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Author Topic: Why Offence Is A Valid Reason To Ban Speech!  (Read 4070 times)

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Offline mystictigerTopic starter

Why Offence Is A Valid Reason To Ban Speech!
« on: October 19, 2010, 04:22:27 PM »
I am of the firm belief that certain types of speech is so hateful that it should not be made. I take as my inspiration for this Article 10(2) of the European Convention of Human Rights:

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The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.

While someone has the right to say something, equally the audience does not have to hear it. This can be on any ground, but the one that springs to mind most easily is that of racial or ethnic hatred.

There is necessarily a tension between those wishing to quitely enjoy their private lives (a right protected in all jurisdictions, for example: the US, the ECHR. Indeed, the US even prosecutes for hate speech where it causes an unpleasant working environment or harrasment.

It is illegal to deny the holocaust. Why? Because there is some speech that is simply too toxic, too demeaning to be tolerated.

Further, we routinely curtail the freedom of expression when it comes to the interests of the state (e.g. anti-espionage rules) or when the hate-speech is a lie (e.g. libel and slander).
« Last Edit: October 19, 2010, 04:24:53 PM by mystictiger »

Offline Will

Re: Why Offence Is A Valid Reason To Ban Speech!
« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2010, 04:29:20 PM »
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in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.

I fail to see how any of that has anything to do with simply being offended.

Offline OldSchoolGamer

Re: Why Offence Is A Valid Reason To Ban Speech!
« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2010, 04:32:28 PM »
The problem with this notion is that the people in power tend to develop increasingly elastic definitions of what is "offensive."

Offline Jude

Re: Why Offence Is A Valid Reason To Ban Speech!
« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2010, 04:49:14 PM »
Only speech which does tangible damage to other people should be outlawed.  Hurting one's feelings is not tangible damage.  Yelling fire in a crowded theater is.

The moment you step away from that rule you start stifling freedom of expression, which is the fastest way to shut down communication of controversial ideas.  This not only stops important avenues of societal progress, but kills what productive uses communication actually has.  Pleasantries and coddling accomplish nothing.

Then there's the simple fact that most people are offended by anything that suggests, proves, or implies that they are wrong.  If you have any respect for truth, then there's no way you can tolerate offense being grounds for the banning of speech.

Offline mystictigerTopic starter

Re: Why Offence Is A Valid Reason To Ban Speech!
« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2010, 04:57:52 PM »
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Only speech which does tangible damage to other people should be outlawed.  Hurting one's feelings is not tangible damage.  Yelling fire in a crowded theater is.

How does one measure tangible damage? Emotional trauma is a large part of why we criminalise certain things. Rape and indecent assault are very different from merely beating someone up. By the same token, if a slave were to live in prosperity and peace, what tangible damage is done to them? The most obvious examples are bullying and harrasment.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2010, 05:01:08 PM by mystictiger »

Offline OldSchoolGamer

Re: Why Offence Is A Valid Reason To Ban Speech!
« Reply #5 on: October 19, 2010, 04:59:24 PM »
Then there's the simple fact that most people are offended by anything that suggests, proves, or implies that they are wrong.  If you have any respect for truth, then there's no way you can tolerate offense being grounds for the banning of speech.

Well, let's be fair: while I, too, support a vigorous and unrestrained marketplace of ideas, there are a few assclowns who do abuse it (Westboro Baptist Church, the guy who put a crucifix in a jar of urine and called it "art," and so forth).  There are those who issue speech solely to offend, not for the higher purpose of expressing an idea that some or even most of the population finds offensive.

But at the end of the day, I am forced to conclude that even "Fuck you!" is protected speech.  However, the road does run both ways: the same freedom that lets people say such things also gives me the right to ignore them.

Offline Mathim

Re: Why Offence Is A Valid Reason To Ban Speech!
« Reply #6 on: October 19, 2010, 05:58:24 PM »
It's tricky though, when we know that some speech is going to cause harm vicariously (i.e. the South Park guys being threatened with death and having their show censored to protect themselves.) Some people will bully their way into blocking the speech of others without going through legal or ethical channels. That makes me less inclined to support any form of censorship because it's proven that if one thing can be taken away, anything can.

Offline Noelle

Re: Why Offence Is A Valid Reason To Ban Speech!
« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2010, 06:14:44 PM »
Well, let's be fair: while I, too, support a vigorous and unrestrained marketplace of ideas, there are a few assclowns who do abuse it (Westboro Baptist Church, the guy who put a crucifix in a jar of urine and called it "art," and so forth).  There are those who issue speech solely to offend, not for the higher purpose of expressing an idea that some or even most of the population finds offensive.

This is pretty inaccurate. Andres Serrano and the Westboro Baptist Church are doing two ENTIRELY different things. Serrano made Piss Christ as a part of a modern art movement that goes for the abject. Part of the abject is to question your use of materials -- and why not include bodily fluids? It is to approach the grotesque head-on. He used them to make a statement regarding our own attitudes towards our own bodily fluids. He used urine because he liked its luminous quality underneath certain lighting. If you didn't know it was urine, you may even be more open to the idea that it's beautiful in a way. If he's removed his own internal offense at something as silly as urine, then it opens it up to be interpreted in a manner that is not so obvious as "he put Jesus in someone's pee". (I dunno why, but I just made myself laugh) Yes, there is a point to explaining this.

This is a very far cry from Westboro Baptist using protest possibly as a means to make a bunch of money and piss some people off, but this is also precisely why the freedom from offense is such a ridiculous thing. Things that get knee-jerk reactions aren't always what you think they are -- such as the example of art I've just given you. So in that case, how much offense is enough offense? How do we measure this? I'd prefer to discuss this more than anything. Not everything is what it seems.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2010, 06:16:02 PM by Noelle »

Offline DarklingAlice

Re: Why Offence Is A Valid Reason To Ban Speech!
« Reply #8 on: October 19, 2010, 11:57:44 PM »
While someone has the right to say something, equally the audience does not have to hear it. This can be on any ground, but the one that springs to mind most easily is that of racial or ethnic hatred.

There is necessarily a tension between those wishing to quitely enjoy their private lives (a right protected in all jurisdictions, for example: the US, the ECHR. Indeed, the US even prosecutes for hate speech where it causes an unpleasant working environment or harrasment.
You seem to be ignoring your own distinction. Yes, we have the right to enjoy our private lives. We have the right not to listen to anything anyone says, and we have the right to restrict their ability to say it on private property. This is one of the fundamental differences between private and public life. We do not have any right to restrict the rights of others in public, and we forfeit certain privacy rights by venturing into public. The government can restrict public expression based on its ability to cause harm. However, offense is not harm (unless you have persuasive evidence otherwise?).

Citing a bunch of law is neither evidence nor argument for anything save an action's illegality in a specific place under the auspices of a specific legal system. Provide an actual argument. For example we all agree that Holocaust denial is stupid and offensive, but is it: "too toxic, too demeaning to be tolerated"? Why? How? Apparently the American legal system doesn't think so. So instead of playing international he said/she said, why not give a demonstration? Where is the proof that people are irrevocably traumatized by holocaust deniers or racial slurs or the WBC? What clear and present harm provides the government the right to step in and make it illegal?

Offline RubySlippers

Re: Why Offence Is A Valid Reason To Ban Speech!
« Reply #9 on: October 20, 2010, 12:30:20 AM »
In the case of sexual harassment its not a criminal offense in and of itself, its a civil one that can and does result in monatary damages. No one ever went to jail or prision just for sexual harassment or making a hostile work environment. Am I the only American here that thinks locking people up for denying the holocaust in public in certain ways, saying speech that may be offensive but does not directly lead to actual harm and in a non-economic way supporting certain abhorant parties offensive?

There are fine lines one person may sympathize with a genocidal government in writing or even terrorist elements but unless your recruiting for them or giving them actual aid you can track why toss these people into prison for months or years? I find letting these idiots speak and then either ignoring them or countering them with positive speech is better.

There is a reason most of these groups set-up sites in the US we offer them the rightful protection and only act if there is either clear threats or prove a threat in some way that must be dealt with. Like if a group promoted illegal activity like shooting "purple people" then it becomes a crime. You call "purple people" inferior and stupid and load the site with hate speech making fun of them its not a crime.

Offline mystictigerTopic starter

Re: Why Offence Is A Valid Reason To Ban Speech!
« Reply #10 on: October 20, 2010, 06:54:40 AM »
Citing a bunch of law is neither evidence nor argument for anything save an action's illegality in a specific place under the auspices of a specific legal system. Provide an actual argument.

You've missed the point. It shows that freedom of speech is already curtailed on grounds of hatred. It shows that various societies already impose restrictions and yet haven't stumbled into tyranny. I do not wish to nor do I need to show that there's actual harm in locking people up. Rather, I merely need to show that there are functioning democracies (ones that routinely score the same as or better on 'freedom indicies' such as freedom house or the Economist's Democracy index or Privacy Interational) than ones that have an 'absolute' right to freedom of expression. One of the premises of the argument in the WBC thread was that such restrictions are intolerable to a democratic system.

Citing a 'bunch of laws' shows the premise that absolute protection is vital to democracy to be false.

By the same token, the repetition of the 'Harm Principle' approach does not make it true. This is a doctrine that has been honoured more in the breach than in practice. It relies on a certain premise and prioritisation of personal liberty. It is not a universally accepted truth. Indeed, the practice of governments since Mill has shown that it is honoured more in the breach than in actual obedience to it. The 'Offence' priniciple is equally as valid: that societal standards are what an action should be judged by rather than by the perspective of the 'victim'.

Human rights in general are statements about how societies should be organised. It is not necessarily the case that any particular alignment or configuration is better or worse. Indeed, given that they are derived from a particular Judaeo-Christian background interpreted through masculine Western secular liberalism, it's entirely irrational to assume that they are simply Right.

One interesting theory to explain human rights (that didn't require natural law) was based on the premise of suffering; laws exist to limit suffering. Who suffers more? The one being harrassed or bullied by having their personhood put into doubt (until you've had eggs thrown at you simply because you've wanted to exercise your religious freedom, you've not experienced such behaviour and saying that people should have thicker skin are insulting) or the person who chooses to make a statement?

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In the case of sexual harassment its not a criminal offense in and of itself, its a civil one that can and does result in monatary damages
It still amounts to a restriction on freedom of speech. A restriction does not have to take the form of going to prison.

Edit:

In summary: I favour, in certain circumstances, placing the rights of the community or polity over the rights of the individual. Gosh, that makes me a communist. Rather than frame the question: "What right do you have to shut people up", I would phrase the question as "What right do you have to offend someone?"
« Last Edit: October 20, 2010, 08:30:50 AM by mystictiger »

Offline Jude

Re: Why Offence Is A Valid Reason To Ban Speech!
« Reply #11 on: October 20, 2010, 12:36:45 PM »
I guess you don't look at the news very much, because Europe doesn't seem to be in very good shape these days.  Rioting in France and Greece, rampant European Muslim discrimination, libel/slander issues that have affected the entire world in the UK -- Europeans are hardly as free as Americans are.

Are the free speech laws connected to all of their problems?  Not directly, no, it's really more of Europe's attitude of putting society at large over the individual's aspirations in damn near every situation.  The bottom line is, you've failed to present any evidence whatsoever that offense tangibly permanently harms people.  Being offended by a neutral expression of opinion is not the same thing as harassment -- which is repeated, targeted, and systematic -- yet you seem to be conflating the two for the purposes of forming your argument.

The bottom line for me is, I wouldn't want to live in a society where people are so thin-skinned and weak that they expect to be protected from offense.  Get over it, man up, use whatever sort of mantra you like, but if you want the right to be able to express your opinions, whatever they are, you have to give people leeway to do the same.  Setting up a system of oversensitive speech policing is a great way to halt the progress of new ideas -- another area Europe is lacking in.

And most importantly of all, you've failed to answer a very basic question Mystic:  why?  Why does this need to be done?  Are people so fragile that they can't stand to have their delicate sensibilities offended by someone else's conflicting point of view?  If so, that paints a very sad picture of humanity.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2010, 12:42:33 PM by Jude »

Offline Noelle

Re: Why Offence Is A Valid Reason To Ban Speech!
« Reply #12 on: October 20, 2010, 12:43:55 PM »
Citing a 'bunch of laws' shows the premise that absolute protection is vital to democracy to be false.

And equally, citing offense as being a valid reason to continue to 'curtail' those laws that you, yourself have already said have been affected without providing any tangible, objective evidence as to why, how much offense is 'enough', how we measure it, and by whose majority we rule is shows that your point is far too weak as it is to be worth cutting into possibly the most important freedom we possess. It's okay to rule in offense when you think it's justified, but I have yet to see you address what happens when the majority becomes offended about homosexuality or abortions or health care because they feel it is threatening their way of life? That it's threatening to indoctrinate their children? So let's talk about that.

What right do I have to offend someone? Then what right does anyone have to open their mouth at all? You know what I'm offended by? Being told that I need to be protected from things I might not like. Let's ban that. Am I offended enough or is my offense not good enough in comparison? Are there better and worse kinds? I'm also offended companies who make things pink and label it as 'for women', because it's sexist and degrading to think that suddenly I'll think it's okay to buy something because it's pink. I think that's pretty noble, can we ban that too?

Offline Jude

Re: Why Offence Is A Valid Reason To Ban Speech!
« Reply #13 on: October 20, 2010, 12:46:56 PM »
Excellent point, if we banned according to the majority opinion in America it would essentially be the same thing as torching the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  If public opinion is any yardstick, it would be illegal to be homosexual, have an abortion, or be an atheist in an eyeblink.

Offline Trieste

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Re: Why Offence Is A Valid Reason To Ban Speech!
« Reply #14 on: October 20, 2010, 01:26:10 PM »
Or for people with dark skin to go to school with people who have light skin.

Or for women to own property.

Hm, what else...

Offline mystictigerTopic starter

Re: Why Offence Is A Valid Reason To Ban Speech!
« Reply #15 on: October 20, 2010, 02:13:08 PM »
I guess you don't look at the news very much, because Europe doesn't seem to be in very good shape these days.  Rioting in France and Greece, rampant European Muslim discrimination, libel/slander issues that have affected the entire world in the UK -- Europeans are hardly as free as Americans are.

Then please explain why EU countries score equal to or better than the US on every single objective and non-anecdotal system of freedom? I pointed you towards Freedom House, Privacy International and so on. I could get Amnesty International reports if you'd like as well?
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Are the free speech laws connected to all of their problems?  Not directly, no, it's really more of Europe's attitude of putting society at large over the individual's aspirations in damn near every situation. 
Ah yes, that monolithic and culturally homogenous polity of Europe.

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The bottom line is, you've failed to present any evidence whatsoever that offense tangibly permanently harms people.  Being offended by a neutral expression of opinion is not the same thing as harassment -- which is repeated, targeted, and systematic -- yet you seem to be conflating the two for the purposes of forming your argument.

No. I'm all about preventing hararassment and hate speech. You have chosen to define 'offence' as "I don't like the colour of his shirt". Finding neutral and unbiased expression offensive is a very different kettle of fish to this. Maybe it's a question of definitional ambiguity, but I think 'offensive' suggests something far stronger than merely dislike or disagreement. 
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The bottom line for me is, I wouldn't want to live in a society where people are so thin-skinned and weak that they expect to be protected from offense. 
I wouldn't want to live in a society where people are free to bully, assault, and harass. No. Wait. It wouldn't be a society at all, but rather a group of individuals who have no care for other people.

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Get over it, man up, use whatever sort of mantra you like, but if you want the right to be able to express your opinions, whatever they are, you have to give people leeway to do the same.
Would I be right in assuming that you're white, male, middle class, heterosexual, and not visibly different from the rest of your community? Or maybe you're just made of sterner stuff than the people who kill themselves due to bullying on grounds of their skin colour, their religion, or their sexual orientation.

By the same token, if I get assaulted in the street, should I just suck it up and stop being such a wuss and a wimp for having the snot kicked out of me? If I were to be knifed again, should I just learn to run faster? Ignoring a problem doesn't make it go away.

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Setting up a system of oversensitive speech policing is a great way to halt the progress of new ideas -- another area Europe is lacking in.

Halting the progress of new ideas?! I could refer to you the number of nobel laureates (3 Americans, 4 Europeans, 2 Japanese, 1 Chinese, and 1 Peruvian), the Booker prize winner (British), the Palm D'Or at the Cannes film festival (In the last 10 years, 7 European, 2 American, 1 Thai), campaign financing reform, non-use of force to solve problems, non-use of unlawful rendition, non-use of torture, and so on, or the introduction of socialised health-care. Would you please narrow down to what area that Europe is lacking new ideas in?

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And most importantly of all, you've failed to answer a very basic question Mystic:  why?  Why does this need to be done?  Are people so fragile that they can't stand to have their delicate sensibilities offended by someone else's conflicting point of view?  If so, that paints a very sad picture of humanity.

Bullying, harassment, division, and so on.

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Excellent point, if we banned according to the majority opinion in America it would essentially be the same thing as torching the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  If public opinion is any yardstick, it would be illegal to be homosexual, have an abortion, or be an atheist in an eyeblink.
Ah. Right. Of course. So we should trust in the judgment of long dead slave owning white males to decide how to run a society today? And of course, people are wrong if the disagree with what this document say. In find it endlessly amusing that the authors didn't think the include protection of freedom of speech in the document, but rather had to amend it.

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It's okay to rule in offense when you think it's justified, but I have yet to see you address what happens when the majority becomes offended about homosexuality or abortions or health care because they feel it is threatening their way of life? That it's threatening to indoctrinate their children? So let's talk about that

There is a clear and obvious line between calling someone a "Dirty, stinking, Christ-killing Kike" and saying "I don't believe in health care reform". The purpose of restricting words is to prevent threatening, abusive, or insulting behaviour, to prevent harasment, alarm or distress from words chosen to hurt and injure.

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Or for people with dark skin to go to school with people who have light skin.

Or for women to own property.

Hm, what else...

And these victories were clearly won by calling people 'faggot' and 'nigger' and 'whore'.

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Re: Why Offence Is A Valid Reason To Ban Speech!
« Reply #16 on: October 20, 2010, 02:28:50 PM »
Oh, were you only talking about what's offensive by today's standards? Because a whole lot more was considered crude, offensive, and unfit for public hearing in the past.

It's nonsense, trying to protect someone's tender ears from 'offense' and, essentially, poor taste. It's complete garbage. Looking at the court's history of determining what pornography or obscenity is, could you imagine them trying to define the much subtler concept of offensive in legal terms? It makes my skin crawl just thinking about it. It's so objective as to be stifling if put into legislation.

Offline Noelle

Re: Why Offence Is A Valid Reason To Ban Speech!
« Reply #17 on: October 20, 2010, 02:33:02 PM »
You've still failed to answer my basic questions to you about three times now.

And equally, citing offense as being a valid reason to continue to 'curtail' those laws that you, yourself have already said have been affected without providing any tangible, objective evidence as to why, how much offense is 'enough', how we measure it, and by whose majority we rule shows that your point is far too weak as it is to be worth cutting into possibly the most important freedom we possess.

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There is a clear and obvious line between calling someone a "Dirty, stinking, Christ-killing Kike" and saying "I don't believe in health care reform". The purpose of restricting words is to prevent threatening, abusive, or insulting behaviour, to prevent harasment, alarm or distress from words chosen to hurt and injure.

All of this is well and nice, but it's all sadly very vague. How much insulting behavior is too insulting? Can I impose my demands on other people who call my mom a whore? Can I demand that people only tell me things I want to hear? What happens if I'm distressed by gays? Please, do draw some lines for us here that are actually based on something rather than some undefined, amorphous idea that fluctuates so greatly between people and has yet to be really pinned down in this debate. You seem reluctant to admit that not just anyone who's butthurt can restrict speech, but yet you still insist on having "something" in place to censor ideas you've deemed unfit. Do elaborate.


Edit: Also thought I should address this briefly:

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I wouldn't want to live in a society where people are free to bully, assault, and harass. No. Wait. It wouldn't be a society at all, but rather a group of individuals who have no care for other people.

America has laws that protect against bullying and harassment as it is. The fact that we allow people to say things in a public forum that are unpopular with the majority does not mean we have instantly downgraded into this scenario you're speaking of. In fact, it's been allowed for years, and it's STILL unpopular and there have been very, very few groups to try and attempt what the WBC does. It's for that very reason that we don't even need to make it illegal -- it's not a threat. In fact, they're the minority of even the minority. A rare exception to the typical case. They're not even a group we take seriously to begin with. Hitting the big, red, 'hush' button on this is reactionary, at best.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2010, 02:55:56 PM by Noelle »

Offline DarklingAlice

Re: Why Offence Is A Valid Reason To Ban Speech!
« Reply #18 on: October 20, 2010, 03:47:09 PM »
You've missed the point. It shows that freedom of speech is already curtailed on grounds of hatred. It shows that various societies already impose restrictions and yet haven't stumbled into tyranny. I do not wish to nor do I need to show that there's actual harm in locking people up. Rather, I merely need to show that there are functioning democracies (ones that routinely score the same as or better on 'freedom indicies' such as freedom house or the Economist's Democracy index or Privacy Interational) than ones that have an 'absolute' right to freedom of expression. One of the premises of the argument in the WBC thread was that such restrictions are intolerable to a democratic system.

Citing a 'bunch of laws' shows the premise that absolute protection is vital to democracy to be false.
Which is not what you set out to show. I really must have misunderstood. For some strange reason I thought you were claiming to show Why Offence Is A Valid Reason To Ban Speech! You have consistently failed to provide a reason to ban free speech or any kind of rational rubric by which to define what is offensive or measure and punish offense. Further, it now seems that you are trying to drag a Europe vs. America sentiment, ad hominem arguments, and the ceaseless repetition of your (apparently baseless) opinion into what should be a very basic expression of why you believe something.

In short, you purport to be willing to provide a demonstration and argument, and then seem impotent to do so.

Offline Jude

Re: Why Offence Is A Valid Reason To Ban Speech!
« Reply #19 on: October 20, 2010, 05:18:40 PM »
I wouldn't be surprised if there are ways in which European countries tend to be "more free" than America -- especially on issues of economic rights.  The problem is, you haven't proven that, you simply gave Wikipedia links to each of the groups you claim looks at Europe favorably and expected me to do your research for you.  Even if it shows that 3 organizations agree that Europe is fairly free, it's not the same as using scientific statistics to do so because I'm willing to bet none of those organizations are peer reviewed.  I'd be curious to see what their operationalized definition of freedom is -- especially when the issue we're talking about here is a great example of how Europe is less free.  To head a potential discussion off at the pass, I do not think Europe is any better or worse than America overall, there are ways that Europe is better, but this isn't one of them.

In your rebuttal you bring up things that are already illegal even in America as if I condone them (such as harassment -- which I already I specifically do not condone).  I do condone hate speech, and I hear hate speech applied to groups that I belong to all the time.  Does it irritate me?  Yes.  Does it offend me?  Sure.  Do I think I have the right to then tell the speaker of those words, "Say it again and I'm going to report you and have you locked up in jail or seek financial compensation"?  No.  No way.  That is ridiculously immature, childish, and petty, to want to harm someone that way simply for speaking their mind.

Offline Noelle

Re: Why Offence Is A Valid Reason To Ban Speech!
« Reply #20 on: October 20, 2010, 05:34:35 PM »
I'll also point out that the Freedom in the World report scored the US equally with other European countries -- And I'm not entirely sure what your relevancy of posting Privacy International...They score based on the level of personal privacy invasions, and the US was just above the UK. The UK is notorious for not only their extensive use of CCTV, but also their free speech restrictions (as was already pointed out earlier). The US, by contrast, has loads of privacy infringements and plenty more options for free speech and we're still ranked on an equal level of "freedom" as every other country.

As for the Democracy Index, it also shows several European countries falling behind the US, as well, including the good ol' UK. So I'm not entirely sure what you wanted these statistics to say, but I don't know if it was quite the message you were intending.

Offline mystictigerTopic starter

Re: Why Offence Is A Valid Reason To Ban Speech!
« Reply #21 on: October 20, 2010, 05:45:35 PM »
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It's nonsense, trying to protect someone's tender ears from 'offense' and, essentially, poor taste. It's complete garbage. Looking at the court's history of determining what pornography or obscenity is, could you imagine them trying to define the much subtler concept of offensive in legal terms? It makes my skin crawl just thinking about it. It's so objective as to be stifling if put into legislation.

Yes. Here at Part 3A or 4A, or Section 18, or maybe here at section 9. But then in this country we make our important decisions through the legislature rather than let the courts decide them.

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All of this is well and nice, but it's all sadly very vague. How much insulting behavior is too insulting? Can I impose my demands on other people who call my mom a whore? Can I demand that people only tell me things I want to hear? What happens if I'm distressed by gays?

Are you driven by this hatred to take someone to court? Then sure. If you want to sue them because of it, then go for it. Controls on freedom of speech are not necessarily or exclusively driven by a state saying NO. In fact, you make the point eloquently that your freedom of speech is already curtailed when you say "America has laws that protect against bullying and harassment as it is".

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For some strange reason I thought you were claiming to show Why Offence Is A Valid Reason To Ban Speech!

What was it you said when claiming that all moral philosophers have dismissed emotionivism (apart from the emotivists that is)? Exageration for effect? Deliberately catchy title? I don't recall, but something to that end.

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Further, it now seems that you are trying to drag a Europe vs. America sentiment...
The difference between various EU differences illustrates that there are different ways of organising a state, and that the conviction that you all have that individual freedom of speech is so important is not an absolute or a given.

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...ad hominem arguments,

Where?

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...and the ceaseless repetition of your (apparently baseless) opinion into what should be a very basic expression of why you believe something.

You mean beyond this?

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One interesting theory to explain human rights (that didn't require natural law) was based on the premise of suffering; laws exist to limit suffering. Who suffers more? The one being harrassed or bullied by having their personhood put into doubt (until you've had eggs thrown at you simply because you've wanted to exercise your religious freedom, you've not experienced such behaviour and saying that people should have thicker skin are insulting) or the person who chooses to make a statement?

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In summary: I favour, in certain circumstances, placing the rights of the community or polity over the rights of the individual. Gosh, that makes me a communist. Rather than frame the question: "What right do you have to shut people up", I would phrase the question as "What right do you have to offend someone?"

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While someone has the right to say something, equally the audience does not have to hear it. This can be on any ground, but the one that springs to mind most easily is that of racial or ethnic hatred.

I have, by reference to various indicators attempted to show that restrictions on the freedom of speech do not limit or inhibit the full and fair exercise of democracy, or make a country less free.

I have shown examples of direct suffering, pain, and injury caused by the unrestrained use of free speech - both the audience and the maker. I would urge you to look at the kind of draconian restrictions imposed in the former Yugoslavia under Marshall Tito (any racial or ethnic slur was met with severe punishment), and then you see what happened under Slobo and his crowd - who used divisive ethnic language to divide and conquer. Is giving up the right to insult someone worth decades of peace? I think so. Is the right to be able to make racist comments worth bloodshed? I don't think so.

I will gladly admit to being wrong if you can show me one example where calling someone a 'kike' or 'dyke' or 'Paki' achieved something for the good. If you can point me in the direction of one case where repeatedly insulting someone by virtue of their ethnic origin, sexual orientation, or choice of religion had a positive outcome, then I will admit defeat and go and rethink my beliefs.

Offline Jude

Re: Why Offence Is A Valid Reason To Ban Speech!
« Reply #22 on: October 20, 2010, 05:54:49 PM »
I will gladly admit to being wrong if you can show me one example where calling someone a 'kike' or 'dyke' or 'Paki' achieved something for the good. If you can point me in the direction of one case where repeatedly insulting someone by virtue of their ethnic origin, sexual orientation, or choice of religion had a positive outcome, then I will admit defeat and go and rethink my beliefs.
Humor.

Offline Noelle

Re: Why Offence Is A Valid Reason To Ban Speech!
« Reply #23 on: October 20, 2010, 06:02:21 PM »
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Are you driven by this hatred to take someone to court? Then sure. If you want to sue them because of it, then go for it. Controls on freedom of speech are not necessarily or exclusively driven by a state saying NO. In fact, you make the point eloquently that your freedom of speech is already curtailed when you say "America has laws that protect against bullying and harassment as it is".

So let's just get this straight, shall we?

You're okay with anyone, for any reason, at any time, dictating ANYTHING you say because they might find it offensive, just because they're driven enough and not because it's actually done them any damage? I have to laugh, that's absolutely absurd and a huge waste of our government's resources. It goes against your very point by saying that there's no offense greater than any other. Calling my mom a whore is now as equal as protesting a funeral. I find that quite funny :D


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I have shown examples of direct suffering, pain, and injury caused by the unrestrained use of free speech - both the audience and the maker. I would urge you to look at the kind of draconian restrictions imposed in the former Yugoslavia under Marshall Tito (any racial or ethnic slur was met with severe punishment), and then you see what happened under Slobo and his crowd - who used divisive ethnic language to divide and conquer. Is giving up the right to insult someone worth decades of peace? I think so. Is the right to be able to make racist comments worth bloodshed? I don't think so.

I'm waiting for the US to slide into the same situation. Should be happening any day now, right? We've had the freedom to offend each other for a long time now...I mean, according to your statistics, the UK is faring worse on several fronts, but somehow they've avoided a total 1984 situatoin, haven't they? Guess there's no doomsday coming after all...

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I will gladly admit to being wrong if you can show me one example where calling someone a 'kike' or 'dyke' or 'Paki' achieved something for the good. If you can point me in the direction of one case where repeatedly insulting someone by virtue of their ethnic origin, sexual orientation, or choice of religion had a positive outcome, then I will admit defeat and go and rethink my beliefs.

Well, what the hell, I'll bite. How about we outlaw the words 'dumb' and 'lame' and 'stupid'. How about 'pointless' and 'worthless', too? Why put restrictions on this, I mean, there are loads of words out there that are used to hurt others. I could tell Bruce Willis that his daughter has a potato-shaped head -- Wellp, there goes my use of the word potato!

Waiiit, a minute, this is sounding vaguely familiar...

Offline Paradox

Re: Why Offence Is A Valid Reason To Ban Speech!
« Reply #24 on: October 20, 2010, 06:07:14 PM »
The initial post in this thread offends me. Maybe Trieste should ban it.