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Proposed hate speech law prompts debate in Palo Alto

Original post made on May 5, 2022

Seeking to demonstrate their commitment to oppose racism, Palo Alto leaders are preparing to debate on Monday a legally dubious proposal for an ordinance that would make hate speech a local crime.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, May 5, 2022, 9:00 AM

Comments (21)

Posted by John
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 5, 2022 at 9:28 am

John is a registered user.

Repulsive and anti-American. Councilman Tanaka often has a significantly different take on political issues. While I welcome his focus on our mathematical certainty of pension default, the very idea of politicians and police regulating speech is anathema to this nation. Reality check: You have no right to avoid hearing mean words.

Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 5, 2022 at 10:32 am

Bystander is a registered user.

Orwellian attitudes abound.

Who decides what is definition of hate? What criteria does anyone use to define hate? Crimes happen to all people of all demographics, a crime that happens to one person may have nothing to do with their demographic, just the same as crime against anyone. Differences of opinion are not hateful unless there is an actual threat or crime taking place.

Free speech should be cherished. Free speech sometimes means hearing something you don't like. Thought police have no business in Palo Alto.

Posted by PST
a resident of South of Midtown
on May 5, 2022 at 11:14 am

PST is a registered user.

It’s absolutely absurd the city is even considering this nonsense. Free speech , even things you don’t want to hear, is essential to our democracy. It’s a dangerous and slippery slope to try to muzzle anyone. The laws in place are adequate. Once again Tanaka is muddled and confused which often seems to be his state of mind.

Posted by Citizen
a resident of College Terrace
on May 5, 2022 at 11:30 am

Citizen is a registered user.

This is wrong to propose this. Free speech is not always pretty. 'Hate speech' is in the eye/ear of the beholder.

We are blessed to live in a country whose constitution enshrines freedom of speech.

This is a political ploy.

Posted by staying home
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 5, 2022 at 11:41 am

staying home is a registered user.

Not all speech is protected by the first amendment:
Web Link

Categories of speech that are given lesser or no protection by the First Amendment (and therefore may be restricted) include obscenity, fraud, child pornography, speech integral to illegal conduct, speech that incites imminent lawless action, speech that violates intellectual property law, true threats, and commercial speech such as advertising. Defamation that causes harm to reputation is a tort and also an exception to free speech.

Posted by Barron Parker Too
a resident of Barron Park
on May 5, 2022 at 12:00 pm

Barron Parker Too is a registered user.

Criminalizing, with fines, speech that makes someone uncomfortable? Where are the adults on the Palo Alto City Council? Why on earth is the city council giving time, energy and oxygen to such a repulsive idea?

This is idiotic. America is the birthplace of the idea, cemented into our constitution by the First Amendment, that an individual has the right to think and speak and write. Compare with Russia today! Nothing is more un-American than regulation of and punishment for voicing ideas, however popular or unpopular. Cancel the meeting, or subject Palo Alto to ridicule from the entire free world.

Posted by Banes
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 5, 2022 at 12:40 pm

Banes is a registered user.

More Censorship! This is preposterous! This amounts to nothing more than censorship. We would have to write a whole new dictionary of terms that are considered “hate words” and just As soon as that is done there would be new terms, so what is the point. Other than to steal that one freedom that separates us from the rest of the world. Freedom of speech.
Then there are adjectives Older than time, such as queer, e.g.; that person was behaving queerly, oh that’s a very queer color combination you’re wearing.
E.g., references to Latino will be censored and they will not be able to have businesses /restaurants called Latino or Mexican restaurants or Asian restaurants, this is absolutely absurd. Everything will have to be classified as “American?” Further…
We would have to teach our children in grade school when they’re learning to read those “words” which terms never to use ever - and they will never be able to read or understand any books prior the date they were educated or born. They will be PhD classes for old American jargon. This is nothing more than the burning of books, Censorship and where does that go ? Censorship is the keystone of communism.
Freedom of speech is an American Right. It is not a God given right because people all over the world are censored shackled and arrested for their speech in other countries.
This is what diversity breeds, homogeneous societies Share common vales, they behave in compliance with their values, they share common values.
Rather than turning everything into a crime, why don’t we teach values First! American values, Which means people from other cultures bringing their diversity to America, first learn the values, & laws of America — before they impose their own. Learning American language would be a good start. Becoming citizens vs. Undocumented, non-tax paying citizens? Foreigners commit crimes because they don’t even know the laws here, in their country it was OK. Who buys liability insurance in Other countr

Posted by Banes
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 5, 2022 at 12:53 pm

Banes is a registered user.

This kind of censorship Will simply bring about more racist polarities and ill will instead of acceptance. Why not burn all the books? Let’s not remember our past, let’s not remember there was a Civil War once. This kind of censorship will simply encourage bullying at a younger age. Why? Because children always use words & behaviors that are “forbidden” when they learn their words. Tell a little boy he can’t play with guns and suddenly the plastic garden spade turns into a weapon of sorts. You can’t force people to be robots, people are human and they have Faults and diversity, and now there’s like 1000 different versions of male and female, When before there are only two sexes.
Why don’t we try to impose the laws that are being broken instead of making more laws. They can’t catch criminals because if they use a race to describe a criminal or suspect or witness questionable behavior, suddenly they are invalidated as a racist or sexist. Without profiling lW enforcement would never be able to do their jobs. Is that what we want to give up too? People are born 1000 different shades of different, do we want to make that a crime?

Posted by Joe
a resident of Evergreen Park
on May 5, 2022 at 2:58 pm

Joe is a registered user.

Hate speech is awful but there's no point debating whether Palo Alto should ban it because the Constitution clearly forbids the city from doing so. It would take a constitutional amendment, not a municipal ordinance, to change that. I don't know Mr. Tanaka or his views but I do know he's running for Congress, and he must be incredibly cynical to waste the time of his current colleagues in the city council pretending that this is a serious proposal just so he can boost the profile of his campaign for higher office.

Posted by Forever Name
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 5, 2022 at 4:04 pm

Forever Name is a registered user.

Perhaps instead we should ban anyone from running for City Council (or U.S. Congress) who lacks a basic understanding of the U.S. Constitution or municipal law. I would feel safer as a PA resident with a restriction on those candidates who lack this basic civic knowledge than more speech censorship. The lengths local political candidates will go to with transparent virtue signaling are hysterical, especially when it's illegal. Meantime, I would imagine PAPD is getting a good laugh out of Tanaka's effort to supersede ordinances already in place that PAPD already enforces.

Posted by William Hitchens
a resident of Mountain View
on May 5, 2022 at 4:21 pm

William Hitchens is a registered user.

Isn't so-called "hate speech" protected by the 1st amendment as long as you don't incite violence, attack, threaten, slander/libel, or otherwise break the law when speaking? And who exactly will decide what is acceptable speech vs hate speech? One person's hate speech is another person's protected speech. To paraphrase a cautionary quote "Who will watch the enforcers" of this very bad attempt to suppress free speech? I don't want some whacked out extremest with ANY political, social, or moral agenda to tell me what I can and can't say. There's already too much of that today at our universities and colleges and at many "news" organizations.

Posted by What Will They Do Next
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 5, 2022 at 4:37 pm

What Will They Do Next is a registered user.

Well I guess Greg now knows how people feel about his proposal if the comments above are a reflection of how most feel, me included. While some of these incidents may go unreported, I believe Palo Alto is probably near the bottom rung of the ladder when it comes to "hate" crimes and language. We seem to be pretty inclusive as a community and although my wife and I have experienced some subtle anti-Asian sentiment over the years (she's American born Asian, I'm Caucasian and living in Palo Alto over 40 years) it has been infrequent. When we look at the source, we just shrug our shoulders and move on. Criminal acts are one thing. Ignorance, stupidity and in some cases jealousy and resentment are another. You can't fix stupid.

Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on May 5, 2022 at 5:41 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

Making any type of "free" speech a "crime" is a little over the top. Do they really think anything will change? Is anybody really in favor of this nonsense?

Posted by BP Parent
a resident of Barron Park
on May 5, 2022 at 7:31 pm

BP Parent is a registered user.

[Post removed.]

Posted by John Donegan
a resident of another community
on May 6, 2022 at 7:46 am

John Donegan is a registered user.

My prediction is that activists will define "hate speech" as any speech that they really "hate", and want to punish.

Posted by Pops9
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 6, 2022 at 8:43 am

Pops9 is a registered user.

I wish the city council would focus on running the city. If the article is accurate, this is already covered. City council time spent on topics that belong with the state or federal government means that less time is spent on governing what only the city council can control. Last time I looked, the city has a long list of items that demand attention that only the city council can provide.

Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 6, 2022 at 10:59 am

Bystander is a registered user.

John Donegan is right. People define hate speech as anything they don't agree with. Differing opinions is not hateful, it is just a different opinion.

Posted by Paly02
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 6, 2022 at 2:12 pm

Paly02 is a registered user.

The City staff report on this item is right - an ordinance would be unconstitutional and ineffective. A better way to handle the rise in hate crimes and incidents would be to have city programming about how to safely de-escalate an incident as it is happening, or other programming that reinforces community inclusion for everyone. Not all solutions to this problem have to be done by making new laws - we can have civic or social engagement on this issue instead.

Posted by Observer
a resident of Menlo Park
on May 7, 2022 at 3:34 am

Observer is a registered user.

I hate brocolli.
There, I said it.
Arrest me.

Posted by KenG
a resident of Los Altos
on May 8, 2022 at 8:21 pm

KenG is a registered user.

My question is, who determines hate speech? Will it be the liberals who hate conservative speech or the conservatives who hate liberal speech?

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 12, 2022 at 6:25 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

This whole topic is a diversion from what the city council is supposed to be doing. These diversions usually occur when the priority items that have a measurable factor of achievement are not being met. It is called "mudding the waters." A lot of that going around right now. It is not the job of the PACC to manage the population. They are suppose to manage the city and make sure the projects that are in process get completed in a timely manner.

this city appears to attract a lot of people who are looking to work their way up the political system. If we learned anything from the Disney experience is that people have personal feelings that may not conform to what the current activist are selling. That says that this city is not of one thought only and we do not assign any management of thought to a group who are busy trying to work the political system as opposed to doing the job they are assigned to do.

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