The accusation has been made that this answer contains "hate speech": https://christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/2769/why-do-many-christians-object-to-same-sex-civil-marriage/2776#2776

I don't actually see the answer as hateful at all, but I do see how some could draw the conclusion that it is--based on a fundamental misunderstanding of Christianity, coupled with the fact that many "Christians" are indeed hateful toward the two groups mentioned (practicing homosexuals, and murderers).

The truth is, parts (the most important parts, in fact) of the Gospel are offensive. Although I don't believe this qualifies them as hate speech, it sure can appear that way to somebody it offends--it ultimately sent Christ to his death, after all.

How can this be addressed in a way that is true to the OP's intention, without being viewed as hate speech? Or do some people need to lighten up, and accept that some views here will be offensive?

  • 2
    You don't need to "address" the content in a way that is "true to the OP's intention". You need to delete it.
    – TRiG
    Oct 14, 2011 at 23:17
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    @TRiG: Requests for answers submitted by members of the community in good standing to be censored simply because they make some people uncomfortable will be ignored. "Hate speech" is simply another term for censorship so certain people can justify suppressing ideas they disagree with while still claiming to oppose censorship. Harmful or illegal speech will be dealt with appropriately; ideas that make certain readers uncomfortable are left to the readers do deal with. We're all grown-ups here; let's act like it please?
    – Mason Wheeler Mod
    Oct 15, 2011 at 0:35
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    If I'm going to delete the answer, I will delete the entire question. If we view the answer as hate speech, then we must view the question as seeking to draw hate speech. I know that all the moderators have viewed and considered this answer. I can find no fault with his reasoning. Is it hateful? Maybe a bit. But if I delete that answer, I will be deleting it along with the question.
    – Richard
    Oct 15, 2011 at 0:39
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    @Richard, trig and I spoke about this on chat this evening. He is planning to delete the question and open a new one under the new guidelines, rather than just editing his existing question. Personally I think it will be helpful for both question and answers to be reworked
    – Ray
    Oct 15, 2011 at 1:23
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    Perhaps a better question would be how to avoid hate speech. I would propose that this would be done by 1) writing better questions, and 2) the voting system. The former may help mitigate the problem, but I also don't want to blame the OP for other people's hateful words. For the latter, it records a clear community consensus that we don't like such answers. What do we want, to suppress it? To sweep it under the rug? Or to make it clear that we don't like it? This is a community issue, not a moderation issue.
    – Ray
    Oct 15, 2011 at 1:56
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    @Ray: I strongly agree that it's best if the community can take care of these kinds of posts. And if they had, I might not have had to flag it. But this post still got a decent amount of upvotes, so I think some more discussion may be needed here. This is why I think deleting the question is just a temporary solution, because answers like this will come up again, and I think it would be useful to determine what the precedent should be for dealing with them. Apparently, it's not as clear-cut as one would expect.
    – hammar
    Oct 15, 2011 at 2:08
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    Point well-taken. I am hopeful that the new guidelines will make it more difficult to get a lot of votes for a bad answer.
    – Ray
    Oct 15, 2011 at 2:15
  • Could someone who can please delete that question.
    – TRiG
    Oct 15, 2011 at 11:01
  • @Trig Sure thing. Glad to help!
    – Richard
    Oct 15, 2011 at 12:37
  • Dang, I liked my answer, oh well I arrived too late to save a drowning witch...
    – Peter Turner Mod
    Oct 16, 2011 at 4:32
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    I'm going to close this because this meta post is referring to a question that has been deleted. While many on this site can still see the question, most cannot. Therefore, I'll just close this (since it's no longer available/useful to the community in general).
    – Richard
    Oct 17, 2011 at 16:31

3 Answers 3


The accusation has been made that this answer contains "hate speech"

Boil down your issues with someone else's words to a trite label, and you're gonna have problems. I see "hate speech" and I read "censorship".

Is it not enough that we have a voting system for de-emphasizing poor answers? Is it not enough that we have a system by which blatantly offensive content can be flagged, automatically removed and the author penalized? Is it for naught that any user viewing the site can submit edits to nearly any post? Is the ability to leave comments on, and post meta discussions about a post worthless? The opportunity to post impassioned arguments against that which you find incorrect to be sneezed at?

Do we need a special sub-category of "offensive" that evaluates to "does not actually offend even a half-dozen users or moderators, cannot inspire even a short rebuttal, but is nevertheless somehow worthy of removal"?

This reminds me of the arguments over enforcing Non-Disclosure Agreements on several other sites. To the best of my knowledge, no one ever actually got into trouble, or sent the sites a take-down notice or other official complaint in response to these... But in several cases, skittish users and moderators jumped in to squelch questions in fear that someone might violate a contract they - not the site - were party to.

You link to an answer with 9 up-votes and 7 down-votes, on a question with 9 and 5 respectively. It's a controversial answer to a controversial question... Big surprise, right?

The question is currently closed, as "not constructive". I tend to agree with that assessment - there are better ways to ask similar questions even on controversial topics while encouraging far more useful responses.

But if it does get re-opened, and does stay re-opened, if the community here does decide that it wants to tackle questions like this... Then, yes,

[...] some people need to lighten up, and accept that some views here will be offensive?

...there will need to be some of that. Whether you can be hurt, offended, feel marginalized or attacked by an answer and shrug it off is debatable, but I do not think anyone should come here expecting to find every answer a soft pat on the head.

34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn

“‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’

  • For the record, Shog9, rereding this has made me less likely to want to edit and reopen that question. It's also made me feel less welcome as part of this community. If a moderator is supporting a post saying that I'm not wanted here ... well, I begin to feel that I'm not wanted here. Y'know?
    – TRiG
    Oct 21, 2011 at 17:30
  • Context
    – TRiG
    Oct 21, 2011 at 17:30
  • @Trig: With all due respect, the moderators of this site, myself, and others have now spent far more time dealing with your question than should have been necessary... While I've yet to see you write an actual post on this matter anywhere. You seem to prefer to rant in chat and make vague allegations in comments over anything approaching level-headed criticism or reasoned rebuttal. So how's this: if you want to contribute to the site, you will be welcome; if your desire is for troll-baiting and kibitzing, then you may well be happier elsewhere. Your choice.
    – Shog9
    Oct 21, 2011 at 17:47
  • Yes, you've spent far more time than necessary. You should have deleted that disgusting hate-filled nonsense the moment you saw it. If you really need an explanation, it's in chat. I've written quite a lot in chat. And it wasn't a rant. It was impassioned, but it wasn't ranting. I might pull it together into a post here if you think that would help. I'm not sure what purpose that would serve, but if you'd like me to, I will.
    – TRiG
    Oct 23, 2011 at 19:43
  • @TRiG: again, the idea that any one person gets to delete content they don't like doesn't really fly here. I could go on and on about this, but really... Seeking out and addressing your arguments made in chat is pointless: the question is gone and rightly so. If you'd cared to argue for its continued existence here, you missed your chance. So I'll leave you with this to ponder: your question purported to be inspired by Joel's question on Mi Yodeya... But comparing the two side-by-side shows very little in common, and the answers follow suit. I don't think this is a coincidence...
    – Shog9
    Oct 27, 2011 at 0:11
  • You really don't get it, do you? This is nothing to do with what I like, or what I agree with. My point, made repeatedly and passionately, and picked up on by @Ray, is that this level of vitriol is actually dangerous. It contributes to a climate of hate which actually kills people. You can disagree, if you want, and perhaps you have research in cultural studies which proves me wrong. If so, I'd like to see it. But you don't get to simply ignore what I actually said and put completely different words in my mouth.
    – TRiG
    Oct 27, 2011 at 10:19
  • @TRiG: Are you familiar with Godwin's Law? If not, you should read up on it. Meanwhile, I'll say again: if you have a reasoned argument for why a specific post is harmful to the site, abusive to other users / readers, or otherwise contrary to the SE terms of service, then post it. But "murderers say stuff like this" is unlikely to be a valid argument on its own; indeed, it's rather close to being a tired ad hominem attack, and taints whoever it is associated with. So if that's all you've got, let's lay this to rest.
    – Shog9
    Oct 27, 2011 at 16:40
  • You're still ignoring what I'm saying, and putting your own words in my mouth. Please stop it. Murderers say stuff like this is not what I said. At all. We live in a world where hate crimes against gay people (and, even more so, trans people) do happen. Furthermore, such attacks are more violent than hate crimes against racial minorities. This is not hypothetical. And language like that contributes to an atmosphere of hate and thereby encourages this sort of thing.
    – TRiG
    Oct 27, 2011 at 16:46
  • So to recap: you don't see anything wrong with your question, you are unable to participate in discussion without the prerequisite acceptance of "this answer == grisly death", and have an irrational fear of posting anything on the topic outside of comments / chat. We are at an impasse. Good day!
    – Shog9
    Oct 27, 2011 at 16:57
  • I said, "I might pull it together into a post here if you think that would help." You strongly implied this would be pointless. Now you've changed your mind completely. I'm confused.
    – TRiG
    Oct 27, 2011 at 17:00
  • I was done with this over a week ago, @TRiG. So unless you have something new to add, it is pointless. But you keep responding anyway, so I'm gonna keep telling you: if you have something to say, do your research, think about how you might have done things differently the last time around, and then post a new discussion topic. If you're just gonna rehash the same unrefined arguments you've put forth in chat and in comments, don't bother.
    – Shog9
    Oct 27, 2011 at 17:05
  • I'm discussing this here because I get the feeling you're not only misunderstanding me, but wilfully misunderstanding me. And that seems worth confronting. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'll leave this site for a week or two. If we're still talking past each other, perhaps a quick summary of my main point will help.
    – TRiG
    Oct 27, 2011 at 17:11
  • You're mistaking indifference for misunderstanding, @TRiG. I wrote all I had to say on the matter in this answer, and in my corresponding answer on MSO. If there's something you don't understand, or disagree with, start a discussion - but I've zero interest in either refuting or validating your tangential arguments here in comments.
    – Shog9
    Oct 27, 2011 at 17:22

I think you're right, that some people simply need to lighten up. If actual harmful speech, such as advocating violence against certain people or groups of people, shows up here, the moderators will certainly take appropriate action. But up until that point, simply discussing matters of doctrine is simply discussing matters of doctrine, and I see no reason to allow certain viewpoints to be censored simply because they make some people uncomfortable.

  • 2
    And comparing people to murderers, and advocating that they be politically disenfranchised, is not harmful speech? Really?
    – TRiG
    Oct 14, 2011 at 23:16
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    @TRiG: I see nothing in that answer that advocates anyone losing their right to vote. You're quite free to weigh in on the facts, but strawman arguments are not welcome here..
    – Mason Wheeler Mod
    Oct 14, 2011 at 23:40
  • 1
    "Suppressing their influence." That's political disenfranchisement.
    – TRiG
    Oct 14, 2011 at 23:56
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    @TRiG: I think you're reading a lot more into that post than is actually there. His basic point--that people who cause harm to society should not be allowed to become influential or claim special privileges simply because they are organized in some way--is a valid one, and I see no reason to censor it.
    – Mason Wheeler Mod
    Oct 15, 2011 at 0:28

Yesterday, I flagged this answer because I felt that it went across the line by comparing a minority (homosexuals in this case) to murderers and arguing that "If you can't get rid of 'em, you can at least do whatever possible to suppress their influence".

I think this qualifies as hate speech, as it "disparages a person or a group on the basis of some characteristic such as race, color, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, or other characteristic."

I don't think this kind of behavior should be allowed on any StackExchange site, and I was disappointed that the Christianity.SE moderators chose to ignore taking action against this post, despite multiple downvotes and flags. They instead opted to close the question, which I can agree with, but I still feel that this answer should be deleted.

If this was some other minority, I'm sure this would have been dealt with quickly, and I fear that this sets a bad precedent that it's OK to bash on gay people on this site.

Note that I'm not opposed to answers discussing these views in an objective and factual manner, but I feel that this answer went well beyond that.

The goal of StackExchange is to make the Internet a better place, and I think allowing sites like Christianity.SE to be used as a platform for spreading hate and bigotry is in direct opposition to this goal.

  • That's an interesting definition for hate speech. There's a big difference between hate and disparage.
    – jimreed
    Oct 18, 2011 at 17:18

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