After a slew of terrible comments made from South African pastor Oscar Bougaardt against homosexuality, the High Court of South Africa decided it had had enough. A recent ruling found Bougaardt guilty of hate speech, a form of rhetoric recently banned in South Africa.
Obviously, comments like “ninety-nine percent of pedophiles stem from homosexuality,” and “[homosexuals] behave worse than animals in bed” are egregious and should not fostered, as it can offend large groups of people who have been systematically disenfranchised throughout human history. However, making it illegal and punishable by law to say things freely can become more damaging to society, as the government should not start deeming what is allowed to be expressed.
Similar cases happen across the globe, and every nation deals with them accordingly. Just last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled hate speech to be protected by the First Amendment.
“[The idea that the government may restrict] speech expressing ideas that offend … strikes at the heart of the First Amendment,” Justice Samuel Alito notes in Matal v. Tam. “Speech that demeans on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, disability, or any other similar ground is hateful; but the proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express “the thought that we hate.”
After all, how can you justifiably combat intolerant perspectives if you expect the government to shut down perspectives you don’t agree with because it offends you?
Here is a great video explaining the importance of protecting all forms of free speech:
Comment below to let us know what you think!