David Seaton's News Links
The United States of America has a radical definition of freedom of speech. Oliver Wendell Holmes (seen at the right) defined its limits as "shouting 'fire' in a crowded theater".
Today's Supreme Court even gives corporations the right to corrupt the American political system, under the protection of the First Amendment.
Now that we have defined "freedom", let us define "polite discourse".
Let us use the Dalai Lama and the Tibetans as an example:
If someone were to affirm that the Dalai Lama and the entire Tibetan exile movement were abject tools of the CIA, whose purpose was merely to destabilize the People's Republic of China, this would simply be a political opinion, one whose merits could be discussed, even heatedly, without crossing any special frontier of "polite discourse".
If someone were to affirm that they thought the Tibetan custom of drinking tea mixed with Yak butter was disgusting, this would simply be a statement of personal taste and à chacun son goût.
However, if someone were to state (I don't) that Tibetans were a benighted, superstitious pack of idolaters, whose religious services resembled nothing so much as one long belch and whose women never bathed in their whole lives, they would be crossing into the terrain of gross racial stereotyping, and way outside polite discourse.
What then could be considered hate speech?
I would say that advocating that Tibetans should be lined up and shot, Norwegian fashion, would fit "hate speech" and be over the line of Justice Holmes' limits of "free speech".
As far as I am concerned those are the limits.
I am open to suggestions, but for B*ddha's sake, please limit your comments to Tibetans. DS