“Hate Speech” and Literature

Ronald E. Yates is an author of award-winning historical fiction and action/adventure novels, including the popular and highly-acclaimed Finding Billy Battles trilogy.
Let me say right off: I do not believe in the idea of hate speech. One person’s “hate speech” is another person’s “free speech.”
 
In that regard, the American Civil Liberties Union and I are in 100 per cent agreement. More on the ACLU later.
 
In a previous post, I talked about Political Correctness in Historical Fiction novels. I argued that there can be no PC in a historical novel because if there is, the novel will be devoid of reality. PC is a 20th and 21st Century phenomenon. It didn’t exist in the 19th Century or any other prior century. So to purge a book set in the 18th or 19th Century of offensive expressions used in 18th or 19th Century America is to be dishonest.
 
A direct offshoot of PC is the concept of “Hate Speech.”  Just as with PC there are unofficial Hate Speech police out there who like nothing more than to be the final arbiters of what can and cannot be said publicly in America.
image
 
Of course, that is in complete opposition to an individual’s First Amendment right to speak freely and openly about any and all topics–be it race, gender, homosexuality, abortion, gay marriage, traditional marriage, war or peace.
 
You may even criticize radical Islam–though, today, if you do, you are likely going to be accused of being a racist. That is when you will experience the PC Thought Police and their close relatives, the Hate Speech Gestapo, at their narrow-minded worst.
 
If you were to go back in time to 19th Century America or Europe you might be appalled at the terms used openly and without remorse to describe blacks, Native Americans, Hispanics, the Irish, Italians, Catholics, Jews, Asians, etc.
 
That was life