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Justifiable reasons for limiting Freedom Of Speech watch

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    (Original post by joecphillips)
    A case today in Canada has resulted in a comedian ordered to pay 35k for a joke, in Canada the right to not be offended exist.

    It was heard in a court where they have openly said truth is no defence.
    Everytime I hear something like this my first thought is that there has to be more to it. It's one of a handful of things that truly saddens me. This is what can happen when your gov.is the foundation of your basic rights. If you don't really believe you possess these rights apart from the gov. or the majority bestowing them on you then they can be taken away at the pleasure of the majority.
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    (Original post by oldercon1953)
    At the risk of sounding like I just want to argue; natural law is not only a good foundation or even the best foundation but is the ONLY foundation for claiming that immutable human rights even exist. Natural Law dictates that you ALREADY possess these rights; you CAN't petition the Gov. for them because the Gov. CAN'T give you something you already possess. They are as necessary an ingredient to your humanity as your flesh and blood are. Anything so deeply possessed will not be easily oppressed. If we honestly see what our unchecked humanity is capable of we may voluntarily put limits on the free exercise of some of them but only to the extent that the group can work peacefully together.
    If you think that there is no spiritual content to man then this will sound like crap. If you do allow for the spiritual it makes perfect sense.
    This is nonsense. Nobody has any rights if their government cannot either stick up for them or hasn't created a mechanism for the citizen to do so. Any argument to the contrary means you give licence to the man with the biggest stick to claim his own rights.
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    Freedom of speech isn't exclusively controlled by some political authority.

    If we think someone said something wrong, then we are permitted to voice our anger which will in turn cause the relevant authorities to act. That's freedom of speech. It's all about how well groups of society are proportionally represented and how vocal they are.
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    (Original post by oldercon1953)
    If you don't really believe you possess these rights apart from the gov. or the majority bestowing them on you then they can be taken away at the pleasure of the majority.
    Well, in mediaeval times, the common man had a right to lynch criminals in the guise of hue and cry. By the process of a develpoed civilisation, democratisation and majority rule we took that right away. Presumably, being American and in favour of natural laws you still have that right?
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    The Constitution gave you the right to own slaves. The Thirteenth Amendment took that right away. What makes you so sure that some rights are 'god-given birthrights' while you're happy for others to be taken away?
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    (Original post by oldercon1953)
    At the risk of sounding like I just want to argue; natural law is not only a good foundation or even the best foundation but is the ONLY foundation for claiming that immutable human rights even exist. Natural Law dictates that you ALREADY possess these rights; you CAN't petition the Gov. for them because the Gov. CAN'T give you something you already possess. They are as necessary an ingredient to your humanity as your flesh and blood are. Anything so deeply possessed will not be easily oppressed. If we honestly see what our unchecked humanity is capable of we may voluntarily put limits on the free exercise of some of them but only to the extent that the group can work peacefully together.
    If you think that there is no spiritual content to man then this will sound like crap. If you do allow for the spiritual it makes perfect sense.
    What is the source of natural law? How can we be sure that this source exists? How do we know its content?

    Throughout history different societies have had very different understandings of human rights which suggests that they are not as immutable as you claim - have we only just discovered this 'natural law' in the last few centuries? Certainly the ECHR has been clear on the 'living' nature of rights.

    Why not use a Rawlsean social contract approach or rule utilitarianism as the basis for human rights?
    (Original post by oldercon1953)
    you CAN't petition the Gov. for them because the Gov. CAN'T give you something you already possess.
    Both the 'protest' and to a lesser extent 'delliberative' schools of thought (as per Dembour's 'What are Human Rights? Four Schools of Thought') don't really see rights as things that are given but that are fought for, and to some degree the historical evidence bears this out.
    (Original post by oldercon1953)
    I make it a point to tell every 13 yr. old kid I see that he has a God given right to spout anything they want and if offending someone is the only way to say it then that's what they have to do.
    And where does 'God' grant this right?
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    as a libertarian I've thought about this subject for a long time. I *can* actually find cases to "limit" (not necessarily ban) speech.

    1) threats of violence - this is 100% clear

    2) breaking legal contracts, i.e. promising by law not to say something in exchange for the consideration for you. this would include copyright, branding products with false information/ingredients listed and similar cases. the first example (copyright) is about property rights, but things like deception to customers is more to do with the similarity of it with theft - if you say "I'm selling 2 dozen eggs" and it's actually only 3 eggs, and only the seller is in the position to really know, then that's obviously theft, because they're making an agreement that isn't based on the correct exchange and more towards giving the seller too much for what is objectively not what is being sold.

    3) nuisance - if you're using speech to make incredibly loud noises right next to another person's property, robbing them of the value or benefit of their property, then that is akin to economic sabotage, and hence, is a kind of property damage

    4) psychological damage - this one I've wondered about for a while - cases where people become so distressed by other people's language that they sustain medical injuries (psychological, and that's to do with the physical brain). if there is overwhelming evidence of this being the case (and that's extremely hard to even imagine), then I suppose then the person responsible for the damage would need to pay damages, but the speech wouldn't be banned because you have no idea who's going to be ridiculously thin skinned. this is in line with the non-aggression principle, technically. I'm not sure if this should include truthful statements though - freedom of speech is here partly to extend the truth, so if something is disturbing and damaging, that doesn't necessarily mean that a speaker of truth should be punished. it's only if it's purely psychologically abuse, and emotionally abuse. if a fact happens to be as such, then that's a blameless case - if I say "god doesn't exist because x" and a christian or muslim freaks out and starts cutting themselves, they aren't doing that because of me, they're doing that because of the facts that nobody can change (clearly I'm talking about the scientific and philosophical challenges against god)

    5) libel/slander - i.e. spreading lies and causing a person to lose their property (wealth) due to it. I'm very conflicted on this question because it is essentially a case where one person says something (lying) and others happen to believe it - you might ask "the truth will prevail - why doesn't the victim just explain the truth to beat the liar?" - well, that could be extremely expensive. if the thing the malicious person said was actually true, then I don't think that should even be illegal, but if it *was* a lie and the victim had to spend a lot of money in campaigns and adverts to prove that the lie was as such (i.e. so they could get back everything they worked for in their life prior to the extensively damaging lie), then the malcious person should pay damages for that, but the actual speech itself shouldn't be illegal or banned because, like I've said, we can't know for sure what people will be willing to believe, and we have no way to know what lies have such serious consequences

    6) acts to necessarily facilitate criminal acts - i.e. if a person says something deliberately to cause people to then act criminally, and they wouldn't have been able to get away with the act without the speech, then that ought not to be allowed. this is different from "encouragement" which I don't think should be illegal. I'm talking about enabling cases, i.e. if a religious leader, respected by everybody, had very easily mislead followers, and he knew of this fact about them, and abused his authority, knowing that it would have criminal consequences. this is different from saying something like "I think *politician x" should die" in a non-serious context, even if a lunatic happens to be very easily swayed by that speech and kills them.
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    (Original post by sleepysnooze)
    as a libertarian I've thought about this subject for a long time. I *can* actually find cases to "limit" (not necessarily ban) speech.

    1) threats of violence - this is 100% clear

    2) breaking legal contracts, i.e. promising by law not to say something in exchange for the consideration for you. this would include copyright

    3) nuisance - if you're using speech to make incredibly loud noises right next to another person's property, robbing them of the value or benefit of their property, then that is akin to economic sabotage, and hence, is a kind of property damage

    4) psychological damage - this one I've wondered about for a while - cases where people become so distressed by other people's language that they sustain medical injuries (psychological, and that's to do with the physical brain). if there is overwhelming evidence of this being the case (and that's extremely hard to even imagine), then I suppose then the person responsible for the damage would need to pay damages, but the speech wouldn't be banned because you have no idea who's going to be ridiculously thin skinned. this is in line with the non-aggression principle, technically. I'm not sure if this should include truthful statements though - freedom of speech is here partly to extend the truth, so if something is disturbing and damaging, that doesn't necessarily mean that a speaker of truth should be punished. it's only if it's purely to psychologically abuse, and emotionally abuse. if a fact happens to be as such, then that's a blameless case - if I say "god doesn't exist because x" and a christian or muslim freaks out and starts cutting themselves, they aren't doing that because of me, they're doing that because of the facts that nobody can change

    5) libel/slander - i.e. spreading lies and causing a person to lose their property (wealth) due to it. I'm very conflicted on this question because it is essentially a case where one person says something (lying) and others happen to believe it - you might ask "the truth will prevail - why doesn't the victim just explain the truth to beat the liar?" - well, that could be extremely expensive. if the thing the malicious person said was actually true, then I don't think that should even be illegal, but if it *was* a lie and the victim had to spend a lot of money in campaigns and adverts to prove that the lie was as such, then the malcious person should pay damages for that, but the actual speech itself shouldn't be illegal or banned because, like I've said, we can't know for sure what people will be willing to believe, and we have no way to know what lies have such serious consequences

    6) acts to necessarily facilitate criminal acts - i.e. if a person says something deliberately to cause people to then act criminally, and they wouldn't have been able to get away with the act without the speech, then that ought not to be allowed. this is different from "encouragement" which I don't think should be illegal. I'm talking about enabling cases, i.e. if a religious leader, respected by everybody, had very easily mislead followers, and he knew of this fact about them, and abused his authority, knowing that it would have criminal consequences. this is different from saying something like "I think *politician x" should die" in a non-serious context, even if a lunatic happens to be very easily swayed by that speech and kills them.
    These seem pretty reasonable to me. With your final point it may be worth considering that not everybody's voice can be heard equally as loudly. If Rupert Murdoch decides to slander me (unlikely, but role with it for now) he has the power of several newspapers and television stations around the world to act as his mouthpiece. Not only that, but as a figure in the public eye, people can and do ask his opinion.

    Meanwhile, I control no newspapers or television stations. My only 'official' mouthpiece are my social media accounts and my literal mouth. I can ask other people to spread things I want to say but I can't make them. And even then, the readership of whatever message I want to broadcast will have only limited audience. Also people will tend to believe newspapers over individuals but that's an entirely different discussion.

    At the end of the day, the person with the power, and the person who controls the most media has the loudest voice. So even though I may want to put across my side of a story, the loudest (in this imagined case, slanderous) voice wins.

    There have been discussions about punitive measure for journalists who tell lies but it's hard to prove guilt, I think. The same discussion has been had for politicians. It's hard to prove that they are lying and in any case a lie can simply be prefixed with "I believe/think that ..." and then they're stating an opinion.

    I'm not even going to begin trying to tackle the OP's insistence that free speech is a right provided by God. I only have so many hours in the day to spend ranting at people on the internet...
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    There isn't limits to freedom. You're either free, or you're not.

    In response to Comus, we can tell that Murder is a natural law because it is universally a punishable offence in every single culture, by at least one form of punishment, though they vary. Of course, it's an unwritten law to begin with, so we can't see it. It is formed on the basis of morality, which I believe to be compassion, as Schopenhauer too believed.
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    I think the really clever part about FOS is knowing when and how to use it. I do not agree that someone can say any thing to any one anywhere at any time which is what some people think is OK.

    I also think sleepysnooze's reply is a very good one.
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    (Original post by Joel 96)
    In response to Comus, we can tell that Murder is a natural law because it is universally a punishable offence in every single culture, by at least one form of punishment, though they vary. Of course, it's an unwritten law to begin with, so we can't see it. It is formed on the basis of morality, which I believe to be compassion, as Schopenhauer too believed.
    There are certainly commonalities but those cultures have had different ideas about what murder is, for instance in ancient Rome (until the reign of Claudius) citizens were allowed to kill their slaves; and whether or not such law applies when members of outgroups are the victims.

    You are also right to say that most people are, generally speaking, naturally averse to killing other human beings and to those who do. This probably creates a tendency for human beings to create laws forbidding murder, but I do not think that this in itself constitutes natural law. Fuller defines law as the enterprise of subjecting human conduct to rules, Hart uses a similar phrase to describe what he considers the purpose of law - to me this suggests that law has a degree of formality above mere social taboo, though it doesn't necessarily have to be written. Law might be based upon certain natural tendencies and in-group norms but it is ultimately a human construct.
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    (Original post by Good bloke)
    Well, in mediaeval times, the common man had a right to lynch criminals in the guise of hue and cry. By the process of a develpoed civilisation, democratisation and majority rule we took that right away. Presumably, being American and in favour of natural laws you still have that right?
    Your example of the right of the common man to hang a criminal, but through developed civilization,etc. we took that right away.

    I would argue that Gov. took nothing away; how can it take a right away that it doesn't have the power to grant in the first place?

    What Gov DID do was finally start protecting the natural rights of the accused.
    Which is his natural right to his life, unless the majority, exercising their right to self defence against the criminal, using due process, decide he should forfeit his life.

    If that was actually a written law it's a good example of the types of law you can expect from the Gov.
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    (Original post by sleepysnooze)
    as a libertarian I've thought about this subject for a long time. I *can* actually find cases to "limit" (not necessarily ban) speech.
    Good starting points, but I don't agree entirely.

    1) threats of violence - this is 100% clear
    If only things were so simple! What if a comedian on stage said "and if you disagree I will beat the crap out of you"? Sounds like a clear threat of violence, but it should be allowed in my book. Or if a bouncer threatens to "make you regret it" if you don't leave the club?

    I think a better angle is "incitement to violence" i.e. encouraging others to harm others. Again, though this can be a big grey area, and is really the same as your number 6).

    2) breaking legal contracts
    Agree.

    3) nuisance
    Agree, although again this can be subjective. One person's jest on Twitter is another person's harrassment.

    4) psychological damage -
    Not sure at all about this. Seems the same as "nuisance" anyway.

    5) libel/slander
    I think libel laws are a good idea, although the UK has some very draconian ones (google Simon Singh libel for a case in point).

    6) acts to necessarily facilitate criminal acts
    Agree.
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    (Original post by Paraphilos)
    Freedom of speech isn't exclusively controlled by some political authority.
    It is though. FOS is all about whether the state can intervene in what you can and can't say through police and the judicial system.

    If we think someone said something wrong, then we are permitted to voice our anger which will in turn cause the relevant authorities to act. That's freedom of speech. It's all about how well groups of society are proportionally represented and how vocal they are.
    This is just normal speech.
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    (Original post by chazwomaq)
    Good starting points, but I don't agree entirely.

    If only things were so simple! What if a comedian on stage said "and if you disagree I will beat the crap out of you"? Sounds like a clear threat of violence, but it should be allowed in my book. Or if a bouncer threatens to "make you regret it" if you don't leave the club?

    I think a better angle is "incitement to violence" i.e. encouraging others to harm others. Again, though this can be a big grey area, and is really the same as your number 6).
    well, in the first case of the comedian, it would completely depend on the context and I hate to appeal to context generally. if they were saying it with a past of commonly known violent behaviour, or if they hadn't made it reasonably clear that they *were* just kidding around as comedians do, then it would be something to at least look at and not to fully ignore. there have been cases where comedians become violent - it's rare but obviously it's not wise totally rule it out and give a comedian a free pass to threaten people (or "seriously" threaten)

    in the second case, I don't think encouragement is a necessary element in a violent crime. even if one person's suggestion that it would be good to hurt somebody, it's the violent person's fault for being so reckless in the first place to follow people's suggestions even to a criminal extent. this is distinct, by the way, from the example I gave about a commonly respected religious leader and clearly gullible or easily misled followers (and the leader ordering them to commit terrorism, or something like that). in the first case, the person is just encouraging from the sidelines and their words don't make the crime suddenly possible or a dangerous situation. the second case is where it wouldn't or couldn't have occurred without the leader using their authority and their context of wisdom of theological things (god's moral laws, the afterlife, etc) and seriousness to make violence appear religiously and compellingly necessary to the followers. if the first case was involving somebody saying "I'll give you £x if you harm this other person" then that would be more along the lines of criminality because it is something that outbalances the risk vs reward system of crime's rewards vs criminal consequences; if bill gates said to a teenager "I'll give you a billion dollars to commit a crime that won't give you much prison time" then they'll be given a rational incentive to harm people in this case, so that would be distinct from simply words and suggestions to commit the violence which no reasonable person should believe (and I'm saying it would be reasonable to commit an act of violence and go to prison for a short amount of time if you come out in the end with huge amounts of money)

    Not sure at all about this. Seems the same as "nuisance" anyway.
    well nuisance would deal with your property - if you're in a fixed location and somebody is blasting a megaphone in the direction of your house, after a while surely they are deprived of their ability to enjoy that property via external factors beyond their control, and in the total control of the speech-giver. in the case of psychological damage, the similarity is that your body is your property and you have a right to it and not having it damaged. it would have to be particularly serious though in both cases to really cause somebody to not be able to live properly within their property, or somebody being so utterly broken down by specific and causal emotional abuse - I'm talking about WWI style shell shock or something - it would be insane to prove it as well.

    I think libel laws are a good idea, although the UK has some very draconian ones (google Simon Singh libel for a case in point).
    I haven't heard of that - I'll look it up
    sorry for the typos btw - edited now
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    (Original post by Comus)
    What is the source of natural law? How can we be sure that this source exists? How do we know its content?

    Throughout history different societies have had very different understandings of human rights which suggests that they are not as immutable as you claim - have we only just discovered this 'natural law' in the last few centuries? Certainly the ECHR has been clear on the 'living' nature of rights.

    Why not use a Rawlsean social contract approach or rule utilitarianism as the basis for human rights?

    Both the 'protest' and to a lesser extent 'delliberative' schools of thought (as per Dembour's 'What are Human Rights? Four Schools of Thought' don't really see rights as things that are given but that are fought for, and to some degree the historical evidence bears this out.

    And where does 'God' grant this right?
    I refuse to believe you don't get this. I'm getting tired of answering questions with the same answer.
    Also, I don't accept that people through time have had a very different view of very basic human rightI bet if you sat anyone from any time down and asked them to name 3 rights they could be granted they would come up with something close to what we would say today.

    Where does God grant this right? I have no idea what your asking.
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    (Original post by oldercon1953)
    I'm not sure what people in other countries are taught about Freedom Of Speech but in the U.S. my entire 8th grade,( 13yr. old), of public school was devoted to learning about the U.S. Constitution and, while freedom of speech was learned about alongside the other first Amendment rights, it was elevated above the others. It was not granted to me by the Gov., but by God. A birthright that without, gave little meaning to my other rights. It was inviolate and no matter how offended I was by someones words I was suppose to rise above the offense and defend myself with speech that discredited what they were saying. I was NEVER to try and have ANY ONES speech banned. That doing so would only hurt me.

    I know everyone doesn't feel this way and would like to hear from people who truly feel there are legitimate reasons for limiting freedom of speech. I know that in time of war some restrictions have to be implemented for national security and there's the often used example of, " you can't yell fire in a crowded theater", but those aside, I would like to hear some examples.
    Best example, Brexit!
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    (Original post by oldercon1953)
    *I don't accept that people through time have had a very different view of very basic human rightI bet if you sat anyone from any time down and asked them to name 3 rights they could be granted they would come up with something close to what we would say today.
    Really?

    How, then, did the USA, until as late as 1865, allow the holding and trading of slaves, and no longer does?

    How about freedom of religion? Has that always been a basic right? It isn't even agreed to be the case througout the world today.

    How about the right to be treated equally with all other ciizens? The USA and South Africa didn't get dragged into the civilised 20th century until very late in the day, did they?

    How about votes for both men and women, rich and poor?

    Freedom of speech emerged as a concept in about 500BC. The Babylonians knew nothing about it, and many people have not enjoyed it as a right.

    The right to a fair trial is not something that the Romans accorded to non-citizens, and only a strong caring government can supply one.

    Equality with all other citizens, freedom from slavery, freedom of speech and freedom to hold any superstious beliefs (or none) seem to me to be pretty basic things, yet they are very modern. The gods, according to religious writings, have never believed in them.
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    (Original post by Good bloke)
    Really?

    How, then, did the USA, until as late as 1865, allow the holding and trading of slaves, and no longer does?

    How about freedom of religion? Has that always been a basic right? It isn't even agreed to be the case througout the world today.

    How about the right to be treated equally with all other ciizens? The USA and South Africa didn't get dragged into the civilised 20th century until very late in the day, did they?

    How about votes for both men and women, rich and poor?

    Freedom of speech emerged as a concept in about 500BC. The Babylonians knew nothing about it, and many people have not enjoyed it as a right.

    The right to a fair trial is not something that the Romans accorded to non-citizens, and only a strong caring government can supply one.

    Equality with all other citizens, freedom from slavery, freedom of speech and freedom to hold any superstious beliefs (or none) seem to me to be pretty basic things, yet they are very modern. The gods, according to religious writings, have never believed in them.
    Your last sentence speaks volumes. If you feel God is a human construct then all we give him credit for must therefore be a human construct.

    Every one of your questions and statements is off point.

    If you've read Thomas Paine I would think you should maybe have another go at it. In his book, " The Rights Of Man ", he makes the case that our human rights exist apart from Gov.. They are a constituent part of our nature. The majority can't take them from us. They can only oppress them.

    Just a thought on Babylonian free speech; If the average Babylonian was accustomed to speaking his mind, he wouldn't have known or cared about speech being a right until someone tried to take it from him.
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    The truth is, you either have free speech, or you don't. And by that I don't mean 'I support free speech but there should be exceptions for when...', I mean absolute, say whatever you want free speech. That is what I believe in.
 
 
 
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