In a recent comment to my posting on A Message of Hate, Jonathan Baker asked some questions about the distinction between raising honest objections versus hate speech.
For example: let us say that I think that smoking is unhealthy for the environment, for the smoker themselves, and for anyone who is subjected to the fumes. According to your definition I could argue for making smoking illegal provided I used honest research and was carefully and pointedly aiming my hostility at the smoke and not the smoker.
This is mostly true - except I would not necessarily have objections to aiming hostility at the smoker. A person who smokes under conditions where their smoking would do harm to others is somebody who can be condemned for their lack of consideration for the well-being of others.
When we use praise or condemnation to promote or inhibit certain desires, we praise or condemn the person who has the desires. To praise or condemn the desire itself is nonsense. What use does a desire have for our praise or condemnation? How does a desire itself act on our praise or condemnation? No, the desire itself is not our target. The person with the desire is our target.
Now, to compare this type of argument to gay marriage:
If I thought (and I have argued this elsewhere on this blog) that marriage between two persons of the opposite sex should be defended because of the potentiality of natural offspring and their protection, and that therefore homosexuals, no not even my homosexual friends, should be allowed to marry, is that hate speech?
If there is good, solid evidence that there is harm done to the well-being of children by allowing homosexual marriage, then it is not hate-speech to mention that evidence.
I compare this situation to that of a prosecutor at a trial saying, "We intend to prove that the accused had a motive to murder the alleged victim, had an opportunity to murder the alleged victim, and did in fact murder the alleged victim."
Would this be hate speech?
It depends on the quality of the evidence. It depends on whether the speaker is somebody who was lead to believe that the accused committed a murder by the evidence. Or, instead, if the speaker was lead to believe that the evidence is evidence of murder because this is what he wants to believe.
When a desire to believe that somebody is guilty causes one to see "evidence" where none exists - causes a person to evaluate the evidence according to whether it supports the desired conclusion, rather than evaluate conclusions based on the available evidence, then we have evidence for an accusation of hate-speech.
Many of the arguments against gay marriage use "evidence" that fits this second category. There is no actual evidence to suggest that allowing homosexual marriage would be harmful to a society's capacity to raise children. There is simply a desire to believe that this is the case by those who are looking for an excuse - a rationalization - to make actions harmful to the interests of homosexuals seem legitimate.
One last point. Baker said:
Inciting violence or hostility is always wrong whether using lies or not.
This is false.
All we need to do is to note that criminal punishment is violence. Arresting a person and holding him in jail, or executing him, is a violent act, backed by people with guns.
It is not wrong to incite violence or hostility against, for example, rapists, murderers, thieves, embezzlers, con artists, and the like. We do it all the time.
What is wrong is inciting unjustified violence against these people - with assuming that they are guilty, rather than assuming that they are innocent unless and until the weight of the evidence proves guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Homosexuals have a right to the same type of consideration. They have a right to our assumption that homosexual marriage is not a threat to the quality of our institutions geared for raising children unless and until the weight of the evidence proves otherwise beyond a reasonable doubt.
And let us not forget . . . what is most often forgotten . . . that an important subset of those children whose interests we are supposed to be protecting are homosexuals.