Limits on freedom of speech

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Limits on free speech

Yay
18
55%
Nay
15
45%
 
Total votes: 33
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Elaro
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Limits on freedom of speech

Postby Elaro » 26 May 2016, 16:22

King Kool and I had the beginnings of a discussion on twitter yesterday, where I basically said that bad opinions should be punished, he said "Nuh uh", I said "well, many democracies do it" and then he said something about the First Amendment, and then I said "Let's take this off twitter", because I didn't understand his argument.

So, let's talk about limits on talking.

Personally, I believe that punishment should not be out of the question for publishing some opinions which are found, beyond a reasonable doubt, to be hurtful and/or dangerously untruthful. I raised as an example the "vaccines cause autism" opinion, but I also mean hate speech, and so on.

However, I also think we should be very careful about what kind of punishment we dole out for this kind of thing. I don't want to freeze legitimate debate any more than King Kool does, so I was thinking that if the state does find you guilty of "publishing bad opinions", then a)you should have an opportunity to recant and b) you shouldn't be imprisoned for it. I think an appropriate punishment is to be handed a fine totaling the gross profits from the result of publishing said "badpinion", leveled against the publisher and the author, so as to ensure that you can't make a living saying bad stuff. In addition, you should have a notice saying "this venue has been found to contain statements found harmful in a court of law." or something.
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Re: Limits on freedom of speech

Postby korvys » 26 May 2016, 20:39

It's probably worth getting out of the way the very obvious stuff where I think almost everyone is ok with limits - speech that directly causes tangible harm. Even in the US, the First Amendment does not protect you in the most classic example of this, the old "shouting fire in a crowded theatre". Your speech in this case could cause peoples injury or death. I am completely ok with some form of legal punishment for this.

Advocating violence is similar, but "Vaccines cause autism" and the like are a bit more vague. There's a lot of variables. If you wanted to argue that it causes harm, you need to take into consideration the likelihood that someone will hear you, that they will believe you, that they will act on that belief, and that that action will cause harm. Does a person with a larger audience have a greater burden to not state things that could harm someone? Or a person who is more trusted? Does it matter if someone believes it sincerely, and thinks they are helping? Leaving aside the audience size and trust for a moment, there's a point where punishment for this amounts to punishing someone just for being honestly wrong, publicly. And I don't like the idea of a legal penalty for that.

I think maybe it's the sort of thing where I would be ok with a court saying "Your speech could reasonably cause harm, and you should know this, and so we will punish you based on how severe that harm is/could have been". But on the other hand, that's very subjective a lot of the time, and almost impossible to predict at other times. Enforcement is likely to be woefully unequal, likely reinforcing existing systemic bias, silencing groups already having difficulty being heard.

But, getting back to having a bigger audience, or people trust you more, I don't think it's unreasonable for you to need to be more careful that what you say doesn't cause harm. "With great power comes great responsibility" after all. I don't think it's unreasonable to restrict speech in certain well defined contexts. If you're a news producer, perhaps you should have a duty to not print something that is clearly false, or would lead someone to believe something that was false. If you're a politician, perhaps you should be sanctioned for lying while acting in your role as an elected (or presumptive) official.

All in all, it's tricky. I voted yay, because there are specific examples where I do think there should be restrictions, but not many, at least legally.
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Re: Limits on freedom of speech

Postby hacofo » 26 May 2016, 23:13

The last few weeks of presidential elections here in Austria have skewed my opinion from we should overthink some of the existing restrictions to, we might need more of them.

The last weeks saw a lot of hate, half truth, and slander thrown around on social media.
From the illegal stuff like calls for violence and even the assassination of our newly elected President.
Since most of these came from the extreme nationalists side.
It changed my opinion somewhat, from:
The laws that put "Wiederbetätigung" (the glorification and or using/displaying NS Symbols and or speech) under punishment should be repealed because a modern, somewhat enlightened, society should be able to deal with a few people having backwards and wrong ideologies.
To, let's keep it this way and focus a little bit more on making sure the law get's used before the situation get's out of hand and the groups get too dangerous. The same goes for all extreme opinions (left, right, religious).

This might be a knee-jerk reaction to the things that happened in the last weeks, so I might have to revisit that statement in a few weeks.

As for the vaccination argument, in my opinion, a doctor having that opinion should lose his right to practice medicin. Because he's using a position of trust and potentially causes massive harm to his patients.
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Re: Limits on freedom of speech

Postby AdmiralMemo » 27 May 2016, 07:31

I'm in basically the same opinion as korvys, but I voted Nay, as what I see being "Freedom of Speech" already has restrictions like that in it. I don't think there should be any more restrictions than what we currently have.
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Re: Limits on freedom of speech

Postby MinniChi » 27 May 2016, 08:31

Toronto saw a lot of misinformation and downright wrong information being spread around in September when the liberals rolled out a new sex ed curriculum. Some of the papers that were spread around were fear mongering and just hateful. I feel intentionally spreading wrong information to anger the populous should be punishable somehow. Then again, what would happen to Fox News?




One of the papers/pamphlets said that kids in grade 1 were learning about how to have sex. When in reality they're learning proper names for their body parts, and to be nice to each other (ask before hugging kind of thing) and wash your hands. Basic health and biology. Nothing sexual about it. Crazy people
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Re: Limits on freedom of speech

Postby Darkflame » 27 May 2016, 15:06

You can say what you like, imho, but you are responsible for it. Its that if you do choose to say some stuff, in some contexts that means you should be taking a legal burden by saying it.

ie. If you say vaccine cause autism people should then be able to sue you if they got ill due to not taking a vaccine.

I am simplifying a bit, but its the gist of what I believe.
Likewise, if you say something that could be argued to have inspired violence, then you should be able to be prosecuted somewhat for said violence.

Freedom of speech - but not freedom from responsibility.
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Re: Limits on freedom of speech

Postby King Kool » 27 May 2016, 22:25

It's too late to respond to this yet, but I just wanted to hop in and say I'll be making a big ol' post, so you didn't wonder where I was. This is one of those things I care about very deeply, and this will be quite a post... once it's not 2:30AM and I can write comprehensibly. I wrote 'comprehensively' on my first attempt. That's what I'm talking about.
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Re: Limits on freedom of speech

Postby Amake » 28 May 2016, 10:41

The problem with punishing any speech is that it makes it easier for those in power to silence their critics.

The problem with not punishing any speech is that it makes it easier for those in power to bully their critics.

So we can see the question isn't if free speech is good but for whom. This has become more and more tricky to figure out as the democracy in society has increased; it's hard to know, for instance, if a popular blogger wields more power than a TV host. Compared to the Feudal age it's a mess of subtle, wide-reaching, incalculable and often incompatible networks of influence and perception.

This is the price of the immense personal freedom we enjoy. We have to take care to understand the intricacies of the world around us, and make the effort of observing and judging discrete phenomena in themselves, rather than abstracting, reducing things to trends and patterns and systems and those things our brains love to do.

Specifically, we have to acknowledge the individuality of those people we hurt with our speech. See those individuals in the context of the society we share, the context of their own personal circumstances and the context of the relative power balance between them, us and any third parties involved, however hard it may be to admit you may not be the plucky underdog in the movie of your life.

But that is the responsibility we have to shoulder if we want your speech to be free. As long as we aren't willing to do this work, we can expect someone will have to limit our freedom for us.

But if you're lucky it'll be someone you agree with.
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Re: Limits on freedom of speech

Postby Danielle Pepin » 29 May 2016, 10:06

Harassment should always be punishable by law and sad when it comes down to having to argue what is and what isn't in court when they take into account what a person was wearing or their personal background as if that makes them somehow deserve to be targets.
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Re: Limits on freedom of speech

Postby Mums » 29 May 2016, 12:27

For the most part I don't think restrictions in the freedom of speech is the right way to go. There might be some extreme cases where it is required, but I'm not sure what those might be.

For the most part I think other laws pick up when someone abuse their freedom of speech. As in, if someone by lying or something else cause monetary damage. Then it's cowered by regular tort law.

When we punnish "bad opinions", who is the one who should determine what is a bad opinion? A clasic thing is making it unlawful to deny the holocaust. I think that is a dangerous road to go down. Sure that kind of "denying" might lead to some bad things. But it makes me think of when it was seen as morally wrong and unlawful to say that the earth rotated around the sun and not the other way around. What is to say that something we see as wrong today might not be the right thing in a few years (not saying that holocaust denying will be seen as right).

In the case of "shouting fire in a crowded theatre". I think that is cowered by what I said first. If you do it in the meaning to cause a panic, then you would probably be found guilty in causing deaths or injuries. That still isn't limiting freedom of speech. For that to be limiting freedom of speech you would need a law saying you aren't allowed to "shout fire in a crowded theatre" with maybe some kind of clause that you wouldn't be found guilty of the crime if there acctually was a fire. I prefer to have it as in if you cause damage and meant for it to happen, then you are culpable for the damage.

I can't say that I trust, At least in Sweden, a lot of the people making and voting for laws. I don't want any of them to decide what I can or what I can't say. There aren't a lot of people I would like to make that decision for me.
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Re: Limits on freedom of speech

Postby MotorWaffle » 29 May 2016, 16:14

Limiting free speech would be wonderful if we could put the most competent, uncorrupted, pure person on Earth in charge of defining and enforcing it.

That person isn't real.
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Re: Limits on freedom of speech

Postby Elaro » 29 May 2016, 16:47

When we understand reasoning, and what constitutes sound reasoning, then we will have the authority to say what is true and what is not.

Basically, once we can put intelligence in a computer, we'll have our "perfect judge".

OF course, we would ask of the PJ to justify its reasoning, which means the current batch of Artificial Neural Networks is woefully inadequate for the job, but I'm working on it, and someday, I might even be able to make a PJ.
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Re: Limits on freedom of speech

Postby AdmiralMemo » 29 May 2016, 17:29

So what you're saying is that if we tried it now, we'd basically be putting RoboRosewater in charge of freedom of speech?
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Re: Limits on freedom of speech

Postby Elaro » 29 May 2016, 18:40

AdmiralMemo wrote:So what you're saying is that if we tried it now, we'd basically be putting RoboRosewater in charge of freedom of speech?


Exactly.

The worst thing is, the U.S. are already using an ANN to mark drone targets.

http://arstechnica.co.uk/security/2016/02/the-nsas-skynet-program-may-be-killing-thousands-of-innocent-people/
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Re: Limits on freedom of speech

Postby AdmiralMemo » 29 May 2016, 20:26

Well, the "advanced" version of RoboRosewater puts out serviceably functional cards, if a bit off the color pie sometimes.
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Re: Limits on freedom of speech

Postby Darkflame » 30 May 2016, 05:10

Elaro wrote:When we understand reasoning, and what constitutes sound reasoning, then we will have the authority to say what is true and what is not.


Ah, but it might not even come down to truth.
Sometimes saying something true might still be wrong (ie, when it harms someones/violates their privacy but has no gain whatsoever to the public wellbeing or safety).

I would say this is the classic case with a Tabloid newspaper reporting on celebrity "gosip".
They will argue public interest.
I would personally say, "interest" is irrelevant and your a bunch of aholes.

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Re: Limits on freedom of speech

Postby Kortanios » 30 May 2016, 09:23

My personal view on the matter is anyone should be able to say anything but be ready to face the legal or social consequences. So, slander that destroys someone's life/reputation/ability to earn a living or incitement to violence that results in actual violence should be punished through a legal process proportional to their impact and malevolence of the statement. Things that are indirectly harmful to society as a whole (e.g. large scale anti-vaxer propaganda) are kind of a borderline case...

On the other hand things like insulting a head of state in a satirical piece (e.g. the Böhmermann case) or political speech of any kind or simply stating uncomfortable facts should under no circumstances be limited. In the case of offensive political opinions social rather than legal punishment by society overall seems more appropriate given that we are social animals but these people caused no harm yet.
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Re: Limits on freedom of speech

Postby Elaro » 31 May 2016, 17:49

Hey, I forgot a very important category of speech that should not be allowed: harassment and threats.

Imagine if we criminalized death threats on publicly viewable forums. Wouldn't that make the internet a nicer place?
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Re: Limits on freedom of speech

Postby Elomin Sha » 01 Jun 2016, 13:53

No. Because it would depend on the context, some people who know each other may jokingly say: I'm going to punch, etc. Text is not a great medium for some jokes because tone and body movements aren't there.
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Re: Limits on freedom of speech

Postby Rikadyn » 02 Jun 2016, 07:19

What has Anarchism to say to all this, this bankruptcy of republicanism, this modern empire that has grown up on the ruins of our early freedom? We say this, that the sin our fathers sinned was that they did not trust liberty wholly. They thought it possible to compromise between liberty and government, believing the latter to be "a necessary evil," and the moment the compromise was made, the whole misbegotten monster of our present tyranny began to grow. Instruments which are set up to safeguard rights become the very whip with which the free are struck.
Anarchism says,Make no laws whatever concerning speech, and speech will be free; so soon as you make a declaration on paper that speech shall be free, you will have a hundred lawyers proving that "freedom does not mean abuse, nor liberty license"; and they will define and define freedom out of existence. Let the guarantee of free speech be in every man's determination to use it, and we shall have no need of paper declarations. On the other hand, so long as the people do not care to exercise their freedom, those who wish to tyrannize will do so; for tyrants are active and ardent, and will devote themselves in the name of any number of gods, religious and otherwise, to put shackles upon sleeping men.

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Re: Limits on freedom of speech

Postby Robo4900 » 02 Jun 2016, 07:22

Elomin Sha wrote:No. Because it would depend on the context, some people who know each other may jokingly say: I'm going to punch, etc. Text is not a great medium for some jokes because tone and body movements aren't there.

Indeed. Esepcially on places like Twitter, where you have to be concise, meaning it's very easy for the sarcastic tone to be completely lost.
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Re: Limits on freedom of speech

Postby Elaro » 02 Jun 2016, 08:53

Rikadyn wrote:
What has Anarchism to say to all this, this bankruptcy of republicanism, this modern empire that has grown up on the ruins of our early freedom? We say this, that the sin our fathers sinned was that they did not trust liberty wholly. They thought it possible to compromise between liberty and government, believing the latter to be "a necessary evil," and the moment the compromise was made, the whole misbegotten monster of our present tyranny began to grow. Instruments which are set up to safeguard rights become the very whip with which the free are struck.
Anarchism says,Make no laws whatever concerning speech, and speech will be free; so soon as you make a declaration on paper that speech shall be free, you will have a hundred lawyers proving that "freedom does not mean abuse, nor liberty license"; and they will define and define freedom out of existence. Let the guarantee of free speech be in every man's determination to use it, and we shall have no need of paper declarations. On the other hand, so long as the people do not care to exercise their freedom, those who wish to tyrannize will do so; for tyrants are active and ardent, and will devote themselves in the name of any number of gods, religious and otherwise, to put shackles upon sleeping men.

-Voltairine de Cleyre


Horse puckey. If people are left totally free, then the powerful will eventually dominate over the less powerful, and you will have replaced civic duty with personal ambition. Humanity began its thinking life in anarchy, and thank goodness we have learned from that sad epoch.

Put another way: would you like the freedom to kill your friends? Yes? Do you take care not to cause them accidental harm? If yes, then you do not want the freedom to kill your friends. Already you impose upon yourself a tyranny of the mind, such that you are not free to do everything. Therefore, freedom is not what we seek.

After these many years I have realized that it is not freedom that we value but the capacity to choose and realize our goals. That is to say: we value freedom only inasmuch as it frees us to achieve our goals, but otherwise we detest it. Why do you think automation and computers are so popular? It is because we do not want the freedom to be and do wrong.

tl;dr: Stop putting freedom on a pedestral.
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Re: Limits on freedom of speech

Postby Elomin Sha » 02 Jun 2016, 09:10

Elaro wrote:Put another way: would you like the freedom to kill your friends? Yes? Do you take care not to cause them accidental harm? If yes, then you do not want the freedom to kill your friends. Already you impose upon yourself a tyranny of the mind, such that you are not free to do everything. Therefore, freedom is not what we seek.


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Probably improper use of the image, but I thought it was funny.

People have the freedom to kill people, they either choose not to or have no desire to do so. If someone was going around killing people, as humans are a social species, self-preservation and that of the group would kick in and they would removed the problem.
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Re: Limits on freedom of speech

Postby Elaro » 02 Jun 2016, 09:32

I' m not trying to deflect the argument, I'm just saying that
a) freedom is not inherently desirable
b) that government is an intrinsic part of the human experience

basically, what I was implying, and I'm sorry for not making it explicit, but I'm tired and I just realized this, was that she needed to prove that a lawless freedom of speech promotes the public good, which I am putting into very serious question.
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Re: Limits on freedom of speech

Postby Darkflame » 02 Jun 2016, 11:01

It can be argued that freedom is always desirable, but in order to maximize freedoms for everyone sometimes you need to limit some freedom.

ie. Being free to kill someone robs the victim of life, which is freedom to do anything.

Therefor "mass freedom" is reduced by allowing the "individual freedom" of murder.

Obviously many things arnt as clear cut.
Smoking in a public space.
(Freedom to smoke) vs (Freedom to have clean air)

Many things in society are about seeking a balance between freedoms of different types.

Or, as you said, you can also view freedom itself as not inherently desirable.
I think it just depends what scale you look at.

If someone was going around killing people, as humans are a social species, self-preservation and that of the group would kick in and they would removed the problem.


Indeed. By constructing a system of laws and punishment, with various systems in place to enforce them.

Without some sort of elected government though,the group "removing the problem" will just be whoever is strongest. Worse, they will decide what "problems" need to be "removed".
Or, in other words, they will write the laws dictating the freedoms to be removed. I think this process is called History ;)
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