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Debates
Wednesday, 5 April 2017 - Strasbourg Revised edition

13. Hate speech, populism, and fake news on social media – towards an EU response (debate)
Video of the speeches
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  Andrew Lewer (ECR ). – Mr President, there is a battle being waged at the moment against hate speech, and, while gearing up to take part in this sounds laudable, without care the result can be, inadvertently or otherwise, censorship. It leads to questions about who determines what hate speech is.

Free speech is essentially accepting that people are free to say things we do like, not merely free to say things we do like. Should these be offensive then they can be tackled by a forthright debate. Indeed, debating ideas in a public forum makes it harder for those ideas to be formed as an individual insult, and a public debate provides the target of offence with a rebuttal.

There is a quotation that is commonly attributed to Voltaire: ‘I disapprove of what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it’. That was in fact written by Voltaire’s biographer, Evelyn Beatrice Hall, and she was absolutely right.

 
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