As a former citizen of the totalitarian Soviet Union, where all freedoms were on paper only, I know that it is clearly a human rights violation when freedom of speech is abridged (“Should Facebook be regulated?” Dec. 5). Or is it? There is the well-known if unclear fire-in-a-crowded-theater rule. There are equally vague “imminent violence” limitations. There is, after all, understanding that the freedom of speech in the U.S. is strictly guarded only in the governmental transactions (how strictly you can ask James Rosen, a Fox News journalist who was persecuted by the Obama administration). Some of us still remember that the only non-governmental Nazi sentenced to hang by the Nuremberg Tribunal was Streicher, the publisher of Der Sturmer, a newspaper whose propagation of anti-Semitism merited his death sentence.
So no, contrary to the Dobzinski and Talmy opinion piece, hate speech is fought not only by arguing against it. Sacha Baron Cohen is right demanding barriers to propagation of the hate ideologies whose lethality has been proven historically and no longer requires any “imminent violence” confirmation. Not allowing social media carriers like Facebook to become contemporary Der Sturmers is the least that can be done to prevent anti-Semitic violence.
Michael Vanyukov, Ph.D.
University of Pittsburgh