Picture credit: Abstract Aerial Art/Getty
Artillery Row

The reality of hate

The West wouldn’t know what “hate” was if it punched them in the face

It’s that time of year again where corporations top up their brand recognition through a controversial “Woman of the Year” award. This time, YouTube star Dylan Mulvaney is the lucky recipient. In an acceptance speech delivered in London, Dylan made a point of mysteriously calling out the “hate” that was “spewed last week” in England as an example of why the UK is considered a “dangerous” place for people identifying as trans. 

Dylan named no names. We can’t be sure what this comment was about, but given that Rishi Sunak’s comments on gender last week at Conservative Party Conference sparked a minor diplomatic incident, we might guess it could be in relation. 

“A man is a man and a woman is a woman. That’s just common sense,” said the PM. 

Try informing my grandmother — who survived a world war — that this was the remark that sparked tensions with our European neighbours in 2023. Belgium’s deputy Prime Minister, Petra de Sutter, labelled Sunak a “bully” for his words, which merely stated biological reality and echoed the concerns that British women have been raising in their multitudes. 

Mulvaney and De Sutter are welcome to disagree with him. But Sunak’s statement was far from hateful. It’s plain to see that he peacefully expressed a long-established point of view. 

Our culture’s rush to label anyone who disagrees with us as “spewing hate”, combined with Western government appetites for criminalising offensive “hate speech”, has blurred essential distinctions. Disagreement is not illegal. Incitement to violence is.  

And yet, an increasing number of people across the West are being placed on trial — figuratively or literally — for simply articulating a point of view.  

A Finnish politician and grandmother awaits her verdict having been tried for “hate speech” for questioning her Church’s sponsorship of a Pride event. Two Mexican public figures have been convicted of “gender-based political violence” for identifying a transgender member of Congress according to his sex. Scotland’s vague and overreaching law to criminalise so-called “hate speech” will be in force next year. Ireland is following in hot pursuit. 

Subjective censorship laws are a threat to democracy. As Jordan Peterson recently said, “hate speech is defined by those who hate speech.” 

 Yet the danger doesn’t stop there. Our understanding of what “hate speech” is has become so nebulous and diluted that we are now detrimentally desensitized to actual instances of hate. 

Vile and reprehensible slogans calling for the murder of the Jewish people have erupted across the West in recent days — be it in public rallies outside the Sydney Opera House calling to “Gas the Jews”, or in speeches egging on the murder of Israelis across US college campuses. 

But so numb are we to lightweight accusations of “hate speech,” that we now conflate calls to murder as being in the same category with peaceful speech about social issues with which we simply disagree. Our culture has watered down our tolerance for differing views to such an extent that we have lost all sense of objectivity and proportionality when calling out “hate”. At this point, the West wouldn’t be able to tell what real “hate” was if it punched us in the face — we’d first have to check whether we had been attributed the correct pronouns. Our generation must rediscover the difference between discomfort, disagreement, and real violence. This is the necessary foundation of a free society, imperative if we are to identify and prevent the tragically ever-present real threats to our peace and security.    

Enjoying The Critic online? It's even better in print

Try five issues of Britain’s newest magazine for £10

Critic magazine cover