• Anaxagoras
    106
    I understand many of you probably heard the phrase "freedom of speech does not mean freedom of consequence" from many so-called free speech advocates. Very often many free speech advocates very seldom understand this and very often think that they can essentially say what they want because they have free speech. Many even believe in an arena, or from online posts, or even discussion forums people believe they have free speech. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Benjamin N. Cardozo once said:

    "Freedom of expression is the matrix, the indispensable condition, of nearly every other form of freedom.”

    But very often people misunderstand that contingency of free speech to believe that there is absolute freedom of expression and that their individual expression is absolved from punishment. In states that have at will employment, you are NOT free to express bigotry,racism, sexism, homophobia, or any other pejorative that can be considered socially pejorative to a particular group of people. The internet discussion boards provide limited protection, and that protection is the anonymity of who we truly are...up until the point our speech becomes threatening. But can so-called free speech go to far?

    In the recent case of NBA player Russell Westbrook, sometimes fans and their demeanor can go to far to the point where the speech of fans can be socially disruptive to the point of emotion reaction. Recently Westbrook was involved in an argument with an NBA fan of the Utah Jazz who told him to "get on your knees like your used to." Now of course people wanted to know what lead up to that statement which cause Westbrook to respond:

    "I promise you. You think I’m playing? I swear to God. I swear to God. I’ll fuck you up. You and your wife, I’ll fuck you up. [turns towards the court] Nah, fuck that! Nah, fuck that! [turns back to fan] I promise you. On everything I love. Everything I love, I promise you. I swear to God."

    Judging by Westbrooks after game interview, his apparent reaction was due to his perception that the fans phrase "why don't you get on your knees like your used to" had racial connotations. Several players from the NBA have also stated that the Utah Jazz fans are very belligerent and have in the past and present used racial pejorative words towards players. Even some Jazz players have spoken out against the language of some of its fan base. Since the altercation that fan has been banned for life due to the incident and an investigation by the Jazz organization is underway. Online I've seen some comments from some so-called free speech advocates who stated in defense of the heckler that the fan had a right to say what he wants, well, not necessarily.

    Another fan similarly made a comment to a Knicks owner (he told the owner as he was leaving through the tunnel to "sell the team") which resulted in him getting a lifetime ban. Ultimately people forget these owners have the last say so, and that your speech is limited in their arena. but in the case of Westbrook was the ban warranted? Was the threat by Westbrook warranted? With the last question I want people here to consider that Russell Westbrook is African-American, and the heckler was white. The heckler told Westbrooker something that was synonymous with slavery and servitude which was construed as racist. One of the legal limitations of free speech (according to the 1st amendment) is speech that incite actions that would harm others (such as yelling fire in a crowded theater.

    Considering just the emotional reaction of Westbrook alone, isn't it possible that the heckler's speech could incite violence if other disgruntled African-Americans were present which could result in innocent people being injured? Aren't pejoratives of these kind are factors of limitating speech and/or designated for punishment?

    To get a more visual perspective here is the interview:

  • ssu
    996
    There is absolutely no problem in that the law upholds freedom of speech, yet has punishments for slander etc.
  • Terrapin Station
    7.8k
    The consequences free speech should engender are speech consequences.
  • DingoJones
    533


    Amen. You gotta love people arguing about free speech and not knowing what it is, or why its more important than protecting anyones feelings. Its for grown ups, not sensitive children who get hurt feelings and call it violence.
    When the aliens come for us, they wont need rayguns or spaceships or mind powers...just a megaphone they can yell racial slurs and insults and then watch everyone wilt.
    Whatever happened to “sticks and stones...”? We taught that to CHILDREN, because we wanted them to one day be ADULTS. Thats not even to mention the quote above that the poster doesnt even seem to know the meaning of.
    If you restrict speech, you are eroding your access to your fundamental freedoms.
    And yes, that includes the vulgar and hateful.
  • Anaxagoras
    106
    Its for grown ups, not sensitive children who get hurt feelings and call it violence.DingoJones

    But the idea that words do not hurt is a myth. Legally it is within one's right for speech within the confines of the law, but there are limitations. It is not necessarily about hurt feelings, rather, in certain arenas should there be limiting factors of speech? For example could free speech in fact cause harm? Yes, see:https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/massachusetts-high-court-upholds-michelle-carter-s-conviction-texts-encouraging-n968291

    Can racial epithets formed from so-called free speech cause harm? Yes.

    Whatever happened to “sticks and stones...”?DingoJones

    No. In American history words were used to enslave, maim, and kill other people. The residual pain over the generations is evident enough to know words do in fact have an impact on others.

    We taught that to CHILDREN, because we wanted them to one day be ADULTS.DingoJones

    We also taught children to use violence in retaliatory fashion. We also cite MLK's speech. We also do a lot of things in the United States and elsewhere touting democracy and yet in reality we do the complete opposite.

    If you restrict speech, you are eroding your access to your fundamental freedoms.
    And yes, that includes the vulgar and hateful.
    DingoJones

    My argument here is not to restrict speech, but to also note that the consequences of freedom could result in violence.

    Speaking of grown ups (which is a rather juvenile attempt to protect inflammatory) as mentioned before at will employment does not put up with it, and neither does the law. Nobody cannot absolutely say things freely without consequences. This is why we have laws against slander, libel, defamation etc.
  • Anaxagoras
    106


    Because if I said you are a pedophile and I alerted the news station, and subsequent to that socially I've convicted you to guilt without evidence, and the result is losing your job, pursuit of happiness and perhaps placed you in danger all unfounded on a lie I'm sure you'd want a law to protect you.
  • Anaxagoras
    106


    Um, I guess DingoJones got it but can you rephrase that for me?
  • ssu
    996
    ?

    Um, yes. Punishment for defamation is usually a fine, but you can get here a two years prison term for aggravated defamation. (Even if the law here is quite lax with punishments here typically.) And this has nothing to do with freedom of speech. I guess the majority of people understand this, meaning that they understand what freedom of speech means.
  • DingoJones
    533
    But the idea that words do not hurt is a myth. Legally it is within one's right for speech within the confines of the law, but there are limitations. It is not necessarily about hurt feelings, rather, in certain arenas should there be limiting factors of speech? For example could free speech in fact cause harm? Yes, see:https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/massachusetts-high-court-upholds-michelle-carter-s-conviction-texts-encouraging-n968291

    Can racial epithets formed from so-called free speech cause harm? Yes.
    Anaxagoras


    Harm, impact, yes. That must be weighed against the harm and impact of restricting speech. No contest. As the OP quoted, all your other freedoms come from your freedom to speak. Even the bad speech, because whatever harm that causes is a picnic compared to the alternative.


    No. In American history words were used to enslave, maim, and kill other people. The residual pain over the generations is evident enough to know words do in fact have an impact on others.Anaxagoras

    Laughable nonsense Im sorry to say. Words cannot enslave, this requires physical force. Physical force is not words. Words cannot maim, this requires physicsl force, or physical injury/harm. Physical injury/harm is not words. Kill? You think you can kill someone with words?
    These things; enslavement, maiming and killing, are actions. They require people to ACT THEM OUT. We stop people from acting badly, from DOING things not thinking them or talking about them.

    We also taught children to use violence in retaliatory fashion. We also cite MLK's speech. We also do a lot of things in the United States and elsewhere touting democracy and yet in reality we do the complete opposite.Anaxagoras

    Retaliatory against other violence. Shoot if your shot at, hit when you are hit upon, yell when you are yelled at. Its pretty simple.

    My argument here is not to restrict speech, but to also note that the consequences of freedom could result in violence.Anaxagoras

    I know you have an idea of what kinds of speech should be responded to with violence, but the problem is so does everyone else. If you grant people the right to commit violent acts in response to speech then violence will become normal. No one will be safe from violence because anyone can be offended by anything. To Terrapins point, you should be restricted to using your voice to fight back, not your fists unless you’ve been attacked with fists. This is why “speech is violence” is so important to your narrative here, its how you justify the unjustified.
  • I like sushi
    280
    Honestly, I don’t see anything wrong with saying “sell the team” or “get down on your knees”. On there own neither are racist.

    Either someone misheard something or someone is lying.

    If someone does use racial slurs at a sporting event they shouldn’t be surprised if they’re thrown out and banned.

    Isn’t this obvious?
  • Noah Te Stroete
    1k
    If someone does use racial slurs at a sporting event they shouldn’t be surprised if they’re thrown out and banned.I like sushi

    It should be noted that these are private businesses.
  • I like sushi
    280
    Most people aren’t fond of racial slurs, so private or not they shouldn’t be surprised if they’re thrown out. What point did I miss?
  • Noah Te Stroete
    1k
    I guess you’re right. I was trying to make the point that it isn’t a truly public venue, but then I remembered the example of Representative Stephen King.
  • I like sushi
    280
    It does concern me that the US broadcasts this attitude globally now. I think it’s fair to say don’t see this kind of sensitivity in other western countries - not saying there aren’t porblems though.

    It’s a tough problem to deal with though. On the one hand it needs to be talked out and on the other hand it needs to be taken out of the headlines so the flames aren’t fanned. Being such a cultural melting pot I guess the US is always going to feel this kind of thing more than many other nations.

    Anyway, my view in general is simple when it comes to free speech. You CAN say what you want. If you say something wrong and people think it’s wrong they should speak up (not shout) and see if they can come to some common understanding.

    People get sensitive when it comes to creating laws for speech - and rightly so. Language is so contextual that it’s incredibly hard in many situations to understand the intent and if people start acting in a hypersensitive manner then it is hard to say whether we can anticipate the consequences of our words, be it from being misheard or purposefully taken out of context.
  • Isaac
    340
    The consequences free speech should engender are speech consequences.Terrapin Station

    If you restrict speech, you are eroding your access to your fundamental freedoms.DingoJones

    One thing I'm not clear on about this free speech absolutist position, is with what clarity you're identifying suppression of speech on the basis of its content.

    Take for example a public debate about abortion, and one of the invited participants said nothing but "fish" throughout the whole thing, loudly and constantly interrupting the others talking. Are you saying that the chair of the debate would not have any justification for throwing them out because loudly saying "fish" over and over again is what they wanted to express and there should be no restrictions on them doing so?

    Another example might be university debating platforms, where there's been some significant attention about de-platforming perceived racists. No one made a fuss about the fact that they've been effectively de-platforming the unqualified and uninteresting since their inception.

    Basically, we restrict speech acts all the time, so I'm curious as to your criteria for which types of speech act should not be restricted.
  • ssu
    996
    ake for example a public debate about abortion, and one of the invited participants said nothing but "fish" throughout the whole thing, loudly and constantly interrupting the others talking.Isaac
    I think it's quite obvious in this case that this is way to stop the discussion. Since when freedom of speach means that you don't have to wait for your turn and don't have to give others their "freedom of speach?"

    Basically, we restrict speech acts all the time, so I'm curious as to your criteria for which types of speech act should not be restricted.Isaac
    When you think about, there is an abundance of situations where "rights" of individuals seem to be in contradiction with basic norms, rules and regulations. Just think of the event of removing somebody from a private or public area. When can someone literally drag me off from a place? By what authority? One might think this is very confusing, but it actually isn't.
  • Isaac
    340
    I think it's quite obvious in this case that this is way to stop the discussion. Since when freedom of speach means that you don't have to wait for your turn and don't have to give others their "freedom of speach?"ssu

    Yes, that's exactly the question I'm asking. What is the line, or general principle people are using to judge the kinds of speech acts which can be restricted (interruptions, belligerence, lack of expertise) and those which cannot (racist language, insults)?

    If it is not simply the case that anyone can say anything at any time without restriction, then we must be using some criteria, even if only vaguely.

    If I arrange a speech at a university about contract law, I do not see it as a suppression of my free speech if they 'de-platform' me on discovering that I know nothing whatsoever about contract law.

    We obviously have plenty of implicit rules about preventing people from saying whatever they want to in certain scenarios. Those in favour of PC speech (for want of a better expression) make quite vocal their rules, but those against PC restrictions rarely do, so I thought I'd ask.
  • czahar
    55
    One of the legal limitations of free speech (according to the 1st amendment) is speech that incite actions that would harm others (such as yelling fire in a crowded theater.Anaxagoras

    I wouldn't recommend using that example, as it was 1) from 1919, well after the First Amendment was written; 2) never binding law; and 3) overturned. The line comes from Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes in the Court Case US v. Schenck, which

    "....had nothing to do with fires or theaters or false statements. Instead, the Court was deciding whether Charles Schenck, the Secretary of the Socialist Party of America, could be convicted under the Espionage Act for writing and distributing a pamphlet that expressed his opposition to the draft during World War I.

    Furthermore, Schenck was overturned in 1969 by Brandenburg v. Ohio.

    There may be other cases which limit free speech in the United States, but Schenck and it's oft-quoted "fire in a movie theater" statement isn't one of them.

    You can read more about it here.
  • Terrapin Station
    7.8k


    In my view there's not an obligation to provide a platform for just any arbitrary speech.

    The obligation is to not take a certain class(es) of actions against anyone due to the content of their speech. What class(es) of actions? That would take awhile to delineate for robots, and it might not be feasible to delineate it for robots, but things like initiating physical violence against the person, imprisoning them, fining them or otherwise monetarily sanctioning them, effectively taking away their ability to earn a living (barring speech they contractually obligated themselves to not engage in when accepting a job), effectively taking away their shelter, their healthcare, etc. I guess we could at least roughly describe it as "not doing things that make it difficult for someone to go about their daily business/to do the daily things they need to do."

    Some of that is stuff that only the government could do. Some is stuff that people can do with a mob mentality. Some is stuff that select individuals can even do.

    I wouldn't make not doing all of that stuff a legal issue. I don't see freedom of speech as only a legal issue, and I think it's a big mistake to see it that way.

    But it doesn't at all amount to being obligated (legally or otherwise) to provide any arbitrary speech a platform. However, we'd hope that people would care enough about freedom of speech that they'd not remove a platform that was bestowed just because folks object to someone's speech. It's easier to get to a culture that doesn't do things like that when we stop seeing freedom of speech as just a legal issue. When it's seen as a legal issue only, people tend to be fine with controlling and effectively censoring speech as long as they're not doing something illegal in the way they're controlling it. That's a problem in my opinion.
  • Terrapin Station
    7.8k
    Usually people stressing that (free) speech has "consequences" are folks who support things like violence in response to speech in some instances, taking away or making it difficult for someone to earn a living, basically ostracizing or blacklisting the person, etc.

    Speech shouldn't have those sorts of consequences in my opinion.
  • DingoJones
    533


    Your examples are not about free speech. The person who agreed to talk about Law, then turns out to know nothing about law has come under false pretences. His actual speech is not the issue.
    Likewise with the repeating of “fish”. What he is saying is not the issue, its that he has agreed to a debate and is not debating.
    If there are rules set forth, and they should be very specific, and someone doesnt follow them then they should be dealt with for not following the rules.
    If a bunch of PC people wanna get together for a debate and have a big list of things you cant say, they are welcome to do so and to eject people not following the rules as they see fit. What they arent allowed to do, or shouldn't be allowed to do, is de-platform or impose those rules on other people who have not agreed to their rules. Whether this is via law or by taking direct action through violence or destruction of livelihood is regardless a dangerous and wrong thing to do.
  • Isaac
    340
    But it doesn't at all amount to being obligated (legally or otherwise) to provide any arbitrary speech a platform. However, we'd hope that people would care enough about freedom of speech that they'd not remove a platform that was bestowed just because folks object to someone's speech.Terrapin Station

    This is the point I'm unsure on. I basically agree with the rest of what you've said, but I'm still unsure here.

    As I used in my post above, if one were to arrange to make a speech at university about contract law, and after the booking, the university discover that you, in fact, know nothing about contract law, I wouldn't like to see them obligated to honour the booking so that you could say whatever you wanted to about contract law. I'd like to think it would be reasonable for them to say "actually the sort of things you might say (as a result of your ignorance on the subject) are not really the sorts of things we had in mind when we booked you"

    But without setting some arbitrary rules about what sorts of speech should be allowed, this same principle could be applied to someone booked to speak about philosophy who the university later found out was racist (by their definition of the term). It still seems to me to be about the person being likely to say the sort of thing the people hosting him didn't really want to hear.
  • czahar
    55
    I made a post, but for some reason it is not showing up. Your line about “fire in a movie theater” does not come from the First Amendment, was never binding, and the case it was quoted in was overturned in 1969.
  • Isaac
    340
    If a bunch of PC people wanna get together for a debate and have a big list of things you cant say, they are welcome to do so and to eject people not following the rules as they see fit. What they arent allowed to do, or shouldn't be allowed to do, is de-platform or impose those rules on other people who have not agreed to their rules.DingoJones

    But what's the difference between this and the people you're arguing with? Aren't they just a group of people discussing the 'rules' for what can and can't be said, in their debates? Isn't a democratic country just a large group of people who have (via democracy) decided the rules about what can and cannot be said in their country (at least the public bits of it)?

    My concern with 'free speech' is that it imposes (or seeks to impose) restrictions on what communities can and can't set as their rules of membership. I'm radically in favour of personal autonomy and I don't like impositions on it without just cause. You say that the costs of restricting free speech are higher than any cost the community perceives, but I think that's quite an extreme position and so requires fairly firm evidence and I don't see it.
  • Terrapin Station
    7.8k
    I wouldn't like to see them obligated to honour the booking so that you could say whatever you wanted to about contract law.Isaac

    Yeah, they wouldn't be. And in that situation, there's a chance that the person who did the booking should have their job threatened, because they didn't do their homework very well.
  • Isaac
    340
    Yeah, they wouldn't be. And in that situation, there's a chance that the person who did the booking should have their job threatened, because they didn't do their homework very well.Terrapin Station

    Right, but on what grounds? All I can think of is that they discover the speaker is probably not going to say the sort of thing they wanted him to say (informed facts about contract law, presumably). I'm struggling to think of any other objective grounds. But the trouble is the same would apply to someone they found out was racist (by their definition). It's just that they realise he's probably not going to say the sort of thing they wanted him to say (non-racist things).

    I'm still not seeing the difference other than that we're happy for a university to set criteria for what they want their speakers to say on academic grounds, but not grounds of racism.
  • Terrapin Station
    7.8k
    Right, but on what grounds? All I can think of is that they discover the speaker is probably not going to say the sort of thing they wanted him to say (informed facts about contract law, presumably). I'm struggling to think of any other objective grounds. But the trouble is the same would apply to someone they found out was racist (by their definition). It's just that they realise he's probably not going to say the sort of thing they wanted him to say (non-racist things).Isaac

    There's not going to be any objective grounds (in my view).

    The grounds are simply that they contracted the person because they believed them to have some expertise in the field the event is focused on, but it turned out that, at least per appearances on that occasion, the person doesn't have those qualifications.

    Or in the other scenario, the grounds could simply be that the person appears to have had some psychotic break or whatever.

    Not that they need grounds. They could maybe just not like the person or something. Again, my view is NOT that anyone is obligated to provide a platform to anyone. Free speech is an issue re control in the sense that I explained re things like violence, making it difficult for someone to make a living, etc. That's why it's not just a legal issue, because it's not only the law that can affect others' lives in those ways.
  • Hanover
    4.3k
    Your line about “fire in a movie theater” does not come from the First Amendment, was never binding, and the case it was quoted in was overturned in 1969.czahar

    The current rule is that the government cannot punish inflammatory speech unless that speech is "directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action." Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 (1969). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brandenburg_v._Ohio

    The movie theater language appeared in Schenck v. United States, 249 U.S. 47 (1919), stating that "falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic" was not protected speech. Justice Holmes said that expressions which in the circumstances were intended to result in a crime, and posed a "clear and present danger" of succeeding, could be punished. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shouting_fire_in_a_crowded_theater

    I'd say that Bradenburg didn't fully overule Schenk, but that it expanded upon its reasoning.
  • Anaxagoras
    106
    Punishment for defamation is usually a fine, but you can get here a two years prison term for aggravated defamation.ssu

    I suspect states have different levels of punishments yes.

    And this has nothing to do with freedom of speech.ssu

    Defamation is written speech, slander is oral....They are forms of speech

    I guess the majority of people understand this, meaning that they understand what freedom of speech means.ssu

    I understand what freedom of speech is and there was nothing I wrote that stated otherwise.
  • Hanover
    4.3k
    Considering just the emotional reaction of Westbrook alone, isn't it possible that the heckler's speech could incite violence if other disgruntled African-Americans were present which could result in innocent people being injured? Aren't pejoratives of these kind are factors of limitating speech and/or designated for punishment?Anaxagoras

    As noted in the Bradenberg test, the speech must be directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action," which does not seem to be satisfied in a situation where there is an obnoxious heckler. That heckler would need to be advocating or producing violent behavior, not simply being offensive. The case of Hess v. Indiana, 414 U.S. 105 (1973) seems to make that point. That is to say, there is a significant difference in yelling "FIRE!" in a crowded theater or in encouraging a riot in a public place and in simply being offensive. The former situations are inciting or encouraging immediate violent or chaotic behavior, while the latter are not.

    "Fighting words" are punishable (as noted in Hess), although they would need to be directed against a particular person, and I would think there would be a fairly high First Amendment test as to the reasonableness of whether the words used were inciting. That is, if I chant "Make America Great" at a rally for immigrant rights, that would be protected, because someone can't simply claim particular sensitively to words and then claim I provoked him to action. I would think fighting words would things like telling you that I was going to have sex with your mother or the like, not in just holding offensive beliefs. .
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