Combating Hate on the Internet
Posted: September 20, 2006
As hate speech proliferates on the Internet, it is more important than ever to consider ways to combat the scourge of online hate
However, a dichotomy dominates the discussion:
On the one hand there is the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and its liberal allowance for all but a very narrow category of speech, which means that hate speech effectively has a legal haven.
On the other hand are those countries that ban certain kinds of hate speech, and that even allow criminal prosecution of those who espouse hate.
But even among this latter group, there is no homogenous approach. Britain, for example, has long had a more tolerant approach to hate speech than countries like Germany, France, and Austria, where Holocaust denial is a crime.
But, regardless of whether speech is legal in one country and illegal in another, the fact that the Internet is borderless, poses a difficult problem.
How effective can laws outlawing hate speech be if a hate site can be hosted in the United States and accessed worldwide?
ADL's fundamental position that the best way to deal with hate speech, online and offline, is to shine the light on it (and the people who espouse hate), and to counter hate speech with our own speech, in the form of education and rebuttal – in other words, to speak the truth.
Christopher Wolf, chair of both the Anti-Defamation League Internet Task Force and the International Network Against Cyber Hate confronts these issues in two addresses delivered at the 3rd International Symposium on Hate on the Internet sponsored by the B'nai Brith Canada Institute for International Affairs and League for Human Rights
Hate Speech on the Internet and the Law
Combating Internet Hate: Key Issues