Turn on thread page Beta
    •  Official Rep
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    6
    ReputationRep:
     Official Rep
    George Orwell said that “Freedom is the right to tell people what they do NOT want to hear”. Freedom of expression is a fundamental characteristic of being human, and a critical way that citizens can engage with each other and political authority: holding democratically elected politicians to account. Freedom of expression and press is a legally protected right. However, to an extent the freedom to express oneself (in words, writing or on social media) is not unlimited. The scope of the freedom is bounded by social conventions, for instance we should not cause harm or offence to other individuals, and also limited by laws for instance laws against hate speech. The question we would like to debate with you is whether the existing limitations (both those arising from social conventions and laws) on free expression need to be reviewed having regard to technological changes.



    Neal Geach is one of Associate Deans at the Hertfordshire Law School in charge of teaching and learning. He is a trained barrister. He likes reading reports of legal decisions and thinking about how judges think, reason and come to their decisions. He has written book re-evaluating past cases where the judges were not unanimous in their decisions about the law. He assessed the arguments for and against the final decisions and questioned whether the law would have benefitted from following the dissenting opinion as opposed to that of the majority of judges, explaining the impact the dissenting judgment might have had on the law if it had decided the case and predict where the law of that field would subsequently be different.

    Claudia Carr is a Senior Lecturer in law at the Hertfordshire Law School specialising in Medical Law and Ethics. Before joining the Law School in 2002 she worked in private practice specialising in criminal defence work and then medical negligence. Her primary research is the field of medical law focusing on legal and ethical questions relating to euthanasia, organ donation and legal problematics surrounding end of life including assisted dying and legalisation of assisted suicide. She is the author of several books and her PhD is concerned with informed consent in medical treatment for patients, including those with learning disability.

    James Ressel is a Senior Lecturer at the Hertfordshire Law School. He is a qualified solicitor and practiced in a central London firm handling commercial litigation and insolvency. In 2005 he took up his first full time academic post at another university before joining the Hertfordshire Law School in 2018. His research interests centre on the relationship between law and politics, critical legal theory, free expression, and the relationship between law and language. He has argued that conventional theories of judicial interpretation of law are self-delusional, casting doubt on perception that the process of interpretation yields singular and objective legal decisions.
    Offline

    13
    ReputationRep:
    NO.
    Social media will be boring.
    It's a way for people to express themselves whatever that may be.
    Offline

    19
    ReputationRep:
    No, just ignore people if you think it’s spiteful.
    •  Official Rep
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    6
    ReputationRep:
     Official Rep
    Good point but what about the rights of others not to be subject to offensive or abusive speech so as not to deprive them of their human rights. It seems to me that the law needs the find a way to balance the right to free speech with the need to protect the rights of others, in this sense it is not an absolute unregulated right.
    •  Official Rep
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    6
    ReputationRep:
     Official Rep
    (Original post by Andrew97)
    No, just ignore people if you think it’s spiteful.
    Very sound practical advice, but what if people are a little more than merely spiteful?
    Offline

    19
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by University of Hertfordshire Guest Lecturer)
    Very sound practical advice, but what if people are a little more than merely spiteful?
    Still ignore.

    The worst thing that you can do is give publicity.

    Say I put something horrible on twitter, the only people who see it will be my followers (both of them). If somebody then shares this across twitter then it spreads. The view you want to quash is suddenly firing around.
    Offline

    9
    ReputationRep:
    I don’t think legalities would be the issue here as, even with a law placed people would still be able to voice their opinion online in some way or another. I think restricting people would entice them to act out more as it is human nature to want to rebel. I think that what should be done is the focus on educating people on the weight their words have by placing them in live scenarios. However everyone has a right to an opinion, no matter what it may be, and as long as they can justify it they should be able to have it. Suppressing these things is only going to make it worse as you are placing pressure on an already filled to the brim box of restrictions and with too much pressure it’ll burst at the sides.
    Offline

    13
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by University of Hertfordshire Guest Lecturer)
    Good point but what about the rights of others not to be subject to offensive or abusive speech so as not to deprive them of their human rights. It seems to me that the law needs the find a way to balance the right to free speech with the need to protect the rights of others, in this sense it is not an absolute unregulated right.
    If people find it offensive, ignore, block and move on. No need to bring in the law...
    The law is not going to do anything but put pressure on people not to say anything offensive but they're still going to have ''offensive'' thoughts. Let people have freedom of speech.
    Offline

    19
    ReputationRep:
    Who decides what’s offensive?
    It’s subjective
    I am offended by very different things to my husband for example.
    Im offended by the ‘c’ word for example. It’s not illegal. To me it’s offensive, to others it’s just a word that’s thrown around.
    Very trivial example I’m aware but where is the line drawn?
    Does it need to offend a large majority before it’s censored or is one enough?
    I believe in freedom of speech. But I also believe that I can frame my speech in a way that makes it impersonal.
    I also think that people need to toughen up a bit.
    There are far too many people who like to be offended for being offendeds sake. And on behalf of others too.
    •  Official Rep
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    6
    ReputationRep:
     Official Rep
    Hi Sammylou40, you raise some good points but there is an underlying issue that we need to be very careful of imposing boundaries where we seek to curtail speech and there is legislation against incitement to hatred etc. whilst I'm sorry to hear you're offended your husband may do (and I'm sure you're not alone in that), that in unlikely to affect a wider group of people. Do you think we should limit some aspects of free speech?
    • Very Important Poster
    Offline

    19
    Very Important Poster
    Yes and there already are.
    We did all this with the Grenfell bonfire.
    • Community Assistant
    Offline

    18
    ReputationRep:
    Community Assistant
    OP what do you mean by 'the scope of the freedom is bounded by social conventions'. you mean users are self-censoring because they don't want to harm others? or you mean private companies are enforcing harm principle through terms and conditions? i doubt it's the former. of course self-censoring does exist sometimes, but it's probably because the user worries about their reputation, not because they worry about harming anyone. jmho
    Offline

    20
    ReputationRep:
    Yes, I almost had my mind poisoned with far right ideas. You can say what you like but when you start distributing hateful propaganda online like Britain First always does on their Facebook, action needs to be taken against you. Again I do not believe in complete freedom of speech/expression
    Offline

    14
    ReputationRep:
    If we "limit" freedom of speech, then it's no longer freedom of speech...no matter how you look at it.

    I support freedom of speech 100%, doesn't matter how good your intentions are in trying to limit it to "protect" others because it will lead to people taking advantage of these limits and suppressing views...

    Even if people post toxic views (pedophiles for example), they will be in the distinct minority and will thus make a fool of themselves.
    Offline

    14
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by University of Hertfordshire Guest Lecturer)
    Good point but what about the rights of others not to be subject to offensive or abusive speech so as not to deprive them of their human rights. It seems to me that the law needs the find a way to balance the right to free speech with the need to protect the rights of others, in this sense it is not an absolute unregulated right.
    Speech does nothing but mentally harm, if further action were to be taken by the troll then it could be considered a criminal offence

    Offensive speech does not deprive people of their human rights when they have the power to BLOCK others
    Offline

    21
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Joleee)
    OP what do you mean by 'the scope of the freedom is bounded by social conventions'. you mean users are self-censoring because they don't want to harm others? or you mean private companies are enforcing harm principle through terms and conditions? i doubt it's the former. of course self-censoring does exist sometimes, but it's probably because the user worries about their reputation, not because they worry about harming anyone. jmho
    Social conventions are normally enforced by others (i.e. society), rather than coming from within. So I think they mean not saying X because you think saying X will lead to public condemnation by others.
    • Community Assistant
    Offline

    20
    ReputationRep:
    Community Assistant
    Pornography should enjoy semi-protected status, as it does in the US under the First Amendment.

    But, other than that expansion of free speech protection, I have no philosophical/legal qualms with hate speech. As Jeremy Waldron put it, hate speech is liable to color the political aesthetic of the community; and when it does so, it’s further liable to affect the ontology of its subject through their phenomenological experience of being just such a subject in just such an environment. I have in mind Fanon’s ontological inequality and otherness; where hate speech would constitute a material practice of inequality in virtue of the fact that the mere act demonstrates the belief of the speaker of the ontological inferiority of the subject. Thus, the act itself is one of material inequality because it conveys in it the belief of ontological inferiority; which, in turn, can affect the ontology of the subject. The harm principle remains the relevant consideration, and it seems to be that the harm to subject is greater than that to the speaker, as the speaker is free to express themselves in ways that would be not considered hate speech. Freedom of speech can rightly be limited in the interest of protecting vulnerable minorities; there’s another argument that in protecting vulnerable minorites from Fanon’s type of ontological inequality, it safeguards their ability to exercise their speech rights and be taken seriously within the marketplace of ideas. R v. Keegstra takes something like this view; and Beauharnais v. Illinois permitted hate speech regulation (pre New York Times) under the theory of a group libel, again bringing it back to harm.

    Separately, and on a different subject, there’s an argument that some speech needs to be limited because the speaker is speaking too much — e.g. Citizens United. When one actor dominates the marketplace of ideas and drowns out the voices of others, the marketplace is epistemologically limited to view of the actor who can dominate that space, usually through monetary power differences. For instance, one political campaign having significantly more funding than another can lead to flooding television advertisements with one-sided political campaign ads and drowning out the other side.
    • Community Assistant
    Offline

    18
    ReputationRep:
    Community Assistant
    (Original post by Notoriety)
    Social conventions are normally enforced by others (i.e. society), rather than coming from within. So I think they mean not saying X because you think saying X will lead to public condemnation by others.
    indeed. i think what was tripping me up yesterday was the word 'bounded' and the fact you can't be bounded by conventions on social media unless you agree to be bound - i.e. you must be a willing participant. where i went wrong in my thinking (although hinted indirectly) was that we are happy and willing participants. no, not everyone will be. some will be willingly reluctant, so they censor themselves not because they 'don't want to harm', but because they want to protect their reputation; they don't want to be given a bad name.

    i have an article somewhere that argues political censorship is more harmful/more effective than legal censorship. because the average person doesn't think they will go to jail, but they know if they say 'XYZ' their neighbours will think they are hateful people and no one wants to be the neighbourhood racist or whatever. i agree with the writer that it is more effective and that political censorship will hurt us in the long run when censored voices finally have enough and explode (see Trump). but i also think if you won't say 'XYZ' simply because you're afraid someone will call you a racist, then you need thicker skin because someone will always have an opinion of you and they might actually say it. that's how free speech works; two way street and all that.
    •  Official Rep
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    6
    ReputationRep:
     Official Rep
    (Original post by Andrew97)
    Still ignore.

    The worst thing that you can do is give publicity.

    Say I put something horrible on twitter, the only people who see it will be my followers (both of them). If somebody then shares this across twitter then it spreads. The view you want to quash is suddenly firing around.

    Agreed, but is not the right to free expression a little more than just being about publicity? Is it not about forming views, opinions, changing one’s mind, listening to persuasive convincing arguments supported by credible evidence. This helps all to build social and intellectual frameworks.
    •  Official Rep
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    6
    ReputationRep:
     Official Rep
    (Original post by yotsr123)
    If people find it offensive, ignore, block and move on. No need to bring in the law...
    The law is not going to do anything but put pressure on people not to say anything offensive but they're still going to have ''offensive'' thoughts. Let people have freedom of speech.

    I would suggest that the state of being ‘offensive’ may be understood in various senses. For instance, we have social rules and legal rules against causing personal offence: that is statements directed at individual human being (close to the idea of bullying) causing personal offence and hurt to the individual person because they mock that person’s unique characteristics. Then then there is the type of ‘offence’ that Orwell was talking about which is the right a challenge to different intellectual and political views and often which those in power seek to close down criticisms and freedom of speech on the grounds of ‘causing offence’. You may recollect the recent attack by President Trump on the CNN journalist – the President did not like the questions, mocked the reporter and cancelled his press accreditation so that he could not report form the White House. Later the Court said that this was illegal action and the journalist’s press pass was restored. What do you think?
 
 
 
Turn on thread page Beta
Updated: November 26, 2018
Poll
Were you ever put in isolation at school?

The Student Room, Get Revising and Marked by Teachers are trading names of The Student Room Group Ltd.

Register Number: 04666380 (England and Wales), VAT No. 806 8067 22 Registered Office: International House, Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3XE

Write a reply...
Reply
Hide
Reputation gems: You get these gems as you gain rep from other members for making good contributions and giving helpful advice.