy, the other debaters, who are of the majority group, can argue that Person A‘s testimony is invalid because he belongs to that minority group.

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When Muslims cry “freedom of speech!” … opponents cry “freedom of speech!”

Four Muslim, law students from Osgoode Hall Law School at Toronto’s York University filed a Human Rights Complaint against Canada’s Maclean’s magazine on December 4th, 2007. In a Maclean’s article titled “The future belongs to Islam” published in October 2006, Mark Steyn had argued that Muslims will eventually take over the Western world. The Osgoode law students, on March 30, 2007, had asked Maclean’s to “publish a response to Steyn’s article from a mutually acceptable source.” Maclean’s refused, allegedly claiming that they “would rather go bankrupt,” which resulted in the law students filing the Human Rights Complaint.

Here is an interview with one of the law students, Khurrum Awan:

When the interviewer asks Khurrum how to strike a balance between human rights and free speech rights, the Osgoode law student responds:

I don’t think that this issue is about freedom of speech versus minority rights. This is really about the right of communities to participate in our national discourse on issues that relate directly to us. […] We just simply want to extend free speech to make it more inclusive of the communities in question. And if we do that, we don’t have to, you know, get into this false trade-off that we always assume that somehow free speech and minority rights — or free speech and multiculturalism — are somehow diametrically opposed.

What is ironic is that while many of the critics of the Osgoode law students criticize them for suppressing freedom of speech, the Osgoode law students claim that they are filing the Human Rights Complaint on behalf of freedom of speech (i.e., the right to publish a counter article in Maclean’s). While many critics accuse the Osgoode law students of censorship, the Osgoode law students feel that they themselves are being censored.

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Code Words of Hate


(via I am a shadow)

The above video is a concise summary of hateful, xenophobic rhetoric used against immigrants. There are four themes of this rhetoric: portraying immigrants as “invaders”; dehumanization; the sense that immigrants bring crime and disease; and a conspiracy theory that immigrants emigrate with the intention to take over the country.

There is a nice quote near the end by the ADL speaker:

The Anti-Defamation League is exposing these trends and this rhetoric, because words have consequences. There is a direct connection between the policies we have in our society, the words of leaders, and the daily lives of minority communities and immigrants.

People who describe themselves as “Anti Political Correctness” often claim that opponents of hate speech are trying to limit the scope of discussion, or that they are just hyper- or over-“sensitive” to negative comments about minorities. Of course, this is missing the point. Hateful rhetoric and propaganda exclude the target group from humanity and serves to remove their right to participate in the discussion.

Perhaps hate speech can be thought of as ad hominem arguments in debates about the target group, in which the target group cannot participate, since their humanity itself is the subject of debate.