Quand les discours de haine deviennent-ils dangereux? Le cas du Kenya et du Rwanda

Katherine Bruce-Lockhart explore cette question vitale du lien entre mots et violence à la lumière du jugement de Joshua Arap Sang, présentateur kényan à la radio.

Les discours de haine, ou les discours qui dénigrent des individus en raison de leur appartenance à un groupe quelconque ont longtemps troublé les responsables politiques en les obligeant à renégocier constamment les limites de la liberté d’expression. Les débats au sujet des discours de haine font souvent la une des journaux, avec comme exemples récents les manifestations contre les homosexuels de l’Église baptiste de Westboro lors de funérailles militaires, et la promotion de la chanson «Shoot the Boer» (Tue le Boer) par Jules Malema, chef de la Ligue des jeunes du Congrès National africain. Bien que ces utilisations de discours de haine constituent des offenses considérables, elles n’incitent pas toujours directement à la violence. Les chercheurs qui travaillent sur la liberté d’expression essayent de plus en plus de définir le moment où le discours de haine devient un «discours dangereux»: un discours qui a «une chance raisonnable de catalyser ou d’amplifier la violence d’un groupe contre un autre». La politologue Susan Benesch a proposé cinq variables qualitatives principales pour qualifier un discours dangereux, offrant ainsi un modèle utile pour analyser les études de cas de discours de haine. Ces dernières comprennent le degré d’influence de l’orateur, les réclamations ou les craintes de l’audience, le fait que l’acte de parole soit compris ou non comme un appel à la violence, le contexte social et historique, et les canaux de dissémination du discours.

Le Rwanda et le Kenya, deux pays ayant connu une violence considérable ces dix dernières années, présentent des études de cas utiles pour discerner quand et comment le discours de haine devient dangereux. Le rôle incendiaire de la Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (Radio RTLM) dans le génocide rwandais a largement été documenté, et offre un exemple clair de discours dangereux. «La radio encourageait les gens à participer parce qu’elle disait «l’ennemi c’est les Tutsi», remarquait un survivant du génocide.» «Si la radio n’avait pas déclaré certaines choses, les gens n’auraient pas attaqué.»

Ces impressions ont été depuis confirmées par des évidences quantitatives qui montrent de quelle manière le discours de haine de la radio RTLM a augmenté la participation à la violence du génocide. Dans une étude sur le Rwanda, David Yanagizawa-Drott, un politologue de Harvard, a utilisé des ensembles de données concernant la violence du génocide dans plus d’un millier de villages pour définir l’influence de la radio sur la participation aux actes de violence. Ses conclusions sont instructives pour ceux qui effectuent des recherches au sujet du discours de haine. Dans les communautés qui recevaient entièrement la radio, la violence civile augmentait de 65% et la violence organisée de 75%. De façon générale, il estime que 9% des victimes du génocide, soit la mort de 45 mille Tutsis, peuvent être attribués aux actes violents incités par Radio RTLM. Cette statistique indique le pouvoir des discours dangereux à transformer les mots en actes, dont les conséquences peuvent s’avérer mortelles pour ceux qui vivent dans des environnements violents.

Pour empêcher les discours dangereux, leurs promoteurs devraient être tenus responsables, ce qui nécessite de prouver concrètement qu’un discours peut inciter à la violence. Des jugements ont déjà été rendus à ce sujet, notamment par le Tribunal criminel international pour le Rwanda, où des procureurs ont déclaré coupables des membres de Radio RTLM pour leurs appels «explicites à l’extermination du groupe ethnique Tutsi». La Cour pénale internationale (CPI) est actuellement en train de traiter le premier cas de discours de haine impliquant le diffuseur de la radio kényane Joshua Arap Sang. A la suite de la violence qui s’est répandue après les élections en 2007 et 2008, Sang était l’un des quatre Kényans appelés à comparaître devant la CPI pour crime contre l’humanité. En tant qu’animateur pour la chaîne radio de langue Kalenjin, Kass, Sang est le seul prévenu qui ne soit pas un homme politique (le président actuel Uhuru Kenyatta et le vice-président William Ruto ont tous deux été prévenus), faisant de son cas une affaire très intéressante pour ceux qui travaillent sur le discours de haine. Il a été accusé de meurtre, déportation ou transfert forcé de population, et persécution.

Ayant débuté le 28 mai dernier, le procès de Sang représente une étape importante pour tester la capacité de la CPI à établir un lien entre les paroles et les actes violents. Sur de nombreux points, le cas de Sang semble remplir les critères de Benesch qualifiant les discours dangereux. En tant que commentateurs radio, il exerce une influence considérable sur la communauté ethnique Kalenjin. Son émission touche chaque jour une audience kényane de quatre millions et demi de personnes dans la diaspora Kalenjin. Son audience a également fait entendre des réclamations particulières, puisque beaucoup pensaient que les élections avaient été manipulées contre Raila Odinga, le candidat soutenu par la plupart des Kalenjin. La manière dont Sang parle pourrait aussi être considéré comme un appel aux armes. Il est lié à des affirmations telles que «la guerre est déclarées» et «les gens du lait» devrait «couper l’herbe», des termes locaux faisant référence aux Kalenjin en tant qu’éleveurs de bétail (le groupe ethnique de Sang) et aux Kikuyu, population plutôt agricole (le groupe ethnique visé par Sang). Le contexte socio-culturel favorise aussi le conflit, étant donné que le Kenya a connu la violence pendant chaque élection depuis 1992, et les Kalenjin sont en dispute avec les Kikuyu pour des questions de terre depuis bien longtemps. En outre, la radio est un outil de communication puissant au Kenya, car c’est la source principale de médias disponible dans des langues vernaculaires, elle est ainsi plus accessible que d’autres formes de médias pour les citoyens qui sont moins instruits ou vivent dans des secteurs ruraux.

Bien que le cas de Sang semble constituer un exemple de discours dangereux, le verdict de son jugement est loin d’être évident. À la différence de RTLM au Rwanda, il existe peu de transcriptions du programme de la radio Kass pendant les élections. Selon Human Rights Watch, les discours de haine sur Kass provenaient principalement d’orateurs invités par la radio, et non pas des présentateurs, ce qui brouille les liens de culpabilité. Sang est convaincu de son innocence et il appuie sa défense sur le principe de la liberté d’expression. Cité dans l’émission de propagande de Keith Somerville et la radiodiffusion de la haine (2012), Sang affirme qu’un verdict de culpabilité aurait un effet délétère sur la liberté d’expression: «S’ils m’amènent à la Haye et je sais que je faisais mon travail professionnellement, que vont-ils dire aux journalistes?» Les résultats du procès de Sang vont sûrement avoir une influence considérable sur la liberté des stations radiophoniques vernaculaires du Kenya, et ils contribueront à une meilleure compréhension des discours dangereux dans des contextes violents.

Finalement, il est nécessaire d’avoir plus d’études et de débats concernant la distinction entre discours de haine et discours dangereux. Qu’il s’agisse du Rwanda, du Kenya ou de tout autre pays ayant expérimenté des violences massives, la clarification des catégories de discours dangereux est une entreprise vitale. Définir quand, pourquoi et comment la parole peut servir de tremplin à la violence demeure un problème complexe mais crucial au sein des débats sur la liberté d’expression et les efforts de prévention de la violence.

Katherine Bruce-Lockhart est étudiante MSc en études africaines au sein du programme Dahrendorf à St Antony’s College, Université d’Oxford. Elle a travaillé en tant que journaliste au Canada et en Afrique australe, elle a fait de la recherche et de la programmation avec des organisations non gouvernementales en travaillant sur la question de la liberté d’expression en Namibie, au Népal et au Canada.

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Commentaires (10)

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  1. Dear Ms. Bruce-Lockhart,

    In our IB English Language and Literature course, we have been discussing the complex issue of freedom of expression. We realize that the borders between hate speech and dangerous speech are obscured and muddled. We believe that, although these two specific cases demonstrate dangerous speech and should be punishable by law, we should be careful not to
    sacrifice the right to express our opinions, as seen in the case of Geert Wilders.

    Of Susan Benesch’s five key qualitative variables, perhaps the most important one is “whether or not the speech act is understood as a call to action.” We believe that this is pivotal in separating utterances into those that should be punishable, and those that should be protected by the ideals of free speech. In her paper “Dangerous Speech: A Proposal to Prevent Group Violence”, Benesch goes into more detail about how to judge this criterion:

    Did the speech describe the victims-to-be as other than human, e.g. as vermin, pests, insects or animals?
    Did the speech assert that the audience faced serious danger from the victim group?
    Did the speech contain phrases, words, or coded language that has taken on a special loaded meaning, in the understanding of the speaker and audience?

    In Kenya, Joshua Arap Sang used his radio show Le Ne Emet, to communicate with the native Kalenjin and to spread hate messages against the Kikuyu, Kambas and Kisiis, such as:

    “the mongoose is at the chickens”
    “the people of the milk should clear the weeds from the grass”
    Sang instructed listeners to burn properties in Eldoret belonging to non-Kalenjins by saying, “let’s not destroy our own”

    Sang’s language shows how he monitored the violence through these coded metaphors. It seems to fall under all of Benesch’s criteria to be classified as dangerous speech. The victimized minorities are referred to as weed that must be cleared. Sang makes it clear for the Kalenjins that they are the “people of the milk” that need to take action against Kikuyu, Kambas and Kisiis, by destroying their property for example.

    We agree that “perpetrators of dangerous speech must be held accountable”, but although Sang’s discourse seems to fall under the category of dangerous speech, the results of his ongoing trial in the ICC remain far from definite. Language surely can incite violence, but the complex nature of dangerous speech, having these shady borders, makes judging it a difficult task.

    Contrast this to the case of Geert Wilders, a Dutch right-wing politician who was recently acquitted of inciting hatred against Muslims. According to Wilders, “Islam is not a religion, it’s an ideology, the ideology of a retarded culture” and “the Koran is a fascist book which incites violence. That is why this book, just like [Adolf Hitler’s] Mein Kampf, must be banned.” This is where the boundary of hate speech and dangerous speech becomes highly debatable.

    Wilders does not specifically launch an attack on Muslims, but on their religion and their culture. According to him, “It’s not my intention to have anything at all to do with violence. On the contrary, I despise violence – I just want a debate.” His call to “get rid of that woman-humiliating Islamic symbol” (the veil), cannot be classified as a call to violence.

    So it is clear that Wilders does not fall under what Benesch calls ‘dangerous speech’. But is he not provoking discrimination against Muslims? We believe that Wilders has the right to express his opinion, even if we might not agree with it. If Wilder’s actions become punishable by law, the slippery slope may continue, and the whole notion of free speech will be jeopardized. In Wilder’s words, “I am on trial, but on trial with me is the freedom of expression of many Dutch citizens”.

    On the other hand, in the Rwandan case, some phrases that were broadcasted by the RTLM transcend the blurry margin and are obviously dangerous speech:

    “You have to kill [the Tutsis], they are cockroaches…”
    “All those who are listening to us, arise so that we can all fight for our Rwanda… Fight with the weapons you have at your disposal… We must all fight [the Tutsis]; we must finish with them, exterminate them, sweep them from the whole country… There must be no refuge for them, none at all.”
    “I do not know whether God will help us exterminate [the Tutsis] …but we must rise up to exterminate this race of bad people… They must be exterminated because there is no other way.”

    This ticks all of Benesch’s boxes. Undoubtedly, freedom of speech should not allow these crimes against humanity to go unpunished, and we believe that the life sentences that some of the members of RTLM were given are just.

    Although we agree that “to prevent dangerous speech, perpetrators must be held accountable”, we always run the risk of giving over to the emotional sensibilities of the victims and restricting freedom of expression to save them from discrimination rather than bodily harm. It is difficult to draw boundaries on what should and should not be allowed, and Benesch’s variables do help, but in order to protect the ideals of freedom of expression, it is essential that these boundaries are agreed upon soon, before the slippery slope continues.

    Sincerely,
    A. Serbetsoglou, A. Strating, E. Zomer

    • Dear A. Serbetsoglou, A. Strating, E. Zomer,

      Thank you very much for your comments. As you point out, some cases of dangerous speech are much more clear cut that others. The role of RTLM in the Rwandan genocide is certainly one of the clearest cases of dangerous speech, while those of Sang and Wilders are more contested. Sang’s trial at the ICC is a very important test of the boundaries of dangerous speech, and it will be interesting to see how his defence and the prosecution against him unfold. Ultimately, as you suggest, more clear boundaries between hate speech and dangerous speech are necessary, both to protect freedom of expression and to prevent violence.

      You can find more on the Wilders case on the website: http://freespeechdebate.com/en/case/geert-wilders-on-trial/

  2. Many thanks for this very thoughtful comment. We will pass it on to Katherine Bruce-Lockhart, who I hope will feel able to respond.

  3. Hello there Mrs. Katherine Bruce-Lockhart,

    We are a group of students in an English language and literature class currently working on language and taboo. We have read your piece and we agree with the main points. We believe that there is indeed a thin line between free speech and hate speech but we too are struggling with determining how, when and why hate speech “serves as a springboard to violence.” However a point raised during our discussion was about how you draw the line between hate speech and dangerous speech.

    You define dangerous speech as speech that incites violence against a group and hate speech as speech that denigrates people on the basis of their membership in a group. That raises the questions then: should dangerous speech be punished when it does not incite violence? Or would that just be considered as hate speech? However hate speech could also hurt a person or a group of people to the point that they commit suicide. Take the case of eleven year-old Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, who killed himself after enduring months of anti-gay bullying at his school in Springfield, Massachusetts. Should that form of hate speech be punished?

    We believe that dangerous speech always starts with forms of hate speech and if restrictions were applied on hate speech, we could prevent it from developing into
    dangerous speech that incites violence and provokes deaths. One could argue that the Rwandan genocide could have been prevented if the ICC had stepped in when the hate speech towards the Tutsi’s began. Therefore from the very start of the conflict, where the media was dehumanizing the Tutsi’s or the Kalenjin people by using statements such as “cut the grass” or calling them names such as cockroaches (‘inyenzi’).

    ‘If the radio had not declared things, people wouldn’t have gone into the attacks”

    If hate speech aims to attack the reputation of a person or group of people, than most forms of hate speech are indirectly promoting violence and should be classified as forms of dangerous speech.

    How far do free speech laws go in protecting people that are spreading hate speech? You can’t really make laws that deny people expressing their opinions.

    You argue that dangerous speech should be analyzed by looking at factors such as the level of a speaker’s influence, the grievances of the audience, whether or not the speech is understood as a call to violence, the social and historical context and the way in which the speech is disseminated. But how do you determine whether or not a speaker has enough influence to affect action, and when looking at factors to do with those listening to the speech, we consider it impossible to make a generalization because different people will have different views.

    The fact that we can not make a generalization is supported by the fact that different countries have different legal views on hate speech. Kenan Malik, describes the inconsistency of the hate speech laws in different countries: Britain bans abusive, insulting, and threatening speech. Denmark and Canada ban speech that is insulting and degrading. India and Israel ban speech that hurts religious feelings and incites racial and religious hatred. In Holland, it is a criminal offense deliberately to insult a particular group. Australia prohibits speech that offends, insults, humiliates, or intimidates individuals or groups. Germany bans speech that violates the dignity of, or maliciously degrades or defames, a group. And so on. In each case, the law defines hate speech in a different way.

    Here in The Netherlands, a quite controversial debate went on in 2011. Stated in a BBC news article, far-right politician Geert Wilders, who described Islam as « fascist », was acquitted of inciting hatred against Muslims. According to the judge, Wilders’ comments on comparing the Koran to Hitler’s Mein Kampf were « acceptable within the context of public debate.” Although the speeches given by this political figure have said to have caused increasing hatred and violence towards the Islamic society in the Netherlands,
    the Geert Wilders trial is an example of how people in the Netherlands have recently become more tolerant of differences in opinions. This allows people to express how they feel about specific things but can also be harmful to certain groups as it allows expressing hate towards a social group. Only the police and the queen are protected against any forms of hate speech.

    Therefore we have come to believe that hate speech is a form of free speech. However there should be clear line between hate speech and dangerous speech, and we should apply restrictions to all forms of dangerous speech. Even though hate speech also incites violence we believe that there must be a difference between the two and in order to determine this difference we need to look at the specific factors.

    We hope to get a favourable response from you!
    Your fellow readers.

    • Thank you very much for your comments and discussion of these important issues. You raise some of the key quandaries in the debates on hate speech and dangerous speech that have yet to be fully answered. As you discuss, there is not a universally recognized definition of dangerous speech, and the understanding of dangerous speech changes greatly depending on the socio-historical context. In the cases I examined, the type of speech employed was arguably ‘dangerous speech’ using Benesch’s criteria. I find her framework very useful, but it is one approach and certainly other approaches can be explored. More work is needed to define what exactly constitutes dangerous speech and how it is different from hate speech.

      I recommend that you look at this video of a United Nations panel on the topic of dangerous speech. It raises many interesting questions about the differences between hate speech and dangerous speech, and also examines how we should limit dangerous speech in order to prevent violence. http://www.worldpolicy.org/blog/2013/02/06/lets-talk-about-genocide

  4. Hello, we are three students from the American School of the Hague taking a Language and Literature course. We have currently been studying hate speech and taboo, and we’re interested in exploring the influence of the social-historical background of a country and how it allows hate speech to become dangerous speech. Hate speech should therefore be persecuted, during periods in which a country is experiencing severe grievances and the speech calls for direct action against a particular group.

    This applies to the case of Kenya in 2007. After the country’s presidential elections in late 2007, in which the winner was Mwai Kibaki of the Party of National Unity (PNU), violence spurred between PNU supporters and the Orange Democratic Movement supporters (ODM). At this time, Kenya was experiencing high crime rates. Stated from The New York Times, gangs were forcing their way into homes “dragging out people of certain tribes and clubbing them to death,” as the ODM’s supporters believed the election had been rigged against their leader. This intense tension between the political and ethnic groups created fertile ground for the outbreak of violence.

    Joshua Arap Sang, the KASS FM radio broadcaster, is in trial in the International Court of Justice in The Hague, along with William Samoei Ruto, the Deputy President of Kenya, for crimes against humanity. Sang is a quintessential player in the 2007-2008 Kenyan crisis and is convicted of spreading hate messages, broadcasting false news to incite the Kalenjin people. Sang is an ODM supporter, and Ruto used Sang’s role as a radio broadcaster to collect supporters and to create codes so Sang’s listeners would know when to attack the rival ethnic group, Kikuyu. The ICC has charged Sang and Ruto of crimes against humanity in three subtopics: murder, forcible transfer of people, persecution of an ethnic and political groups and crimes of rape and sexual abuse.

    Sang’s role in the Kenyan crisis has parallels with Joseph Goebbels, the Minister of Propaganda in Hitler’s Third Reich. There seems a direct correlation between Hitler’s rise to power and the socio-economic despair that Germany experienced due to the Great Depression, according to historian Robert Gellately. Goebbels exploited the social and economic situation through means of film, art, posters, etc, to rally support for the Nazi Party and hence the support for their anti-Semitic cause, just as Joseph Sang used his radio to gather support for the ODM and hatred for the PNU. Both reached a desperate population that incited them to target their rivals.

    Goebbels, an avid supporter of the Nazi Party, was in charge of modern propaganda to rally support but also galvanize anti-Semitism. In fact, Goebbels’ propaganda program incited Kristallnacht, where Jews were purged from German society and synagogues were destroyed. Furthermore, Goebbels used film to make the most anti-Semitic movies, increasing the hatred of the Jewish population and thus making the German population accept and encourage the deportation and deaths of six million Jews.

    Both Goebbels and Sang used a scapegoating technique where they targeted an ethnic population and blamed them of all the problems people which they were facing. In Germany, the Jews were blamed for the start of the Great Depression, and were labeled as rich people while the rest were suffering extreme poverty. In Kenya, the Kikuyu were dominant in politics and so the Kalenjin held them accountable for everything that was wrong. Scapegoating creates abhorrence for a targeted population which makes it easier to incite violence towards them. This is what exactly occurred in both the Third Reich and in Kenya in 2007.

    Sang’s radio station RTLM, gained an audience of four and half million quotidian Kenyan listeners. Amnesty International states that Eldoret, where his radio was based, “was a scene of some of the worst bloodshed”.

    Coincidence? We think not.

    Audience plays a major role in hate crime. This influences the switch from hate speech to dangerous speech because it allows for words to morph into action. As the ICC’s official statement puts it, “Sang was using his radio program to collect supporters and provide signals to member of the plan on when and where to attack,” especially targeting citizens who didn’t have access to other forms of media. This allows for RTLM to give a biased view to the people who are less educated, as Katherine Bruce-Lockhart says.

    Yes, Sang will argue that he can’t be convicted under free speech but he is using language to manipulate his audience, ultimately turning them to violence. This seems more plausible in a nation that suffers from interethnic rivalries.

    Hate speech will turn into dangerous speech when the social and historical context calls for it. Sang exploited popular discontent among the Kalenijn ethnic community (whom supported ODM) and took advantage of this troubled social situation to encourage aggression against the PNU supporters. He used his radio to clearly organize the crime and rally up supporters – a manifestation of his deliberate intention to incite violence.

    • Thank you very much for your comments. It is certainly important to consider historical examples of dangerous speech and the case of Goebbels and Nazi propaganda is an extreme one. At this point, we know much more about the extent of dangerous speech in Nazi Germany than we do in Kenya. As Sang’s trial unfolds, we will hopefully understand more about his role in the post-election violence. Certainly, his case is less clear cut than that of RTLM in the Rwandan genocide and the use of propaganda in Nazi Germany.

  5. Votre commentaire est en attente de modération.

    The Thin Line Between Hate Speech and Dangerous Speech
    We are three students high school students in the I.B SL Language and Literature class studying the implications of hate speech.

    The difference between hate speech and dangerous speech has been an increasing discussion topic as we become more aware of the power of language, and its dangers. Katherine Bruce-Lockhart states the difference between hate and dangerous speech and how determining that difference is pivotal in bringing offenders to justice. Dangerous speech leads to horrible acts of violence as seen in the Rwandan Genocide, where it is estimated that around forty-five thousand deaths were incited by the speeches broadcasted by Radio RTLM. The problem is that in many cases it is not so clear whether it is dangerous speech or just hate speech because of the difficulty in defining dangerous speech. It is that difficulty that makes the prosecution of perpetrators of hate or dangerous speech so difficult, as seen in Joshua Arap Sang’s ongoing trial. The difference of dangerous speech and hate speech is more complicated than what the article suggests, thus making it more difficult to set legal boundaries to bring perpetrators of such acts to justice.
    The article expresses dangerous speech as “speech that has a “reasonable chance of catalyzing or amplifying violence by one group against another.” The differences that they decided differentiates one from another is one whose connotations imply violence. When looking at how the article distinguishes hate speech from dangerous speech, they do not take into account the context and the meaning that is behind the speech. In the case of athletic chants, the boundaries that the article set do not fit. The words that may be used in some chants, the word’s connotations may “ amplify violence”, however, the denotation do not. As seen in the example of a game between Notre Dame ( The Fighting Irish) and North-Western (Wildcats), the Wildcat fans were chanting “ Kill the Fighting Irish, kill the Fighting Irish”. The denotation of the work “kill” is to cause death however in the context its meaning does not imply violence of any kind.
    The Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) has been gaining notoriety as news spread of their picketing of funerals of U.S soldiers, politicians and even children. WBC protesters stand outside holding signs with the words”Thank God for IEDs”, “You are going to hell”, “Pray for more dead soldiers”, “Thank God for dead soldiers”. The message that WBC conveys is one of complete hatred towards homosexuals and of those who accept them, their protests have been so hateful, so offensive that hundreds of thousands of people have brought their protests up to the Supreme Court in the hope that something will be done to stop the protests. WBC protesters are clearly engaging in hate speech, but because it doesn’t incite violence or create a dangerous situation it is not considered dangerous speech, and therefore are not doing anything illegal. We believe that the protests have no objective other than to offend and insult those who support homosexuals, and therefore those WBC protesters should not be protected by the 1st amendment and be held against the law.
    We understand how difficult it is to legally set laws that prohibit dangerous speech. People interpret things in different ways which would make the laws that are placed, subjective rather than objective. There should be no legal boundaries put on hate speech, since it goes against the right of free speech. Also, when laws do prohibit hate speech, certain people might interpret the hate speech differently. However, there is an exception. Speech that causes imminent danger or speech that leads to someone taking dangerous action could and should have legal boundaries.
    When laws are created that ban other forms of hate speech, it does not reduce or eliminate that hate speech, it does the opposite. Kenan Malik says, “ you cannot reduce or eliminate bigotry simply by banning it.” The example he uses to support this is the example of Britain prohibiting incitement to racial hatred in 1965. When the Race Relations Act was passed, the next decade in British History was the most racist in British history, despite the fact that racial hatred was prohibited. When Britain’s laws were revoked and time had passed, racism decreased. This is because of the social changes that happened. Another example that supports Kenan Malik’s argument is the Westboro Baptist Church. Many countries have banned the bigotry that the Westboro Baptist Church uses, yet they continue to do it. The Westboro Baptist Church members are banned from entering both Britain and Canada because of their bigotry, but they keep picketing at places such as public funerals.
    In the case of Snyder v. Phelps (Phelps is the leader of the Westboro Baptist Church) the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that speech on a public sidewalk, about a public issue, cannot be liable for a tort of emotional distress. They made this ruling because the WBC’s protests do not explicitly cause imminent danger nor are their protests calls to a dangerous action. The WBC’s protests are considered hate speech, not dangerous speech. This supports that people interpret hate speech differently and laws that are imposed on free speech become subjective. That is why legal boundaries should not be imposed on speech unless it causes imminent danger or is a call to a dangerous action.
    The article’s idea that dangerous speech is one that incites violence towards others is over simplistic as it does not take into account the context and connotations of the speech. During the game Notre Dame against North-western the fans who shouted the chant would be considered criminals according to the article, which is quite ridiculous. The chant is clearly not a call to violence towards the opponents, but rather an attempt to support their team. The difference between hate and dangerous speech is so small, making it really difficult to define.

    • Thank you very much for your comments. It is certainly true that defining the boundary between hate speech and dangerous speech is extremely difficult. I agree that more work must be done in order to delineate this boundary more carefully, as I mentioned at the end of my article.

      As you say, not all cases of hate speech can be considered dangerous speech, as I mentioned in relation to the Westboro Baptist Church. I find Susan Benesch’s framework on dangerous speech to be the most useful for determining whether or not speech can be considered dangerous. The case of the sports game between the Fighting Irish and Notre Dame is an interesting one, but as you say, very different from the Rwandan genocide or the post-election violence in Kenya. I would argue, as you do, that this case would not be considered ‘dangerous speech’ using Benesch’s definition. She uses many variables to determine whether speech is dangerous or not. As listed in the article, these include: the level of a speaker’s influence, the grievances or fears of the audience, whether or not the speech act is understood as a call to violence, the social and historical context, and the way in which the speech is disseminated. Thus, context is very important, as you suggest, and this is something taken into consideration in Benesch’s framework and in the cases of Rwanda and Kenya. The fans in the sporting game would thus not be considered criminal using Benesch’s framework.

      Ultimately, as you suggest, it is imperative that the line between hate speech and dangerous speech is more carefully drawn. It is crucial to keep on having these debates in order to further our understanding.

      I also recommend that you read the case study on the Westboro Baptist Church available on this website, as it may provoke more critical discussion and debate: http://freespeechdebate.com/en/case/westboro-baptist-church-the-right-to-free-speech/

  6. This is an interesting piece. My question would be: You mentioned the Kass FM rhetoric was in response to a perceived rigged election where most Kalenjin identified with candidate Raila Odinga. Do you think the way in which Odinga encouraged protests against the election count as inciting hatred? We can understand why Ruto and Kenyatta were indicted on suspicion of directly organising violence, but if Arap Sang is on trial for stirring things up vocally, surely Odinga fits the same category?

  7. The first problems occurred in this situation we must confirm is that hate speech definitely not a type of free speech. There is no doubt that the boundary of freedom owned by a person couldn’t hinder the freedom of other people.

    That means: Everyone has right to express himself, and should protect other right equally. To hurt others can not get free, but detain own soul.

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Le Débat Sur La Liberté d'Expression est un projet de recherche du Programme Dahrendorf pour l'étude de la liberté au Collège St Anthony, Université d'Oxford.

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