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Defending Freedom of Speech: How far would you go?:

 1 Usht, Mon, 23rd May '11 12:00:52 AM from an arbitrary view point.
Lv. 3 Genasi Wizard
I was going to get into a really big post about this in the atheist student and religious graduation ceremony, but I figured it'd make a good discussion topic on its own.

So I'm seeing that it's pretty universal around here that people think freedom of speech is a good thing, I can't disagree. It's largely considered the most universal of all rights and that removing it may be the only true slippery slope out there since once you take a way people's right to talk, you've taken away their ability to protest.

So question is, how far would you go to defend someone else's right to freedom of speech if some group was attempting to take that right away?

Would you defend them even if:

  • They disagreed with you on a touchy subject? (Like abortion, death penalty, or your single wonk issue?)
  • They're hypocrites on this subject?
    • They're hypocrites about freedom of speech?
  • They misrepresent whatever group they're presenting?
    • Including your own group?
  • They are very much a danger to those around them for whatever reason? Let's try that with less ambiguousness, would you still defend a person even if they're a murderer, rapist, etc.
    • And advocating things that support one's ability to be a murderer/rapist/etc.
  • Their position is essentially a glorified hate speech?
  • They are the WBC? (Seriously.)

And three more questions to supplement all of those: Would you do it even if you were also going to be prosecuted (by the society or court) and attempted to be silenced? How long would you bother to support that person if you also become a primary target? And, this may sound a bit flame baity, but it's a legitimate question, are you just saying all of this stuff or do you seriously see yourself carrying out the actions you just responded with?

I'll toss in my opinion after a few others get the ball rolling.

edited 23rd May '11 12:20:43 AM by Usht

The thing about making witty signature lines is that it first needs to actually be witty.
 2 honorius, Mon, 23rd May '11 12:04:58 AM from The Netherlands
They are very much a danger to those around them for whatever reason?
How can someone be a danger to those around him by only speaking?
If any question why we died/ Tell them, because our fathers lied -Rudyard Kipling
 3 Grain, Mon, 23rd May '11 12:07:10 AM from South Northwest Earth
Only One Avatar
[up]Yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater.

edited 23rd May '11 12:07:24 AM by Grain

 4 Usht, Mon, 23rd May '11 12:08:06 AM from an arbitrary view point.
Lv. 3 Genasi Wizard
[up][up]Poorly phrased question. Let's instead say that person is, erm, a rapist or murderer. Would you still defend that person?

edited 23rd May '11 12:10:24 AM by Usht

The thing about making witty signature lines is that it first needs to actually be witty.
 5 drunkscriblerian, Mon, 23rd May '11 12:10:37 AM from Castle Geekhaven Relationship Status: In season
Street Writing Man
People have the right to voice their views. And others have the right to tell them they're wrong. If one espouses a view contrary to the prevailing trends, and does so in a particularly noticeable/inflammatory fashion (looking at ''you, WBC), they have no right to whine when they get shouted down.

That's how free speech is supposed to work; with a healthy measure of accountability for one's actions and words mixed with the privilege of being able to speak one's mind.

GIFT is corrosive to free speech in my opinion, as a for-instance.

If I were to write some of the strange things that come under my eyes they would not be believed.

~Cora M. Strayer~
 6 Game Chainsaw, Mon, 23rd May '11 12:20:39 AM from sunshine and rainbows!
The Shadows Devour You.
Doesn't matter if they're a murderer or rapist. However, the only one I wouldn't defend is the last item; the likes of the WBC. That is, I'd file it under "intention to do harm." In this case, incite actions liable to end in civil action.

Of course, you would have to have absolute ironclad evidence of that intent before you ran roughshod over that kind of organisation like that. But I'd honestly class the WBC under criminal-like organisations with similar harmful intent for society.
Yes to all save the glorified hate speech part. Either it incites violence or it doesn't. In what way does this glorification change that?
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 8 drunkscriblerian, Mon, 23rd May '11 12:27:18 AM from Castle Geekhaven Relationship Status: In season
Street Writing Man
If it's hate speech, ignore it and encourage others to do the same. Or better yet, speak out yourself. You have the same rights. Exercise them.

Trying to muzzle someone just because you don't like what they have to say is a dangerous door to open, regardless of how good it might feel at the time.

That said, there's these things called "time" and "place", and people who say inappropriate things at inopportune times should not be surprised when they get flak for doing it.
If I were to write some of the strange things that come under my eyes they would not be believed.

~Cora M. Strayer~
[up]

What good is there in allowing people to promote violence or genocide? Should the uttering of death threats be similarly allowed? Or is it enough that the will to commit the act is only implied in the cases of hate speech?
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 10 drunkscriblerian, Mon, 23rd May '11 12:40:06 AM from Castle Geekhaven Relationship Status: In season
Street Writing Man
@Alex: if I remember right, threatening a specific someone's life is against the law as well. However, spouting hate-filled rhetoric about how X group needs to vanish isn't illegal.

That same lack of regulation protects our ability to slam the government for all its fuckups. You can't have one without the other, unfortunately.
If I were to write some of the strange things that come under my eyes they would not be believed.

~Cora M. Strayer~
[up]

We need to, what, threaten our governments with violence when they screws up? Frankly, had you the right I would have hoped you'd have exercised it sooner. And while it may be legal on your side of the border, I'm finding it hard to believe that we are in that poor a state up here, where the right to opinion and expression is limited only as the removal of said right can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

edited 23rd May '11 12:54:06 AM by Alexander_UE

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 12 drunkscriblerian, Mon, 23rd May '11 12:54:58 AM from Castle Geekhaven Relationship Status: In season
Street Writing Man
@Alex: I think you misunderstand a little. "Free Speech" protects our right to say publicly "the government's fucking up, they're a bunch of idiots!", The Aryan Brotherhood's right to say "White people are better than everyone else!" and the WBC's right to do what they do. I think the last two are odious mis-uses of said right, but my opinion is not gospel.

And neither is yours. Or anyone else's, for that matter.
If I were to write some of the strange things that come under my eyes they would not be believed.

~Cora M. Strayer~
 13 joeyjojo, Mon, 23rd May '11 12:58:39 AM from South of Norway Relationship Status: Waiting for you *wink*
Too many bunnies
I'm glad you brought this up OP, I was just about to launch a similar thread after I found out being a Holocaust denier was an arrestable offence.

edited 23rd May '11 12:59:03 AM by joeyjojo

[up][up]

Well, they seem to be quite distinct misuses of said right. Not only that, but I would think that they represent a clear threat to the security of their subjects, obvious downside. So unless there's a reason that not extending the right to free speech to cover such a use somehow prevents people from voicing their concerns about the government, I don't see why hate speech shouldn't be illegal.

edited 23rd May '11 1:02:17 AM by Alexander_UE

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 15 drunkscriblerian, Mon, 23rd May '11 1:07:20 AM from Castle Geekhaven Relationship Status: In season
Street Writing Man
@Alex: when you slap a muzzle on someone, you grant them legitimacy by default. You give them a real complaint to add to their list of bullshit. It's like slapping an Emo-kid for all his whining; you just gave him something real to cry about, which enhances his position and reinforces his belief.

To quote Tyrion Lannister, "When you cut out a man's tongue, you aren't calling him a liar...you're telling everyone you fear what he has to say."

And in that fear, people find a reason to listen.

And with that, I must sleep. I'll check up on this thread in the morning.

edited 23rd May '11 1:11:46 AM by drunkscriblerian

If I were to write some of the strange things that come under my eyes they would not be believed.

~Cora M. Strayer~
I wouldn't jail someone for claiming to be oppressed, I would jail the Shawna Fordes of the world before, not after their words lead to actions, as well as those who aid and encourage those like her.

And am I, in some respect, afraid of people who would condone the killings of innocent? Well, obviously. You can't tell me their existence makes you feel safer.

Edit: Although, as I did just drag the Forde case in, that's another topic. What about conspiracy to murder for example? You may find that to be the point at which you say we can stop it, but if so I'm curious as to why the line is drawn there. There is obviously also the line of whether the target is the subject generally or specifically, but I don't find the difference compelling enough to say that one should be illegal while the other not.

edited 23rd May '11 1:22:21 AM by Alexander_UE

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 17 cadeonehalf, Mon, 23rd May '11 1:25:08 AM from the Suzerian Conclave
But before they actually commit a crime against someone, the Shawna Fordes of the world haven't violated any laws. You can't criminalize someone for their words alone, that's providing legal precedent for thoughtcrime.

EDIT: since you brought up conspiracy to murder- if there are people publicly calling for someone's death as well as conspiring to kill them, they still haven't committed a crime until they actually attempt to kill them. And if a conspiracy to kill someone is that well known, (well known enough for the law to even be able to intervene) then it's not a very good conspiracy. Conspiracies for murder only work if there is very little public speech against the target.

And with regards to the whole "I would never defend the WBC" issue, I feel it's necessary to make something clear: No one has a right to not be offended. The Westboro Baptist Church may say hateful, offensive things. But they are entirely allowed to be offensive. That's the flipside to Freedom of Speech: you make everything positive, thoughtful and righteous to say legal as well as everything negative, cruel and stupid. You can't have one without the other.

edited 23rd May '11 1:28:52 AM by cadeonehalf

Who builds troper pages?
[up]

But before they actually commit a crime against someone, the Shawna Fordes of the world haven't violated any laws. You can't criminalize someone for their words alone, that's providing legal precedent for thoughtcrime.

Well, first, yes, they have, they obviously discussed their plan beforehand, that's conspiracy, illegal many places, United States and Canada as well, likely as well in your country if you're from somewhere else. As to thought crime, well, yes, there is certainly something to be concerned about, personally in our Charter I would have preferred the right to opinion somewhere it didn't fall under those legal limits, but as in our Charter the right to opinion is different from from the right to expression, so their curtailments can be set at different thresholds. This can once more be limited to what is right in a free and democratic society.

EDIT: since you brought up conspiracy to murder- if there are people publicly calling for someone's death as well as conspiring to kill them, they still haven't committed a crime until they actually attempt to kill them. And if a conspiracy to kill someone is that well known, (well known enough for the law to even be able to intervene) then it's not a very good conspiracy. Conspiracies for murder only work if there is very little public speech against the target.

Again, they've committed a crime. Yes, no one has yet been affected at this stage, but if I see a glass drop, I'll catch it before it shatters, not pick up the pieces. Conspiracy doesn't need to be well know to get out (perhaps the people that threw Shawna out of their organization for being unstable might have said something discrete to the police) and again, it's a different beast than hate speech. But you seem to be taking the stronger position (as in it almost entails the weaker position that hate speech oughtn't be a crime) that conspiracy oughtn't be a crime, so I think we'll deal with this issue first.

And with regards to the whole "I would never defend the WBC" issue, I feel it's necessary to make something clear: No one has a right to not be offended. The Westboro Baptist Church may say hateful, offensive things. But they are entirely allowed to be offensive. That's the flipside to Freedom of Speech: you make everything positive, thoughtful and righteous to say legal as well as everything negative, cruel and stupid. You can't have one without the other.

I'm with you halfway here. I can't say that the WBC likely poses much of a threat with what they do, so yeah, not interested in limiting what they say. But I don't see how you need to have cruelty to have righteousness. The world isn't a zero sum game.
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 19 MRDA 1981, Mon, 23rd May '11 1:53:49 AM from Hell (London), UK.
Tyrannicidal Maniac
Since I don't take the concepts of "incitement" and "hate speech" seriously, "yes" to all of the above.
 20 cadeonehalf, Mon, 23rd May '11 1:56:32 AM from the Suzerian Conclave
I'm with you halfway here. I can't say that the WBC likely poses much of a threat with what they do, so yeah, not interested in limiting what they say. But I don't see how you need to have cruelty to have righteousness. The world isn't a zero sum game.

It's not that the world is a zero-sum game, it's that allowing people the right to express an opinion has both positive and negative consequences. They don't have to equate- in fact, Freedom of Speech has much more positive consequences than negative ones. So (to more appropriately word my previous statement) you allow a lot of positive, thoughtful comments in exchange for a couple of dumbasses no one really agrees with.

Are we so thin-skinned a society that we have to put all the positive consequences of free speech at risk because we can't handle the harshness of some asshole's opinion?

And I see your point about conspiracy being illegal, but you can't convict someone for conspiring to commit a crime on its own merits. They have to either commit or attempt to commit the crime in order for the additional charge of conspiracy to mean anything. In that way, I don't agree with the current SCOTUS opinion on conspiracy as being criminal simply for intent to break the law (without requiring the law be eventually broken in order to convict). The California version of Conspiracy law states that at least one individual involved with the agreement must act in either committing or attempting to commit the crime. So, to use the conspiracy to murder example: It's not illegal until an attempt is made on the victim's life, regardless of whether or not its successful. Because at that point they haven't yet violated anyone else's rights.

edited 23rd May '11 1:59:41 AM by cadeonehalf

Who builds troper pages?
[up]

It isn't an issue of either having the right or not having it. You can keep almost all speech free while simultaneously limiting the kinds that have no possible positive consequences.

As for conspiracy, while it's interesting to hear what the law is in California, it's not a justification. Actions have fairly predictable consequences, actively planning a murder is likely going to result in a murder. We don't need to give people the opportunity to commit crimes when the consequences affect the life and liberty of others.

edited 23rd May '11 2:07:12 AM by Alexander_UE

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 22 cadeonehalf, Mon, 23rd May '11 2:29:28 AM from the Suzerian Conclave
You can keep almost all speech free while simultaneously limiting the kinds that have no possible positive consequences.

(Emphasis mine)

Almost isn't good enough. Who are you to decide if a kind of speech has no redeeming value? And (if you'll pardon the Slippery Slope), how does limiting what kind of speech is free NOT give a government precedent to limit speech they disagree with? What if it's your speech they decide is "hateful"?

I'm not defending the actual words that come out of most of these idiot's mouths, but you can be damn sure I'll defend their right to say it, because I wouldn't want the government to decide my ideology was too offensive to be heard in public.

Actions have fairly predictable consequences, actively planning a murder is likely going to result in a murder.

(emphasis mine) Again with the almost-certain tone.

You give someone the opportunity to commit a crime every day. If guns are legal, if you can buy a knife, a car, tools, etc etc. Humans have creatively found ways to kill each other for millennia. Having an opportunity to kill someone is omnipresent. Wanting to kill someone doesn't violate their natural rights, ACTUALLY killing them does. That's why we take pre-meditation into account when sentencing homicide cases. You can want to prevent the death of someone all you want, but as much as someone may state their desire to kill someone, they haven't yet, and you still have a chance to change their mind.

Criminalizing them for so much as desiring to kill someone is, again, thoughtcrime.

I'd go on, but I also need sleep.

Who builds troper pages?
Pro-Freedom Fanatic
As far as it's needed.
You exist because we allow it and you will end because we demand it.
Whether I like it or not, yeah you gotta protect everyones freedom of speech. Doesn't matter if you like em or not, if you get the freedom to say as you please so should they.

 25 joeyjojo, Mon, 23rd May '11 2:54:44 AM from South of Norway Relationship Status: Waiting for you *wink*
Too many bunnies
I agree, in principle.
Total posts: 77
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