Tyranny coming to you
March 30, 2018 at 8:48 pm #8543
Reg that reminds me of bluetooth advertising which was popular for about 2 minutes.March 30, 2018 at 11:36 pm #8546
Europeans/Canadians/Aussies/NZers/Japanese have a notably different approach to freedom of Speech than America does. Europe has never ever had “free speech” like in the US and there isn’t even much of a movement asking for it. In the United States the protection of individual speech is so extreme that someone can be nasty…almost to the point of viciously verbally bullying someone (like the West-baptists walking around saying God hates fags…and then protesting outside a funeral service for a soldier who died in Iraq saying “he deserved to die cause we let fags get married”). In other countries this would be restricted or even a crime. Bullying, hate speech, gross indecency. If people stood around a funeral and said the person deserved to die along with a racial or sexual slur…they would be arrested and possibly imprisoned in Europe or the commonwealth. And to be honest, I certainly know of no Canadians or Europeans who think that this level of cruel pointless harassment and nastiness is acceptable…be they expressing their sincerely held beliefs or not.
The protections of free speech in some European countries are not there so anyone can say whatever stupid idiotic grossly offensive harassing toxic crap they want. It is there to keep the government from oppressing dissent. If a government goes after someone for saying “their policies are wrong and should be voted out” the government cannot penalize you. You can even complain about the bits and bytes of policies and party’s ideologies. You can push for change and motivate others to vote the government out and propose alternatives and even to some degree insult a politician or a fellow citizen. But when you claim that “he shouldn’t be a politician cause he is a faggot” or “Jews shouldn’t be allowed to run for parliament” you have gone totally beyond the purview of what freedom of speech is intended for. Restricting you from saying this has nothing to do with the government silencing your political dissent. When you are prosecuted for this kind of slander/hate-speech/harassment…it’s because you are pointlessly and grossly verbally assaulting a citizen (in a sense violating their right to exist as a citizen with dignity and not be pointlessly trashed and berated and made to socially unsafe from those who come down on marginalized people). in many European countries, prosecutors focus much more on those who bully and needlessly piss over marginalized groups who are suffering or have very much suffered in the past (like Jewish people who were almost wiped out, or LGTB who have finally been accorded political protections and are still fighting to be accepted socially.
There are good things and bad things about both approaches to free speech. In America people can virtually say anything they like (as long as it doesn’t commit a crime in the process) and you can see this when visiting the country. People easily share their opinions whether you ask them or not and many take pride in being able to express themselves how the see fit. This is, in theory, a very good thing. On the other side in other countries an overwhelming majority of people don’t want to live in a society where it is acceptable to harass people at a funeral or where it is acceptable to degrade someone in public for a quality of their that cannot be changed (race, class, gender, sexuality, physical or mental disability and even in some countries drug addictions and choice to have abortions). You can say “we shouldn’t invest that much money in drug addicts”. Where you get in trouble is when you say “gay people are AIDS factories and they deserve their slow painful deaths” or “drug addicts are pointless scum and I hope this winter is cold so we can sweep their corpses off the street”.
I cannot imagine most Americans accepting these kinds of conditions when it comes to free speech. And I honestly don’t know anyone here in Europe, including myself, who would accept the intolerable conditions that may result from such extreme freedom of speech. The English speaking countries tend to have more freedom (Uk, Canada, Australia) and others are more constricted (Spain, Germany, Netherlands) but they still place limits on non-political speech and that is not going to change anytime soon. While there are a few individual cases I don’t agree with (Polish laws protecting historical criticism, Irish Blasphemy laws, Spanish laws protecting the king from insults), they are highly specific situations which are rarely prosecuted (if ever).
So I have to disagree that as you’ve said that Europeans are “losing their freedom” or “their freedom is being attacked”. We have never had that kind of freedom. That’s something quite unique to the United States and something that has not been exported to other countries.March 31, 2018 at 12:12 am #8547
@davis, that makes sense.
As someone who spent a career in corporate settings, I can say that, at least during the workday – which was most of my awake day – I felt highly restricted in what I could or could not say. Say the wrong thing too many times, and the career is over. At meetings, some people afterwards would ask me if I drank the Kool-Aid, and my reply was “I love grape. It’s my favorite flavor”. True, no one went to jail for not toe-ing the line, but losing a career is not minor.March 31, 2018 at 3:12 am #8548
Yeah. Interestingly, Americans often seem so spoilt by the level of freedom of speech that they enjoy (which these days is about as free as any place in the world has ever been) that some think that freedom of the government telling you what to say (or being discriminated against by what you say) is equivalent to freedom to not pay a price for what you say. For example, when the NRA is being heavily criticized by a broad spectrum in America, the feeling by some (sincere or exaggerated) is that people tearing their bad arguments apart and questioning their priorities and calling their view inhumane…is a violation of some right…which doesn’t actually exist. This is even more the case when people lose their job for saying something epically outrageous, brutal and stupid. Them losing their job is an attack on their right, apparently, to say anything whatsoever and pay no consequence. Ironically, it usually comes from those in the status-quo or those with privilege, who are furious that they are being challenged and not getting away with garbage anymore.
The only answer I can give is:
1. Good luck with that
2. There is no human right or national law or any kind of protection at all, that will automatically protect you from paying a social/personal/career/artistic/intellectual/popularity price if what you say or do is cosmically stupid. In many cases it isn’t fair…but the fundamental protections don’t bleed into the local details, but instead is about the violations of fundamental rights.
March 31, 2018 at 5:23 am #8550
- This reply was modified 8 months, 3 weeks ago by Davis.
Although placing a limit on freedom of ones speech is often advocated it is undeniable there is a positive correlation between oppression of expression and totalitarianism.
Interestingly it is not the majority who are most protected by free speech.
By being able to hold opinions without interference and to impart information and ideas minority groups of any sort can prosper. It is only where an environment of free intellectual exchange exists that hateful and bigoted ideas can be discredited and refuted. Suppression of bigotry, stupidity and prejudice is not only pointless but counterproductive.
Imagine trying to pass a law in Saudi Arabia for marriage equality. It would be somewhat difficult because you would be locked up and possibly executed for holding that opinion.
Imagine trying to express your love for a same sex partner in Indonesia. You will be publicly flogged.
If words hurt feelings or myth made sensitivities then the more appropriate response to that hurt would be self assessment. Or counselling.
Or simply just accepting that it is a big world and that each of us is not the centre of the universe and we don’t have to force other people to change their behaviour if we are truly comfortable with our beliefs.March 31, 2018 at 3:55 pm #8551
“Suppression of bigotry, stupidity and prejudice is not only pointless but counterproductive.”
– I agree, it’s necessary to stop worrying about breaking eggs, speech-wise. If you ask me, the worst problem is provocateurs on both sides, then there’s a backlash, then everyone gets even more angry and polarised.April 1, 2018 at 12:54 am #8554
f words hurt feelings or myth made sensitivities then the more appropriate response to that hurt would be self assessment. Or counselling.
If you are talking about ideas, ideologies and religious principles….yes. If we are talking about harassment, verbal attack and verbal prejudice/discrimination for skin colour, sexuality or happening to have been born a muslim…then no. This person doesn’t need counseling or internal exploration. They need to be protected from pointless viciousness and not be afraid or ashamed to go outside, apply for jobs, enter establishments etc.
April 1, 2018 at 1:02 am #8555
- This reply was modified 8 months, 3 weeks ago by Davis.
Says someone who has never suffered systematic verbal prejudice or systematic verbal attack on a daily basis because of skin colour or sexuality. Simon…it’s deplorable to consider all of this as simply provocation from both sides. When a Jewish person walks down the street and people shout “fuck off money grubbing Jew” there are no two sides to it. There’s a person made to feel unsafe in public, shameful for being who they are and hesitant to go places, join groups and apply for jobs or other opportunities. They are trying to live their lives and are being pointlessly viciously attacked…almost always by people who are the majority (with most of the power). Controlling this kind of verbal assault is not pointless. People may think it…but they are slowly not aloud to attack and harm people and the result is…people who are black, happened to be born a muslim, are bi-sexual…are able to go on about their day without fear and shame and being degraded and injured. The point of stopping verbal hate speech is not necessary to force people to not be racist anymore. It is to stop people from pointlessly harming and intimidating people, especially in a discriminatory manner.April 1, 2018 at 3:50 am #8557
Davis, I agree with you. I would be in favor of policies that make hate speech in public a crime. This kind of acrimonious talk deprives others their right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That is more important than free speech, I feel.April 1, 2018 at 4:04 am #8558
The thing about laws is that … there are lots of them. Most Western countries will have (very many) laws to protect their people from:
- Sexual crimes
and those laws often cover actual, threatened, attempts to and conspiracy to commit those offences. And other non-criminal and criminal offences exist for:
- Fraud; and
- Deceptive conduct.
We all mostly agree that we would like to feel safe and that to function properly as a society; people need to abide by an agreed set of rules. Those rules can be quite extensive.
Anti-free speech laws are all about opinion. They, unlike the categories of laws above, are entirely subjective. Which means anyone can claim to be a victim and there need not be any objective basis to that claim whatsoever. That means that the very fact you claim to be offended is evidence of the offence itself. This is a fundamental breach of the widely respected principle that there be a separation of roles. The offendee is as they say… the victim and the judge and the jury all in one.
And it may well be your turn one day to have someone who you offend with your opinion have you convicted of a crime. Or stoned to death. Or lynched. Depending on what country you reside in.
Because of this, and the valuable role opinion has in politics and in protecting the liberties of minorities, free speech has been given an elevated status. As it should be in my view.April 1, 2018 at 4:11 am #8559
Robert I think you need to elaborate on how a youtube video deprives someone of their liberty and ability to pursue happiness.
Just as someone chooses to be offended, they must choose to watch that ‘offensive’ video. Perhaps if they were not aware of it’s content they could argue it was ‘forced’ upon them. But even then they could turn it off. Moreover, how does it affect their liberty?April 1, 2018 at 4:32 am #8560
The actual law the youtuber in question was convicted under is this:
A person is guilty of an offence if he (very sexist!) sends by means of a public electronic communications network a message or other matter that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character.
Under this law sending a picture of two gay men kissing would be an offence to a lot of people. The wording is so broad that anything could be included. Perhaps pictures of fat people should not be sent over the internet. Some people find us grossly offensive. Or pictures of red-heads.
Legislation like this is the wet dream of totaliarian regimes everywhere. And it can be and has been used to limit and punish the social participation of a member of society on the basis of someone’s made up beliefs. Remember that once again the complaint that led to this conviction was from a theist.April 1, 2018 at 5:01 am #8561
Why are you so sure people choose to be offended? You can’t “unsee” something. If I said “Jews are thieves”, and let’s say you are a Jew, therefore by default you are a thief. This is libel….a published false statement that is damaging to a person’s reputation.
If instead someone says “I hate Jews” and that is the extent of it, well OK. But it rarely is, because someone who publically makes a declaration like that also has reasons that are bound to be libelous and offensive.
Freedom, as in “I can do or say as I feel” is an American fantasy. It exists in a vacuum. We are primates, we are a troop, and the troop has rules. You don’t get to go around offending everyone.
April 1, 2018 at 6:18 am #8563
- This reply was modified 8 months, 3 weeks ago by _Robert_.
Robert, at least in this case, it is my understanding that the complaint was made by a professional theist lobby group. If that is the case, then in fact there is no actual incident of an ‘offended person’. Indeed that lobby group explained why it complained by stating that the holocaust was not an appropriate subject to make a joke about.
So it was actually the enforcement of an opinion. A view. AND if you look closely at the text of the law – there is no actual requirement to have a person offended. It merely requires the communication of the said opinions.
This particular lobby group has made various complaints about various things including other religions. So perhaps it is not surprising then.
Why is it you say freedom is an American fantasy?April 1, 2018 at 7:39 am #8564
@davis – I agree with your point, that is, genuine discrimination and aggression exist. But also, on top of that, there are professional provocateurs (e.g. Antifa, the alt-right) who spend all day, every day, winding the situation up for their own benefit. So, the sad thing is that people’s genuine voices get lost and ignored.
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