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Chapter 2 - Banning Evil

In the Shadow of the Christchurch Massacre, Myths about Evil and Hate Speech Are Misleading

from Part I - The Advocatus Diaboli: Reflections on Free Thought and Free Speech

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 February 2020

Michael Shermer
Affiliation:
Chapman University, California
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Summary

This essay was penned in response to the mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, that took the lives of fifty people, and the subsequent response to not only ban assault rifles but to ban speech as well – hate speech that is. Banning hate speech will not work, especially in the age of Internet access to virtually all of human knowledge, and in which almost anyone anywhere can set up a web page and publish their ideas, no matter how hateful. You can combat evil, as when police forces catch criminals and military services counter terrorists and challenge insurgents and threats. But the idea – and it is an idea that can only be heard in an environment of free speech – that one can simply ban bad, dangerous, or hateful ideas has a historical track record of failure to do so, while snagging it its net good, useful, and productive ideas and their human generators. As I conclude, following the old saying that the answer to the problems of democracy is more democracy, the solution to hate speech is more speech.

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Giving the Devil his Due
Reflections of a Scientific Humanist
, pp. 28 - 37
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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  • Banning Evil
  • Michael Shermer, Chapman University, California
  • Book: Giving the Devil his Due
  • Online publication: 28 February 2020
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108779395.003
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  • Banning Evil
  • Michael Shermer, Chapman University, California
  • Book: Giving the Devil his Due
  • Online publication: 28 February 2020
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108779395.003
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Banning Evil
  • Michael Shermer, Chapman University, California
  • Book: Giving the Devil his Due
  • Online publication: 28 February 2020
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108779395.003
Available formats
×