Hate Speech…Gangnam Style

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“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…” –First Amendment to the Constitution

So, Korean singer, PSY, is in the news.  Oh, you know him.  “Gangnam Style” ring a bell?   Recently, some disturbing lyrics from his past songs were uncovered – one in particular making headlines, saying:

“Kill those f—ing Yankees who have been torturing Iraqi captives….kill their daughters, mothers, daughters-in-law and fathers….kill them (our troops) all slowly and painfully.”

Take a listen to the non-translated version of the song “Dear American” right here. Yikes.  The song was performed at an anti-American rally (double yikes) in South Korea in 2004 in response to the devastating accident of U.S. troops killing of two Korean school girls.

PSY released a statement on Friday saying he would “forever be sorry” for any pain his lyrics caused.

He wrote, “While I’m grateful for the freedom to express one’s self, I’ve learned there are limits to what language is appropriate and I’m deeply sorry for how these lyrics could be interpreted.”

PSY singer, Park Jae-sang, is South Korean and he hasn’t released any songs like this in the US, but I’m afraid that those who want to rewrite the Constitution will point at the song lyrics like these and say, we need to take away freedom of speech – to prevent terror and anti-tolerance – the same way they pointed at the tragedy in Aurora and said we need to abolish the 2nd Amendment and take away everyone’s guns.

There’s a difference between free speech and hate speech, but we’re already seeing the two get lumped together in our country.   No one in their right mind would look at lyrics promoting torture and murder of women and children and say, “Oh, let the kid sing what he wants.  Freedom of speech reigns!”  Speech that is threatening and violent should obviously be taken seriously.  But, somehow, defining hate speech has become controversial in the US.

It has become “intolerant” and “hateful” to disagree with someone.  The problem with that mentality is that the same people who are complaining about the anti-gay marriage folks and saying that they need to keep their traps shut are the people who are using their freedom of speech to proclaim LGBT marriage equality on their tumblr for all to see.  Sidenote: Gay marriage is currently illegal on a Federal level, so their free speech is actually more controversial than those who are against it.  Whether you’re anti-gay, or waving your rainbow flag, you’ve got to see that you are both exercising freedom of speech.

What do you think hate speech is?

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  • Esther

    I think it is huge that he came America, learned something about us, experienced a bit of our freedoms and apologized. Of the Eastern cultures of course with the exception of Japan perhaps, the most American-style government is South Korea and the people I have met in academia seem more like Americans. Yet, I guess it did not take a tremendous leap for him to find in his heart to apologize.