Free Speech

I have been listening to a series of discussions on free speech this week. We Americans seem to have it all messed up. Free speech is said to be one of the most dangerous rights in the Bill of Rights (not the right to keep and bear arms). We seem to think it is our right to say anything we want and get away with it. But we forget we cannot yell "Fire!" in a crowded theater if there is no fire. Nor can we slander anyone we like--I do note the difference between our liable laws and the British laws. We also more latitude to hate speech unless it leads to egregious crimes (witness Charlotteville). The conclusion of one discussion is that if free speech is likely to cause harm it should be controlled.

I thought it would be good to discuss the differences in our understandings of free speech.

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Comments

  • HugalHugal Shipmate
    Free speech has to be limited by law. It is also limited by convention. What is acceptable for the community you are in.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Following on from what Gramps49 has suggested as limitations, while there should be restrictions on speech which promotes violence. it's hard to see justification for simple hate speech. I'd not ban "I hate fags" but would ban "All fags should be bashed up/killed etc".
  • CameronCameron Shipmate
    Gee D wrote: »
    Following on from what Gramps49 has suggested as limitations, while there should be restrictions on speech which promotes violence. it's hard to see justification for simple hate speech. I'd not ban "I hate fags" but would ban "All fags should be bashed up/killed etc".

    Following the definition that hate speech is-

    “abusive or threatening speech or writing that expresses prejudice against a particular group, especially on the basis of race, religion, or sexual orientation.”

    -both of the examples you offer would qualify, since they include a term which is abusive. For some words, it is difficult to imagine a neutral usage.

    I am with @Hugal on convention and the community context. To that I would add that one needs to question what is lost by the suppression of hate speech - I have trouble understanding why this would be a significant deprivation.

  • I think that the difficulty comes in defining the exact parameters of hate speech, especially under an authoritarian regime which would count all criticism of itself (or any suggestion of revolution) as such. This seems to be what happened in Spain yesterday with the sentencing of the Catalan "rebels" - as one person in the street said, "But we're a democracy, all we did was vote".
  • CameronCameron Shipmate
    edited October 15
    I think that the difficulty comes in defining the exact parameters of hate speech, especially under an authoritarian regime which would count all criticism of itself (or any suggestion of revolution) as such. This seems to be what happened in Spain yesterday with the sentencing of the Catalan "rebels" - as one person in the street said, "But we're a democracy, all we did was vote".

    Authoritarian regimes are against simply against free speech, and use other criteria to obstruct it anyway. In Spain (and I take no position on what sort of regime it is) the sentencing was based on sedition, that is -

    conduct or speech inciting people to rebel against the authority of a state or monarch

    - which has nothing to do with hate speech as such.

    In short, I think you make a valid point about how authoritarian regimes will interfere with free speech to protect their position (and therefore may also seek to impact on community/convention considerations), but I am not sure it necessarily has a direct impact on how hate speech is or should be defined.

    However, perhaps definitions would also benefit from some regard to protected characteristics?

  • MooMoo Kerygmania Host
    Gramps49 wrote: »
    But we forget we cannot yell "Fire!" in a crowded theater if there is no fire.

    The Supreme Court has already ruled that yelling "Fire" in a crowded theater is not protected speech under the First Amendment

  • Doc TorDoc Tor Hell Host
    There's also the common belief that the First Amendment (and 'Free Speech' in general) gives immunity from criticism. What it gives is freedom from arrest by the government, and there is no obligation on the rest of us to put up with bullshit.
  • I'm not sure the Catalan situation is a good example of suppression of free speech. There is a complicated legal situation there, and prior warning was given to the Catalonians not to proceed, AIUI. I am being vague because I don't want to do the research.
  • Cameron wrote: »
    To that I would add that one needs to question what is lost by the suppression of hate speech - I have trouble understanding why this would be a significant deprivation.

    As others have said, the problem is when a future government decides that "hate speech" includes any and all criticism of itself or those who support it.
    Cameron wrote: »
    However, perhaps definitions would also benefit from some regard to protected characteristics?

    Who defines what a "protected characteristic" is? What's to stop a future fascist government defining "membership of the fascist party" as a protected characteristic?
  • OhherOhher Shipmate
    When I was a practicing journalist, I was also something of an absolutist re: free speech (US version). I'm now somewhere in the middle/muddle of changing my mind -- a work-in-progress; I'm still groping toward a coherent handle on "hate speech" and related issues.

    AIUI, the fundamental purpose of protecting speech (and ideas and conscience and press) was to make it possible for self-governing citizens to critique governmental actions/personnel without risking punishment /suppression/retribution by said government.

    Currently, what I think about most recently is the issue of name-calling. Here on the Ship, there's an attempt by Ship-government to restrict pejoratives aimed at the current US chief executive: not allowed in Purg, but OK in Hell. I see no utility in this division; does it solve some problem?

    Does the "no Presidental epithets" rule make it easier for Trump-supporting Shipmates (assuming there may be some) to engage in Purgatorial discussion? Does it offer a more inviting /supportive atmosphere for such posters? I dunno; there's not much evidence such a community exists on the Ship. Have we-as-a-community managed to shut Trump-supporters up / driven them away despite the "no epithets" rule? If the latter, then what useful purpose does the rule serve? (I raise this not as a Styx discussion or rule-critique, just as a sort of "thought experiment.)

    This practice "rhymes" in some fashion with an issue from recent US political life. Nobody (AFAIK) ever suffered governmental arrest for labeling Obama with the n-word, or describing his wife and children in horrifyingly derogatory terms. Nobody is getting arrested (AFAIK) for calling 45 names or demanding his impeachment / ousting from office.

    But are these situations equivalent? Not for me. Obama got name-called in two different ways: one for actions / he took as POTUS, and one for who he was as a human (that is, characteristics present at birth over which he could exercise neither choice nor control). Trump is being name-called primarily for actions / inactions he takes as POTUS.

    I suppose it could be argued that stupidity (if one thinks 45 has this characteristic) is a present-at-birth condition he could neither choose nor control, and hence places 45's arguable intellectual deficits on equal footing with Obama's race. But intellectual deficits, when people have these, constitute innate limitations on life activities. I am reluctant to place "race" in this category, since any life-limitations involved are imposed from outside the individual, by his/her society, rather than by "racial" characteristics (skin colors, eye-shapes, hair textures etc.) themselves. Additionally, I'd argue that we don't have enough evidence to assure ourselves that 45's POTUS actions/inaction proceed from stupidity rather than from other causes (e.g., venality, perceived self-interest, etc.)

  • Free speech doesn't exist as a right isolated from all other rights. The right to safety for example. If statements about racial minority people actually result in violence or mean that the minority cannot engage in ordinary life like others in a community, the free speech right needs to be properly balanced and controlled.

    There's a "weakling argument" ploy which tries to take the worst argument about things like free speech - that no one can say anything anti government, and authoritarian despotic rulers will turn the society into an oppressive dictatorship if there's any control over what is said and broadcast.

    Free speech is a generally good thing, if people have internal controls and aren't bigots. But that's asking much in a polarized world. So we need hate speech and instigation of violence laws.
  • Doc TorDoc Tor Hell Host
    What's to stop a future fascist government defining "membership of the fascist party" as a protected characteristic?

    Nothing. That's what makes them fascists. Whereas, in a democracy, we can have those debates as to what is or isn't a protected characteristic.

    See. Not so difficult after all.
  • HugalHugal Shipmate
    In a recent international football match,England verses Bulgaria the match was stopped a few times due to racist chanting from the Bulgarian fan’s side of the pitch. They also gave Nazi salutes. This I would say this is not free speech. How does that differ from Obama? What makes it hate speech and not free speech?
  • CrœsosCrœsos Shipmate
    Free speech doesn't exist as a right isolated from all other rights. The right to safety for example. If statements about racial minority people actually result in violence or mean that the minority cannot engage in ordinary life like others in a community, the free speech right needs to be properly balanced and controlled.

    Threatening speech is usually not considered protected. Incitement to violence (or other crimes) is also not protected. In U.S. law such cases have to be immediate (i.e. threatening or inciting action right now and not a possible outcome at some indeterminate future time) and specific (so that "I'm going to beat you" is not protected but "that guy deserves a beating" probably is).
  • Gramps49 wrote: »
    I have been listening to a series of discussions on free speech this week. We Americans seem to have it all messed up. Free speech is said to be one of the most dangerous rights in the Bill of Rights (not the right to keep and bear arms). We seem to think it is our right to say anything we want and get away with it. But we forget we cannot yell "Fire!" in a crowded theater if there is no fire. Nor can we slander anyone we like--I do note the difference between our liable laws and the British laws. We also more latitude to hate speech unless it leads to egregious crimes (witness Charlotteville). The conclusion of one discussion is that if free speech is likely to cause harm it should be controlled.

    I thought it would be good to discuss the differences in our understandings of free speech.

    [my italics] I think that is the key. Essentially, speech is free, but the speaker must bear in mind that they are responsible for the consequences of whatever they say or write.
  • Crœsos wrote: »
    Free speech doesn't exist as a right isolated from all other rights. The right to safety for example. If statements about racial minority people actually result in violence or mean that the minority cannot engage in ordinary life like others in a community, the free speech right needs to be properly balanced and controlled.

    Threatening speech is usually not considered protected. Incitement to violence (or other crimes) is also not protected. In U.S. law such cases have to be immediate (i.e. threatening or inciting action right now and not a possible outcome at some indeterminate future time) and specific (so that "I'm going to beat you" is not protected but "that guy deserves a beating" probably is).
    But what of saying "this guy deserves a beating" and he then gets beaten? Would the possibility of being beaten because others have been beaten after someone says "this guy deserves a beating" not be sufficient?

    Saying "this guy deserves a beating because he is <brown, gay, immigrant>. This is clearly hate speech.

    One is more specific than the other. Both are problems as I have understood enforcement in Canada. USA law is extreme re free speech as far as I understand. Hate speech appears to not really exist there.
  • CrœsosCrœsos Shipmate
    edited October 15
    USA law is extreme re free speech as far as I understand. Hate speech appears to not really exist there.

    Indeed. The First Amendment makes any kind of hate speech law unconstitutional. In the U.S. you're allowed to hate people and say so openly. Though I suppose it would be more accurate to say that hate speech exists in the U.S., but not hate speech laws.

    It should be noted that the U.S. does have hate crime laws, though I believe the preferred term is now "bias-motivated crime". A lot of times haters try to muddy the waters by conflating hate speech laws (forbidding the expression of hatred) with hate crime laws (a sentence enhancer for already-existing crimes when motivated by hatred).
  • CameronCameron Shipmate
    Doc Tor wrote: »
    What's to stop a future fascist government defining "membership of the fascist party" as a protected characteristic?

    Nothing. That's what makes them fascists. Whereas, in a democracy, we can have those debates as to what is or isn't a protected characteristic.

    See. Not so difficult after all.

    I quite agree - and that is much more succinctly put than I would have managed.
  • Cameron wrote: »
    I think that the difficulty comes in defining the exact parameters of hate speech, especially under an authoritarian regime which would count all criticism of itself (or any suggestion of revolution) as such. This seems to be what happened in Spain yesterday with the sentencing of the Catalan "rebels" - as one person in the street said, "But we're a democracy, all we did was vote".

    Authoritarian regimes are against simply against free speech, and use other criteria to obstruct it anyway.
    Not just authoritarian regimes.

  • Gee D wrote: »
    Following on from what Gramps49 has suggested as limitations, while there should be restrictions on speech which promotes violence. it's hard to see justification for simple hate speech. I'd not ban "I hate fags" but would ban "All fags should be bashed up/killed etc".
    The very real problem is that there is a straight line connecting the two.
    There is no perfect solution between the freedom to say what one wishes and the consequences thereof.

  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    I think that the difficulty comes in defining the exact parameters of hate speech, especially under an authoritarian regime which would count all criticism of itself (or any suggestion of revolution) as such. This seems to be what happened in Spain yesterday with the sentencing of the Catalan "rebels" - as one person in the street said, "But we're a democracy, all we did was vote".

    The vote wasn't legal.
  • Doc TorDoc Tor Hell Host
    Martin54 wrote: »
    I think that the difficulty comes in defining the exact parameters of hate speech, especially under an authoritarian regime which would count all criticism of itself (or any suggestion of revolution) as such. This seems to be what happened in Spain yesterday with the sentencing of the Catalan "rebels" - as one person in the street said, "But we're a democracy, all we did was vote".

    The vote wasn't legal.

    Then you can safely ignore it, rather than taking draconian action against the organisers.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Doc Tor wrote: »
    Martin54 wrote: »
    I think that the difficulty comes in defining the exact parameters of hate speech, especially under an authoritarian regime which would count all criticism of itself (or any suggestion of revolution) as such. This seems to be what happened in Spain yesterday with the sentencing of the Catalan "rebels" - as one person in the street said, "But we're a democracy, all we did was vote".

    The vote wasn't legal.

    Then you can safely ignore it, rather than taking draconian action against the organisers.

    You can't ignore an illegal election.
  • Doc TorDoc Tor Hell Host
    It wasn't an election, but a referendum. It was 'illegal' in the sense that there is literally no way for it ever to be legal (the Spanish constitution, as I understand it, expressly rules out any question of territorial succession). Catalonia simply cannot, never, separate from Spain: the attitude I would have taken would have been one of "that's nice, dear. More tea?"

    Instead, the Spanish government will have Catalan terrorists (Terra Lliure) back within a year.
  • CameronCameron Shipmate
    edited October 15
    lilbuddha wrote: »
    Gee D wrote: »
    Following on from what Gramps49 has suggested as limitations, while there should be restrictions on speech which promotes violence. it's hard to see justification for simple hate speech. I'd not ban "I hate fags" but would ban "All fags should be bashed up/killed etc".
    The very real problem is that there is a straight line connecting the two.
    There is no perfect solution between the freedom to say what one wishes and the consequences thereof.
    Quite so, as @sionisais also noted in a similar way. I think that makes it worth contesting expressions of hate speech on a community level, before it leads to other expressions that contemplate violence, or just leaps straight to violence itself. Growing up gay in a tough inner-city neighbourhood taught me that the line between a term of abuse and a punch in the face can be very short indeed.

    These days there is much more chance that someone who is not the (current) target will challenge hate speech. I think that reflects changed attitudes and increased awareness of psychological harm even if physical violence does not ensue, but also the evolution of the law (in many places).

    I also agree with @Doc Tor that freedom of speech does not mean that what one says should be allowed to pass without critique.

  • Cameron wrote: »
    lilbuddha wrote: »
    Gee D wrote: »
    Following on from what Gramps49 has suggested as limitations, while there should be restrictions on speech which promotes violence. it's hard to see justification for simple hate speech. I'd not ban "I hate fags" but would ban "All fags should be bashed up/killed etc".
    The very real problem is that there is a straight line connecting the two.
    There is no perfect solution between the freedom to say what one wishes and the consequences thereof.
    Quite so, as @sionisais also noted in a similar way. I think that makes it worth contesting expressions of hate speech on a community level, before it leads to other expressions that contemplate violence, or just leaps straight to violence itself. .
    It is not just hate speech. "homosexuality is a choice" is on the same line. "Be homo, but don't do homo" is on the same line. Addressing it needs to happen at all levels.

  • Ideas carry different weight in different contexts. I can say all kinds of crazy stuff where I am and there’s no danger because no one will listen to me. Taken into less comfortable, less stable contexts the ideas can be deadly. In French salons it was harmless fun to bounce around ideas about the ideal state of primitive man and the evils of civilization. Then some student from Cambodia comes along and shit gets quite unfortunately real.
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    Ideas carry different weight in different contexts. I can say all kinds of crazy stuff where I am and there’s no danger because no one will listen to me. Taken into less comfortable, less stable contexts the ideas can be deadly. In French salons it was harmless fun to bounce around ideas about the ideal state of primitive man and the evils of civilization. Then some student from Cambodia comes along and shit gets quite unfortunately real.

    True, but if the issue is whether or not speech should be restricted in the name of public safety, romantic primitivism would be the perfect example for why not.

    Because I would not want to live in a society where statements like "Rural life is infinitely more pure and wholesome than decadent urban life" can get you sent to jail or fined, even IF banning such speech would have prevented the killing fields.
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    ^ Another good example of the danger involved in safety-based restrictions is AIDS Denialism. It probably is the case that a lot of people in South Africa would still be alive today if Mbeki hadn't stumbled upon the Duesberg hypothesis while surfing the internet one night.

    But okay. What legal policy should follow from that causality? Let's make it a crime for anyone to disagree with the medical consensus on a given issue?
  • stetson wrote: »
    ^ Another good example of the danger involved in safety-based restrictions is AIDS Denialism. It probably is the case that a lot of people in South Africa would still be alive today if Mbeki hadn't stumbled upon the Duesberg hypothesis while surfing the internet one night.
    Duesberg. What a fucking tool.
  • I’d like to live in a place where all ideas, no matter how hideous, can be freely discussed. And there is never a guarantee that any given idea won’t become dangerous. So a flat ban on all dangerous ideas, or even a particular category of dangerous ideas, is untenable. But cases like the one you cited- Mbeki and AIDS denialism- make me think sometimes a judgment needs to be made that this particular notion at this particular time is sufficiently dangerous to warrant an intervention. Was that any less dangerous than shouting fire in a crowded theater? Suppression is not necessarily the only option. One could, for instance, do what the tobacco companies are forced to do and print clear explanations alongside the idea of how horrible this idea really is. Of course if this is done for more than a handful of bad ideas it starts to look rather cartoonishly heavy handed. Where do we draw the line? There is no non-arbitrary place to draw it. That’s where the exalted ideas of liberty and dour but rational technocracy keep butting heads.
  • Are you good with arguments about pedophilia?

    I'm not. Nor about arguments pro genocide. I'm sure there's more.
  • ECraigRECraigR Shipmate
    I’m assuming you mean pro pedophilia, because there are a lot of arguments to be made about pedophilia. Unless you just think that class of people shouldn’t be discussed at all.

    That being said, there are some interesting arguments* in the pro-pedophilia camp, but you have to believe a lot of things to get there.

    It’s also always helpful to re-evaluate what our cultural assumptions are. That being said, if we keep certain things off limits then that gives the Samuel Delaneys and Michel Foucaults of the world something to think and write about.

    *NB—Just noting that I’ve read stuff, not advocating for anything.
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    Here is a video that was shown at a Trump fundraiser at Mar-a-logo Warning: shows extreme violence. Should this be protected speech?

    Trump claims he did not see the video, and he has come out condemning it.

    But the video does show the type of people who are supporting him.

    How do we dial this division back?
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    edited October 16
    Are you good with arguments about pedophilia?

    I'm not. Nor about arguments pro genocide. I'm sure there's more.

    Here is the Mein Kampf of the Cambodian genocide...

    Underdevelopment in Cambodia by Khieu Samphan

    I haven't read the whole thing cover to cover, but from my brief skimming, there doesn't seem to be anything in there that would make someone go "Ah-ha, a blueprint for genocide!!"

    And I'm not sure what kind of law you could pass to ban it, that wouldn't also end up ensnaring anyone else advocating agrarian socialism.
  • Gramps49 wrote: »
    Here is a video that was shown at a Trump fundraiser at Mar-a-logo Warning: shows extreme violence. Should this be protected speech?

    Trump claims he did not see the video, and he has come out condemning it.

    But the video does show the type of people who are supporting him.

    How do we dial this division back?

    I guess the question is, if we ban that video, what argument can be made not to ban Kingsmen, not to ban movies with gratuitous violence in general etc? And then in the other direction, not to ban certain acts of protest like burning in effigy?

  • Doc TorDoc Tor Hell Host
    Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Police, in an uncharacteristically democratic-minded move, have unilaterally banned XR from protesting anywhere in London.

    That'll work.
  • Ohher wrote: »

    Currently, what I think about most recently is the issue of name-calling. Here on the Ship, there's an attempt by Ship-government to restrict pejoratives aimed at the current US chief executive: not allowed in Purg, but OK in Hell. I see no utility in this division; does it solve some problem?

    Maybe restricting the epithets is about avoiding the exacerbation of other problems? Removing some of the heat from a discussion which is Purgatorial rather than Hellish? Maybe it's about using language appropriately and in context?

    Still, if it means new regulations are introduced to control people's use of pejoratives
    Gramps49 wrote: »
    Here is a video that was shown at a Trump fundraiser at Mar-a-logo Warning: shows extreme violence. Should this be protected speech?

    Trump claims he did not see the video, and he has come out condemning it.

    But the video does show the type of people who are supporting him.

    How do we dial this division back?

    I guess the question is, if we ban that video, what argument can be made not to ban Kingsmen, not to ban movies with gratuitous violence in general etc? And then in the other direction, not to ban certain acts of protest like burning in effigy?

    I suppose the short answer is that Kingsmen is a commercial movie for profit and entertainment, whereas a video of the kind described is intended to incite hatred for real people? Don't know. I suppose I'd rather not live in a world where it's okay - under the principle of 'free speech' - to hang effigies of schoolgirls like Greta Thunberg from bridges. I can only imagine how her family feel about that; but maybe the threat they might be feeling is irrelevant compared to the principle of the freedom of the person who hung their child in effigy, in that way?

    Nevertheless, there seems to me to be a valid argument that such an act ought not to be viewed as equal to the 'free speech' we allow others to say 'I'd prefer to vote this way' or in reference to some other valid and lawful option for choosing how to live.

  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Doc Tor wrote: »
    It wasn't an election, but a referendum. It was 'illegal' in the sense that there is literally no way for it ever to be legal (the Spanish constitution, as I understand it, expressly rules out any question of territorial succession). Catalonia simply cannot, never, separate from Spain: the attitude I would have taken would have been one of "that's nice, dear. More tea?"

    Instead, the Spanish government will have Catalan terrorists (Terra Lliure) back within a year.

    Referendum, indeed. It was illegally constituted. Is there room in the Spanish constitution for a properly constituted referendum with no legislative or executive power?
  • Are you good with arguments about pedophilia?

    I'm not. Nor about arguments pro genocide. I'm sure there's more.

    I don't see why either issue shouldn't be discussed in a free democracy. Surely the whole point of democracy is that if enough people want to change the laws by which they have to live then those laws should indeed change. And if that principle is to exist then I don't see how any issues or laws can be declared to be unchangeable, much less unmentionable!
  • Are you good with arguments about pedophilia?

    I'm not. Nor about arguments pro genocide. I'm sure there's more.

    So Plato’s Symposium, off the shelves and into the fire?

  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    Anselmina wrote:

    I suppose I'd rather not live in a world where it's okay - under the principle of 'free speech' - to hang effigies of schoolgirls like Greta Thunberg from bridges. I can only imagine how her family feel about that; but maybe the threat they might be feeling is irrelevant compared to the principle of the freedom of the person who hung their child in effigy, in that way?

    Yes, I'd say the freedom of the effigy-hanger trumps the feelings of Greta Thunberg's parent(or Great herself for that matter). Because I don't see how you could pass a law that makes it illegal to hang an effigy of Greta Thunberg, which couldn't also be used to arrest someone for hanging an effigy of Margaret Thatcher.

    Basically, if Greta Thunberg is smart enough to understand issues like climate-change, she should also be smart enough to recognize that taking a stand on controversial issues usually provokes a lot of heated emotions among the public, and be able to anticipate that.





  • CrœsosCrœsos Shipmate
    edited October 16
    stetson wrote: »
    But okay. What legal policy should follow from that causality? Let's make it a crime for anyone to disagree with the medical consensus on a given issue?

    To a certain extent we already do this. If I say that I'm a doctor but the medical consensus is that I'm not I can be legally penalized for practicing medicine without a license. If Dr. Mountebank claims that his patented mixture of water, baking soda, and rubbing alcohol can cure cancer then he'd better be able to demonstrate this to the satisfaction of "the medical consensus" or he'll suffer the legal penalties for fraud.
    Anselmina wrote: »
    I guess the question is, if we ban that video, what argument can be made not to ban Kingsmen, not to ban movies with gratuitous violence in general etc? And then in the other direction, not to ban certain acts of protest like burning in effigy?

    I suppose the short answer is that Kingsmen is a commercial movie for profit and entertainment, whereas a video of the kind described is intended to incite hatred for real people?

    It comes down to how credible and immediate a threat is. It seems unlikely that anyone seeing Kingsmen would realistically be worried about Colin Firth or a bunch of 20th Century Fox executives going on a killing spree in a church. On the other hand right wingers and Trump supporters have targeted Trump's rivals and the press for death before, which lends a certain level of credibility to the threat.
    stetson wrote: »
    Anselmina wrote: »
    I suppose I'd rather not live in a world where it's okay - under the principle of 'free speech' - to hang effigies of schoolgirls like Greta Thunberg from bridges. I can only imagine how her family feel about that; but maybe the threat they might be feeling is irrelevant compared to the principle of the freedom of the person who hung their child in effigy, in that way?

    Yes, I'd say the freedom of the effigy-hanger trumps the feelings of Greta Thunberg's parent (or Great herself for that matter). Because I don't see how you could pass a law that makes it illegal to hang an effigy of Greta Thunberg, which couldn't also be used to arrest someone for hanging an effigy of Margaret Thatcher.

    Again, I think it comes down to credibility. Do a few dozen people threatening to lynch the already-dead former British prime minister have a credible ability to carry out their threat? Not really. Do a few dozen people threating to lynch a teenaged girl without any notable security apparatus around her have credibility? I'd have to say yes.
  • Note on the last; it isn’t about the capacity to understand. One can perfectly understand why one is hated/mocked/etc. and still feel pain. Not to mention fear.
    And she is a 16.
    That sort of shite will affect adults.
  • Another thing. I’m not under the impression that effigy hanging in a political context is that extremely common in the US.
    So it, along with the other violent expressions from trump supporters that seem driven by his words, have a more sinister feel.
  • jbohnjbohn Shipmate
    It wasn't, really (at least not since the early 19th century) - until the black guy got elected. All of a sudden, nooses were a thing again...
  • CrœsosCrœsos Shipmate
    lilbuddha wrote: »
    Another thing. I’m not under the impression that effigy hanging in a political context is that extremely common in the US.

    Nooses and hanging actually have a long and unpleasant history in the U.S. political context. That's part of the problem.
  • TwilightTwilight Shipmate
    Thanks Gramps, this subject has been on my mind.

    Last week I watched a Ruth Rendell mystery online and heard Inspector Wexford give a talk to his British audience, followed by a question from the floor:
    "What do you do if you suspect your family member is a racist?"
    Wexford: "Report him to the police."

    I was shocked. It reminded me of the communist scare in the 1950's when my teacher said we should report it if we thought our parents were communists.

    But that was fiction.

    I later got caught up in watching all the Youtube copies of a British reality show called, "Neighbors from Hell," Marvelously entertaining if you love English villages and Welsh accents. It contrasts so well with American TV's, "Fear Thy Neighbor" which usually ends in death by gunfire.

    I've discovered that the English police wont bother with loud noises, turned over wheelie bins, blocked driveways, public nudity, or Travelers using your porch for a toilet, but speak one mildly racist remark (in one case it was "immigrant" ) and you're off to jail.

    I had no idea. Not that I'm not disgusted by racist remarks, but when the remark is not connected with crime or inciting violence it seems to border on thought policing. Now elderly semi-demented Englishmen are in danger of being reported by their grandchildren for muttering by the fire.
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    Twilight wrote: »
    Thanks Gramps, this subject has been on my mind.

    Last week I watched a Ruth Rendell mystery online and heard Inspector Wexford give a talk to his British audience, followed by a question from the floor:
    "What do you do if you suspect your family member is a racist?"
    Wexford: "Report him to the police."

    I was shocked. It reminded me of the communist scare in the 1950's when my teacher said we should report it if we thought our parents were communists.

    But that was fiction.

    I later got caught up in watching all the Youtube copies of a British reality show called, "Neighbors from Hell," Marvelously entertaining if you love English villages and Welsh accents. It contrasts so well with American TV's, "Fear Thy Neighbor" which usually ends in death by gunfire.

    I've discovered that the English police wont bother with loud noises, turned over wheelie bins, blocked driveways, public nudity, or Travelers using your porch for a toilet, but speak one mildly racist remark (in one case it was "immigrant" ) and you're off to jail.

    I had no idea. Not that I'm not disgusted by racist remarks, but when the remark is not connected with crime or inciting violence it seems to border on thought policing. Now elderly semi-demented Englishmen are in danger of being reported by their grandchildren for muttering by the fire.

    It's giving you a very unbalanced view of the UK, Twilight. It isn't like that at all.

    And anyway why would English police have Welsh accents?
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    edited October 16
    Crœsos wrote: »
    stetson wrote: »
    But okay. What legal policy should follow from that causality? Let's make it a crime for anyone to disagree with the medical consensus on a given issue?

    To a certain extent we already do this. If I say that I'm a doctor but the medical consensus is that I'm not I can be legally penalized for practicing medicine without a license. If Dr. Mountebank claims that his patented mixture of water, baking soda, and rubbing alcohol can cure cancer then he'd better be able to demonstrate this to the satisfaction of "the medical consensus" or he'll suffer the legal penalties for fraud.

    Yes, but you're talking about penalizing outright fraud, not penalizing the expression of certain ideas.

    Free speech should not include my right to print up fake IDs and sell them to underage kids to buy beer. However, if I want to, I think I should be able to start my own website promoting the idea that feeding large quanities of alcohol to elementary-age children will enhance their immune system and mental faculties, and hence the drinking-age should be abolished.

    Now two caveats to that...

    1. If I go beyond simply promoting quack theories and dystopian legal reform, and start assisting or counseling parents to illegally feed their children alcohol, I should be arrested for abetting crimes.

    2. The medical establishment is under no obligation to give its imprimateur to my wacko theories. If I submit my ideas in a paper to the Lancet, they should quite rightly refuse to publish it. And if a doctor promotes my ideas while getting paid for his services at a medical clinic, he can have his professional credentials revoked forthwith.
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