A Conversation for Ask h2g2

Free Speech - How much is too much?

Post 21

swl - Cool! I live on a battlefield

Don't the Westboro Baptist Church fund themselves by suing people who try to prevent them doing what they do?


Free Speech - How much is too much?

Post 22

Dig deep for the Goshos

If you're involved in a court case as a plaintiff, defendant or lawyer are there any restrictions on you talking about the case outside the courtroom either before or during the case? I'm thinking about Rod Blagojevich going on TV a short while before his case began and essentially putting his case on television in front of the audience before his lawyers put it for him in the courtroom in front of the judge and jury. I believe that would be contempt of court in the UK because it could prejudice the case. Presumably, the first amendment is what allows that in the US.


Free Speech - How much is too much?

Post 23

Mr. X---> "God defend me from my friends, from my enemies I can defend myself."

What strikes me as odd about the U.K. is the notion that you should be prohibited from saying something that might be considered offensive. Because:

A. If someone /is/ offended, why don't they just confront the speaker about it themselves?

B. Sometimes offending people is the only way to get through to them.

C. Unprovoked offense demands proportionate response. Which I can't do if I'm prohibited from offending them in turn.

D. Why should the government care if someone's upset by something in the first place? I don't see how personal sensibilities are any of the government's business.

And finally (for the moment anyway)

E. It seems oppressive.

smiley - pirate


Free Speech - How much is too much?

Post 24

Still Incognitas,Still Chairthingy,Still lurking,Still invisible,unnoticeable,missable,unseen, just haunting h2g2



I think the offence is Incitement.That people may be drawn into violence and rioting and other unlawful acts.
smiley - erm


Free Speech - How much is too much?

Post 25

Mr. X---> "God defend me from my friends, from my enemies I can defend myself."

Because of a single comment? smiley - erm

America doesn't have that provision, and we still haven't descended into chaos and anarchy just yet. So I don't think the assertion holds up.

smiley - pirate


Free Speech - How much is too much?

Post 26

Sho / Flo - what's the difference?

that's too simplistic of course. And anyway, if someone says something offensive to the wrong person - well they could get shot. Maybe people just don't open their mouths - who knows? smiley - winkeye

it's not "offensive" as in: my oh my, you're ugly. It's offensive as in: XXX religion eat babies. Or similar, in order to provoke a reaction. That's the offense. As far as I know.

I don't believe that free speech means what most people think it means.


Free Speech - How much is too much?

Post 27

Dig deep for the Goshos

That's a red herring. There are other laws and societal conventions/frameworks in the US which inhibit anarchy and chaos on a national scale, as well as there being far more people who go about their lives without incident than there are people who get into punch-ups, and worse.

This isn't just a UK/US thing though, and let's not turn it into that. The US has more relaxed laws on actions and speech than just about any other developed country and Americans have pride those rights and freedoms, but there are just as many non-Americans in those other countries who are can't understand Americans' willingness to accept a system which not only allows certain behaviour, such as that of Westboro, but protects it, as there are Americans who can't understand why other populations and cultures would want to curtail that kind of action and speech. There are just as many non-Americans who are content to have the protection of their own countrys' laws prohibiting certain speech and actions which their society has, down the years, decided are unacceptable as there are Americans who are suspicious of their government and protective of individual freedom. And in both cases there are varying degrees of contentment/suspicion.

I, for one, am glad that British law prevents the likes of Rush Limbaugh et al from broadcasting, not because I dislike their views and what they say (I don't dislike them - I despise them), but because it's my opinion that allowing freedom of speech to that extent coarsens society and makes it a less pleasant place to be.


Free Speech - How much is too much?

Post 28

Two Bit Trigger Pumping Moron

>I believe that would be contempt of court in the UK because it could prejudice the case. Presumably, the first amendment is what allows that in the US.

The court can put a gag order on parties. If you violate that, then there could be a contempt citation.

smiley - handcuffs


Free Speech - How much is too much?

Post 29

Mr. X---> "God defend me from my friends, from my enemies I can defend myself."

I only said I thought it was strange. smiley - shrug

smiley - pirate


Free Speech - How much is too much?

Post 30

TRiG (Ireland) Not all those who wander are lost

I actually think that I, to a large extent, prefer the American system in this respect (if in few others). Freedom of speech (or, rather, freedom of expression*) is important to me, as is freedom of religion (or, rather, freedom of conscience*), and it's nice to have those rights actually set down inviolate.

Perhaps that's just me.

TRiG.smiley - biggrin

* In both cases, the freedoms actually outlined in the US Constitution are the narrower ones, but the Supreme Court has interpreted them to mean the broader ones. I think.


Free Speech - How much is too much?

Post 31

Tavaron da Quirm - Arts Editor

Well, there is the question of how much should really be allowed? Not thinking of usual things, but extreme views for instance.

In Austria and Germany there is for instance a limit on spreading National Socialist thinking and you are not allowed to have any Nazi symbols, it's absolutely against the law. Still right-wing groups manage to just get away with what they openly express because it's usually not quite against the law.

So, in the USA, would they be allowed to say whatever they want?


Free Speech - How much is too much?

Post 32

Mr. X---> "God defend me from my friends, from my enemies I can defend myself."

Yep. Not only would they, but they actually do. All the bloody time. Beasts.

I imagine they do sometimes worry about the consequences to their social lives though. smiley - erm

smiley - pirate


Free Speech - How much is too much?

Post 33

BeowulfShaffer

I favor extremely broad free speech protections. I have several reasons for this, but one that I find particularly compelling is the the argument from the outside view (loosely similar to Rawls veil of ignorance). Basically, (most) free speech restrictions make the rather arrogant assumption that the people implementing them are basically correct in their political options. Looking at the existence and history of political disagreement makes it clear that at many people, quite probably the majority have been wrong, often astoundingly wrong in their beliefs. Furthermore, many of them had reasons that (from their point of view) were at least as solid as anything that the current orthodox can use to support its dogma. Thus, you shouldn't make rules that bring a little benefit if you happen to be right, but that limit the systems ability to consider the possibility that its got something wrong. On a related note take a look at Tennessee don't say gay bill.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/23/missouri-dont-say-gay-bill_n_1447121.html
I can see plenty of reasons why this is a bad bill, but can't see any general principles that would say this is the sort of thing that government shouldn't be able to regulate which don't apply to most any legislation restricting speech that I do find offensive. In fact since this only applies to government employees acting in an official capacity it seems like a rather week restriction of speech.


Free Speech - How much is too much?

Post 34

Florida Sailor - Back in the U S A

The most important 'Free Speech' is that that you most vehemently disagree with!

I started to explain in another thread that Free Speech is not, in any way, equal to mandatory agreement. The thread became diverted before I could continue there.

If you express an unorthodox view there is no reason why your neighbours should not shun you, your boss fire you (unless you have a really strong Union) and your friends not to begin to avoid you.

Words have consequences, the only thing Free Speech ensures is that they are not governmental - legal - consequences.

Sorry to have not seen this thread earlier, but I have been away playing with guns, including a 6 and 12 pound cannon. We were harassing the happy Native Americanssmiley - biggrin

I have absolutely no use for the Westboro 'church' and support their being restricted from the vicinity of a funeral or other site they choose for the sole purpose of exploiting the vulnerable. That said they must have the right to say publicly any vile thing they like. When the press reports on them the press should also be ostracised.

smiley - shrug
Fsmiley - dolphinS


Free Speech - How much is too much?

Post 35

Still Incognitas,Still Chairthingy,Still lurking,Still invisible,unnoticeable,missable,unseen, just haunting h2g2

I totally support free speech.I just don't have to listen to it.smiley - erm


Free Speech - How much is too much?

Post 36

Baron Grim

Yep... pretty much that.


Back in '92, I think it was, I took my camera and my radio scanner and went to take some pictures of the protests outside the Republican Nat'l Convention held at the Astrodome in Houston, TX. They set up a "Free Speech Zone" in some empty fields across the street. That seemed fair enough, right? Well, I suppose, but they made sure to pick fields that were on the opposite side of where all the participants entered. Everyone was free to say whatever they wanted where no one would see or hear them.


Free Speech - How much is too much?

Post 37

U14993989

There was a lady with a child caught on someones mobile phone video that was put on the youtubes. This occurred on a London bus or it may have been an underground train. She was exercising her free speech to say that "black" people should go "home". She was later arrested and convicted of a racial hate crime.


Free Speech - How much is too much?

Post 38

U14993989

Black woman jailed for 21 weeks - london bus
http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/08/21/police-investigate-racist-rant-london-bus-white-people_n_1818769.html

White women jailed for 21 weeks - london underground train
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/may/29/tube-passenger-jailed-race-rant

Both women were drunk while exercising their non-free speech


Free Speech - How much is too much?

Post 39

Pastey

There's a difference between free speech and abuse.


Free Speech - How much is too much?

Post 40

U14993989

Free speech vs abuse
Free speech vs incitement

It's a question whether or not to draw a line, and where to draw the line.
One also has to consider direct and inferred associations to abuse and incitement.


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