Freedom of Speech and Expression

Is there a line? And where do you draw it?

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Re: Freedom of Speech and Expression

#21  Postby THWOTH » Jan 23, 2015 1:06 pm

Ciwan wrote:Hello Friends

I am a little confused with freedom of speech and expression and was hoping you guys could shed some light on the matter to help me understand a little better.

We have all heard of the Charlie Hebdo incident, and I have just been watching Question Time on BBC iPlayer and some interesting things came up.

One point raised was about 'social responsiblity'. A man in the audience said, sure the magazine had the RIGHT to publish the things they did, but perhaps they should not have due to social responsibility, they KNEW many muslims would get offended, and the posiblity of some of those offended ones to go on killing would be increased with their publication, but they went ahead and did it anyway.

What are your thoughts on the above raised point?

Also, is it true about the double standard that Mehdi Hasan mentioned? France who is supposedly a firecly secular country and a champion of freedom, refused to allow an artist to make t-shirts with the last super on them? Also the president taking some rappers to court cause they were being offensive to France as a country? Finally a comedian going to jail because he wore a shirt saying 'I am Collaborator' instead of 'I am Charlie'?

Finally, is it true that we can't say that the holocaust did not happen? That there are laws that might land us in prison if we say so!?

Any clarification on the above would be great :)

Thank You.

On the latter point, this site is hosted in Germany and so it's content falls under that jurisdiction. More on that can be found here.

"Strafgesetzbuch section 86a" on @Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strafgese ... ection_86a
"Holocaust denial" on @Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holocaust_denial

On the former point; I think we do have some responsibility to avoid wilfully causing harm or a breach of the peace etc, but if we grant others the right or ability to limit our personal expression on the basis of what they personally find offensive then we place intolerance above tolerance and unreasonableness above reasonableness. What if the way you were dressed was offensive to some person or group? Would you feel obliged to dress in accordance with their ideals - would that be the socially responsible thing to do? And what, after changing your outfit, some other group or person was offended by your attire? Where does it stop if a report of 'offence' obliges us to change our action or modify the expression of our ideas?
"No-one is exempt from speaking nonsense – the only misfortune is to do it solemnly."
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Re: Freedom of Speech and Expression

#22  Postby quisquose » Jan 23, 2015 1:28 pm

colubridae wrote:
epepke wrote:
So I don't think that snarky comments about double standards of the French, as if they were a complete monolith, don't really make any sense.

Agreed, what’s more it’s getting to the point where arguments over the hebdo attack are becoming conflated with double standards arguments. The fact is that the attack made on Charlie hebdo was not in response to the French double standards but for reasons of islamic religious intolerance.

It’s as if the double standards complaint is being used as some sort of vague excuse for the attack. Double standards are an anathema, but they were not the reason nor an excuse for the attacks.


Also agree.

The "double standards" claim has been argued by many Muslim apologists in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo murders, but it is based on the strawman of some absolute right of Free Speech, which doesn't exist anywhere.

The "double standards" argument is a red-herring, it is being usefully used to fuel the "us and them" divide, and in particular it is being used to justify blasphemy as a real concept. They can fuck off with that idea, and I'm sure Raif Badawi would agree.

I like this article by Dan Hodges:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/ ... ciety.html

Dan Hodges wrote:This isn't about free speech – it's about the freedom to live in a secular society

Endlessly debating free speech will only end up in cul-de-sac

It isn’t actually about free speech. It’s about free faith. Or, if we choose, no faith.

Ever since the attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a debate has been raging. A passionate and compelling debate, to be sure. But the wrong debate. Do we have the right to free speech? Or do we not?

This morning, in a powerful piece in the Times, David Aaronovitch says we do. He attacks “the weasels” who he claims have started insinuating that Charlie Hebdo’s editorial staff brought the attack upon themselves. “We British do quite a line in victim-blaming: she must have said something, he must have provoked her and so on. My thought is that such a form of apologism makes the apologists feel safer, because they would never be so provocative, so underdressed, so drunk. Therefore no one would kill or rape them.”

One of these “weasels” is the HuffPo commentator Mehdi Hasan. Yesterday, Mehdi wrote a piece headlined “I'm Fed Up With the Hypocrisy of the Free Speech Fundamentalists”. “None of us believes in an untrammelled right to free speech”, he said. “We all agree there are always going to be lines that, for the purposes of law and order, cannot be crossed; or for the purposes of taste and decency, should not be crossed. We differ only on where those lines should be drawn”. David was duly scathing in his response. “An absence of freedom of speech distorts and terrorises. It creates ignorant, cowed people and vile, unaccountable government”.

More here
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Re: Freedom of Speech and Expression

#23  Postby archibald » Jan 23, 2015 9:53 pm

Thommo wrote:
Ciwan wrote:Let me change this slightly and ask you the following. Rationally where would one draw the line of freedom of speech? At what point would you (rationally) tell someone, stop, you can not say this or that?


Where there's a likely and predictable consequence of immediate harm, seems like a good, broad starting point.


Which is, I think, often when free speech gets restricted, in practice.

One can see why. If somebody in country 'A' says something….controversial, and there is no resulting disorder…there is no need for the government to do anything; in a way, there is no free speech issue. If somebody in country 'B' says exactly the same thing, and there are riots in the street, it becomes very difficult for a government to 'do nothing'.

It is flawed, of course (as is any attempt to deal with free speech) because, well, it's not a very reliable or principled approach, and it's also open to abuse. Wanna get the peaceful Palestinian protest in Paris shut down? Just riot and the French authorities will ban the protest, as they did last year after hardline Jews rioted.

On the other hand, if I were in a democratic government, I think I'd have to take public disorder (or the threat of it) very seriously, possibly even have it as a priority. But again, if I were a despot dictator, I would probably say the same thing.

I find it all very confusing, and full of grey areas. Any principled answer seems to suffer from not being pragmatic enough and pragmatic answers are often unprincipled. I'm glad I'm not the one who has to decide the rules. :)
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Re: Freedom of Speech and Expression

#24  Postby archibald » Jan 23, 2015 10:44 pm

THWOTH wrote:On the former point; I think we do have some responsibility to avoid wilfully causing harm or a breach of the peace etc,...


Does that 'harm' include psychological or emotional harm, or does it include not promoting or expressing discrimination and/or hate? Where do you stand on bullying, for example? Is it bullying of a sort when a white Dutchman draws cartoons depicting Dutch muslims as degenerates? (Gregorious Nekshot).

Most of the 'big' Human Rights Charters include stuff like that, as exceptions to otherwise unlimited free speech.

I can see the point of your attire example, by the way. Other cases seem to be less clear.
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Re: Freedom of Speech and Expression

#25  Postby archibald » Jan 23, 2015 10:48 pm

Dutch cartoons by Gregorious Nekschot:

Image
Translation of the title: "Ali is sitting OK on his ottoman". Ali says in the cartoon: “The Koran does not say you have to do something back for 30 years of disablement pay, child support and rent support…”

Image
Translation: “Why [Dutch] Muslim youth identifies with the Palestinians”. Youth says: “a little hanging around... not going to school... never homework... provoke the police... welfare…”


Image
Translation: man right: "Money man... Money!", man left: "And this is only yet the second generation"
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Re: Freedom of Speech and Expression

#26  Postby Christ David » Feb 06, 2015 11:09 pm

CENSORSHIP IS VIOLENCE.
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Re: Freedom of Speech and Expression

#27  Postby Christ David » Feb 06, 2015 11:15 pm

without the ability for one to be allowed to express themselves, how can one know, or try to understand how someone else is feeling?

we have the ability to communicate, with drawing, art, music, language, and even simply through silence.

no one should be voided of this freedom. the freedom to express themselves.

freedom of expression is key to any evolution of the mind, one's existence.

also, we should eliminate the trend of social bullying and refrain from making fun of the different/unique.

no one should have to repress themselves, or repress what they feel the need to express about themselves and what they see in the world.

bullying and collective social standards are detrimental to people's ability to fully transcend their identity into challenging the world in expanding their understanding.
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Re: Freedom of Speech and Expression

#28  Postby THWOTH » Feb 07, 2015 1:46 am

archibald wrote:
THWOTH wrote:On the former point; I think we do have some responsibility to avoid wilfully causing harm or a breach of the peace etc,...


Does that 'harm' include psychological or emotional harm, or does it include not promoting or expressing discrimination and/or hate? Where do you stand on bullying, for example? Is it bullying of a sort when a white Dutchman draws cartoons depicting Dutch muslims as degenerates? (Gregorious Nekshot).

Most of the 'big' Human Rights Charters include stuff like that, as exceptions to otherwise unlimited free speech.

I can see the point of your attire example, by the way. Other cases seem to be less clear.

Sorry I missed this Archie.

I think the key here is the 'wilfully' part. Though harm may be cause 'consequently' as it were, setting out to cause harm wilfully is something I think we have a responsibility to avoid. Though I'm not aware of Nekshot's leanings or motivation, and though his work may fall within the bounds of political comment and opinion depicting an entire group as axiomatically degenerate could be easily taken as abusive, as hate speech, or as racism - it's certainly a classic ad hom, and probably embedded in a series of stawmen t'boot.

While I think Nekshot is free to hold whatever political views he wants, and to provoke and offend anyone who is provoked or offended by his output, hate speech and racism are generally against the law (the reasons for which I don't think we need to go into explicitly). As legal instruments prohibitions against hate speech and racism should at least aspire to protect and limit all equally, just like prohibitions against physical assault or theft etc. But while we might look to the Law to regulate social interaction, I guess one has to also admit that even as society make laws its members predominantly follow custom. In this regard questions about the definition, scope and limit of free speech appear to be up for constant review.

In short, wilfully causing harm is not a good, and for my own part I don't think an 'ends justifies the means' POV can really justify it either.
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Re: Freedom of Speech and Expression

#29  Postby epepke » Feb 07, 2015 6:46 am

THWOTH wrote:I think the key here is the 'wilfully' part. Though harm may be cause 'consequently' as it were, setting out to cause harm wilfully is something I think we have a responsibility to avoid. Though I'm not aware of Nekshot's leanings or motivation, and though his work may fall within the bounds of political comment and opinion depicting an entire group as axiomatically degenerate could be easily taken as abusive, as hate speech, or as racism - it's certainly a classic ad hom, and probably embedded in a series of stawmen t'boot.


Of course, that has nothing to do with what has happened.

As far as I am aware, nobody has killed anybody or burned an embassy because of Nekshot.

They did because of this Danish Jyllands-Posten cartoon:

Image

Well, except that it wasn't a cartoon. The one used, on the left, was a bad scan of a guy in a pig suit at a French pig-calling competition. It also didn't have anything to do with Jyllands-Posten.

It was sort of Danish, though. A Danish group of Muslims got a copy and put it on tour in the Middle East to stir up violence. Though, of course, not being some right-wing Christians, they couldn't be responsible for anything bad, right?

So, God damn all those Danish cartoonists! They should have thought of all the harm they would do by, I don't know, living in the same continent as the French pig-callers. Or emanating psychic zoobie rays to force some Muslims to use a bad scanner. Hell, it's probably Islamophobia that prevents Muslims from getting decent scanners. Or something. Whatever it is, God damn them! It's abusive, just abusive, I tell you.
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Re: Freedom of Speech and Expression

#30  Postby tolman » Feb 16, 2015 4:17 pm

surreptitious57 wrote:No publication is responsible for the reaction of its readers to what it prints and so the notion of social responsibility and particularly for a satirical magazine is rather nonsensical. For the two are to all intents and purposes complete opposites.

Publications clearly can have some responsibility for the outcomes of the reactions of readers, even the illegal actions of readers.

If a newspaper wrongly names someone as a child molester and that person is killed by vigilantes, the newspaper does have some responsibility for the death of the victim if the risk of harm to the victim is meaningfully predictable, irrespective of the harm being criminal acts on the part of others.

Responsibility isn't a zero-sum game.

Even if a publication bears significant responsibility for an ultimate outcome, that needn't meaningfully detract from the responsibility of others for the outcome any more than having someone inciting a murder means that an actual murderer is thereby meaningfully less responsible - the incitement is an extra offence, not simply a divvying-up of responsibility for the offence of the actual murder.
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Re: Freedom of Speech and Expression

#31  Postby IanRaugh » Mar 03, 2015 8:14 pm

tolman wrote:
surreptitious57 wrote:No publication is responsible for the reaction of its readers to what it prints and so the notion of social responsibility and particularly for a satirical magazine is rather nonsensical. For the two are to all intents and purposes complete opposites.

Publications clearly can have some responsibility for the outcomes of the reactions of readers, even the illegal actions of readers.

If a newspaper wrongly names someone as a child molester and that person is killed by vigilantes, the newspaper does have some responsibility for the death of the victim if the risk of harm to the victim is meaningfully predictable, irrespective of the harm being criminal acts on the part of others.

Responsibility isn't a zero-sum game.

Even if a publication bears significant responsibility for an ultimate outcome, that needn't meaningfully detract from the responsibility of others for the outcome any more than having someone inciting a murder means that an actual murderer is thereby meaningfully less responsible - the incitement is an extra offence, not simply a divvying-up of responsibility for the offence of the actual murder.


Free speech is great, but needs to be tempered by a couple things.

The biggest is preventing libelous claims. Anything stated, especially incorrectly, needs to be considered. More on that later, but this is not only the responsibility of the one making a statement.

The reason for speech is another. If you are saying something with the intent to provoke a response, expect that response and more extreme versions of it. If you are an effective communicator seeking to get people to do, think, or feel a certain way, it will probably happen. That has to be taken into consideration before actually saying it.

On the other hand, we can not directly control how others react, they can. To put all the responsibility on the speaker is not just unfair, but it fails to acknowledge the will and autonomy of the listener as well. We choose how we react to speech and can always choose to limit how offended we are willing to be by certain things.

We all know what extreme religious people say about the ethics of atheists, they presume that we don't have any. They have the right to say that they believe we have no morals. They are wrong, but it is their right to say what they believe. We then have a choice as to how to respond to those statements. We could laugh at their ignorance, we could take the time to try to correct them, or we could call them intolerant imbeciles and attempt to prevent them from speaking. One of these things is not like the others.

We choose how we respond to speech, but those who speak also have to be aware of what response they want to get from their audience and be prepared to get that and then some.
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Re: Freedom of Speech and Expression

#32  Postby Excalibur » Sep 16, 2015 12:52 am

personal opinion should be allowed in all areas, no ifs, no buts
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Re: Freedom of Speech and Expression

#33  Postby scott1328 » Sep 16, 2015 1:07 am

Christ David, is that you?
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Re: Freedom of Speech and Expression

#34  Postby tolman » Sep 16, 2015 1:31 am

People should be allowed to have personal opinions.

If people (or, at least, adults) choose to express those opinions in public, they shouldn't be allowed to pretend they have zero responsibility for any consequences.

Nor should they labour under the retarded illusion that all 'arenas' are 'public' in the way that a street might be.
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Re: Freedom of Speech and Expression

#35  Postby Excalibur » Sep 16, 2015 1:48 am

yep agreed, and no, I'm not Dave Cameron,lol

personal opinion should be allowed as well as racism, homophobia, bigotry, offensive language etc..but must be opinion only and not clear incitement,provocation etc...
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Re: Freedom of Speech and Expression

#36  Postby scott1328 » Sep 16, 2015 2:13 am

Excalibur wrote:yep agreed, and no, I'm not Dave Cameron,lol

personal opinion should be allowed as well as racism, homophobia, bigotry, offensive language etc..but must be opinion only and not clear incitement,provocation etc...

Please do give us the address of the forum you run and own where you set the rules. In the mean time enjoy this one and mind the FUA.
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Re: Freedom of Speech and Expression

#37  Postby Excalibur » Sep 16, 2015 4:52 am

I am talking about society at large, and free speech should be allowed there, for example in the newspapers, tv, emails - ie: not a govt decision to block it

but anyway, it seems as if you disagree with free speech - why??
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Re: Freedom of Speech and Expression

#38  Postby OlivierK » Sep 16, 2015 5:07 am

I disagree with the freedom to use speech to cause harm.
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Re: Freedom of Speech and Expression

#39  Postby Excalibur » Sep 16, 2015 5:12 am

certainly incitement and provocation should be controlled but how do you mean by 'causing harm'? in my view this must be clearly identifiable as a consequence of the speech used
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Re: Freedom of Speech and Expression

#40  Postby Exstinctum » Jan 18, 2016 10:29 pm

One point raised was about 'social responsiblity'. A man in the audience said, sure the magazine had the RIGHT to publish the things they did, but perhaps they should not have due to social responsibility, they KNEW many muslims would get offended, and the posiblity of some of those offended ones to go on killing would be increased with their publication, but they went ahead and did it anyway.


This is how far the cancer has spread within the heart of civilized societies. It's amazing to me that someone can make such a preposterous statement on national television with a straight face and people take it seriously. What if I said something along the lines of ''look, Ciwan, you definitely have the right to ridicule, scrutinize and object to my beliefs of insert anything here, but I just want to let you know that if you do decide to do it, it would upset me greatly, and further more, bad things might happen to you and to people around you!'' Do not let anyone fool you into thinking that it's not what it sounds like - mafia style intimidation through threats of violence to scare people into self-censorship. This has to be rejected and opposed 100%, if you have any invested interest into living in a free and open society.

A part of the problem here is how indecisive people are in the West to make a strong point about free expression both on a political and personal level out of fear of being too insensitive. This should be made as clear as humanly possible to everyone who struggles with the concept of free expression. Your feelings and sensitivities are completely meaningless and irrelevant in the face of my right to ridicule, scrutinize, just flat out call stupid or otherwise comment on any idea or concept, including religions and alike, period. It took hundreds of years for Europe to finally escape blasphemy style laws shoved down people's throats and establish secular governments that recognize how essential free expression is for enlightenment of any society. If you give these people a finger, they will demand your whole arm. Never take free expression for granted and oppose any attempts to limit it with all the hostility and energy you can muster.

It would be worth taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture. You are presented with a book filled with primitive and barbaric nonsense and asked not to question it in any way, and not to even think about ridiculing it for the sake of avoiding offense. In what realm of existence is that a reasonable thing to ask from a person in a civilized society?

Also, is it true about the double standard that Mehdi Hasan mentioned? France who is supposedly a firecly secular country and a champion of freedom, refused to allow an artist to make t-shirts with the last super on them? Also the president taking some rappers to court cause they were being offensive to France as a country? Finally a comedian going to jail because he wore a shirt saying 'I am Collaborator' instead of 'I am Charlie'?


As people have already pointed out this has nothing to do with Charlie Hebdo and is simply used as a crude tactic of trying to change the conversation and turn the tables around. I think this topic deserves a whole other thread and my understanding is that in this particular forum there might be some limitations as to how far it could go. With all that being said, I do think that there's inconsistencies when it comes to free expression and the subject of the Holocaust. My view is that for a government to sanction what kind of interpretations of history are allowed is an extremely dangerous thing and goes against the very basic idea of free academic inquiry. It does open a can of worms since there are many controversial topics when it comes to history and anyone can make similar cases and demand censorship under the law. (The Armenian Genocide as an example.) Remember, it's not only about the right of a historical revisionist to make his or her case, but it's also about my right to hear it and be knowledgeable about it. If anything, it will be a test of my own views and force me to argue my case against it, and that way you can always discover new things and improve your arguments.

All that put aside, I also find this approach to be very counter-productive. In a way it only gives more legitimacy to Holocaust deniers on the fringes and serves as a good recruiting tool of impressionable minds. ''The government doesn't want us to talk about it, therefore they are hiding something..'' type of conspiratorial thinking is very powerful in the age of the internet.

Finally, is it true that we can't say that the holocaust did not happen? That there are laws that might land us in prison if we say so!?


There are quite a few countries in Europe that have laws prohibiting Holocaust denial in some way, but punishments and degrees to which these restrictions take effect are very different. For more descriptive information -https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laws_against_Holocaust_denial
If you're interested in an example of it, here's one of the more high profiler cases I can think of - http://www.theguardian.com/world/2005/nov/17/secondworldwar.internationaleducationnews
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