Freedom of Speech (again).

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Reply Tue 9 Jun, 2009 06:34 am
On the "would you convict this man" thread Aedes said:

Quote:
Zetetic, freedom of speech is not absolute. Shout bomb on an airplane or fire in a crowded theater and are how much that speech is protected.

There have been successful prosecutions of propagandists both from Rwanda and Nazi Germany.


I wonder what then is made of the following vid:

YouTube - Christopher Hitchens -- Free Speech Part 1
My personal belief is that any society that purports to be free should allow anything to be suggested. Those who are responsible for a certain forum, such as deciding on a school curriculum, or within a family home, or within an institution, should have the right to set erms of what they consider acceptable language, within reason.

But a society that attempts to criminalise or ban the expression of ideas, however loathesome they might be, cannot purport to be free, and is tantamount to legitimising the concept of thoughtcrime.

The "fire in the theatre" example isn't particularly credible to me given that it ignores a few criteria.

The first is obvious, no one in their right mind would ban the shouting of "Fire!" in a public place - clearly if soneone sees, or even suspects that see, a fire in the theatre or a bomb on a plane, they would be entirely right to alert others to the danger (as the yiddish community who provoked the original comment of "freedom of speech does not entitle one to shout fire in a crowded theatre" thought they were doing when they warned against US involvement in WW1).

Clearly the remark is aimed at the hypothetic boy who cries "wolf!" The moral of the tale of the boy who cried wolf* is that entering the zone of freedom of speech is done so at your own risk - and if people despise you, seek to disassociate from you or condemn you as a disturber of the peace - you bear the responsibility for that. You also bear the responsibility of entering the zone and maybe hearing something you didn't want to - this is not a dainty world.

So shouting "fire" in a crowded theatre is something that can carry repurcussions, for sure - but banning the shouting of "fire" in a crowded theatre is far more dangerous.

* Though I like the moral expounded by the comedian Ricky Gervais as well, that if you are going to lie, only tell the same lie twice.
 
Caroline
 
Reply Tue 9 Jun, 2009 12:04 pm
@Dave Allen,
You wouldnt ban the shouting of fire you would ban the person who cried fire, (wolf).
You wouldnt ban freedom of speech but you would ban people shouting dangerous things like fire and promoting the molestation of children, in my eyes that's encouraging harm to children that we have a responsibilty to protect. Im sorry but it goes against the grain in this instance, the only reason i can see to allow it is so they're not driven underground and then we'd have no idea what they were up to.
Infact i'd go as far to say that i'd despise them and that they are disturbing the peace in that if a peadophile learnt from that site how to better groom a child and did groom a child more successfully because he learnt from that site then i'd say they are disturbing alot more than the peace and that they have no rights in freedom of speech especially when it comes to the harm of children.
 
Dave Allen
 
Reply Tue 9 Jun, 2009 02:09 pm
@Dave Allen,
The point to me is that there are various forums for expression within society.

A crowded theatre is one of them, with a particular expected audience, and the commercial success of the theatre is dependant on pleasing that audience.

Clearly no one would ban the shouting of "fire" in a theatre - the right to do so is inherant in health and safety. If one does shout "fire" they should be prepared for the consequences for such anti-social behaviour - such as being barred from the premises.

Obviously the consequences for saying that you think age of consent and statutory rape laws ought to be abolished is that people will widely take a dislike to you and suspect you of all manner of horrible crimes. To the extent that they want to see you punished for murder just because a murderer happened to own some of your literature - apparently. This is the risk that such individuals no doubt face - the risk of ostracising themselves from society at large. That's their due I suppose, I'm not arguing anyone like what they say.

However, what the state should still offer to ostracised groups - whilst it can't (and shouldn't in this case) simply order people to like them - is the same basic human rights as people who haven't ostracised themselves. This way social ostracism needn't become some sort of state-sponsored untermenschen thing, where someone who admits to finding minors sexually exciting would end up being tried for murder - their only crime being the admission.

"First they came for the pedophiles - and I didn't speak up, because I wasn't a pedophile..."

Which is all well and good if you hate such people, and I admit they are a very hard group to have any sympathy for given the horror the crimes some of them do commit provoke in people.

This is not a dainty world - bad things happen. People talk about doing bad things a lot more than they actually do them though. Sometimes talking about bad things vents the anger and frustration, sometimes it stokes it. In the UK the neuroses about pedophilia probably prevents an equivalent of NAMBLA being tabled - who would have the nerve? Because of the fear associated with even being tempted by the idea - regularly fed by our red top press - anyone attracted to children and seeking to talk about their sexuality here would have to do it surrepticiously, where they will be offered child pornography and will come in to contact with practising pedophiles.

You know, actual crimes rather than just thoughtcrimes.

And what next? Shall we suppress all expression of drunken violence? A problem that marrs far more lives than child abuse. Let's not talk about it and the problem will probably go away...

Not a dainty world, and wrapping things up in cotton wool does not make for a good suit of armour.
 
Caroline
 
Reply Tue 9 Jun, 2009 02:13 pm
@Dave Allen,
I didnt say they should be blamed for murder.
And what do you mean supress drunken violence? I think alcohol is a tricky one because it does more harm then any other drug, again prohibtion leads to a black market.
I admit i find it very hard to understand it when faced with what appears to be acceptance of a group that is potentially dangerous to people. As i've said i'd much prefer to know what they're doing, i can accept that easily enough but how do you explain it to a child? That we are protecting our freedom of speech even though some people are heinious, somtimes Dave it's hard to grasp.
For a start even though i disagree with NAMBLA i dont think its fare they are blamed, i did say that in op, that's just a witch hunt. But what im disagreeing with is allowing potentially harmful groups advertise recruit whatever because they have rights.
 
Dave Allen
 
Reply Tue 9 Jun, 2009 02:18 pm
@Dave Allen,
No, but you are saying that the expression of certain ideas should lead to an erosion of rights, beginning with the right to express those ideas and extending to charges of tantamount sedition for expressing those ideas.

I do think it's a tremendously difficult thing to talk about, by the way, I don't find it easy, personally. But I do appreciate that we have the right to hold the debate.
 
Caroline
 
Reply Tue 9 Jun, 2009 02:31 pm
@Dave Allen,
I just disagree with what they are doing under the childrens act. What do you mean by tantamount sedition? i dont agree that they should've been taken to court and charged with murder in the Curley case.
 
Dave Allen
 
Reply Tue 9 Jun, 2009 02:41 pm
@Dave Allen,
They aren't under the Children's Act as they aren't subject to UK law - being a US organisation. The US probably do have similar laws - which to my knowledge NAMBLA do not break - otherwise they surely would be prosecuted. I'm not going to dig into their materials in order to find out - because if they actually do produce child porn I would then be committing a crime. However, it strikes me from articles on wiki and the like that they do not produce illegal material - they just argue that it should be made legal to do things that are currently illegal.

I'm not going to investigate further because I've no interest in them beyond an example of freedom of speech. It is only speech/writing I'm defending - not actual crimes such as disemination of child porn or whatever else they might be engaged in.

In short - when you talk about what they do, the danger they represent, what exactly is it beyond ideas?

You also did claim to "despise them" in your first post on the thread - or so it seems by my reading.
 
xris
 
Reply Tue 9 Jun, 2009 02:44 pm
@Dave Allen,
Well the video was extremely boring.He rambled on about a certainty that did not need so long to explain.You can say want you damned well like but if it upsets me, expect to get a smack in the mouth.We must be assured that when we speak its not for effect or just to hiss someone off.Whats the point in exercising freedom only to jeopardize that certain freedom we enjoy.If you cant be trusted with something it will be restricted by the nature of man.You are free to say what you want but it is also my freedom to react.The point is should i be allowed to react with violence?
 
Caroline
 
Reply Tue 9 Jun, 2009 02:51 pm
@Dave Allen,
Well you said that if you cry wolf expect be despised, that's exactly what im doing when asked about NAMBLA, i dont actively hate them I know what you're saying, in that, what are they actually doing, in that, they cant be charged with anything and i certainly wouldnt try. IIunderstand how important it is to protect our freedom of speech it's just a bit much when you think we allow this to go on. And i cant think of anything that they are doing, i just disagree with anything that is potentially harmful to children. In an ideal world they wouldnt exist. But as you've said we're not discussing NAMBLA, we're discussing freedom of speech and so far i havent been violent towards them but i dont like it.
 
Dave Allen
 
Reply Tue 9 Jun, 2009 02:53 pm
@xris,
xris;67772 wrote:
Well the video was extremely boring.He rambled on about a certainty that did not need so long to explain.

Seems to take a while to explain to some. The vid was really posted because I think the origin of the phrase "freedom of speech does not give you the right to shout fire in a theatre" is a pretty interesting historical fact.

Quote:
You can say want you damned well like but if it upsets me, expect to get a smack in the mouth.

Gotta love macho posturing on the web.

Quote:
We must be assured that when we speak its not for effect or just to hiss someone off.

Bonkers. Who would speak for any reason other than to have an effect. Having an effect is what speaking is for.

Quote:
Whats the point in exercising freedom only to jeopardize that certain freedom we enjoy.

If enjoying it to the full jeopardizes it then it isn't really a freedom, which is what this is all about.

Quote:
If you cant be trusted with something it will be restricted by the nature of man.You are free to say what you want but it is also my freedom to react.The point is should i be allowed to react with violence?

Your right to swing your fist ends where someone else's nose begins.

Though as I said - utilising freedom of speech is done at one's own risk - and realising that some short-tempered individual might assault you should be kept in mind - I suppose. The assaulter had best keep in mind that assault is an actual crime too.

---------- Post added at 04:00 PM ---------- Previous post was at 03:53 PM ----------

Caroline;67775 wrote:
I understand how important it is to protect our freedom of speech it's just a bit much when you think we allow this to go on.


It is just about the most extreme example I can imagine. I'm bewildered at their very existence - a mix of extreme courage and perversity in my opinion. Very strange indeed.

Quote:
In an ideal world they wouldnt exist.


Sure, but this is not an ideal world. Every attempt to daintify it has led to dystopia, and the first step has always been to erode the rights of those seen as undesirables.
 
xris
 
Reply Tue 9 Jun, 2009 03:09 pm
@Dave Allen,
You misunderstand my posturing, it was my point, you have free speech ,you can say want you damned well like but its the response that we should question.Have i the right to react to your free speech, thats the point.If you say something you find significant, if the response is negative, is that your point of saying it or are you just exercising a freedom with the hope it will not cause a violent reaction.
One mans freedom is anothers abuse,whose rights are paramount?
 
Dave Allen
 
Reply Tue 9 Jun, 2009 03:22 pm
@Dave Allen,
Well sure, if you say something other people think is stupid or irritating or immoral you have to ultimately bear the responsibility for people loosing respect for you or becoming angry or insulting you back or whatever. You exercise freedom of speech at your own risk in this regard.

I think if you threaten or menace someone their resulting anger may be hard to condemn. Today's news stories about Nick Griffin being pelted with eggs, for example, strike me as somewhat amusing - even though I think he has the right to say the things he says. This is a bit hypocritcal, i have to admit, I suppose I haven't quite reconciled my philosophy with the pure joy of seeing the leader of the BNP getting soundly egged.

Of course there are consequences - when those consequences are state sponsored that amounts to infringement of rights. The decision of citizens to protest your words are not in the same league provided the state doesn't let any resulting illegal activity go without censure.
 
Caroline
 
Reply Tue 9 Jun, 2009 03:28 pm
@Dave Allen,
Dave Allen;67790 wrote:
.
Of course there are consequences - when those consequences are state sponsored that amounts to infringement of rights. The decision of citizens to protest your words are not in the same league provided the state doesn't let any resulting illegal activity go without censure.

Um, i dont understand.
 
Dave Allen
 
Reply Tue 9 Jun, 2009 03:37 pm
@Dave Allen,
What I'm trying to say is that just because you ought to be advised to consider the reactions of people you speak to - their reactions do not to my mind mean that you have no freedom of speech UNLESS the state encourages or systematically ignores criminal reactions to your speech.

So if John hits Simon because Simon said "I have behaved in a significantly debauched manner with your mother" Simon has not lost the right to free speech - he is just the victim of an assault.

The police might decide Simon provoked the attack, and might treat John leniently as a result. Depending on the severity of injury or the lenience of the police this might be a warning sign, but does not necessarily mean Simon has lost the right to freedom of speech.

If the police always ignore those in John's position, or criminalise those in Simon's position then Simon has certainly lost his right to free speech.
 
HexHammer
 
Reply Sat 13 Mar, 2010 12:23 am
@Dave Allen,
Only simple minded people would preach for full freedom of speech. There has been many examples of how people got trampled in fear of bombs and such in great sports stadiums, the fear itself was a greater killer than the bombs.

The amount of phranksters would explode, makeing bombthreaths towards anyone, and be a great inconveinience.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 13 Mar, 2010 12:28 am
@HexHammer,
HexHammer;139230 wrote:
Only simple minded people would preach for full freedom of speech. There has been many examples of how people got trampled in fear of bombs and such in great sports stadiums, the fear itself was a greater killer than the bombs.

The amount of phranksters would explode, makeing bombthreaths towards anyone, and be a great inconveinience.


Yes. In the United States there is the famous, "You cannot falsely cry fire in a crowded theater" rule.
 
Insty
 
Reply Sat 13 Mar, 2010 12:37 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;139233 wrote:
Yes. In the United States there is the famous, "You cannot falsely cry fire in a crowded theater" rule.


For the record, there is no such "rule" in the United States.

The U.S. Supreme Court has in fact upheld many kinds of restrictions on the right to free speech under the First Amendment. All of these restrictions are entirely sensible, and there is much more freedom of expression in the U.S. than any other nation I can think of.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 13 Mar, 2010 01:00 am
@Insty,
Insty;139234 wrote:
For the record, there is no such "rule" in the United States.

The U.S. Supreme Court has in fact upheld many kinds of restrictions on the right to free speech under the First Amendment. All of these restrictions are entirely sensible, and there is much more freedom of expression in the U.S. than any other nation I can think of.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shouting_fire_in_a_crowded_theater
 
Insty
 
Reply Sat 13 Mar, 2010 01:04 am
@kennethamy,


Yes, this link supports my point.
 
Doubt doubt
 
Reply Sat 13 Mar, 2010 04:46 am
@Dave Allen,
We can not insite a riot. We have the freedom to speak our minds about any topic we chose, not the freedom to tell people to do illegal acts. Charles Manson could tell you all about how telling people to kill people works out. Only the government has the right to tell people they can kill people.
 
 

 
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