Freedom of speech

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orathaic
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Freedom of speech

#1 Post by orathaic » Wed Jun 09, 2021 9:37 pm

"a belief in the centrality of free speech to American democracy contends with ever more forceful progressive arguments that hate speech is a form of psychological and even physical violence"

From:
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/06/us/a ... peech.html

I presume those of us who remember webdipvs forum in its unmoderated form have an opinion on this, one way or the other.

(Though i would like to point out that the webdip forums is not 'American democracy').

I should probably make my position clear.

1) speech can be violence. (imagine a child shaking in fear as they are shouted at by an adult; the physical responce in their body is the same as if they had been physically attacked; because they have been attacked).

2) you must make a choice between protection of all and tolerating those who don't care about the consequences of their speech. Look at the anonymous website like 4chan or similar, they devolve into the worst humanity has to offer, because those who care too much are driven out... There are many examples of where this kind of free speech leads. And none of them are particularly nice.

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Re: Freedom of speech

#2 Post by Jamiet99uk » Wed Jun 09, 2021 11:56 pm

I can't read that, it's behind a paywall.

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Re: Freedom of speech

#3 Post by Jamiet99uk » Thu Jun 10, 2021 12:04 am

If the point is "does free speech have limits?" then I certainly think it does.

Does "free speech" give a Nazi the right to say "let's round up the blacks and the gays and kill them all" without any sanction or consequence?

I do not think so.

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Re: Freedom of speech

#4 Post by Octavious » Thu Jun 10, 2021 8:13 am

orathaic wrote:
Wed Jun 09, 2021 9:37 pm
1) speech can be violence. (imagine a child shaking in fear as they are shouted at by an adult; the physical responce in their body is the same as if they had been physically attacked; because they have been attacked).
I don't think the reactions of a child are a particularly useful yardstick. I have seen a child shaking in fear because it was dark and the pipe of a vacuum cleaner fell over and made a noise. And frankly the scenario you describe is scary to the child because of the anticipation of physical violence far more so than the shouting. Speech is not by itself a form of violence.
orathaic wrote:
Wed Jun 09, 2021 9:37 pm
2) you must make a choice between protection of all and tolerating those who don't care about the consequences of their speech.
An odd statement. Surely the protection of all demands a toleration of views you don't agree with.

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Re: Freedom of speech

#5 Post by Randomizer » Thu Jun 10, 2021 5:36 pm

The Supreme Court has placed limits on Free Speech, but it comes as specific instances and not general rules. This it leaves up ti the rest of the government that usually does overly broad rules that are then picked at by the courts on a case by case basis.

Om January 6, Trump and company gave speeches calling for attacks on the Congress. The debate was whether this as rhetoric and opinion (protected speech) or incitement to violence (criminal acts). Trump has a long history of calling for illegal acts from asking campaign rally supporters to attack those that oppose him and falsely promising to pay legal bills to Border Patrol agents to commit crimes and get pardoned. These are cases that should have been prosecuted, but weren't.

Now social media operates under different rules as corporations that aren't regulated by Free Speech laws. However some like Facebook and Twitter were called out for allowing blanket violations of their published rules that users agreed to before joining. Others have less rules and they carry the worst content as mentioned above. They sway the weak minded and now you have the January 6th rioters trying to get off on the Foxitis Defense where they were just doing what they had been indoctrinated by Fox News and Trump.

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Re: Freedom of speech

#6 Post by orathaic » Thu Jun 10, 2021 7:25 pm

They sway the weak minded and now you have the January 6th rioters trying to get off on the Foxitis Defense where they were just doing what they had been indoctrinated by Fox News and Trump.
Where such a defence is valid (if indeed it is) then it should be clear that the incites incited violence.

But more generally, I was talking in moral terms not legalistic ones. You are right about the distinction between Facebook censoring speech and the government's first amendment limits on state censorship. But I think the morality or damage of that speech is the same.

The difference is the relative power of the state vs corporations. When the 1st amendment was written there was a justifiable fear of state repression; based on actual experience of the state punishing dissenters with imprisonment and torture.

The law as it stands does not necessarily make sense in the modern era, where Facebook and other platforms arguably have greater power than the state to censor. I would probably argue for a weakening of the first amendment (or clarity on what is not acceptable to say) and a definition of public speech platforms, which requires corporations who opt-in to providing public platforms certain freedom of speech requirements (though this is largely done voluntarily at present, end user agreements are usually sufficiently broad that any behaviour could be shut down if the corporation deems it problematic - ie allowing Trump have access to a Facebook account could be determined to be undesirable, and thus qualify for a perma-ban).

The conversation within the ACLU is interesting, but I suspect there have always been those (on the left) who oppose unlimited free speech - which seems to be the ACLU's reason d'etre.

An odd statement. Surely the protection of all demands a toleration of views you don't agree with.

You clearly misunderstand.

Given 1 (some speech is violence) protection of all people requires restricting violent speech. So that others can enjoy a violence free arena to speak. It is not about agreeing with the views of others. It is about refusing to tolerate any views which espouse the extermination of anyone else.

You can say (for example) 'defund the police', because getting rid of police doesn't require killing them (their are no blue lives; only blue jobs) but you can't say 'exterminate all muslims' (because we have freedom of conscience and freedom of religion to protect, so getting rid of any religion requires killing those adherents who fails to see the, supposed, advantages of the alternative).
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Re: Freedom of speech

#7 Post by Octavious » Thu Jun 10, 2021 9:25 pm

I don't give you 1 :-)

In terms of your 2nd paragraph, you can indeed say defund the police, as the freedom to say stupid things is almost as important as the freedom to be wrong and, as in this case, they are one and the same. As for exterminating Muslims, the only people I have ever heard say that are people like you in freedom of speech arguments. Should there be restrictions on promoting murder? I'd say so, but as this is very much the status quo I'm not sure what the purpose of the point is. Freedom of speech is ultimately a line drawing exercise. I don't know where your line is, but I suspect that it isn't drawn at the point of promoting genocide.

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Re: Freedom of speech

#8 Post by Randomizer » Fri Jun 11, 2021 1:34 am

Facebook has repeatably cited for ignoring its own rules or making an exemption for politicians in the interest not of providing information, but to make more money for themselves. Not only for political speech, but for misinformation on health and other topics. These aren't differences of opinion, but allowing outright lies to spread to encourage dangers to public health And safety.

These aren't even the morality of a corporation, but whether they are breaking the law by their actions.

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Re: Freedom of speech

#9 Post by yavuzovic » Mon Jun 14, 2021 5:32 pm

I agree with orathaic about providing a safe space to enjoy freedom of speech but safety should be the first and only purpose of limiting the speech. And also about the example in the very first post, the child is not shaking in fear because what is being said (unless threats, which is a crime), but because being shouted at by an adult. Like this, the society can't be expected to tolerate people who annoy you with their attitude, rather than their ideas. You may disagree with my width of freedom of speech but I think having offensive ideas is not the concern of others. But if you're using these to mock, insult and annoy people, then this should be a crime. This means if you have racist ideas, you should not be punished for what you think even if the majority of people hate that. But if you're suggesting violence, threatening public safety or exposing your ideas to people who don't want, these can't be counted as free speech. I don't think any ideas should be punished, but the way you use it should. I can't see anything wrong with letting people discuss their ideas. And applying our moral values on people -regardless how true they are- sounds wrong to me. And about social media corporations, they have terms of services and they have the right to provide the environment they want. Restrictions can be made depending on their views and people can react by refusing to use this service. We can see the example of Trump supporters migrating to Parler or other media platforms after Twitter limited Trump's speech. I couldn't follow Trump's messages that led to his ban, and it's open to discuss whether they should be considered a crime or not but if a social media starts banning too many opinions, this will result in people refusing to use their services. Decentralised or anonymous platforms can be a solution, as you can have freedom of speech without limitations but as orathaic stated, 4chan and similar sites don't take long before turning into echo chambers for unpopular opinions and most of them are really unpleasant. In fact having alternatives allows people to decide how much protection they want and how much freedom they can give up on for that protection.
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Re: Freedom of speech

#10 Post by orathaic » Tue Jun 15, 2021 6:12 am

And also about the example in the very first post, the child is not shaking in fear because what is being said
Interesting, I didn't really think to distinguish between the content and the delivery.

I may have to think about this one. But you are right.

'freedom of speech' is more than just speaking, and might be better termed 'freedom of expression' - including things like religious expressions (whether that he silent prayer, kneeling as a sign of submission, or making the sign of the cross when you pass a church/cemetery).

I think if you shout in someone's face 'I really like you haircut' the most likely responce would be confusion, as the content of the message and the method of delivery are at odds. So the result is cognitive dissonance?

Thus the method of delivery communicates intent. And is thus offered some protection under, the rather broad, interpretation of 'freedom of expression'.

So I think I agree with Yazuzovic, some expression should be limited for safety.

Obviously you can express your anger by punching a wall, or assaulting someone. These kinds of expressions are already prohibited. Perhaps it is only the calm, mild mannered racist views which argue for ethnic cleansing that we need to worry about.The ACLU discuss taking cases to protect outright racists.

And I would argue that expressing ideas of xenophobia(ie irrational hatred of Others)should be restricted.

I suppose that this could be expanded to suggest any irrational belief which does harm should be restricted. If someone was to use my own logic to claim pro-anorexia (to take a less political/contraversial example) content should be banned, would that be acceptable?

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Re: Freedom of speech

#11 Post by Matticus13 » Wed Jun 16, 2021 3:52 am

I couldn't read much of the article, but the ACLU has always been loyal to protecting the First Amendment. It's a shame that many within the organization are attempting to steer the boat exclusively to the left... The racists, misogynists, and bigots have rights under the First Amendment as well.

There are plenty of limitations on speech in the US. Beware the slippery slope.
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Re: Freedom of speech

#12 Post by orathaic » Wed Jun 16, 2021 8:05 am

Matticus13 wrote:
Wed Jun 16, 2021 3:52 am
I couldn't read much of the article, but the ACLU has always been loyal to protecting the First Amendment. It's a shame that many within the organization are attempting to steer the boat exclusively to the left... The racists, misogynists, and bigots have rights under the First Amendment as well.

There are plenty of limitations on speech in the US. Beware the slippery slope.
From the article, it sounds like they steered anti-Trump, and hire new people who are push this left leaning as a result of great success (in fundraising) in their anti-Trump position.

Maybe this will reverse itself.

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