BLOGThe Weekly Digest: 6-8-16

By James Arnold Posted on: | June 08, 2016
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On to the news.


Relentless Attacks on Free Speech

One of our top stories recently that we didn't spend a lot of time on was "Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Microsoft sign EU hate speech code."

Today, we'll say a little more about that.

Over at Spiked, ADF International Deputy Director and Senior Counsel Paul Coleman has this piece all about the new plans:

"Yesterday the European Union’s powerful unelected executive branch – the European Commission – announced sweeping plans to combat ‘illegal online hate speech.'

"Working with equally powerful IT companies, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft, the European Commission unveiled a code of conduct that will ensure ‘online platforms do not offer opportunities for illegal online hate speech to spread virally.' Upon receiving a ‘valid removal notification,' IT companies will have to remove or disable access to the content in less than 24 hours."

Here's the tricky reality: "Hate speech" is not really possible to define. Coleman continues:

"According to EU law, illegal hate speech ‘means all conduct publicly inciting to violence or hatred directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin.'

[...]

"Beyond the tautology that ‘hate speech’ is speech that incites hate, there is no agreement as to what hate speech actually means.

"For example, the European Court of Human Rights once produced a factsheet on hate speech in which it conceded that the ‘identification of expressions that could be qualified as “hate speech” is sometimes difficult because this kind of speech does not necessarily manifest itself through the expression of hatred or of emotions. It can also be concealed in statements which at a first glance may seem to be rational or normal.’"

If "hate speech" isn't even expressing hatred or emotion, and in fact can "seem rational or normal," how can we trust any organization or authority to properly identify it?

Over at BBC News, here's a story that attempts to explain both sides, including those who are for the new "hate speech" law.



Surrogacy is Using People as Means to an End

Over at Public Discourse, Rickard Newman argues that surrogacy accomplishes a good (a child) via very harmful means. This results in people using other people as means to an end.

Here's the core of Newman's argument:

"The law is a teacher. By legalizing surrogacy, Louisiana legislators are teaching people that it is morally permissible to use people as means to an end. They are telling people that one’s personal desires and wants should constitute the norms of one’s conscience. Laws like HB 1102 blur the line between the sacred and the commercial, legitimizing choices that will weave wounds into the fabric of relationships."

The law was amended shortly after the House floor debated it, and the changes are chilling. The amendment swapped out the word "mother" for the decidedly colder "carrier" and removed "husband" in favor of "spouse." Even though the law allegedly only functions for two biological parents using a third woman as a "carrier," these sorts of language changes signal the eventual intent.

Newman sums up the likely future:

"Today, this line of thought has been applied to procuring a child as well as disposing of one. Through artificial reproductive technologies, 'begetting' a child is now possible for anyone with a will and a wallet. Louisiana LGBT groups know this, so does the multibillion-dollar fertility industry. With the precedent set by Supreme Court cases involving contraception, abortion, and same-sex marriage, it will be difficult to deny anyone—not just married heterosexual couples— equal access to surrogacy."

Perhaps the section of the piece most interesting to our readers is when Newman draws the line between abortion arguments and surrogacy. Recently, some pro-life folks have begun supporting surrogacy; presumably because they believe that encouraging the creation of life by any means is consistent with "pro-life" views.

Unfortunately, the common arguments for surrogacy all revolve around the concept of a "right to privacy," which is also what supports abortion advocates' arguments. Newman isn't speaking of the legitimate right to bodily privacy found in the 4th Amendment; that is, the right to not have the government demand that your body be exposed to others. He's referring to the invented "right to privacy" invoked in Griswold v. Connecticut to legalize contraception for married couples, which he argues naturally expanded to unmarried individuals in Eisenstadt v. Baird. Shortly after, the argument showed up in Roe v. Wade and then Planned Parenthood v. Casey, this time for the purpose of justifying abortion.

So when somebody argues that surrogacy is a privacy issue, that we shouldn't concern ourselves with something that "involves systematic abortion, human trafficking, eugenics, serious health risks, and broken kinship bonds," then perhaps we should all step back and wonder if this truly is best for couples, women, or children.

As always, you can receive the Alliance Alert Daily Digest right in your inbox. Subscribe by clicking here.

James Arnold

News and Research Manager

James Arnold manages and edits the Alliance Alert, a daily repository of news in all forms—written, spoken, or in video format.

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