I don’t usually go into Worldnet Daily doomcrier mode for a reason. Usually I don’t like a squealing lunatic howling about perceived threats, and as a regular reader of Worldnet I will say that they do have a knack for hyperbole. So when I do engage this luxury I consider it to be a rare treat.
There is something so wrong with the following statement: Ban hate.
Now, think for a second. Take a few deep breaths before you start jumping at me for promoting bigotry. If you think that that is why there is something wrong with that statement, you can go huff and puff and walk away. Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on your way out.
I know, as far as my American readers (which are in majority) are concerned, that Ban is yet another deodorant, with yet another terrible ad campaign. But I think that there is something disturbing about the surreptitious message in these ads. Why not ban speech while we’re at it? No, I won’t devote myself to a daily dose of Howard Stern commentary (which, by the way, Jeffy, is getting booooooring).
If you’re not aware of what I’m talking about, let me elucidate a little bit. There are about two or three commercials in this campaign. In it are hip twentysomethings in different situations: someone skateboarding with the statement “Ban [something] plastered on his ass, a bunch of “runway models” with “ban [something]” on their shirts, and if I recall correctly, a girl with a toy gun, the ones that have a banner message on them, that says “ban hate.”
I know that it’s a play on the brand name. But the message disturbs me because banning “hate speech” leaves our freedoms at the mercy of those who have the powers of definition. Of course hate speech is destable. But who gets to decide what is hateful? I hope there is a comforting answer in someone’s magic bag of tricks, because whoever gets that power has the power to silence someone in the wink of an eye.
It isn’t exactly the message that these (possibly) third-year advertising majors were probably thinking when they conceived of the ad campaign. I’ll chalk up some good faith that they aren’t cultural operatives from some country hard pressed on undermining our freedoms every day. Because if I did then I could probably work for Worldnet. Er, just kidding. But nevertheless, no matter how hip, no matter how trendy-looking the advertisement is, it just leaves me with a sick feeling. Come to think of it, television ads reach more people than blogs in general — or perhaps combined — do.
Industrial Bill — link thanks to Dean Esmay — has a more eloquent discussion on this very issue. A toung-in-cheek graf:
This means foremost recognizing the condition of the speaker, and the circumstances of the speech, before a hate speech prosecution may commence. To put it in terms even an oppressor can understand, members of non-privileged groups cannot hate by definition, they can only react to others’ hatred of them. Thus, they are incapable of hate crimes and incapable of hate speech. So prosecution of hate speech and hate crimes will be limited to privileged groups only.
The whole thing is lovely. And it does not discuss it with deodorant advertisement in mind.