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Divisive Freedom of Speech: Where's the Line?

Smelnick

Creeping On You
V.I.P.
Kind of riffing off that Anon hacks KKK thread. Rather than derail the thread with the free speech topic, I created a new thread.

Frankly, I think free speech gets abused and isn't being used in the way that the founders intended. (I'm speaking more from a Canadian point of view, not US but I'm sure there's lots of parallels).

From what I know of history, back in the day of monarchies, people would be hung for speaking out against the king or higher nobility. It was always my thinking after learning about how Canada was founded and our governing documents drafted etc, that freedom of speech was born out of the fact that people wanted to be able to speak up and say what they wanted about the government if the government was out of line. That's all well and good.

Unfortunately, people extend it to mean that they can say whatever they want whenever they want without consequence. I kind of think that the founding fathers of Canada, and maybe even the US, roll in the graves everytime someone uses what was meant to protect citizens as a means to get away with saying hateful and mean things to each other.

I hardly thing freedom of speech is being treated in the spirit it was created and intended for. There are some opinions and what not that should just not be said, and there should be consequences for the backlash that happens as a result.

What about yourselves? What are your thoughts on this and where do you stand?
 

The_Chameleon

Grandmaster
It's an interesting dilemma. On one hand you have those who believe that you should be able to say anything without consequence, and then you have your chronically offended PC types who seem to believe you shouldn't be able to say anything without consequence (especially if you're White). If we try to police free speech, we end up with the chronically offended PC types running the show and simply naming the wrong color will get you arrested for racism, and if you let freedom of speech go unchecked, you end up with more and more abusive language, threats, and promotion of violence. The way things are going though, it looks like we're going to end up with the worst of both worlds.


- Cham

P.S. I think, now that pot is legal in the US, what needs to happen is for both sides to hash things out over the peace pipe.
 
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Hilander

Free Spirit
Staff member
V.I.P.
Actually we do have limits on freedom of speech. You can't run into a crowed theater and yell fire. If your speech gets someone hurt you can be sued.

The bad thing about limiting someones speech when it comes to these hate groups is it won't stop there. Pretty soon it will be extended to not talking against others like the government. When you start restricting freedom of speech, or any rights, its a slippery slope.
 

The_Chameleon

Grandmaster
Forgive my lack of US constitutional familiarity, but where in that document does it say I don't have the right to (falsely) shout 'fire!' in a crowded bar or 'bomb!' in an airport? I mean, there might be laws against it, but aren't those laws technically unconstitutional in that they violate a persons right to free speech? Shouldn't the same principles of common sense apply to both methods of creating social chaos and endangerment?



- Cham
 
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Hilander

Free Spirit
Staff member
V.I.P.
I should have added you can't yell fire inside a crowed theater when there is no fire. If all you are trying to do is cause panic. That kind of speech is not protected.

Holmes wrote of falsely shouting fire, because, of course, if there were a fire in a crowded theater, one may rightly indeed shout "Fire!"; one may, depending on the law in operation, even be obliged to. Falsely shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theater, i.e. shouting "Fire!" when one believes there to be no fire in order to cause panic, was interpreted not to be protected by the First Amendment.

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

The_Chameleon

Grandmaster
I've corrected the oversight... :)

Holmes said:
The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic. [...] The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent.
By this reasoning, spreading racial hate and promoting or endorsing violent action should also be covered as it would also create a "clear and present danger that they will bring about substantive evils".



- Cham
 
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sunrise

aka ginger warlock
V.I.P.
The main problem I have with people calling for Freedom of Speech is when they use it as a defense for saying something that is blatantly wrong or stupid and then when asked to stop they argue "you can't force me or tell me to stop shouting, I have the right of freedom of speech", well maybe you do but as the old saying goes just because you can doesn't mean you should.
 

CaptainObvious

Son of Liberty
V.I.P.
I've corrected the oversight... :)



By this reasoning, spreading racial hate and promoting or endorsing violent action should also be covered as it would also create a "clear and present danger that they will bring about substantive evils".



- Cham
No it doesn't. Just because the KKK says they hate Mexicans doesn't mean I'm in clear and present danger. If someone yells fire in a crowded theater, they ARE in clear and present danger.

It should be pointed out Holmes got it wrong. The prohibition of yelling "Fire" in a crowded theater has more to do with property rights than free speech rights. You can't come into my house and yell whatever you want, just like I can't at a theater. A ticket is a license, not a right of entrance.
 

The_Chameleon

Grandmaster
So falsely yelling 'fire' in a theater is bad then. Would it be different on public property? From a property rights point of view I mean. As far as I am concerned, whether trying to promote panic or trying to promote hate, there is a desire to bring about social chaos and endangerment. If it can be argued that hatred and violence have no correlation, then there should be no restrictions regarding promotion of hatred. If however such a correlation can be successfully argued, than so can such restrictions as they would then be in the interest of public safety.



- Cham
 

CaptainObvious

Son of Liberty
V.I.P.
Well, there is a massive difference between "Let's kill all the wetbacks" and "I hate Mexicans and want them deported back where they come from". It's foreseeable in the first example that violence may occur, not so much in the second.
 
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