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Author Topic: Pope Francis' Comments on Freedom of Religion  (Read 1815 times)

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Offline Ironwolf85

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Re: Pope Francis' Comments on Freedom of Religion
« Reply #25 on: January 21, 2015, 02:32:40 AM »
Insults are not classy.

It's too easy to dismiss it as 'trolling'. It's designed to get a rise out of people, yes - but any reaction on the part of religious people is no different from what non-believers may have to seeing religious displays, billboards, religious literature handed out, and so on. If these groups - the religious groups - want the right to display their religion in public, then they must also respect the rights of others to do the same with other religions, even if those religions aren't considered 'serious'. How is this selfish at all?

Oh I don't mean proclaiming your beliefs or lack thereof. But while spending $7,000 for a giant middle finger on a billboard and "Screw you (insert political group or faith here) you are all shit." is within your rights, I just don't approve of A: somthing that tries to start a flame war in the real world B: spending a ton of money on a giant "screw you" to others that could've gone somewhere better.

I don't want to take away people's freedom. I just think some people should be classier if ya know what I mean.

Basically people have a right to be offended and pissed, or to respond should hate speech be masquerading as humor. Which occasionally it does.

But my sympathy for such goes right out the window when that person raises their objection with a fucking machine gun instead of a protest outside the office or just sending a pissed off letter to the editor.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2015, 10:55:57 AM by Ironwolf85 »

Offline Sethala

Re: Pope Francis' Comments on Freedom of Religion
« Reply #26 on: January 21, 2015, 02:37:39 AM »
Is my insulting your daughter fighting words and hence shouldn't be protected?  In your own moral code, I mean, not the law?  If it is, is there a difference between that and an insult to the religion of someone who felt very strongly about it?

Too tired to go into much detail about this, but a quick thought:  It seems there's a pretty big difference between walking up to one person and specifically insulting their child, and posting something in a public area that mocks a general group in a humorous way.  But, if someone did come up to me and start insulting my religion (assuming I had a religion I felt strongly about, at least), and was clear he was targeting me and not letting me ignore him, then I'd consider lashing out in some way to be a valid response.

Offline Tairis

Re: Pope Francis' Comments on Freedom of Religion
« Reply #27 on: January 22, 2015, 09:58:01 PM »
People need to get over their obsession with the 'harm' of words. Someone insulting your child or your religion doesn't create any physical harm. Get over it. And in the case of you're religion if you're worried about what people are saying about it... then I wonder just how sound your belief is.

Offline AndyZ

Re: Pope Francis' Comments on Freedom of Religion
« Reply #28 on: January 22, 2015, 11:56:12 PM »
Going to be slowing down my PROC posts because they were interfering with my games.

The US - and I'm not a lawyer and even if I was I still wouldn't be one who knew the laws in the US - has "fighting words" which, according to wikipedia are:

I never actually knew this was a real thing.  I just figured it was something people said in old movies.

Part of the issue I see here is that we get into the burden of proof issue.  If we consider something to be offensive and unacceptable when the person doesn't believe it, but reluctantly acceptable when the person does believe it, how do you prove that you believe it?  I am not able to prove my believe in God significantly better than a Pastafarian, and requiring any degree of proof is only going to cause a lot of people to flat out lie.

I would feel uncomfortable creating a demarcation in this spot for that reason.



As I think about this, though, I'm reminded of something from college.

Someone had told me a story in confidence, and I ended up accidentally blurting something which really hurt that person.  It's not worth getting into, but I immediately got shoved out of my chair and onto the floor.  He let it go immediately after that, as if instant justice had been reached.

I remember how ashamed I'd felt that I'd completely messed up like that, and couldn't even find the words to speak to him in order to apologize.

It might be something far more common to others, but I have a severe difficulty in imagining any sort of legal system addressing this particular social phenomenon.

Offline KythiaTopic starter

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Re: Pope Francis' Comments on Freedom of Religion
« Reply #29 on: January 23, 2015, 06:17:24 PM »
And in the case of you're religion if you're worried about what people are saying about it... then I wonder just how sound your belief is.

Could you expand on that?  I suspect I'm misunderstanding you.

Part of the issue I see here is that we get into the burden of proof issue.  If we consider something to be offensive and unacceptable when the person doesn't believe it, but reluctantly acceptable when the person does believe it, how do you prove that you believe it?  I am not able to prove my believe in God significantly better than a Pastafarian, and requiring any degree of proof is only going to cause a lot of people to flat out lie.

No, I think you're mistaken here.  I wouldn't fight to avenge an insult to <insert E member's name here>'s daughter, they would.  In one case it would be an insult, in another it wouldn't.  I don't think there's a meaningful difference on that particular front.

Offline Tairis

Re: Pope Francis' Comments on Freedom of Religion
« Reply #30 on: January 24, 2015, 10:19:49 AM »
Could you expand on that?  I suspect I'm misunderstanding you.

Simply that those religious people that believe they should be able to censor the speech of others because it is antagonistic to their religion clearly must be a little woozy on the definition of 'all powerful'. If you truly believe that god/allah/whatever is all powerful, all knowing, all seeing... then why does it matter what the atheist or whatever journalist down the street is publishing in their local newspaper?

Seems to me if you really believe in an omnipotent deity then you shouldn't be concerned about the opinions of others on your religion. If you god was really 'offended' it's not as if he or she doesn't have the ability to do something about it. If your belief is 100% unshakeable then why are you worried about what other people say?

Offline AndyZ

Re: Pope Francis' Comments on Freedom of Religion
« Reply #31 on: January 24, 2015, 10:24:51 AM »
Could you expand on that?  I suspect I'm misunderstanding you.

No, I think you're mistaken here.  I wouldn't fight to avenge an insult to <insert E member's name here>'s daughter, they would.  In one case it would be an insult, in another it wouldn't.  I don't think there's a meaningful difference on that particular front.

I'm sorry.  I was trying to expand it over to the religion idea that people mentioned before.

The idea I was playing with was, some people consider trolling to be different than just saying something that you believe.  Like, if you say that a kid is fat and he actually is overweight, then you might be trying to help.  If you're just saying it to mess with the kid's head and give them an eating disorder, it's far worse.

If you go by that kind of rule, though, then you need to be able to prove that what you said is what you believe, which becomes a really difficult burden to prove.

I've been upsetting a lot of people on PROC and probably won't continue to post here, but I wanted to apologize that I couldn't help you out more.

Offline KythiaTopic starter

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Re: Pope Francis' Comments on Freedom of Religion
« Reply #32 on: January 24, 2015, 11:04:13 AM »
Simply that those religious people that believe they should be able to censor the speech of others because it is antagonistic to their religion clearly must be a little woozy on the definition of 'all powerful'. If you truly believe that god/allah/whatever is all powerful, all knowing, all seeing... then why does it matter what the atheist or whatever journalist down the street is publishing in their local newspaper?

Seems to me if you really believe in an omnipotent deity then you shouldn't be concerned about the opinions of others on your religion. If you god was really 'offended' it's not as if he or she doesn't have the ability to do something about it. If your belief is 100% unshakeable then why are you worried about what other people say?

So... if a person's belief that their daughter isn't a fucking whore is 100% unshakeable they shouldn't be offended if people shout that at her in the street?  Is that your argument?  Because that sounds kinda dubious to me.  It seems you're conflating two very different things.  I don't see what the existence or otherwise of an omnipotent deity has to do with you offending me.  Whether or not said deity is also offended also doesn't seem relevant to whether or not I am.  Am I still misunderstanding you?

I'm sorry.  I was trying to expand it over to the religion idea that people mentioned before.

The idea I was playing with was, some people consider trolling to be different than just saying something that you believe.  Like, if you say that a kid is fat and he actually is overweight, then you might be trying to help.  If you're just saying it to mess with the kid's head and give them an eating disorder, it's far worse.

If you go by that kind of rule, though, then you need to be able to prove that what you said is what you believe, which becomes a really difficult burden to prove.

I've been upsetting a lot of people on PROC and probably won't continue to post here, but I wanted to apologize that I couldn't help you out more.

Intentions aren't magical fairy dust that you can sprinkle over things to change what you actually do.  If I say something offensive to you, its not magically less offensive because I didn't really mean it.

Offline Tairis

Re: Pope Francis' Comments on Freedom of Religion
« Reply #33 on: January 26, 2015, 06:34:02 PM »
So... if a person's belief that their daughter isn't a fucking whore is 100% unshakeable they shouldn't be offended if people shout that at her in the street?  Is that your argument?  Because that sounds kinda dubious to me.  It seems you're conflating two very different things.  I don't see what the existence or otherwise of an omnipotent deity has to do with you offending me.  Whether or not said deity is also offended also doesn't seem relevant to whether or not I am.  Am I still misunderstanding you?

No, that would go back to the first part of my post: they're words. Get over it.

If someone is acting in such a way as to become a public nuisance (following people, harassing them, yelling at them etc) they easily fall under said public nuisance laws. Otherwise... what's it matter? Everyone in this country, and most everywhere else, seems to have forgotten that you do not have an unalienable right to not be offended. You have the right to free speech and you have the right to BE offended. You do not have the right to restrict that speech BECAUSE you're offended.

Offline KythiaTopic starter

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Re: Pope Francis' Comments on Freedom of Religion
« Reply #34 on: January 27, 2015, 04:02:39 PM »
You have the right to free speech and you have the right to BE offended. You do not have the right to restrict that speech BECAUSE you're offended.

Well, I'm not sure where precisely you mean by "this country" - I'm in the UK, but I kind of sense you mean the US?  If you do then you're not quite on the money, I repeat the quote about fighting words with a bolded part:

Quote
"insulting or 'fighting words,' those that by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace" are among the "well-defined and narrowly limited classes of speech the prevention and punishment of [which] have never been thought to raise any constitutional problem."

In other words, and I stress I'm not a lawyer - this is a lay reading, offensive speech (if its nothing else) is not protected as free speech, and so you do have the right to restrict it.  But that's neither here nor there, I'm dubious of any argument that claims "inalienable rights" as it just gets kinda meaningless in my experience.  "You can't restrict it because it's inalienable" only works if I agree there is such a thing as inalienable rights, which I don't.  Further, definitions of inalienable rights tend to vary as to exactly what those inalienable rights actually are - see, for example, you vs. the US -  which seems to beg a number of questions.  In short, I think we might have to agree to disagree there, I don't accept the basic premises of your argument so it seems further discussion is unlikely to be productive.

Anyhoo.  Rather interesting article here  Reason one is rather stupid, and I expect more of Pinker to be honest, but the rest is interesting reading.  Haven't quite decided what I think of it yet.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Pope Francis' Comments on Freedom of Religion
« Reply #35 on: January 27, 2015, 04:10:21 PM »
Last I checked, the first Amendment to the US Constitution states that Congress shall not pass any law to restrict blah-de-blah-de-so-forth.  At no point does it say that someone can say whatever they want without any consequences from it.

Offline Zakharra

Re: Pope Francis' Comments on Freedom of Religion
« Reply #36 on: January 27, 2015, 05:24:16 PM »
Well, I'm not sure where precisely you mean by "this country" - I'm in the UK, but I kind of sense you mean the US?  If you do then you're not quite on the money, I repeat the quote about fighting words with a bolded part:

In other words, and I stress I'm not a lawyer - this is a lay reading, offensive speech (if its nothing else) is not protected as free speech, and so you do have the right to restrict it.  But that's neither here nor there, I'm dubious of any argument that claims "inalienable rights" as it just gets kinda meaningless in my experience.  "You can't restrict it because it's inalienable" only works if I agree there is such a thing as inalienable rights, which I don't.  Further, definitions of inalienable rights tend to vary as to exactly what those inalienable rights actually are - see, for example, you vs. the US -  which seems to beg a number of questions.  In short, I think we might have to agree to disagree there, I don't accept the basic premises of your argument so it seems further discussion is unlikely to be productive.

Anyhoo.  Rather interesting article here  Reason one is rather stupid, and I expect more of Pinker to be honest, but the rest is interesting reading.  Haven't quite decided what I think of it yet.

 He is correct though. ' You do not have the right to restrict that speech BECAUSE you're offended.' That doesn't rule out consequences for use of free speech/expression. That is said and/or written/done, is done. That someone might take offense reaction at what you say/do isn't reason enough to restrict your speech/expression or any speech/expression. Fighting words or not, it's still not a reason to restrict it.

Offline KythiaTopic starter

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Re: Pope Francis' Comments on Freedom of Religion
« Reply #37 on: January 27, 2015, 05:37:35 PM »
He is correct though. ' You do not have the right to restrict that speech BECAUSE you're offended.' That doesn't rule out consequences for use of free speech/expression. That is said and/or written/done, is done. That someone might take offense reaction at what you say/do isn't reason enough to restrict your speech/expression or any speech/expression. Fighting words or not, it's still not a reason to restrict it.

I'm sorry, I don't think I'm understanding you correctly.  Laws can be passed restricting someone's rights to say something that is solely offensive.  People who have the right to pass laws have the right to pass laws restricting people from saying things that serve no purpose other than offense.  Whether its them or someone else who is offended is immaterial.  There's nothing whatsoever preventing that.  Maybe you think there should be, sure, but there isn't. 

I'm not quite certain of the point you're making here.  It seems like you were saying the above paragraph isn't the case?  If so, you're mistaken (assuming I read the stuff about fighting words correctly - I repeat my caveat).  Or are you saying you think its wrong on a moral rather than a factual level?  I'm really sorry, I just don't quite follow.

EDIT:  Sorry, further confusion.  I think part of what's confusing me is you bring up the consequences of actions under a quote from me when it was Oniya who said that.  I'm not sure how you're tying those things in to the quote you give - I think thats the main source of my confusion.  When I wrote that quote - and even rereading it now - I didn't/don't see any relation to a consideration of the consequences of saying things.  It's purely about the right to restrict people from saying it.

tl;dr - Is it possible for you to rephrase/expand.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2015, 05:40:09 PM by Kythia »

Offline AndyZ

Re: Pope Francis' Comments on Freedom of Religion
« Reply #38 on: January 27, 2015, 05:40:12 PM »
This may be a difference between the US and the UK.  In the US, we have the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which stops various laws from being passed.  Granted, Congress often ignores these things, but the courts kick in and reinforce them.

http://billofrightsinstitute.org/founding-documents/bill-of-rights/ if you want to glance through the Bill of Rights.  They're technically the first ten amendments to the Constitution.

Offline KythiaTopic starter

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Re: Pope Francis' Comments on Freedom of Religion
« Reply #39 on: January 27, 2015, 05:43:14 PM »
This may be a difference between the US and the UK.  In the US, we have the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which stops various laws from being passed.  Granted, Congress often ignores these things, but the courts kick in and reinforce them.

http://billofrightsinstitute.org/founding-documents/bill-of-rights/ if you want to glance through the Bill of Rights.  They're technically the first ten amendments to the Constitution.

Was that aimed at me?  Because...yes.  Fighting words are a US doctrine that, as I've quoted twice now, the courts have specifically stated are not covered by the first amendment.

Apologies if that wasn't aimed at me, just seemed like a very odd thing to say.

Offline AndyZ

Re: Pope Francis' Comments on Freedom of Religion
« Reply #40 on: January 27, 2015, 06:12:26 PM »
It was meant to be.  I've already proven myself not very good at this and am attempting to provide context.

95 years ago, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. made the claim that particular things just weren't going to be covered, such as "falsely shouting fire in a crowded theater," or in the court case to which he claimed it, to distribute flyers opposing the draft during World War I.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shouting_fire_in_a_crowded_theater

This was the same guy who had no issue with compulsory sterilization.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buck_v._Bell

While it may be the current ruling, a number of people think that the guy was a nutjob and that we ought to go back to the original meaning of freedom of speech.

Before that guy, the closest you had was the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, which I've heard people talk about as the first time we had real problems with government overreach.  Our second President (John Adams) set that up (and used it to punish his enemies), and the third (Thomas Jefferson) let it expire (and pardoned the people who got hit with it), and the Supreme Court never ruled on it.



There's also an inherent difficulty between arguing morals and legality, and what is on the books versus what should be on the books.

We know full well that our legal system isn't perfect.  For example, the new health care law that people have talked about so much over the last few years actually violates the Constitution as a bill for raising revenue that originated in the Senate.

http://www.usconstitution.net/xconst_A1Sec7.html



I'll also apologize for my assumption that you weren't as familiar with the US legal system as you are.  Other people from other countries have been surprised by the concept, and from my cursory reading, it seemed like that had you stumped.  Sorry.

Offline Zakharra

Re: Pope Francis' Comments on Freedom of Religion
« Reply #41 on: January 27, 2015, 06:17:01 PM »
 I guess we're going to have to agree to disagree then. I don't consider what you consider fighting words, to be fighting words. I might find them offensive, but I doubt I'd get into  a fight over them unless said person saying them was getting in my face about it or harassing me or my family (in which case their actions would fall under the harassment laws). There's also laws against slander and libel that can be applied if you dislike what someone is saying. What you might think of as fighting words, I probably wouldn't.

 So who is the one that decides what's fighting words? Criticizing someone or something, like say a religion/religious aspect/persons, shouldn't be considered fighting words. Ever. Yet to some, criticizing a religion is 'fighting words' as you say. Should we restrict our speech because they find our words/expression offensive and are willing to commit violence to 'avenge' their honor? By the reasoning you're giving, Kythia, because someone else, even someone not an American citizen, is offended, violently so at something we say or do, we shouldn't be saying or doing it. I apologize if that's not what you're saying, but that is the impression I am getting from you: 'if it is fighting words, you can't say/do it.'

Offline KythiaTopic starter

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Re: Pope Francis' Comments on Freedom of Religion
« Reply #42 on: January 27, 2015, 06:24:47 PM »
AndyZ

OK, thanks.

Fighting words aren't from Holmes, they're later than that.  Chaplinsky vs New Hampshire in 1942.  I mean, sure, maybe they were inspired by Holmes' decisions but the actual quote I give was from Frank Murphy

I'm interested in thie "back to the original meaning" though.  Could you go in to more depth on the original meaning?

Zakharra

Quote
By the reasoning you're giving, Kythia, because someone else, even someone not an American citizen, is offended, violently so at something we say or do, we shouldn't be saying or doing it. I apologize if that's not what you're saying, but that is the impression I am getting from you: 'if it is fighting words, you can't say/do it.'

Well, I'm noodling around similar issues yes.  But the reason I pulled that quote up is to clear up something I obviously phrased badly.

Fighting words are not covered by the first amendment, specifically and explicitly.  That doesn't mean don't do it.  There's no amendment giving you the explicit right to eat sandwiches, but thats not to say sandwiches are forbidden.  Simply that they're not expressly allowed.  I'm not saying don't do it, I'm saying Tairis' argument that you have a right to say offensive things and noone has a right to stop you is incorrect.

I'm not sure I would consider them fighting words, if I would I'm not sure they should be.  All I'm saying is that Tairis' assumption that speech intended to offend or insult is protected is incorrect in the US (and the UK and, I suspect, most countries in the world)

Offline consortium11

Re: Pope Francis' Comments on Freedom of Religion
« Reply #43 on: January 27, 2015, 07:47:01 PM »
Here's a thing about free speech...

Everyone likes to say they're in favour of free speech. After all, no-one has likely ever won over a crowd by saying "I'm against free speech."

But virtually no-one is actually in favour of free speech.

What does free speech mean? Actual, real, truly free speech, not "well, I'll call it free speech but what I mean is somewhat regulated speech"? It means one cannot be punished by the state for what one says (using "says" in a general sense to convey all forms of expression, not merely the physical act of speaking).

It means many (and possibly all) types of fraud cannot be punished (by the state, which should be read into ever expression of "punished" in this paragraph). It means distributing or obtaining child porn cannot be punished (although one could likely still punish the maker). It means distributing classified information cannot be punished. It means the sort of treason that Robert Hanssen or Aldrich Ames indulged in cannot be punished. It means that most forms of stalking cannot be punished. It means that death threats cannot be punished. It means that copyright violations cannot be punished. It means that most forms of public order and public nuisance offences cannot be punished (not that they'd count as offences to begin with). And that's just an obvious few.

I suspect there are very few, if any, people who think those offences shouldn't be punished. But they are all simply people expressing themselves. They are all acts of speech. Robert Hanssen simply told the Russians things. Someone who collects pictures and videos of child porn from the creator and then distributes them to a third party is simply expressing themselves. Someone who sends a death threat is simply speaking. Someone who constantly phones someone else and breaths down the phone at them is expressing themselves. Someone who deliberately lies to you about some financial transaction for their own profit and your loss is simply committing an act of expression.

Once you accept that it's right for the state to restrict and punish these acts of expression then you're no longer arguing about whether speech should be free or not. You're arguing about how much restriction is allowed. And that's a different question. You've already decided some things are more important than free speach... now the only question is what falls into that category.

The general concept in such cases is "harm", largely aping John Stuart Mill's harm principle ("The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others."). But "harm" is a nebulous and poorly defined word that means basically whatever one wants it to. Do we restrict it to physical harm? What about fraud then? And with our greater understanding of human psychology and the brain in general can we not say that physical harm is caused even when the victim is not physically attacked? The UK law accepts this in part; causing a person to suffer a recognised psychiatric condition can constitute actual bodily harm. We know that stress can have negative physical consequences... doesn't that constitute harm?

So what does actually constitute "harm" and where do we draw the line when it comes to speech?

Now, in this case we're not strictly speaking about governments and the law, we're talking about people in general and morality more than simply the law itself. If someone continuously insults and mocks me or someone I care about in a deeply personal and hateful way, is there a point when it becomes "right" (or at leak "ok") for me to respond by punching them? And let's remember, punching them won't stop them simply coming the next day to do it again unless I've made them terrified of me and terrified of the consequences. What happens if they take their punch, come back the next day and do it again. Then again. Then again. Then again. Then again. Is there a point where it becomes morally right (or at least "ok") for me to do more than simply punch them? To do something more serious.

As people who have followed me across PROC may note I'm pretty far to the "keep as much speech free as possible" side of things. But let's for a moment see if we can put together an at least somewhat coherent argument as to why there may be a moral case for one of the most horrific assaults on what we consider free speech in recent years, the vile Charlie Hebdo murders (which the Pope was obviously referencing).

Many people here have noted that if someone was to insult someone's child, that second person may be (morally) justified in punching them. As Kythia has noted, religion is in incredibly important and personal part of some people's lives... in some cases more important to them then their children (look at all the stories of families that have fallen apart after a child rejects their parents religion). An insult to the religion they hold so deeply and personally is at least as an insult to their child. And even as someone who has no issue with the sort of cartoons Charlie Hebdo published I can fully accept they were insulting; frequently I suspect that was the main point. Now, one can certainly argue that there is a difference between a punch and a massacre with automatic weapons... and you'd be right. But then one is no longer saying that the attack on the Charlie Hebdo staff was wrong in principle, you're saying that they took it so far. That if the perpetrators had gone to the office and beaten up the staff (or at least punched them) then that would have been morally OK.

I assume we all see the issue?

Law frequently uses a "reasonable man" test; what would a reasonable man have thought/done in the circumstances? Self-defence in the UK seems an appropriate example as it includes circumstances where one hasn't yet been attacked (but one reasonably thinks it will follow). In essence there is a too part test as to whether self-defence is allowed. First, was the use of force necessary in the circumstances and secondly, was the force used reasonable in the circumstances? Both of these tests have a subjective element (as they are based on what the person knew/felt at the time) but also an objective one (would a reasonable man have thought force necessary and would a reasonable man have thought that was the right amount of force to use). For example, if a large, scary looking man had no intention to attack me but had spent the last 10 minutes telling me how he was going to "give me a slap", then aggressively came towards me (albeit with the intention to "just" intimidate me) and I punched him in the nose then I'd probably have satisfied both parts. If I shot him in the head? I may well struggle to fulfill the second. If a guy brushed past me, mentioned that I was starting to piss him off and I punched him? I'd likely struggle with the first.

Shall we take that away from law and return it to morals and insulting talk? Because I think a good case can be made that the same logic should apply. Would a reasonable person think that force was justified as a result on the insult? And was the degree of force used reasonable? As above, people in this thread have noted that it may be reasonable to return insults with force if someone insults your child. Would the same apply to a religion you care about just as (if not more) deeply? And what degree of force is a reasonable response? I rather suspect that none would say cold-blooded execution... but, again, once we get to that point we're arguing degrees.

But let us look at this from another angle.

People can, and do, get offended... and very offended... by pretty innocuous things (for the purposes of this let us assume that they are acting in good faith when they say they are offended rather than putting on an act for attention/money). Recently there was an example of someone making a joke about otherkin (specifically people who believe they're really toasters) and people were offended on the basis that they saw it as an attack on trans-people (or at the very least aping previous attacks on trans-people). TERF's get insulted by the very idea of trans-women being considered anything other than "men in skirts". We've seen people consider beards offensive, sitting with your legs open offensive, wearing a first-nations style headdress offensive... hell, I've already mentioned otherkin, so I may as well point out that some otherkin get deeply offended if anyone doesn't take their view that they're actually a dragon seriously or uses the wrong pronoun to refer to them. Some people get offended at anything that doesn't present the USA as the best, some people get offended at something that does the same for Russia etc etc.

What chilling effect on speech would there be if the fact that someone, somewhere took offense... even deep offense... was enough to make people stop speaking? How many of the great works... be they film, television, writing, song, poem, play etc etc... would have never been produced if the creator was in fear of offending others? How stifled and awkward would every day conversation and life be if we had to stop saying anything that could cause offence... even deep offence.

That isn't a price I'm willing to pay.

To return to the where this discussion began, I do not think someone is morally justified in punching someone who insulted their daughter. I can understand why they did it and the provocation means I will clearly look upon it as more justifiable then if they had punched them for no reason but simply because something is more justifiable that does not make it justified.


Offline AndyZ

Re: Pope Francis' Comments on Freedom of Religion
« Reply #44 on: January 28, 2015, 05:31:07 AM »
This will probably help: http://www.federalistblog.us/2008/10/freedom_of_speech_and_of_the_press/

I'm only just waking up so I haven't read through it in detail, but everything looks accurate at a glance.

It may help to give some detail by showing how Adams and Jefferson's campaign went: http://www.cnn.com/2008/LIVING/wayoflife/08/22/mf.campaign.slurs.slogans/

Now, back in the day, people certainly did duel over stuff.  Dueling went out of favor in America after a famous duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr.  The story I've heard goes that Alexander Hamilton told a priest that he was just going to fire up into the air and leave himself therefore unarmed.  He did, and Burr shot him and mortally wounded him.  After that, public opinion apparently decided that it was better to beat the crap out of each other than shoot each other.

Whenever I've heard the words "fighting words," I'm used to hearing it as the old-timey way of people saying, "I'm willing to fight you if you don't take that back."  The stuff you mentioned, though, sounds more like what is now called "hate speech."

In the US, from my understanding of the law, defamation is a civil and not a criminal case.  If I start up a blog talking about how X person did something that they didn't do, they can sue me, but I can't be put in jail for slander.

Compare to France: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/france-arrests-dozens-hate-speech-charlie-hebdo-returns-first-issue-since-attack/

I need to be off but I hope that gives some better detail.

Offline KythiaTopic starter

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Re: Pope Francis' Comments on Freedom of Religion
« Reply #45 on: January 28, 2015, 01:56:43 PM »
Whenever I've heard the words "fighting words," I'm used to hearing it as the old-timey way of people saying, "I'm willing to fight you if you don't take that back."

Well, you learn something new every day.  I guess this was yours for today.

The stuff you mentioned, though, sounds more like what is now called "hate speech."

No, the stuff I'm talking about is what is now called "fighting words" (that's why I've been calling it "fighting words").  Hate speech, or incitement, is something different.  Had I meant that, I would likely have used words like "hate speech" or possibly "incitement".



Here's a thing about free speech...

Everyone likes to say they're in favour of free speech. After all, no-one has likely ever won over a crowd by saying "I'm against free speech."

But virtually no-one is actually in favour of free speech.

What does free speech mean? Actual, real, truly free speech, not "well, I'll call it free speech but what I mean is somewhat regulated speech"? It means one cannot be punished by the state for what one says (using "says" in a general sense to convey all forms of expression, not merely the physical act of speaking).

It means many (and possibly all) types of fraud cannot be punished (by the state, which should be read into ever expression of "punished" in this paragraph). It means distributing or obtaining child porn cannot be punished (although one could likely still punish the maker). It means distributing classified information cannot be punished. It means the sort of treason that Robert Hanssen or Aldrich Ames indulged in cannot be punished. It means that most forms of stalking cannot be punished. It means that death threats cannot be punished. It means that copyright violations cannot be punished. It means that most forms of public order and public nuisance offences cannot be punished (not that they'd count as offences to begin with). And that's just an obvious few.

I suspect there are very few, if any, people who think those offences shouldn't be punished. But they are all simply people expressing themselves. They are all acts of speech. Robert Hanssen simply told the Russians things. Someone who collects pictures and videos of child porn from the creator and then distributes them to a third party is simply expressing themselves. Someone who sends a death threat is simply speaking. Someone who constantly phones someone else and breaths down the phone at them is expressing themselves. Someone who deliberately lies to you about some financial transaction for their own profit and your loss is simply committing an act of expression.

Once you accept that it's right for the state to restrict and punish these acts of expression then you're no longer arguing about whether speech should be free or not. You're arguing about how much restriction is allowed. And that's a different question. You've already decided some things are more important than free speach... now the only question is what falls into that category.

Indeed, and I've always - to veer off topic for a bit - suspected this is one of the reasons I've never heard a good defence of it, most attempts are kinda stupid.  It's because people act as though, and possible believe, they are defending some abstract philosophical principle but what they are actually trying to defend is a considerably more mundane series of compromises with reality.  Admitting that means they don't support the philosophical ideal, though, and so consciously or no they try to defend a position they don't hold using language inappropriate to the situation.

Many people here have noted that if someone was to insult someone's child, that second person may be (morally) justified in punching them. As Kythia has noted, religion is in incredibly important and personal part of some people's lives... in some cases more important to them then their children (look at all the stories of families that have fallen apart after a child rejects their parents religion). An insult to the religion they hold so deeply and personally is at least as an insult to their child. And even as someone who has no issue with the sort of cartoons Charlie Hebdo published I can fully accept they were insulting; frequently I suspect that was the main point. Now, one can certainly argue that there is a difference between a punch and a massacre with automatic weapons... and you'd be right. But then one is no longer saying that the attack on the Charlie Hebdo staff was wrong in principle, you're saying that they took it so far. That if the perpetrators had gone to the office and beaten up the staff (or at least punched them) then that would have been morally OK.

I assume we all see the issue?

Actually no.  I promise I'm not just being deliberately obstructionist here.  I've not yet fully decided where I stand on this but I am increasingly leaning towards the "overreaction" viewpoint not the "wrong in principle" viewpoint.

I think I disagree with the intent behind "because something is more justifiable doesn't make it justified".  Sticking a "necessarily" in in there to clarify (what I see as your) point.  So yeah, I agree the Pope was clearly referring to the Charlie Hebdo thing, even if he clearly intended his comments to address a wider issue.  But yeah, Charlie Hebdo.  I'm an offended Muslim, I have a range of options.  Terrorist attack on one end, sucking it up on the other.  Various stuff in the middle.  And as "atrocity-ness" increases in one direction, so "justifiability" increases in the other.  I presume we can agree on that.

You mention that there's a "chilling effect" on speech - defined broadly - if we're to take the offence caused by our words in to effect.  But, well, we do.  It's part and parcel of not being a fucking dickhead.  We phrase things so as not to offend others around us.  E has a civility rule.  When we're talking with our friends, we might gloss over politics and stick to football because we know we'll disagree.  Hundreds of tiny concessions to insult and offence we give every day just because we're a social species.  Your argument seems to expand to call that a "chilling effect" which is nothing short of alarmist.  Saying "yeah, he seems nice" on meeting a new boyfriend who doesn't isn't being censored, its being able to hold conversations with actual human beings.  We accept that there is an onus on us to do that if we want to have friends.

Even when we make jokes about issues that we know are important to the other, we choose how and when to do it.  My boyfriend's family are Palace fans, and I know you're a Southampton one.  Say.

We weigh those things up.  Aware that trivial needling like the above has one level of proportionate response on our "atrocity vs justifiable" axes, aware that stepping it up a notch and saying people whose names rhyme with "bonsortium beleven" smell (or whatever - its surprisingly difficult to think of examples of offensive things I could say to you that aren't actually offensive things I'm saying to you) is worse, and less justified.  And so on.

I think once we accept any level of "self-censorship" for the sake of living in civilised society - which I'm sure we do - criticism of the reaction necessarily becomes one of degree not of kind.

Offline AndyZ

Re: Pope Francis' Comments on Freedom of Religion
« Reply #46 on: January 28, 2015, 02:04:54 PM »
Quote
"insulting or 'fighting words,' those that by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace" are among the "well-defined and narrowly limited classes of speech the prevention and punishment of [which] have never been thought to raise any constitutional problem."

Quote
In law, hate speech is any speech, gesture or conduct, writing, or display which is forbidden because it may incite violence or prejudicial action against or by a protected individual or group, or because it disparages or intimidates a protected individual or group.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hate_speech

The two seem very similar to me, but I admit that I may be drawing another comparison where others don't see one.

Offline KythiaTopic starter

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Offline AndyZ

Re: Pope Francis' Comments on Freedom of Religion
« Reply #48 on: January 28, 2015, 02:12:43 PM »
So incitement isn't about offending but more about actually threatening someone, whereas fighting words and hate speech are more to offend?

Offline Tairis

Re: Pope Francis' Comments on Freedom of Religion
« Reply #49 on: January 29, 2015, 07:54:53 PM »
I'd also point out that you continue to use 'Fighting words' as a basis of your argument. The problem is the federal ruling you're using as a basis was set in 1942 and every notable case where it was brought to the Supreme Court it was not upheld.

You (this is more a plural you address Consortium and Kythia) also seem to be confusing free speech with 'I cannot be held accountable for anything I say'. That is not what freedom of speech is, freedom of speech is simply a right, and to me it is an unalienable one, that every human being has the right to express themselves without fear of persecution.

Stealing classified documents is... theft. Has nothing to do with free speech.

Fraud is... yep, fraud. Money changes hands, this is not one person talking and someone just handing them money cause they talk so good (those we call actors. And lawyers).

Stalking (as in the actual crime) involves physically following a person. Again, not speech. You're actually physically following someone around in an aggressive manner as you can't be charged with stalking if, for example, you live on the same bus route as a woman and eat at the same sandwich shop at lunch every day while working across the street. Technically you have followed that woman pretty much all day for days at at time, but it's not stalking.

Death threats and child porn are two of the only true 'gray areas', and really only death threats to be honest. Child porn isn't merely an image or a speech or a statement or even a song. It actually uses the physical body of someone else to commit a crime and documents it. Which is no more 'free speech' than murdering someone on camera and calling it 'free speech' is, because free speech is an individual right. You can't 'free speech' for someone (IE a victim) just like you can't '2nd amendment' someone else and force them to carry a rifle for you or '5th amendment' someone and force them not to say something to incriminate themselves.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2015, 07:57:03 PM by Tairis »