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Free Speech: Let's do this properly

Discussion in 'Congregation of the Masses' started by Soul Fly, Feb 16, 2017.

  1. Soul Fly

    is a Contributor Alumnus

    Jan 16, 2013

    As rancid as the last thread was I think it would benefit all of us to to have a proper conversation about free speech. One not bracketed under race or any particular flash point, or framed as bait.

    What this thread is NOT about:
    1. Should we kill (BAN ME PLEASE)/women/men/<insert_harrased_group>
    2. Is misogyny and racism okay
    3. Are online troll armies a force of good
    (in case anyone was confused about those answers: oh goddd... fuck you)

    What I would like instead this thread would would be the performance of speech and what liberties should be the common denominator to that regard. This question is very important because both intent and consequence are extremely vital factors and it could be problematic to intuitively privilege any over the other.

    So to just maybe kick it off as far as I have surmised there are two broad legitimate camps about this issue notwithstanding internal nuances.

    Camp 1: The notion of anything free works only in absolute. Because once you start carving it up with terms and conditions you are automatically conceding to subjective factors. Everyone can feel offended or hurt at something or the other, so therein we have a potential slipperly slope. Where does it stop. In other words a logically absurdum application of the neoliberal "limited" free speech rationale would be a de facto North Korea. No one needs free speech for benign statements. Free speech is only ever invoked in case a statement is against common consensus, no one needs the protection of free speech to talk about the weather. Opinions and trends change over history - and free speech needs to be objective and consistent to facilitate any societal change. Grow up you damn snowflake, and keep it simple. Apply consistent standards with unflinching determination. You are gambling with hard won privileges, the cost of which you don't understand objectively. When the white person becomes the last safe target of censure, ridicule and comedy he goes out and elects a Donald Trump.
    The end.

    Selections of people in this camp: Voltaire, George Carlin, Bill Maher, Noam Chomsky, Christopher Hitchens among others

    Camp 2: Speech only ever works in context. One must always analyze the power equation between the speaker and the recipient, who may or may not be intended, because free speech is only ever public by nature so you cannot ever broadcast to a 100% intended audience. Secondly your intent and tone is only ever determined in conjunction with your social and material conditions. All of which is why it is okay to #punchanazi and not okay to #punchablackwoman, why there is a difference between the black man using the word "n1gger" and a white person doing the same, or for that matter the difference between #killallmen and #killallwomen as competing expressions. The question of power is only manifested from the balance (or imbalance, rather) between the stakeholders involved (the speaker and the audience). Another way to understand this would be the stance of many PoC/Women/left-leaning comedians - that good comedy should always "punch up", i.e make the hegemonic group the object of ridicule in order to demistify oppression and rebel with speech-act; and obviously vice versa the reverse effect takes place, wherein we "normalize", "trivialize" and continue propagating problematic attitudes towards the oppressed. The power equations themselves are fraught with nuances and complex dynamics and it's about time we shut up and paid attention.

    Selections of People in this camp: Derrida, Foucault, Judith Butler, Dave Chapelle, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Most left-liberal Late Night Show hosts, among others

    All of this also spills off into other socio-cultural debates: such as the nature of cultural appropriation and the freedom of expression, libel and sedition, consequence v/s ideal, safe spaces (particularly as the idea that you can "zone" off space as unequally available for certain kinds of rhetoric based on the interest of impact and balance), art and humor, etc.

    I tried to keep this intro digestible in order to make this discussion accessible to a wide range of people, but at the same time (hopefully) provided enough context to kick-start a meaningful discussion ion good faith. Please do keep merking to minimum, I know it is usually condoned and I have often indulged in it myself, but because the nature of this thread is such, that this will be extra detrimental here.

    Last edited: Feb 16, 2017
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  2. Cresselia~~

    Cresselia~~ Junichi Masuda likes this!!

    Jan 14, 2006
    Probably related:

    There are many different studies with different results regarding to whether refugees and/ or immigrants have higher crime rates.
    Are there any studies like this that really doesn't have a political side?
    In the likelihood of these studies being politically biased, how does one choose or estimate how biased or accurate the study is?

    (I treat nationality separate from race)
  3. Saz Chan >^-^<

    Saz Chan >^-^< I COULD BE BANNED!

    Nov 17, 2016
    I certainly place myself in the first camp, which is unusual as a Brit. Fortunately (in my opinion), our free speech laws have become ever so slightly looser since 2013, in which the legal definition of what constitutes hate speech has been limited from "abusive, threatening or insulting" to just "abusive or threatening". As a libertarian, my own view of free speech is informed by my understanding of the fundamental domestic role of government, which is that of using the rule of law to protect the right of citizens to live their lives as they wish, up to the point at which they encroach upon the ability of others to do the same. Often this is not very clear-cut, and requires a judgement call, but at the very least it does lead me to question the mantra that one often hears, that "free speech ends where hate speech begins". I disagree with this principle for three reasons:

    1) It assumes that there is some concrete definition as to what constitutes hate speech, which there is not. It does little good to define hate speech as speech that is abusive or threatening, because this serves only to shuffle the question along one stage: now you still have to decide what kind of speech is abusive or threatening. You can make things nice and easy by defining "abusive" speech as any speech which causes someone to feel abused, and this does make things definitive in some sense. But, of course, it opens up the obvious problem that someone can claim to feel abused by anything. Anecdotally, I have had many of my own views dismissed as hate speech, where they are motivated by no such thing. But it seems like the intention lying behind my words is for other people to decide, not me. In practice, the concept of "hate speech" is a tool used by those of a particular political persuasion to silence those on the other side of the aisle. At the risk of sounding cynical, the far left has long since learned that, by moralising about the counter-perspective, it alleviates the need to engage with its arguments. By insisting that anyone who opposes same-sex marriage is homophobic by definition, or that anyone who opposes the existence of Equal Pay laws is sexist by definition, you can successfully silence what they have to say, no matter how reasonable it may be.

    2) Even if there were a concrete way of identifying hate speech, so that hate speech was unambiguous and perspicuous every time it occurred, it still should not be silenced by law. There is a widespread assumption that the appropriate response to evil is to force it underground and pretend it does not exist. Myself, I think that this is extremely stupid. Neo-nazism is evil, but you don't stop such people from existing by silencing them. There is much wisdom in "better the devil you do know than the devil you don't". If there really are dangerous people out there, people who are seeking to "threaten" or "abuse" us, why on earth would we want to turn our backs on them? The wisest thing to do is to shine a big light on them. Do skinheads want to march through the streets under the banner of a swastika? Let them march. Let them talk to the media. Now we know who they are, how many they are (at least), and what they want. At the end of the day, either these people are a legitimate threat to security and to freedom, or they are not. If they are not, then just leave them be, and let them alienate themselves from the rest of society. And if they are a threat, then silencing them is foolish. It might make you sleep easier, but it won't help you to know what you are up against. Incidentally, I am in favour of de-criminalising holocaust-denial for this very reason.

    3) There is simply no need for a legal concept of "hate speech". There is no form of speech that should be silenced, that is not already considered an offence under existing laws. If I threaten to beat someone up, or if I attempt to organise a riot on social media, there are already laws which handle these things. These are forms of speech that I believe should be criminalised; not because of the speech itself, but because of the criminal activity that it threatens or encourages. This being the case, it must seriously be asked what the purpose of criminalising "hate speech" is. I believe the answer to this question is nothing more than the cultural pressure brought about by political correctness. If someone makes a sexist slur at my expense in the street, I can just ignore them and walk on by. If they do so while I patronise their place of business, I can go and shop elsewhere. If they do so in the workplace, there will probably be some article of company policy which they have violated, in which case it can be dealt with in-house. And if not, I can leave. I see no reason why there is a need for me to be able to call on the government to silence such people.

    This brings up one more point that needs to be made: that "free speech" is a strictly legal concept. It means that the State has no right to silence the expression of your views, no matter how unsavoury they may be to society at large. What free speech does not mean is that everyone must listen to you for as long as you wish to speak, nor that they must give you a forum to do so, even if they have extended this courtesy to others. You haven't been "oppressed" if twitter bans you for supporting Trump. They would just show their true colours by doing so.
  4. GotR


    Jul 5, 2015
    I actually agree with pretty much everything you've written here.

    Just to expand on point 2) a bit, there's also the whole Streisand Effect to worry about. Attempting to shut people up inherently increases their audience as more people read about you trying to shut them up. For a recent example, look at the whole 'PewDiePie is a nazi' debacle - mainstream media jumped all over the story for easy clickbait news, and the rate at which he was getting YouTube subscribers jumped, despite the attempt to portray him as a racist asshole. Milo Yiannopolous getting banned from twitter had a similar effect - he was national news (meaning a shitload of people heard what he had to say) following that. I'm not necessarily trying to argue that Milo should have been tolerated on Twitter, but the way it was handled let him play the victim, which just made it even worse.
    Saz Chan >^-^< likes this.
  5. Kanburi


    Mar 7, 2016
    The dumbest part is that he repeatedly called Twitter out for making that mistake of banning him for something he didn't do just before the RNC, which made him the national spotlight, and the left is still doing the same thing (see how his book sales soared back to the top of the Amazon list after Berkeley).
  6. smogon account

    smogon account

    Jan 6, 2017
    I'm in love with Voltaire. A lot of his belief was molded by his environment in that he was very sick of the French. I love how bold he is, even if I disagree with him sometimes.
    For example, in Candide he portrays Pangloss as the fool, yet Pangloss was certainly right about many things. The real moral of the story is not what it seems Voltaire intended from the last chapter; I believe the true meaning of Candide is that naivete is dangerous and only by listening to others and their opinions can we gain real knowledge and wisdom, not by listening to authority.
    Naturally, it follows that I agree with his ideas of what free speech should be. In America, at least, I think the liberal party is a bit misguided as to the role of government in censorship. I heard a story about a Peppa Pig episode where the moral was not being afraid of spiders. That episode is banned in Australia. That is actually justified. Banning rice balls from a popular anime not so much.
    There are also political stereotypes regarding free speech that I don't think have any real basis in fact; the idea that liberals are thin skinned crybabies is absurd (any more than conservatives are anyway). If you believe Robin Williams, language was invented to woo women and honestly enforced censorship might help some guys with that. If you believe language is meant for communication, censorship inhibits our ability to get our point across. Obviously people for censorship have a different idea as to the role of language and communication because censorship is a direct counter to flawless communication. Imagine if you weren't allowed to use the words attack or defense when writing an analysis. Now imagine that half your Twitter posts are being deleted before anyone reads them. Both require an otherwise unnecessary amount of effort to get around. Censorship in politics can influence the apparent support of the public.
  7. TheValkyries

    TheValkyries proudly reppin' 2 superbowl wins since DEFLATEGATE

    May 4, 2010
    You know what's fun? Milo Yiannopolous has never once had his freedom of speech infringed upon. Yet people clutch pearls about the first amendment being under attack when it comes to the reaction to his brand of "trolling".

    People confuse the denial of a platform for censorship. That xkcd comic has been posted about 8 million times and still people fail to connect the dots of "taking away your twitter or canceling your paid speaking event is not the same as jailing you for saying things."

    That said considering the fact that Milo uses his college appearances as places where he can single out individuals and harass them based on their gender or race or how he used his twitter to sponsor large scale harrassment campaigns against individuals it's really fucking weird how we all act like "oh Milo he's harmless" and kinda just ignore how harassment is illegal. I guess the biggest difference is his harassment isn't sustained so I'm really glad he manages to be a vile asshole at so many people that he manages to avoid breaking any laws.
  8. Soul Fly

    is a Contributor Alumnus

    Jan 16, 2013
    Ugh I was actually hoping that it would be some time before Milo fucking Yiannopoulos invaded this conversation, but oh well....

    I actually, well, disagree!! Not with the fact that Milo is literal society cancer, but with this particular conception of free speech, and how particularly to apply this framework to Milo.

    First of all I think the technical notion of free speech suggested over here and in that viral xkcd comic is really reductive and works in a vacuum. In this modern world, especially in the US, if you think about it most platforms where you can communicate with a reasonable audience are all controlled partly or wholly by private parties - online or otherwise [think facebook, twitter, reddit, private entities that host talks - like TED, organizations and collectives, rallies etc etc]. i.e these become the places which can choose to reject your speech. IF you were eliminate all these spaces from the ambit of free speech and reduce free speech itself to a simple guarantee of non-imprisonment, this makes it more or less a regime of information control where free speech only exists a base threshold rather than in its proper spirit; that of enshrining dissent and making sure it isn't silenced. In a world where most of the engagement with the average polity happens in college lectures and over social media, you MUST engage with the fact that eliminating people from these spaces is effectively muzzling them. My rousing speech is useless if I only have the freedom to do so in a random street corner or within my limited echo chamber. So denying people such platforms is in fact for all intents and purposes denying them speech. If the opportunity cost of doing so is acceptable is the heart of the issue here.

    Is Milo going to jail? No. But that is a very reductive way of looking at this issue. Imagine if back in the day Martin Luther King or Malcolm X were denied platform at Universities because the mostly-racist white heavy administration at these institutions thought them to be dangerous or jackasses. Which in fact happened quite a lot: MLK was regularly denied platform in southern states and today this particular phenomenon is studied in socio/history classrooms as an indirect form of oppression and silencing. They cannot send me to jail but they can take away my tongue. Which is arguably just as bad. So I think separating speech and platform is just avoiding the issue, because the former is nothing without the latter.

    On to the particular UC Berkeley incident of no-platforming. Specifically the basic premise of your post, which as I surmise was “Free speech ≠ every college/independent entity has an obligation to give you an official platform for your speech."

    Moving past the violence that ensued, because frankly that's another huge can of worms, even in the case of a "peaceful denial of platform" there is a fundamental problem with this specific case:

    This begins with recognizing the fact that the invitation to speak was not extended by UCB but rather by the Berkeley College Republicans: a registered students organization, which is constitutionally allowed to invite speakers of their choosing without interference and regardless of ideological leaning, and are under the very same policy allowed to make use of campus space freely for that purpose. So there is already a nuance: the central issue is whether or not Berkeley has the right to overrule the right of a student body to give someone platform, and by extension censuring their particular ideology and the speech it generates in this space. But more importantly the first amendment becomes vital when viewed in this context. Take the standard boilerplate statement on free speech that Berkeley subscribes to: “consistent with the dictates of the First Amendment as uniformly and decisively interpreted by the courts the university cannot censor or prohibit events, or charge differential fees.” [Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, on campus policy and constitutional rights].
    Of course the Berkeley administration has no obligation to actively facilitate or enable an inflammatory speaker, because neutrality works both ways; and indeed they didn't do that either, the BCR independently raised the prerequisite $6000 amount in order fund and facilitate the event. So I think it begs the question, on a purely technical, ideal standpoint was Milo's no-platforming legitimate? To put it in context again imagine a UC Berkely in the 50s, and a civil rights group trying to get MLK to speak on campus, but a white-heavy administration conveniently overruling their right to do so under complaints of aggravation, or threats of violence. Seems like a great way to manufacture an echo chamber, no?

    The second tangent explored in your post is the fact that Milo isn't just garden-variety offensive, he is arguably a gay neo-nazi and exploits such platforms and the auspices of free speech to commit visceral violence against transgenders, muslims, blacks, and generally anyone who studies/teaches liberal arts. A particularly horrible instance of this occurred in Winsconsin where in a college event he singled out a transgender, whom he proceeded to threaten, harass, and insult for the next hour or so. This is very legitimate, and concerning. Milo is unique inasmuch that he isn't really some smart interlocutor of social justice, but rather thanks to his unique identity as a homosexual "intellectual", and prosaic trolling he is able to weasel his way into the cracks of our usually established unsaid checks-and-balance system of speech and platform. Think about it this way: he can access platforms that would be intuitively denied to someone like David Duke, but essentially propagate a lot of the same ideology.

    Just to preface this engagement, what Milo does is disgusting. But as you said yourself he has managed to fine-tune the art of spreading venom without exactly breaking laws. There might be a possibility that by some subliminal bias I'm underrating the emotional havoc he wreaks, however as an intellectual response, shutting him out because of his conduct in the platform is problematic because of the reasons identified earlier. Such framework can easily be turned around by a differently-motivated party to censure a whole host of comedians and left speakers who regularly take visceral pot-shots at conservative/supremacist figures, only perhaps with a "nobler" motive and a different ideological stance. But this is precisely the problem, such intuitive understandings are at the end of the day subjective and cannot be enshrined objectively. Your asshole is, quite unfortunately if I might say so, someone else's hero.

    If you think about it, such a structure only effectively ensures that people can only exercise their speech in front of a sympathetic audience. Sounds again like the perfect recipe of an echo chamber, directly contravening the spirit of free speech.

    On a tactical, political level, the problem is much more obvious, given the statement outlined by the BCR for inviting Milo: “because we believe there exists a dearth of intellectual diversity on this campus,” and “conservative thought is actively repressed.”.
    No-platforming Milo kind of proves their point, while unwittingly signal boosting this idiot to international fame and a million dollar book deal. It also exposes the fundamental flaw behind this line of argumentation: that it is at the end of the day an essentially unequal treatment of speech. Progressives MUST address this paradox if they're trying to justify the treatment meted out to Milo under the broadly Camp 1 [read OP] idea of objective free speech and a strictly technical interpretation of it that excuses private entities like Twitter and universities from exercising their authority to selectively deny platform.

    The fallout of all this is extremely important. As far as I'm concerned it is a broad resentment to this sentiment that fuelled Trump's anti-PC stance and essentially propelled him to Presidency. A string of statements and scandals, any one of which would have spelled political suicide for another candidate instead empowered him because he was able to pander to this sentiment. This concept of preferential treatment is what works as gasoline in painting "SJWs" and "cucks" as ideological tyrants who use strategic censure to "silence the majority". Milo and Trump are not assholes who oppress minorities but just "say it as it is". The only reason we don't recognize islam as the religion of hate is because some righteous bleeding heart libtard shushes me!
    In this version of events the liberal leaning intelligentsia becomes the bully squabbling amongst itself in an unrealistic echo chamber.

    in summary:
    1. No, there is a genuine case to be made about Milo's speech being censured. However if it is legit to do so is a separate question.
    2. Milo is vile asshole who toes the ambiguities between dissent and hate to troll. This needs a more nuanced response, regardless of harassment. Even if the target of harassment has grounds to sue, that doesn't quite qualify an institutional reaction.
    3. Such a rationale of free speech effectively manufactures echo chambers, which directly undermines the purpose of free speech as a vehicle of dissent and societal change.
    4. Aforementioned rationale also runs the risk of a fallout where liberalism and left-intellectualism is accused of putting discourse into an ideological matrix, where you must be "redpilled" to wake up to the "lies and propaganda".
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2017
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  9. magicin


    Feb 6, 2017
    Lotta free time you guys have (lol)
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  10. Silver Alli

    Silver Alli formerly Adamant Zoroark

    Aug 11, 2011
    Yes, we've all seen the xkcd comic. We all get the point it was trying to make. You don't have to keep bringing it up.

    No, just because Twitter and UC Berkeley are no-platforming Milo doesn't mean they're suppressing his 1A rights (although given that UC Berkeley is a public university as opposed to a private university, I think the discussion gets a lot more complicated and I don't wanna delve into it right now). The question is not about whether or not they can no-platform Milo, but rather about whether or not they should. You may have noticed that just because one can do something doesn't mean they should do that thing. I'm going to assume that your answer to the question of "Should they do it?" is yes. In that case, let's break it down.

    So, Twitter banned Milo Yiannopoulos from their platform, yes? Well, you know what that gave him? Publicity. Yes, banning Milo increased his audience. Shortly before this, he had also been deverified by Twitter, and guess what that did? It increased his audience (he got more, not fewer followers afterwards). So, as you can see, attempts to no-platform people for their views only puts a spotlight on those very people. Just google "Streisand effect" if you wanna learn more about that.

    The UC Berkeley case, where Milo had to cancel his appearence due to a protest that turned into a riot (setting things on fire makes it qualify as a riot by any definition so don't try to dispute this), generated something much worse than a Streisand effect: It made people sympathetic to him. And when you're dealing with someone who's as hateful as Milo is, that's not something you want.

    tl;dr: Yes, Milo Yiannopoulos is a piece of shit, but no-platforming him at best only draws more attention to his shitty ideas, and, at worst, could generate sympathy for him. And don't even get me started on echo chambers.
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  11. smogon account

    smogon account

    Jan 6, 2017
    I can't claim to know who this Milo dude is but someone mentioned something that I think is important- conservatives are not nearly as represented as liberals are in most places. As a straight white Christian male, I am essentially a minority because of my political views. In college (I went to school in Minnesota) I heard a lot of things in my civil rights and govt classes that I just didn't agree with. One of my classes in fact had an assignment that amounted to trying to get proof that my grandparents were racist. It was a bit silly.
    The point of all this being if this Milo guy is conservative, preventing him from speaking is just narrowing minds. If he's absolutely as disgusting as y'all say he is, well, free speech right? Probably shouldn't throw him in jail just yet.
  12. Robert Alfons

    Robert Alfons daddy..............give me hte Good Posts..........
    is a Tiering Contributor

    May 6, 2013
    No-platforming Milo is the only morally acceptable thing to do for universities tbh, not because of his despicable ideas - let me be clear on this, I have no qualms with giving a platform to ideas I fundamentally oppose, even though Milo probably isn't the most intellectual or interesting advocate of such ideas - but because he has crossed the line, not just advocating disagreeable opinions but actively harassing individual students during his talks. I think in general universities should be free to no-platform whoever they want (social media are a whole different story that I may or may not go into later on), but even if they were obliged to adhere to the First Amendment as though they were a governmental body, I feel like exceptions ought to be made when a speaker has been shown to threaten students' safety in the past.
  13. GotR


    Jul 5, 2015
    My understanding of UC Berkley situation was that it was only cancelled by police when it was deemed that the riot outside made it too dangerous for him to continue the event, that the University then condemned the rioters for preventing the event, and that Milo then played the victim and blamed the university after the fact because it pushed his narrative. I might go back and fact check if I get a bit more spare time. Not sure to what extent this changes people's view on the subject.
  14. Chou Toshio

    Chou Toshio Over9000
    is an Artist Alumnusis a Forum Moderator Alumnusis a Community Contributor Alumnusis a Contributor Alumnusis a Smogon Media Contributor Alumnusis a Battle Server Moderator Alumnus

    Aug 16, 2007
    So many reasons why I'd call myself a "Bill Maher" liberal. I'm with Bernie on the economics, but let's please be more objective and critical about free speech (political correctness), religion (Christianity and Islam), and the Middle East.

    Camp 1 ftw
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  15. Tasellus


    Feb 18, 2017
    ^ I'd also say that I agree with almost all of this and I think it was well put.

    A democratic society must always find a way to facilitate a free-flowing exchange of ideas, as painful as that might be. It is an absolutely essential function. If ideas are expressed that are controversial and offensive, then individuals and society in general can disagree with and condemn those ideas as they see fit - but they must not condemn the fact that they were expressed in the first place.

    The way that a society of humans with an endlessly vast spectrum of beliefs and values manages to find a way to live harmoniously - or at least in tolerable functionality - is to arrive at an agreed way forward through an open exchange of ideas. Getting offended is part of the human experience and it is a large part of how we learn to interact with and live alongside ideas that we don't agree with.

    I think it says an awful lot about your character if, when you hear something offensive, your response is to attack the ideas that you are offended by, or to attack the fact that the person was allowed to express them. I know that I have core beliefs and that if someone attacks one of them, I will be offended. It happens often, actually. But that is a call for me to defend my core beliefs, and in defending them I gain the opportunity to test their strength in the broader social arena. If I can't defend them adequately, should I not rethink them? I would hate to live in a society where I am insulated against viewpoints that may offend me. That is how societies stagnate, individuals grow complacent and precious innovation - sometimes the new best way forward - is suppressed.
  16. BenTheDemon


    Oct 28, 2011
    I'm solidly in Camp 1.
    I am a social anarchist. I don't believe that the government should make any laws involving people's social lives. I believe in laws against murder, rape, and theft obviously, but I think people should be allowed to do drugs, have public sex, and be nude without government overreach.
    I believe that the First Amendment (in America, the free speech, free religion, free expression one) trumps pansy asses 100% of the time. The only time speech should ever be scrutinized is when it's a direct threat of violence or clearly malicious (such as lying about a car you're selling).
    All ideas have equal right to exist. Though Darwin has sorted out many of the shitty ones, they still have the right to exist in the free market of ideas.
  17. GotR


    Jul 5, 2015
    I think this is more nuanced than you make it seem. It's basically asking the question 'should be you allowed to say something that is factually incorrect?', with the example in this case being alternatives to evolution.

    The two examples of current, real world issues that are affected by this question that jump to mind for me are 'should anti-vaxers be allowed to convince people that vaccines are harmful' and 'should we allow creationism to be taught in schools?' My answer to both of these questions is 'no', but I believe that can be justified without answering the freedom of speech question: anti-vaxers because they're effectively putting people - especially children, who can't make their own choices - at risk of contracting preventable diseases, and creationism because I believe the government has a responsibility to ensure that schools have correct information, regardless of whether or not individual people have that same responsibility with the information they themselves choose to share.

    To focus on the free speech aspect of this problem, let's take an example that isn't particularly contentious, and doesn't have extraneous outside factors. 'Should I be allowed to say that the sun goes around the Earth?' I find myself thinking that while I believe people should be allowed the freedom to express a factually incorrect belief such as the one in this example, allowing such freedom comes with the negative consequence of facilitating the spread of misinformation, which I'm very opposed to.

    Anyone else want to have an opinion on this apparent paradox? Is my premise incorrect? Does one of these considerations outweigh the other? I honestly don't know which side to advocate here; I'm basically for freedom of speech but against its consequences and not sure what to do about it.
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  18. Solace

    Solace cheap thrills
    is a Site Staff Alumnusis a Super Moderator Alumnusis a Contributor Alumnusis a Battle Server Moderator Alumnus

    Nov 4, 2009
    see, here's the thing. i don't like the idea that unilaterally people can be denied a platform. i definitely think the best way to drown out stupid speech is to let people talk about it and eventually they will be proven wrong. i think other people's opinions are worth listening to. but...

    1) going on the twitter thing: twitter is a private company. they can ban whoever they want, whenever they want. full stop. they're not the government, they just want the most people to be happy using their platform. even so, they're giving a lot of people spaces to spread evil shit, as so many neo-nazi/kkk accounts are very much out there

    2) all those neo-nazi/kkk accounts are very much out there. and yet, none of them actually want to have a nuanced discussion about issues. it's all about white supremacy, anti-semitism, and islamophobia. none of these ideas are backed up by anything credible, and they are uninterested in listening to reasonable discussion. it's why these pits of society have existed for so long. white supremacists have always existed in small pockets, and the internet and media that said "give them a platform" allowed them to get a wider base.

    3) we're also debating what the facts are. when the presidential administration is fabricating terrorist attacks and making up statistics that "news" stations like fox repeat without any critical thought, an entire base of people believes that garbage to be true, and that anyone who tells them otherwise has "liberal media bias." how can there be a thoughtful discussion when it first has to be established which facts are actually true?
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  19. Eevee General

    Eevee General Should have been spam cleaned
    is a Battle Server Administratoris a Forum Moderatoris a Site Staff Alumnusis a Smogon Social Media Contributor Alumnusis a Super Moderator Alumnusis a Community Contributor Alumnusis a Contributor Alumnusis a Smogon Media Contributor Alumnus

    Nov 18, 2009
    Why are there people who are so vehemently against the government infringing on free speech but when a private enterprise picks and chooses what you can and can't say people don't even bat an eye? i.e. If someone supports free speech, why don't they support it everywhere?

    This is NOT directed at anyone in particular, I'm just curious what the answers are.
  20. Solace

    Solace cheap thrills
    is a Site Staff Alumnusis a Super Moderator Alumnusis a Contributor Alumnusis a Battle Server Moderator Alumnus

    Nov 4, 2009
    because, in my opinion, capitalism serves as another enforcer for free speech. if a private company --that ultimately seeks to make a profit -- says that they don't want the speech of x group of people, they can choose to do so. and then people who support that group can boycott that company financially and recruit their friends to do the same, which is a form of free speech.

    take starbucks. they chose not to have ~religiously affiliated christmas cups~. this upset some people, who chose to boycott the company. that's a form of free speech. ultimately, if enough people boycott and stop supporting the company, they'll be forced to change to whatever is the most pragmatic choice. people can influence private companies w/their own free speech.

    it's also the same as at a job. your employer can fire you for being a dumbass, just as you are not individually entitled to use any private service, because there are terms & conditions that can be applied to remove people with offensive behavior.
  21. Soul Fly

    is a Contributor Alumnus

    Jan 16, 2013
    That sort of analysis dangerously underestimates that power structure behind capitalism, or power structures in general and how they might want to control speech and information. Starbucks' diversity-activism is a very benign-positive example of this. What you say only works in a world with perfect information-symmetry and a discerning citizenry. What you say about "influence" can also [and more realistically] happen the other way round.

    Private entities control and police information all the time. Lies routinely become facts because they are disproportionately represented in fox news and repeated till it becomes white noise; along with an active erasure and suppression of the other side on the issue. Why do you think such a large proportion of the U.S population believes in mass voter fraud despite zero evidence? That influence can also manufacture echo chambers. That influence can make #alllivesmater a rally call in mainstream politics. That influence has routinely hampered climate change discourse, because big-oil controlled interest networks and lobby groups have essentially hamstrung almost all kinds of effective climate change policy through smokes and mirrors and biased propagation. The "influence" of the lowest common denominator can also be weaponized to get them to elect a donald trump as president.

    also, self-quoting myself from earlier, apologies.
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2017
    gvmgvm40 likes this.
  22. xJownage

    xJownage Even pendulums swing both ways

    Apr 13, 2014
    The beginning of your message caught me while I was reading this; it's my belief that capitalism, in economic terms, is the essence of liberterian-based morality, and should, in my opinion, be the only actual enforcer of free speech. Media makes it perfect; when something egregious is said on either side, the media calls them out for it, shedding the light to the american public. In private markets, the people control a company because capitalism is all about consent on both ends; I have to give you something you want, otherwise I starve. If I do something horrible and disgusting, I'm cast away and will struggle to find that same success. This applies most importantly to companies, and is realistically why I don't believe in major government intervention in business (I'm all for environmental regulations, for example, where necessary since those are issues that americans can't be aware of through media alone). If a company decides to use child labor, they will get slammed by the media as amoral, and thus, people who have the conscious choice to buy products from that company will no longer buy those products; in the wake of this, if there's only one major company, another will emerge and take over the market for that product. The people control the companies, since they don't get government subsidies in most cases and as a result rely on keeping customers satisfied. Most brands prioritize customer satisfaction for this exact reason.

    When a company takes amoral actions, the best disinfectant is capitalism because the people can say what is moral and what isn't, unlike in government-controlled markets where the government has to decide what is or isn't moral. The saying goes "Sunlight is the best disinfectant", which holds ever so true when you're talking about people like Milo as well: Let him speak without having people scream at him about how terrible he is and people will realize that his way of treating people is awful and will stop attending his events. It's no wonder Milo likes Trump so much, they're both huge narcissists. Most people who are moderate or conservative appeal more to fact than morality, which is where the political left has run into a recent problem; they often don't cite numbers and/or the true connections of those numbers to a certain conclusion, and therefore lose out to intellectually honest conservatives like Ben Shapiro.

    The sort of cult of outrage we're seeing on the left, with things such as the berkeley riots and the mizzouri incidents, is pushing people away from the left, hence why conservatives have retaken control of congress and the whitehouse after a decently long tenure of democrat dominance. The reality is there's a lot of bad going on with regards to the right at the moment, but so much of it is drowned out because the left has blown it's credibility with many moderate/slightly right-leaning people. If you don't believe the attitude of the political left towards anybody who's remotely conservative is an issue, you're looking away from Washington.

    Listen: the solution to dissentment or convincing people of your side is not going to the streets and making a scene, it's coming to an argument prepared with facts and analysis while patiently explaining yourself to the other side. This is why more people become conservative when older, they see a group that generally acts more mature as people and therefore are drawn towards it.

    tl;dr free speech in a capitalist society is essentially the creator of liberterian morality controlling private companies, and the left is repeatedly blowing it's credibility by making fools out of themselves with useless immaturity in the streets while being very intelligent behind closed doors. This is why we're seeing Justice Democrats gaining traction.
  23. Steel With It

    Steel With It

    Dec 26, 2014

    1. Because we've seen what happens when private enterprises have no rules, or ignore any rules they do have, in the name of "Free speech absolutism." Online, we end up with 4Chan, Reddit and Twitter fostering and covering for paedophiles, MRAs, white supremacists and neo-Nazis. Offline, we end up with the death of fact-based journalism, the rise of fascism and the election of Trump.

    2. Because free speech applies to those private enterprises as well.

    The second one is my problem with "Free speech absolutism" as a whole - it's a misnomer, there's nothing remotely absolute about it, it's just a euphemism for "You must be this conservative to ride the First Amendment." If it wasn't, "Absolutists" would be able to understand that while bigotry and hatred is free speech, so is calling out and criticising bigotry and hatred. You (general you) can use your free speech to call me a "Bitchy SJW c**t" or whatever other slurs get hurled at me on a daily basis for the capital crime of being a liberal woman on the Internet, and I can use my free speech to tell you to piss off and leave me alone.

    I'll never understand where this meme of conservatives being for free speech and liberals being against it even came from. From everything I've seen, harassing anybody to the left of Hitler into silence (or worse) seems to be modern conservatives' raison d'etre, at least online.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2017
  24. Myzozoa

    Myzozoa doll's hair with gasoline, set it alight and set it free
    is a Tiering Contributor Alumnusis a Past WCoP Champion

    Jan 31, 2009
    Free speech has to be bounded, otherwise it remains to be taken up by anyone to justify any act (any expression). All speech is violent when the overall context of that speech is predicated on violence. Speech/expression that obfuscates actual violence taking place is an example of such violent speech. This is why many journalists are viewed with such contempt. On the other hand, protecting the freedom of the press remains vital to participatory democracy, even if most of what is written is critically flawed in several aspects. However, no conception of free speech is safe from becoming unbounded by delusions. A key feature that differentiates delusions from typical false beliefs, that we all hold, is that they are characterized by resiliency in the face of compelling counter-evidence. The 'founding fathers' of America knew this well, and feared the mob in their drafting of the constitution with a bill of rights. This is why an unbounded conception of free speech is so dangerous in our time of psychic viruses and plagues, patient hunters, they are a product of forces that cannot be defeated by merely talking to them.

    The real question is "will violence be recognized as legitimate expression?" I'm talking particularly about the 'destruction of property', that 'frivolity' which protestors are so often accused of. Will society protect protestors' rights to protected expression? Free speech has always been about which speech should be protected, in legal terms. And since the 60's it was specifically about protecting the speech of dissenting groups such as the Black Panthers and communists. When protestors at UC Berkeley violently disrupted an attempt to host a speech by Milo Yiannopoulos they we're continuing the historic objective project of free speech which was famously vibrant at UC Berkeley, which has also been about protecting participatory pluralistic democracy including the integrity of intellectual institutions. As Chess Champion and Russian dissident Gary Kasparov points out: "The point of modern propaganda isn't merely to inculcate in the population some false belief, it is to exhaust their critical thinking skills." Free speech has never been about protecting the capacity of far right terrorist groups to express themselves. It has never been about allowing the spread of 'alternative facts', when those facts become a case for the continuation of genocide of various groups.


    So when the title of this thread says 'lets do this properly' that really tells the whole story about how free speech is bounded by conservatives in America: if you aren't speaking 'properly', which often has a racialized and gendered way of being enforced, your speech won't be protected. The alt-right loves to invoke free speech as a way of making it seem as though they are under attack when their speech consists in advocating for the death, incarceration or genocide (btw forced migration is genocide, look it up lol, banning syrian refugees contributes to genocide) of various groups.

    Free speech doesn't exist so that someone can 'debate' whether or not women or black people/communities have basic rights that should be protected. We already debated whether women should have rights, we already debated whether climate change was real, we already debated whether minorities needed protection, we already debated whether or not 'homosexuality' was a mental illness. Free speech doesn't protect people whose platform is to advocate against the existence of certain groups. When the 9th district court affirmed the ruling against trump's ban on Muslims, they specifically discussed the president's prior rhetoric of 'muslim ban' when considering the legality of the executive order and its intent to discriminate.

    College campuses, and the students who they are accountable to, have no obligation to allow white supremacists to speak on their campuses. These positions have no place in an intellectual environment, in the first place, there is documented histories of scientific progress being inhibited by negative attitudes and practices that exclude women and minorities. There is a Clash song about people who want to accommodate the young republicans at UC berkeley getting a neo nazi to come hold an event: "If adolf hitler flew in today/ you'd send him a limosine anyway." http://www.politico.com/story/2017/01/milo-yiannopoulos-protest-shooting-233962

    Further, protests are a legitimate expression as much as the intended speech of the event being protest against. Protests are inherently reactive, they are responses, usually to some imminent physical violence, but it's the gospel of the sheep that it is actually the leftist protestors that are the violent ones. Such a projection, a deflection of blame on to the representatives of the victim, is a great way to lose track of the actual violence constantly taking place... mislay the blame on to fringe opponents. When they protest, beat them up, they deserve it, they were violent. Denying climate change is a qualification to hold elected office, but it is protestors that are going to get us killed? Police can start shooting them whenever they want in this political climate. When did protestors get so powerful? Tell me about the Soros conspiracy please.

    And you'll be begging for leftist protestors when the water in American faucets becomes undrinkable. You'll be begging for leftist protestors when FEMA doesn't come for a month because they cant decide whether the earthquake/hurricane/ tidal wave "really" happened. You'll be begging for leftist protestors when police departments start charging for their services and all the poor people with guns are off government assistance. You're going to get a collapse of the government, congratulations this is what God always wanted since Reagan, Gingrich, Bush Sr and Jr, now Trump to be the Nero of America: "slay the beast", that is the american government, and "the government isn't the solution, it's the problem". But the 'liberal' media and Putin shills dare to call the protestors the anarchists... You'll see the what anarchy is like once the energy corporations are allowed to bring their private armies into continental america. You'll be wishing for a 'liberal bubble' to flee to, if you can afford it.


    The problem with the 'market place of ideas' is that it is vulnerable to the spread of delusional-characteristic false beliefs. This is because in a capitalist society individuals' behaviors are best explained according to their need to acquire capital. Milo Yiannapoulos uses tactics that are very profitable for him because of all the controversy generating attention. This includes what beliefs they are hold/available for them to hold and they pass much of their way of thinking, often, onto the next generation. They actually pass on literally thousands of false beliefs, but almost of none of them do any harm. Except some, such as white supremacy, chauvinism, and fear of difference, are especially toxic because they are so profitable. Systems predicated on these beliefs are actually the main sources of profit historically, aside from animal domestication and the destruction of the ecology of the earth.

    So what happens when the idea needed to save society from collapsing isn't profitable? Hint: this is the reality we are facing if you believe in climate change.

    Unbounded conceptions of free speech are dangerous for reasons so obvious. It is especially dangerous when delusional-characteristic false beliefs are spread 'virally' as in our current time. On the other hand, protecting the expression of protestors and their capacity to organize, the 'freedom of association' i.e democratic civil society, which protesting has always been a part of, is vital to resisting a psychotic or idiotic populace at the helm of a democracy, as Thucydides described Athens.

    https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/american-psychosis-trumpism-and-the-nightmare-of-history/ (i keep posting links with the expectation that americans are still literate)

    "Perhaps the best demonstration of the reality of collective psychosis comes from the theory of democracy itself. Grounded in fictions of the “will of the people,” democracy has always struggled to build in safeguards against collective psychoses, which lead a popular majority to do something destructive to the body politic itself. The very idea of the “rule of law” and the importance of a constitution testify to the need to restrain popular passions and limit the power of majorities and the sovereign himself. The “division of powers” between legislative, judicial, and executive branches in the American Constitution is already a kind of allegory for a balanced individual mentality, capable of restraining itself by passing and obeying its own laws, judging for itself whether those laws are being obeyed, and carrying them out with what neuropsychologists call the “executive function” of the brain. It is exactly the threat of popular irrationality that drove Winston Churchill to observe that “democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.”"

    So while I talk about 'bounded' or 'unbounded' conceptions of free speech like this is a discussion of mathematics, the problem was never actually the concept of free speech, but how we, as a society, have become in relation to it: the spread of false information is unchecked allowing violence to unfold in obscurity, which is protested against, simultaneously the false perspective is also spread that it is actually protestors, reacting to the unfolding violence, that are said to be 'violent' ones in need of censure through police force. A distraction is made of the opposition's misbehavior.

    People spread false information for free, generating profit for pages selling advertising. They get a dopamine hit out of. They call it friendship. See all the people just typing in 'muricca' in reaction to news on a site and getting weird upvotes/likes. See me, still posting on these forums even though the only difference is that you might learn something, and knowing is the first step towards acting. Better like this post if you don't want me to quit !!1

    In Evelyn Beatrice Hall's biography of Voltaire, she coined the following sentence to illustrate Voltaire's beliefs: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."[72] Hall's quote is frequently cited to describe the principle of freedom of speech.[72] In the 20th Century, Noam Chomsky states that: "If you believe in freedom of speech, you believe in freedom of speech for views you don't like. Stalin and Hitler, for example, were dictators in favor of freedom of speech for views they liked only. If you're in favor of freedom of speech, that means you're in favor of freedom of speech precisely for views you despise."[

    But Noam Chomsky is not completely correct, because he has missed that there is no impartial belief in free speech, there is no way of 'objectively' legislating freedom of expression. As for Voltaire, his phrase has become prophecy, not declaration, when we find ourselves strangling on flapping tongues.

    tl;dr2- if you dont recognize the legitimacy of protests, which are often accompanied by violence such as the destruction of property, but you want to defend the rights of nazis to have a platform, you may wish to re-evaluate the way you prioritize issues.

    I don't like the camps because neither camp sets out to make a case based on evidence, but I have told you a story about technology, psychotic behavior, apocalyptic premonitions, capitalism and political expression that is very complicated and relies on specific evidences, each of which may be questionable. This story about how democracies became ruled by fear and the need to generate profit is complicated, but it is evidence based, there is nothing abstract about the existence of fake news, or false beliefs prevailing in the face of compelling facts that are evidence against the false hypothesis.
  25. GotR


    Jul 5, 2015
    You've misunderstood what 'protest' means. When 'destruction of property' is involved, you have a riot, which is no longer a free speech issue - it's straight up illegal to start bashing in random windows, destroying cars, and setting things on fire. Obviously I've only nitpicked one line out of a massive post, but said post is fairly dense; I'm going to to have to go back over it a couple times to really figure out what you're saying.
    xJownage likes this.

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