Friday 6 July 2018

The Declaration of Independence is hate speech

The Liberty County Vindicator, a local newspaper in a small town in Texas, was uploading the Declaration of Independence in parts to their Facebook page when the tenth instalment was disallowed by Facebook as “hate speech”. It was the part where the Declaration says of poor, benign King George III:

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

Casey Stinnett, managing editor of the Liberty County Vindicator, said he thought the term “Indian Savages” might have triggered Facebook’s automated “filtering program.” 

For once Facebook got it right. The Declaration of Independence's reference to Indian savages would certainly be considered racist hate speech under British law, even though they were savages. The greater the truth, the greater the libel, as the law cases in the old offence of criminal libel have it. Much more importantly it was illegal at the time as an incitement to violence. It led to an utterly unnecessary war in order to free the thirteen colonies from Britain, something the other British colonies in North America, which are now called Canada, achieved without war. And without saddling themselves with an official Whig/proto-liberal official ideology.

On the other hand, looking at Canada and the USA now, Canada does not seem a model to admire and the USA increasingly does. Thanks to the First Amendment in the very Whiggish Bill of Rights, which copied English Common Law freedoms that no longer exist in England, America has free speech and no laws against hate speech. That is very unlike Canada, which has some of the tightest restrictions on free speech in what was once, during the Cold War, called the free world.

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