March 2, 2022 — While there is no single definition of hate speech, the term generally describes public discourse (spoken or in print) that attempts to vilify, scapegoat, humiliate, or incite hatred against people or groups based on race, religion, ethnicity, country of origin, biological sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, and so on.
Freedom of expression is essential to democracy, and even the expression of extremely unpopular ideas is protected by the First Amendment. Thus, in the United States, most hate speech is legally protected free speech. However, that does not mean it should be ignored.
Standing up against hate speech serves an important purpose in just societies. On a micro level, it can prevent conflicts among individuals and facilitate better inter-group collaboration. On a macro level, it can prevent ethnic violence, terrorism, and armed conflict.
Most people who challenge circumcision in the public sphere do so because they want to protect children. This is a legitimate position and one that ought to be respected. Moreover, if a person is angry about being circumcised at a time before they were able to give their consent, this anger is also valid and should also be respected.
Unfortunately, some individuals allow their anger to metastasize into expressions of hatred directed towards specific groups. Expressions of bigotry, of any kind, are absolutely unacceptable on any of Bruchim’s platforms. This zero-tolerance policy is based on our values. We also believe that our mission of fostering welcoming Jewish spaces for Jewish people who don’t support or follow the circumcision tradition is seriously undermined whenever such offensive speech is allowed to proliferate unchecked.
While we take these issues seriously, we also believe in the Jewish concept of teshuva, or return. In the Jewish tradition, there is no such thing as an irredeemable person. People are not forever defined by their bad actions although they are responsible for them. Thus, even people who have engaged in bigotry or hate speech in the past have the opportunity to redeem themselves by recognizing their error, having a sincere change of heart, and taking action in the world that demonstrates this.