Wednesday, December 19, 2012
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Gwinnett Daily Post
Saima Ahmad deserves our thanks for her thoughtful perspective ("To limit hate speech, it may be time to limit free speech," Dec. 16, 9A). I appreciate the researched and clear way she used it to make her points.
It is true that other cultures view serious insults, especially religious ones, very differently and expect governments like ours to take action -- like making arrests. It's what would happen there. It is important to understand this as the basis for Ms. Ahmad's request.
And I happen to agree with everything she said, except for one. I believe the best way to fight hate speech is with more speech, not less. Read the quote from Bernie Farber, "Racist war, from ... Cambodia ... to the Holocaust, did not start in a vacuum. Hateful words do have an effect."
That vacuum is caused by people not speaking up. We are better served to exercise our responsibility to speak out against hate speech. Holding to our value for freedom of speech, means we should lead the chorus of voices demonstrating solidarity with others. This is the best way for our country to turn around hateful words and harmful ideas.
We don't need to criminalize speech. We need to use our free speech to educate the world about our values: Tolerance and appreciation for all religions or any other source of difference or misunderstanding.
Let us speak up when it's wrong.
-- Brad Burns