Debate and Discussion

Freedom of speech. When is it appropriate?
Product Placement at 5:19PM, April 24, 2010
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Many people hallmark the concept of freedom of speech as one of the greatest human inventions in history. It grants us the right to form our own opinions and voice them without fear of consequence. You're allowed to criticize your government without worrying about a secret police causing you to “quietly disappear” and if someone physically attacks you for your views, you will be protected.

But is it possible to abuse it?

Not long ago, someone PQed me on this forum, complaining about a picture that I posted around here. What I posted and why it offended that person, I will not discuss because that is not the point of this argument. What I can tell you is that I immediately snapped back at him, claiming that I had the right to post whatever I wanted to post, since I wasn't breaking any forum rules. The person backed down but I couldn't help realizing that his reasons for finding that picture to be offensive were completely valid. It goes without saying that the picture was never posted with the intent of offending anyone but had I spent a moment thinking about it, I would have realized that someone might not appreciate the humor and find it down right offensive. However, forcing me to take down the picture would, in theory, be treading on my freedom of speech, right?

Trey Parker and Matt Stone certainly live by this principle. Freedom of speech is one of their main focus point in South Park. They create episodes with offensive material because they have the right to do so. They're allowed to get away with it too because they have allot of fans that bring the network they work for lots of money. Why on earth would they stop making these episodes? After all, what's controversial is always popular. Well, one of their latest escapades was naming the big prophet “M” in one of their newest episodes and of course, the Muslim communities are displeased. This is not the first time they've done this but Muhammed has visited the kids from South Park on 3 separate occasions. During one of those times the show creators were criticizing what happened when a Danish newspaper posted pictures of the prophet, causing an uproar in the middle east.
This much uproar to be exact.


Lots of People argued that the newspaper had full right to post those pictures. Sure, they were treading on the religious views of the Muslims but who the hell cares? After all they always respond like that. Remember when the Pope said this?



Well… they started caring when terrorists attempted to kill the artists behind the works and bomb the newspaper. The death of Theo van Gogh, movie director, also caught everyone's attention. He was killed by a Muslim radical as a punishment for making a movie, criticizing the way Muslim communities treat women. But hell, we're the one's who are right in this matter, right? The Muslims are the ones who are wrong. These are the people who conduct terrorism. After all. How screwed up of a human being do you have to be by responding to a criticism by killing someone?

Well… Enter the Westboro Baptist church…



… Lovely bunch of people.

They like to show up to the funerals of your gay family member so that they can tell you why he's burning in hell, while being extra obnoxious about it. If someone attacks them for voicing their opinion, they can sue him for physical abuse. After all, he just attacked their right of free speech.

Today laws have been passed that forbid protests around cemeteries, where the church operates but that's not stopping them for being the living incarnation of everyones favorite Internet troll. Operating within the laws, these church members keep clinging onto their right of free speech, while spreading their message of hate around.

I think most can agree that what Westboro is doing is wrong but they're not breaking any rules. I truly wish they were but such is the thing. You can't have the cake and eat it too. We have to accept that what they're doing is right, if we are to justify my earlier examples.

Which brings me back to this question: Is there such a thing where freedom of speech can not be justified?



Edit: I realized now in hindsight that this is looking allot like a disguised criticism on religion. Please ignore that part. All negative comments on religion were purely satirical, in order to drive home the point of my argument… except for Westboro. I truly hate those people.
Those were my two cents.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 2:52PM
alwinbot at 7:54PM, April 24, 2010
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You know what's gross about the picture of the church going members. That there is a child there, and that they're smiling.

It looks strange and unnatural.


On topic:

If we were all mute, we'd still do bad things. It's human nature.

Speech shouldn't be regulated, there's just no use.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 10:50AM
kyupol at 7:57PM, April 24, 2010
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Freedom of speech is a hallmark of a free and civilized society.

While I may not agree with you, I will defend your right to freedom of speech AS LONG AS YOU ARE NOT CALLING FOR VIOLENCE OR THREATENING PHYSICAL HARM OR DEATH..

Yes. And that includes:

1) Racist groups. (Neo Nazis, Black panthers, etc.) They can explain and elaborate how much a particular race is inferior and/or how much a particular race is superior all they want. They are entitled to their opinion as long as no threats of death or physical violence are made.

2) Fringe religious groups. For instance, inasmuch as I disagree with the Westborough Baptist Church, I do believe that they have all the right to picket funerals and talk about how your dead relative is burning in hell. Thats all right as long as they don't LITERALLY make the whole place burn like hell (property damage… may possibly cause death and injury)


I am for free speech because any restriction to free speech sets a PRECEDENT as to what more can be done. For instance, if we say that we should censor the white supremacists. Ok fine… that sounds reasonable cuz its just those evil white supremacists…

And what comes next? Due to the precedent that gets set, it will soon come to a point in where YOU CANNOT CRITICIZE THE GOVERNMENT AND THE BANKERS because they are divinely ordained prophets of God and therefore thou shall worship the government and the banksters!!!

Here is a good essay about freedom
http://www.libertarian.ca/english/enhay.htm

And here's a good book about freedom
http://www.amazon.com/Pillars-Prosperity-Ron-Paul/dp/1933550244

Here's what its like to live under tyranny. This is what's gonna happen if you let the fake neocons and fake liberals have their way.
http://www.amazon.com/Aquariums-Pyongyang-Years-North-Korean/dp/0465011047/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1272163615&sr=1-1


NOW UPDATING!!!
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:27PM
Orin J Master at 8:27PM, April 24, 2010
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kyupol, you have convinced me. that you're illiterate. because noone could go over that and thing they should share it with anyone. seriously, if that somehow forms a coherent narrative to you, you're either taking too many or not enough drugs.

also product placement, it's impossible to to discuss the merits and failing for free speech without disparaging religion because they're the one that most abuse that right.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:22PM
alwinbot at 8:49PM, April 24, 2010
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Orin J Master
kyupol, you have convinced me. that you're illiterate. because noone could go over that and thing they should share it with anyone. seriously, if that somehow forms a coherent narrative to you, you're either taking too many or not enough drugs.
Shut up. His “Engrish” is fine. Go drink RC Cola or something, and get out of here.
Read this comic. It is the greatest journal comic ever written and drawn. Trust me.
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:50AM
ozoneocean at 10:05PM, April 24, 2010
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The idea of “Freedom Of Speech” is really more mythical in scope than anything else.

In reality, generally the concept does not truly exist- Humans live in complicated social communities. Management of those communities and existence within them means that true freedom to do anything or say anything is impossible without damaging the coherence of the community- in small ways and big ones.

In the united states the idea comes from the philosophical idealism of those they call “the Founding fathers” (as far as I know), and from things they based their ideals on- older philosophers, the ideals of intellectuals etc?
So you have these holy and venerated principals set down in the hallowed documents of “THE CONSTITUTION”.

But the original intent of “the founders” isn't important. What's important is how people have been able to interpret the words of that amendment and use it to modify and maintain social freedoms within the united states, as well as the influence those actions have generated in different countries.

Functionally/theoretically the way it works is that: we try and ban as few things as possible, that way it's fair for all and makes it harder for people to ban things maliciously.
It's not perfect and like all rules, laws and guidelines for managing humanity anywhere it's subject to constant challenge and negotiation to make it work.

So, no, it is not an eternal ideal or some magic principal. And it can indeed have big problems just like everything. But it's the humanity -the humans that are being managed that are important here, not the esoteric rules and ideals which we use to do it. So if we're smart, compassionate, and sensible we're able to negotiate and compromise a way to make things work anyway. :)
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:36PM
alwinbot at 6:29AM, April 25, 2010
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ozoneocean
The idea of “Freedom Of Speech” is really more mythical in scope than anything else.

In reality, generally the concept does not truly exist- Humans live in complicated social communities. Management of those communities and existence within them means that true freedom to do anything or say anything is impossible without damaging the coherence of the community- in small ways and big ones.

In the united states the idea comes from the philosophical idealism of those they call “the Founding fathers” (as far as I know), and from things they based their ideals on- older philosophers, the ideals of intellectuals etc?
So you have these holy and venerated principals set down in the hallowed documents of “THE CONSTITUTION”.

But the original intent of “the founders” isn't important. What's important is how people have been able to interpret the words of that amendment and use it to modify and maintain social freedoms within the united states, as well as the influence those actions have generated in different countries.

Functionally/theoretically the way it works is that: we try and ban as few things as possible, that way it's fair for all and makes it harder for people to ban things maliciously.
It's not perfect and like all rules, laws and guidelines for managing humanity anywhere it's subject to constant challenge and negotiation to make it work.

So, no, it is not an eternal ideal or some magic principal. And it can indeed have big problems just like everything. But it's the humanity -the humans that are being managed that are important here, not the esoteric rules and ideals which we use to do it. So if we're smart, compassionate, and sensible we're able to negotiate and compromise a way to make things work anyway. :)
Well those are just social restrictions. Technically, we have the potential to say anything we want, but people will interpret some of that as socially unacceptable.


I think they gave us the ability to be able to say anything, but not actually do so.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 10:50AM
ozoneocean at 7:40AM, April 25, 2010
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alwinbot
Well those are just social restrictions. Technically, we have the potential to say anything we want, but people will interpret some of that as socially unacceptable.
Not really. When I say “social” I mean “humans living within an organised society”. So when I speak of restriction and social issues, I'm using those as an umbrella for all the different laws, cultural issues, traditional issues etc that exist in a society.
i.e. an obvious example is the creation, broadcast, dissemination or possession of child pornography.
Making films celebrating drug taking will face heavy restrictions.
Any film or other publication containing pornography is not allowed to be seen by minors. If you knowingly show them such material, you could be imprisoned
-Related to that is the whole issue of classification for various types of media..
Also, you can't get away with much that is considered “hate speech” with a freedom of speech defence. Stuff like going into a Jewish synagogue and preaching Nazi propaganda. Even denying the holocaust with close a LOT of doors in your face.

Someone might claim they have the right to do that because of “Free Speech” but they STILL live within a community. Acting like that could very well make life impossible for them in that community. The “restrictions” in those cases are things that have concrete effects on your life.
And within different smaller communities within society, they will have their own ideas on what is allowed to be said and what should happen to transgressors. -You wouldn't want to be a Westbro religious nut trying your thing on an actual miltary base while out of the protective glare of the media spotlight.


You see, the whole notion of absolutely “free speech” is an idealistic myth. In a real functioning society of any kind, it must be mediated. The mark of the “freer” societies is that they try and limit the amount of mediation.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:36PM
Product Placement at 9:28AM, April 25, 2010
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Good point that Ozone is making but I would like to mention that creating child pornography requires you to abuse a minor. Thus it is an illegal act. If I murdered someone and took pictures of the act, I wouldn't be arrested for creating a snuff film. I would be arrested for murdering. If somebody gave me a picture of a child being abused, I would be forced to report it. Possession of child pornography is illegal because creating it requires an illegal act. Thus acquiring it would be illegal.

Promoting drug usage is not illegal but certain “viewers discretion” laws have been made, in order to protect minors. Most speech restrictions have been made to protect minors, under the logic that an undeveloped mind is more susceptible to outside influence.

Finally I would say that there's nothing illegal about promoting hate speech. Yes, it's morally unjustifiable and it would close some doors to you since allot of people would not wish to associate with you but that is their personal choice. I would be able to walk to a synagogue and spread Nazi propaganda if I wanted to. The synagogue officials can throw me out of the building, stating that they have the right to ban me from entering their premises but they can't force me to leave the immediate area. I can't be arrested for standing outside their building, denying the holocaust. I would certainly get allot of stern looks from passerbyes but they can't stop me for voicing my hypothetical opinion. This is the exact same thing that Westboro is banking on. Sure, these people are “branded” by the common people as hate mongrels who you shouldn't associate with and allot of social doors have been closed for them but those are social retributions, where people choose to shun them. After all, you're allowed to say whatever you want but no one is require by law to listen to you.
Orin J Master
also product placement, it's impossible to to discuss the merits and failing for free speech without disparaging religion because they're the one that most abuse that right.
Heh… I guess you're right.
Those were my two cents.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 2:52PM
ozoneocean at 10:10AM, April 25, 2010
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Product Placement
nothing illegal about promoting hate speech
Not quite. It depends what kind.

If you used graffiti in that synagogue for example, you wouldn't just be prosecuted for vandalism.
(and that's only the US. Such acts in Germany and many other countries will see you jailed).

You're also not allowed to spread a lot of other sorts of material advocating terrorism… But that's slanted in the US. You can advocate right-wing, abortion clinic bombing type terrorism, but Islamic stuff is a no-no.
Also, no spreading bomb-making advice. etc.
Really, the more you look into it, the more the list goes on and on, and on. And you can always justify halting “free Spech” in those instance because of some other reason (protection of minors etc.), but in the end what you're doing is limiting free speech- As it must be.

As the the child porn argument- the dissemination and ownership could be considered free speech, (hat doesn't involve the actual harm), but it's not, thank goodness.
A directly equivalent situation is films made of animal cruelty. Animal cruelty is largly illegal in the US, but making, disseminating, and possessing films of it is not- regardless of weather the initial act was illegal. Due to a recent ruling by the US supreme court it is now protected as free speech.

The background to that story is that some sickos in 1999 were making “erotic” movies of women crushing small animals under their high heeled shoes. A federal law was created to outlaw the practise.But free speech advocates have successfully challenged that now. In their rulings some of the more conservative the judges claimed that it was a problematic law because people could possibly use it to ban videos of hunting and such. -Of course it didn't apply to such things but that was the “reasoning”.


Anyway, the point is that “Free Speech” is a principal. In reality it is always being mediated and involves a lot of constant compromise.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:36PM
Product Placement at 3:39PM, April 25, 2010
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ozoneocean
Such acts in Germany and many other countries will see you jailed).
Ah right… the Germans and their laws against bringing up the old Nationalistic Socialist party. It's kind of a taboo for them. Of course the laws vary from place to place but the general idea behind the freedom of speech concept is, like you pointed out:
ozoneocean
try and ban as few things as possible
Personally I draw the line, when people (and in some cases animals) get maliciously and physically hurt in the process. I would say that the small animal crushing is wrong because the only intent there was to cause harm to those animals. Hunting videos would not because you can argue that these animals are being killed in order to gather food. Nothing wrong with that, just like there's nothing wrong with documentary videos of predators, hunting down a prey.

When the intent of abuse enters the picture, you move away from what is right and into what can only be described as evil.

Graffiti is a gray area for me. You can't outright ban it because it's borderline art but it's important to prevent vandalism. Painting the swastika on the synagogue is obviously vandalism and the culprit would have to be charged with the cleanup cost. Had he written his message on a wall where graffiti is allowed, then I wouldn't have seen any harm in that. I personally wouldn't have liked him for it but there's nothing I could have done to prevent it.
Those were my two cents.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 2:52PM
alwinbot at 4:10PM, April 25, 2010
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Product Placement
Graffiti is a gray area for me. You can't outright ban it because it's borderline art but it's important to prevent vandalism. Painting the swastika on the synagogue is obviously vandalism and the culprit would have to be charged with the cleanup cost. Had he written his message on a wall where graffiti is allowed, then I wouldn't have seen any harm in that. I personally wouldn't have liked him for it but there's nothing I could have done to prevent it.
What if the graffiti swatsika was a form of irony used to show the synagogue that other religions exist?









Get it?
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last edited on July 14, 2011 10:50AM
Product Placement at 4:16PM, April 25, 2010
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Still would be vandalism. The synagogue is own by… whoever owns synagogues and they wouldn't want any form of graffiti on their property. It would be unfair to have them bear the burden of the cleanup cost. If the culprit can be found, he should pay. You wouldn't want someone to paint some crap on your house.

Many cities that fight graffiti have come up with the idea of granting a “free-for-all” access to certain walls, where people can go nuts. Those are the places where you usually see all the high quality stuff.
Those were my two cents.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 2:52PM
kyupol at 6:28PM, April 25, 2010
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Though sticking things in newspaper boxes, posts, etc. should be all right.

NOW UPDATING!!!
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:27PM
alwinbot at 8:04PM, April 25, 2010
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Product Placement
Many cities that fight graffiti have come up with the idea of granting a “free-for-all” access to certain walls, where people can go nuts. Those are the places where you usually see all the high quality stuff.

What separates graffiti from a mural then?
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last edited on July 14, 2011 10:50AM
Product Placement at 8:20PM, April 25, 2010
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alwinbot
What separates graffiti from a mural then?
A mural is high quality graffiti?
Those were my two cents.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 2:52PM
ozoneocean at 6:38AM, April 26, 2010
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When I was little there was a phrase I heard a lot… I thought it was pretty wierd and didn't really get it. I thought that when I was an adult it might make more sense to me. It was:
“I might not agree with what you say, but I would defend to the death your right to say it”

Now that I'm an adult, it sounds even stupider. It's along the same hollow lines as “death before dishonour”. I'm sorry but I value my own life and those of all the posters here more than I value the childishly simple interpretation of an abstract principal. And I'll add that out of ALL the people I've heard use the phrase, I would bet two life times fortunes that they would never, ever actually lay down their lives over someone's right to say something they either didn't agree with or care about.

I'm glad I live in a “free” country, but I'm also glad I'm at least partially aware of how enormously complicated and varied the concept of “freedom” really is.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:36PM
DrBob at 8:16AM, April 26, 2010
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ozoneocean
The idea of “Freedom Of Speech” is really more mythical in scope than anything else……

Anyway, the point is that “Free Speech” is a principal. In reality it is always being mediated and involves a lot of constant compromise.
I don't think the fact that the principle of free speech is always being mediated and compromised means it's mythical in scope. Free speech has never meant you can say anything to anyone at any time for any reason. There are limits. Where those limits are has changed over time and is a constant source of legal debate. You're not allowed to defame, threaten, or promote violence, but where exactly that line should be drawn can be very grey when you get into the details. But that doesn't mean the broad principle of letting people say what they want to say whenever possible is mythical and doesn't really exist.


ozoneocean
So when I speak of restriction and social issues, I'm using those as an umbrella for all the different laws, cultural issues, traditional issues etc that exist in a society.
If you're saying that people don't have free speech because of cultural and traditional issues, then I disagree. Free speech is a legal matter. You can choose to exercise it or not because of societal norms, but it's not because you don't have free speech. As Hubert Humphries once said, “the right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously.” You can say offensive and hateful things, but don't be surprised if people see you as a hateful and offensive person. You can choose to say “thank you” or not say it, but don't be surprised if people see you as ungracious. But these aren't issues of free speech.

Now you can quickly get into grey matters such as intimidation. If you are a religious minority living in an area where over 90% of the people are one religion, then you may very well have the right to free speech but don't feel like you can take advantage of it because you'll be ostracized. That is a danger, and there are no easy answers. But this doesn't mean free speech doesn't exist.


Product Placement
A mural is high quality graffiti?
A mural is a painting on a building that someone is commissioned for and paid to do. Graffiti is when someone paints on a building that they aren't paid for but isn't illegal. Vandalism is when someone illegally paints on a building that they are not allowed to paint on. These aren't strict legal definitions, but it's how I think of them.

last edited on July 14, 2011 12:16PM
DrBob at 8:21AM, April 26, 2010
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ozoneocean
“I might not agree with what you say, but I would defend to the death your right to say it”
….And I'll add that out of ALL the people I've heard use the phrase, I would bet two life times fortunes that they would never, ever actually lay down their lives over someone's right to say something they either didn't agree with or care about.
Then I think you would lose. I've talked to military people who have used this phrase and they HAVE put their lives on the line for the freedom of all Americans, even the ones they disagree with. ACLU lawyers have put their lives on the line, dealing with personal threats, in order to defend the rights of horrible people they personally disagree with, like the KKK.

last edited on July 14, 2011 12:16PM
ozoneocean at 9:05AM, April 26, 2010
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DrBob
I don't think the fact that the principle of free speech is always being mediated and compromised means it's mythical in scope.
The scope is mythical, not the principal.i.e. the popular “idea” is that all speech is free, the reality is that it is not. Speech is not totally free anywhere on earth, there are always restrictions. How many restrictions does it take for you to define speech as not free? Or that some speech in some countries is “free” and in others it's not?
or is it just the reasons for the restrictions that matter?
But then you can always come up with good reasons. The American agency of Homeland Security was very good at that.
DrBob
Free speech is a legal matter
Not entirely. You see it's an amendment to the constitution in the united states of America, but both Product Placement (the OP) and myself aren't Americans and we don't live there, so we're not just simply talking about this from the ink on paper perspective of rules and regulations. All over the globe the idea of Free Speech is a principal, like the idea of human rights and religious freedom etc. these are ideas that exist in theory just as much and sometimes more than on any page.
DrBob
Then I think you would lose. I've talked to military people who have used this phrase and they HAVE put their lives on the line for the freedom of all Americans, even the ones they disagree with. ACLU lawyers have put their lives on the line, dealing with personal threats, in order to defend the rights of horrible people they personally disagree with, like the KKK.
If human society was really that simple then life would be like an episode of the Superfriends.
There are so many complicated obligations and loyalties that are always present in people's minds that have a bearing on every decision and action we ever make, all sorts of job pressures, family loyalties, loyalties to friends, family, work, our actions can be influenced by training, our expectations, the expectations of others…
People are not driven by simple codes, even if they are a good way to summarise actions and motivations in a heroic way.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:36PM
Product Placement at 10:30AM, April 26, 2010
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ozoneocean
DrBob
Free speech is a legal matter
Not entirely. You see it's an amendment to the constitution in the united states of America, but both Product Placement (the OP) and myself aren't Americans and we don't live there, so we're not just simply talking about this from the ink on paper perspective of rules and regulations. All over the globe the idea of Free Speech is a principal, like the idea of human rights and religious freedom etc. these are ideas that exist in theory just as much and sometimes more than on any page.
Well, even though I don't live in the states, the constitution of my home country has an article that is similar to the US constitution.
Section VII. Article 73
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and belief.

Everyone shall be free to express his thoughts, but shall also be liable to answer for them in court. The law may never provide for censorship or other similar limitations to freedom of expression.

Freedom of expression may only be restricted by law in the interests of public order or the security of the State, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights or reputation of others, if such restrictions are deemed necessary and in agreement with democratic traditions.
The entire constitution can be read here.

The first amendment in America states that church and state should be kept separate and that the government is not allowed to post any restrictions on freedom of speech. Exceptions have been added later on that restricts obscenity and possible treason.
In Iceland religion is not separated from state and the state Church is Lutheran. Anyone is free to choose their own religion though and religious discrimination is illegal, according to Article VI.
No banns exist that limit freedom of speech apart from the those that violate Human Rights laws (child pornography). It also points out that individuals (or those who represents said individual) are held liable to what they say. Therefore a person can be sued for things he said, if evidence can be brought up that his words sufficiently damaged someones reputation. This allows people, who were found innocent of a crime to sue news media that fingered them out, for example. Something similar exists in the States but I have no idea where that law is written. All I know is that it's not in the constitution.


Like Oz said. Rules vary from country to country. In many places, the right to say what is on your mind is a luxury that does not exist. Not everyone treats Freedom of speech the same way and it's often possible to interpret the laws in million different ways.
Those were my two cents.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 2:52PM
DrBob at 8:47PM, April 26, 2010
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ozoneocean
The scope is mythical, not the principal.i.e. the popular “idea” is that all speech is free, the reality is that it is not. Speech is not totally free anywhere on earth, there are always restrictions. How many restrictions does it take for you to define speech as not free? Or that some speech in some countries is “free” and in others it's not? or is it just the reasons for the restrictions that matter?
I'm sorry, but I don't understand how what you're saying applies to free speech. What you're saying the scope of *all* ideas are mythical, which is obvious. The principle only exists as an abstract concept, but no abstract concept survives a collision with reality. The concept of voting has restrictions (convicts, minors, etc). The concept of liberty has restrictions, the concept of federalism, of compassion, of music, of love… ALL abstract concepts lose their purity in the light of reality. And where we draw those lines around those concepts differ among nations, among groups in those nations, and among individuals in those groups. Some nations allow many liberties, some allow very few. And even within a single nation, not everyone sees it the same. What is a valid restriction of free speech to me may be trampling on free speech rights to you, just as what is music to me may be horrible noise to you. The best we can do, at least in more free countries, is treat it as a legal matter that we can argue about in court, and ultimately move the general concept around within each culture.


ozoneocean
People are not driven by simple codes, even if they are a good way to summarise actions and motivations in a heroic way.
I agree with you. But you said that you thought the phrase “”I might not agree with what you say, but I would defend to the death your right to say it" was stupid because no one actually does that. Of COURSE no one puts their life on the line for ANY simple code. So your entire premise doesn't make sense. But people DO have that phrase as a motivation and people DO put their lives on the line for, among other things, defending people's rights.


Product Placement
Rules vary from country to country. In many places, the right to say what is on your mind is a luxury that does not exist. Not everyone treats Freedom of speech the same way and it's often possible to interpret the laws in million different ways.
Absolutely, no argument here.

last edited on July 14, 2011 12:16PM
ozoneocean at 2:38AM, April 27, 2010
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I don't get what you're not getting :)
DrBob
The best we can do, at least in more free countries, is treat it as a legal matter that we can argue about in court, and ultimately move the general concept around within each culture.
The trouble with that idea is that laws ONLY apply to specific countries, and even then only at specific points in time (the form they take changes a great deal over any given period).
If you were to only treat concepts that have a legal aspect as strictly legal matters, then meaningful discussion of them outside of the legal framework would be pointless.

But as it happens, that is not the case.
Principals, laws, rules and so on are designed and decided on by society to serve society and reflect its interests, not the other way around. Laws do not work as some sort of mathematical formulae for managing people and ideas.
This is exactly why the concept is a valid topic for conversation and examination, even to the point of questioning its validity.
DrBob
But you said that you thought the phrase “”I might not agree with what you say, but I would defend to the death your right to say it" was stupid because no one actually does that. Of COURSE no one puts their life on the line for ANY simple code. So your entire premise doesn't make sense. But people DO have that phrase as a motivation and people DO put their lives on the line for, among other things, defending people's rights.
I don't see why my “premise” doesn't make sense…?
Do people really put their lives on the line for that sort of thing? I have known many people who've served in the defence forces, read a lot about it, known policemen, and when it comes right down to it none of them were really motivated by that superman stuff. It plays well in comics, movies, and newspapers and the 6 O'clock news…

The phrase I mentioned IS nonsense, the context it is used in almost exclusively is to express disagreement in a heroic fashion, sort of like “we'll just agree to disagree”, but in a chest-beating fashion.

————————-
Haha, anyway, this has all gone quite iff topic. :)

To adress PP's original thing about South Park-
People do have a responsibility not to abuse their rights. We're all part of communities and a bigger global community, it doesn't really make sense to foment severe discord just because you can.
I'm perfectly within my rights to get into a crowded railway carriage or a lift and fart and fart and fart till I fill the place with revolting, gut-wrenching, vomit inducing smells… but I choose not to.
I could dress up as a pig, wear a bacon necklace, and dance around oinking at the top of my lungs in front of a mosque, but I won't.

The thing is that the laws and conventions that we create to help us manage our societies only work so long as people don't try and exploit them, because then that tends to force the community to change them to compensate for the unrest it causes.

A good analogy would be what happened on this forum a couple of years ago- We had a section called “The Top Drawer” where most of the rules of the forum were a lot more relaxed. For a good long time it was a fun place to hang out and goof off, until certain people chose to exploit the freedom there as much as they could and turn it into something extremely nasty and vicious. In the end we decided to remove the entire section.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:36PM
Product Placement at 8:09AM, April 27, 2010
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ozoneocean
To adress PP's original thing about South Park-
People do have a responsibility not to abuse their rights. We're all part of communities and a bigger global community, it doesn't really make sense to foment severe discord just because you can.
I'm perfectly within my rights to get into a crowded railway carriage or a lift and fart and fart and fart till I fill the place with revolting, gut-wrenching, vomit inducing smells… but I choose not to.
I could dress up as a pig, wear a bacon necklace, and dance around oinking at the top of my lungs in front of a mosque, but I won't.

The thing is that the laws and conventions that we create to help us manage our societies only work so long as people don't try and exploit them, because then that tends to force the community to change them to compensate for the unrest it causes.
You choose not to do these things because it is your decision. Not because someone told you not to do it. South Park likes to push the boundaries of the media laws to the absolute limit, abusing every exploit that they could find. Someone sued them once for using the word “shit” in the show. They won and responded by creating an episode where the word “shit” was used well over a hundred times (with a word counter in the corner, keeping a status on how many times it had been said). Yet, despite this apparent rude attitude, they like to drive home a point at the end of every episode “You know what? I've learned something today…”. Some folks like to test the boundaries of our societal norms. What is considered acceptable? What is offensive? What's the difference between the two and why? Many of those people become one of our best known comedians, like George Carlin, Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock, even Eddie Murphy at one point.

The Westboro church abuses the freedom of rights law to the absolute extreme. NOBODY likes what they're doing and I remember them being proclaimed as monsters on Fox news of all places. Thankfully, freedom of speech goes both ways.

Westboro were doing one of their usual protest runs as depicted by this picture.


Notice how they're bringing kids along that are far too young to fully understand what they're doing?

The Police is forced to protect them due to the numerous amount of times that they've been attacked. Trust me when I say that they do not like this part of their job.



However, shortly later, a giant crew of counter protesters arrived to drown the Westboro people in a sea of silly signs.









This is how you can attack people back, using freedom of speech. If they don't want to play by the rules, why should you?
ozoneocean
The story of “The Top Drawer”
Sniff… 'tis was a sad tale indeed. :(
Those were my two cents.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 2:52PM
ozoneocean at 8:56AM, April 27, 2010
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Product Placement
This is how you can attack people back, using freedom of speech. If they don't want to play by the rules, why should you?
The siltation of the Westbro people is emotive, but ultimately pretty childish when put against the towering enormity of the Islam problem.

Playing with Mohamed imagery is nothing more than teasing the rabid junk-yard dog behind it's fence, because you know you can. You're not proving how brave you are or how strong the fence is, all you're doing is increasing that dog's hatred of you and all like you, increasing its determination to get past that fence and rip your face from your skull.
-The junk yard dog analogy here isn't mine, I pinched it. ^_^

Laws and rules are great lovely things, but they don't prevent wars and they can't stop you being killed. That's why we as human beings need to exercise our own discretion, tact, and compassion when dealing with people.

Muslims aren't just peeved at people being immature about their prophet, there are other issues far more important and divisive. The Mohamed stuff is just snot flicked in their faces- when they rant and rave about that it's only because it's the final insult on top of many, many others- as they perceive them.
To go into them all would be way too long and complex but here are a few:
The divisive nature of the situation in Israel, the way all the west especially the US refuses to acknowledge any human rights violations against the massive captive civilian Palestinian population etc etc. etc
The barbaric acts of the West when it tried to colonise and control Iran and Iraq, including propping up the right-wing regime of the shah, the support for Iraq during the Iran Iraq war, the refusal to condemn Iraq in the UN (continues to this day) for using chemical weapons against Iran that killed many thousands (much more than when Saddam killed the Kurds- chemical weapons supplied by the Brits and the Americans I believe). And of course the most recent invasion…
Propping up of corrupt regimes in Saudi Arabia and Egypt and so on and so on… actions against Syria, Lebanon, Libya… blah, blah blah…

That's the stuff that fuels terrorism, not this religious airy fairy shit that people get distracted by. What religion does is it gives them a common identity. Buy committing perceived insults to Mohamed, you're not making fun of a religion, you're showing your contempt for a people.
-That is how they see it and that's why they react the way they do.

——————————-
It doesn't particularly bother me, I'm not Muslim, not of that history is my history. But I do have enough empathy to understand their point of view.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:36PM
Product Placement at 9:34AM, April 27, 2010
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I wasn't thinking about the Mohamed example at the time when I wrote the last post (I was to preoccupied, thinking about Westboro).

You're right about that. Toying with a foreign culture like that is playing with fire but Americans have done stuff like that for ages. Ridiculing nations that they were at odds with has been been their favorite pastime since the World war era.

But times have changed. Information gets transfered much more easily now then ever before. If the Soviet people have had the same access to the US media that Muslims have today, chances are that the Cold war would have been a little bit hotter.

The current Muslim/middle east situation is so complex that creating yet another fiasco would only serve to pour napalm onto the fire. You're going to get burned in the process. At very least the Denmark case was accidental but they're doing it intentionally to prove a point. That is definitely irresponsible but it's also a perfect example to ask if freedom of speech should be abused like that.

I'm incredibly conflicted about this whole thing, as one might be able to tell. I enjoy having the privilege to be able to say what is on my mind, no matter the situation but I hate when people use it to harm others. I also know that we can't take away their right to do so because it would affect my rights at the same time. We're back to the “can't have the cake and eat it too” situation.
Those were my two cents.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 2:52PM
isukun at 9:57AM, April 27, 2010
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World War era? Hell, we've been doing it at least as long as we've been able to call ourselves Americans. We didn't have any reservations about making fun of the British during the Revolutionary War. That's hardly anything new, though. Most countries have done it throughout their history and most still do. Many of the Muslim nations have their own propaganda which parodies Western culture. Everybody pisses on everybody, there isn't anything new about that. Some people are just unable to take what they dish out.

In the cases of the Westboro Baptist Church, though, I see that as more of a “yelling fire in a crowded theater” kind of situation. They actually go out to protest at already emotional and touchy venues. It's no surprise they have been attacked in the past. There are situations where protests should be protected forms of speech, but if you go to someone's funeral to chastize them in front of the bereaved, you aren't making a point, you're asking for trouble.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:05PM
Product Placement at 10:22AM, April 27, 2010
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Of course all countries make fun of their enemies but America was the first one to do it in the sheer scale that we see today. Before we had scribbled jokes on walls, satirical comics in newspapers and puppeteers who have likeness of the leader spank his enemies, to the amusement of children. America had Hollywood. A giant factory of movies and animation that spread US viewpoints across the world. Cartoons where Bugs and Daffy ridicule and belittle Japanese, Hitler and eventually the Soviets reached cinemas and TV screen of millions of homes.

Sure, other countries do the same but America excelled at the art.
Those were my two cents.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 2:52PM
Hawk at 10:53AM, April 27, 2010
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What I find funny about the South Park situation is that they showed Mohammad clearly and in his entirety in an earlier episode back in the show's fifth season. He was your average guy in a turban, but he had the ability to shoot fire for some reason.

Now, they're in trouble for showing a mascot bear costume and implying that Mohammad was inside it. They didn't even show him!

I guess it's possible for Muslims to simply be angry that Mohammad is a character in an often tasteless cartoon, but it makes you wonder what they were doing eight years ago when Mohammad first made an appearance.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:47PM
ozoneocean at 11:08AM, April 27, 2010
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isukun
World War era? Hell, we've been doing it at least as long as we've been able to call ourselves Americans. We didn't have any reservations about making fun of the British during the Revolutionary War. That's hardly anything new, though. Most countries have done it throughout their history and most still do. Many of the Muslim nations have their own propaganda which parodies Western culture. Everybody pisses on everybody, there isn't anything new about that. Some people are just unable to take what they dish out.
This sort of nationalistic viewpoint is a big part of the problem. Illustrated nicely here :)

Of course the problem with it is that Muslim people (not all) tend to see themselves as a sort of nation, but it's a nation without borders. So of course you have Muslim Americans. For the most part their loyalties aren't divided, they're Americans first, but slights against their prophet by fellow Americans (when that seems to go unchecked) makes them feel like second class citizens. -Because their Muslim identity is like their national identity, and one that's considered under attack.

Besides, Isukun's idea of “oh we do it all the time, it's not new and they do it too anyway”, is all very well in a theoretical airless vacuum, but in the real world conditions on the ground are very different. We'll just conveniently ignore all the different terrorist groups, wars of invasion, the semi hostile populations in several countries that the US is actively trying very, very hard to mollify in order to prevent further conflict… And instead treat global politics like two squabbling siblings in the back seat of their parent's car.

Hit them with a rolled up newspaper and threaten to leave them to walk home. That usually works.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:36PM

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