by Mohan J. Dutta, Pooja Jayan, Md Mahbubur Rahman, Christine Elers, Francine Whittfield , CARE Massey University
We begin this response by noting that laws against incitement of hate are necessary in extreme situations. However, a culture-centered analysis suggests that laws against incitement are not effective in transforming cultures of intolerance and hate that are held up by powerful political and economic interests. Those in places of power deploy hate to serve their political and economic gains. Simultaneously, we note that powerful political and economic interests use hate speech laws to silence dissent and erase articulations from the margins. As anti-racist academics and activists, collaborating with social justice activists, we have experienced and witnessed the silencing processes through manipulation of legal frameworks around hate speech. Our activist collaborators have been harassed and persecuted by authoritarian states under the guise of promoting racial and/or religious harmony. It is vital to critically interrogate the individualization of hate in laws against incitement. Instead, structural transformations are needed in the form of policies that are explicitly anti-discriminatory, guarantee and support equality of vulnerable communities, and protect the fundamental human rights of vulnerable groups. We propose a culture-centered policy framework to addressing hate speech that tackles the political economy of hate and builds communicative infrastructures for the voices of communities at the “margins of the margins.”
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