Hate Speech vs Free Speech UPSC NOTE

 Why in news

  • University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill resigned following criticism of her testimony a few days prior, on December 5, at a hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education. 

  • Along with the leaders of Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of technology, Ms. Magill was criticised for taking a soft line on punishing hate speech on campus, purportedly in defence of free speech laws

  • The specific subject in question at the hearing was an issue that is raging across elite university campuses across the country.

  • A dramatic uptick in the number of anti-semitic and Islamophobic incidents against individuals in the wake of the spiralling violence after the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7.

Controversy surrounding hate speech on American university

  • Ms. Magill along with Claudine Gay and Sally Kornbluth, respectively the Presidents of Harvard and MIT, where they were questioned, in the most significant segments by Elise Stefanik, Republican Congresswoman from New York, about whether their respective universities’ codes of conduct did not ban their students from calling for the killing of Jewish people

  • When Ms. Magill answered that the outcome for that question was a “context-dependent decision”, even in the face of some protestors on her campus calling for an “Intifada revolution”.

  • She was criticised for giving a relatively weak reply, probably in line with the legal advice that she had received on the subject

  • While Ms. Magill went on to resign, and both she and Ms. Gay later apologised for their comments at the hearing, Ms. Gay and Ms. Kornbluth were said to have the support of their respective universities.

  • The three university presidents were summoned to testify before the House Committee by its

Chair, Congresswoman Virginia Foxx of North Carolina. 

  • The summons came after certain lawmakers said that the universities were “mishandling anti-semitic, violent” protests on campus.

Hate speech versus Free speech

  • Free speech and hate speech are two complex and often intertwined concepts

  • While they may seem inherently opposed, the lines between them can be blurry, leading to ongoing debate and controversy.

  • Free speech is the fundamental right to express oneself freely without government censorship or restrictions. 

  • It is considered essential for a functioning democracy, allowing for the exchange of ideas, dissent, and criticism

  • This right is not absolute and comes with limitations

  • Certain forms of speech, such as inciting violence or making threats, are not protected under free speech guarantees.

  • Hate speech, on the other hand, is speech that attacks a person or group on the basis of attributes such as race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or disability

  • It aims to stir up hatred, fear, and violence against these groups. 

  • While some argue that hate speech should be protected under free speech principles, there is also a strong argument that it can cause real harm, incite violence, and undermine the rights of others.



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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Hate Speech vs Free Speech UPSC NOTE
Hate Speech vs Free Speech UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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