This is an unfinished essay. I thought I’d put down what I have as a means to try and push myself to finish it.
Speech in this context is nothing more than the reduction of thought to the written or spoken word. It is the only way humans can communicate their thoughts to others.
Once you understand this you then must realize that censorship and “hate” crime laws are really attempts to outlaw certain thoughts themselves. Laws and prosecutions against hateful speech are really attempts to punish hateful thoughts, working through the proxy of the spoken or written word. Do we really want or need the government to police our thoughts? Why?
You must also then realize that we can challenge hateful thoughts only through speech. If people actually obeyed hate crime laws then we’d have no opportunity to change these thoughts that we fear and despise so much. The only way to “change someone’s mind” about an issue is through speech. Hate crime laws actually protect erroneous thinking by shielding it from challenge.
So what, then, is the alternative? More speech is the only alternative. I understand the weariness of having to argue again and again about why the Holocaust is not a myth, why Jews are not really different from other people, why Caucasians are not genetically superior to others, and so on. But we must not give in to that weariness and let censorship be the answer to our laziness. As Jonathan Rauch was recently quoted, “Me, you, your children, your grandchildren, and their grandchildren will have to get up every morning and explain all of these principles all over again from scratch. You know what? We just have to be cheerful about that.”