While laws regulating speech are common in Europe, the same can’t be said of the United States – thanks to the First Amendment. However, that hasn’t ever stopped politicians from at least trying to limit what people can say.
Senator Kamala Harris, a Californian Democrat, has come up with the proposal of introducing legislation that equates terms such as “Chinese virus”, “Wuhan virus,” and “Kung Flu” that are commonly used online as “hate speech”. When the virus is clearly reported to have originated from China, and Wuhan to be more specific, naming the virus in this way should be condemned according to Senator Harris.
We obtained a copy of the proposed legislation from Harris’s office here.
Some notable sections:
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“Whereas over 2,000,000 Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are working on the front lines of the COVID–19 pandemic in health care, law enforcement, first response, and transportation, as well as in service industries that involve keeping supermarkets operational; Whereas the use of anti-Asian terminology and rhetoric related to COVID–19, such as the ‘‘Chinese Virus’’; ‘‘Wuhan Virus’’, and ‘‘Kung-flu’’, have perpetuated antiAsian stigma; Whereas, since January 2020, there has been a dramatic increase in reports of hate crimes and incidents against those of Asian descent.”
“The Senate; calls on Federal law enforcement officials, working with State and local officials—to expeditiously investigate and document all credible reports of hate crimes, incidents, and threats against the Asian American and Pacific Islander community in the United States; to collect data to document the rise of incidents of hate crimes relating to COVID–19; and to hold the perpetrators of those crimes, incidents, or threats accountable and bring such perpetrators to justice, including through investigation and prosecution.”
Harris’ latest proposal is currently backed by a couple of Democratic Senators who believe that it will reduce abuse of Asian Americans.
With even China and the media referring to the coronavirus as the “Wuhan virus” up until recent times, (now China’s Officials have even started a campaign to call it the “American Virus”) it really makes no sense to take an extreme decision of bringing such terms under the “hate speech” umbrella.
Manipulating language and alienating certain terms may not lead to the safety of Asian Americans, and adversely, it could lead to more frustration because of the censorship that has been enforced.