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Sun Feb 10, 2013, 02:41 PM

Should there be a limit on free speech?

http://www.pocatelloshops.com/new_blogs/politics/?p=10215

By Martin Hackworth

Iíve spent a lot of time through the years defending free speech. The best cure for an exercise of poor speech, Iíve long maintained, is an exercise of better speech. Lately Iím not so sure. Given that the right of free speech seems abused more than not, maybe we ought to think about the entire concept. Perhaps we are, as a culture, just not yet sufficiently mature for such a privilege.

Just recently Iíve encountered more than enough banal, hateful, stupid, deceitful and harmful abuse of free speech. A Facebook memorial for 6-year old Emilie Parker, who was killed in the Sandy Hook shootings, was vandalized by truthers and second amendment purists. Westboro Baptist Church is up to their antics again, picketing funerals of soldiers and memorial services for the victims of the Sandy Hook shootings. The anti-vaccination crowd are doing their mightiest to revisit plague and suffering on children everywhere, and to return us to that notably wonderful era in history, the middle ages. Noted geography and climate-change expert Sarah Palin, no longer a pundit, has not yet begun to fight. The foreign-born Muslim terrorist known as Barack Obama, who was illegitimately elected President of the United States by not once, but twice, by over 60 million voters, is coming for everyoneís guns. Bigfoot popped up in Oregon and is coming to a podiatry conference in New England. A University of Wisconsin student and Green Bay Packers cheerleader, Kaitlyn Collins, was ridiculed for her looks and taunted with graphic suggestions of sexual abuse by knuckleheads on a Chicago Bears fan site. On this last point, though I am no Packers fan, Kaitlyn Collins looks like a completely pleasant and wonderful young person to me. If Kaitlyn were my daughter, there might be a few Chicago Bears fans out there running around with a broken-off foot in their fannies. Free speech or no.


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Arrow 15 replies Author Time Post
Reply Should there be a limit on free speech? (Original post)
rbrnmw Feb 2013 OP
cherokeeprogressive Feb 2013 #1
Light House Feb 2013 #2
upi402 Feb 2013 #3
rbrnmw Feb 2013 #4
Vinnie From Indy Feb 2013 #5
OrwellwasRight Feb 2013 #6
DirkGently Feb 2013 #7
frazzled Feb 2013 #8
Posteritatis Feb 2013 #9
Nye Bevan Feb 2013 #10
Igel Feb 2013 #12
Posteritatis Feb 2013 #13
pinboy3niner Feb 2013 #11
MrSlayer Feb 2013 #14
ripcord Feb 2013 #15

Response to rbrnmw (Original post)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 02:45 PM

1. Nnnnnnope.

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Response to rbrnmw (Original post)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 02:45 PM

2. The cure for hate/ignorant speech

 

Last edited Sun Feb 10, 2013, 03:20 PM - Edit history (1)

is speech that counters the haters, not a restriction on speech, so my answer would be a resounding NO.

And who would decide what the restrictions are? Do we really want this?

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Response to rbrnmw (Original post)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 02:46 PM

3. Yes, you get to own ONE media outlet

The you get to STFU.

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Response to rbrnmw (Original post)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 02:47 PM

4. I say no too but found the article interesting!

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Response to rbrnmw (Original post)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 02:48 PM

5. I wish I had the last few minutes of my life back

Cheers!

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Response to rbrnmw (Original post)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 02:49 PM

6. There are many limits:

true threats, "fire" in a crowded theatre, fraudulent advertising (though this standard is getting lower everyday due to business friendly courts), hate speech when coupled with other criminal action (= hate crime), incitement (again only in extreme cases), child pornography, certain types of obscenities over the airwaves, etc.

As I personally believe: freedom does not equal license (in the "lack of restraint" sense), so it is people who should restrain themselves to make a better world, not push the limit of what is allowable. I think there is too much gratuitous sex and violence in US media. I don't want the government to censor it. I want those who make the content to have more respect for developing children and adolescents and stop degrading women (etc.) just because it is legal to do so. But that is just me.

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Response to rbrnmw (Original post)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 02:50 PM

7. We have limits on free speech that work pretty well.

Last edited Sun Feb 10, 2013, 06:09 PM - Edit history (1)

That's not to denigrate the point the columnist is making about the sheer effrontery, mass, and volume of communication surrounding us all. But the best cure for a bad idea is still a good idea; the best cure for lies -- the truth.

I think the cynicism required to think that bad ideas win out in the end is exactly the fallacy that drives rightwingers rationalizing torture and extra-judicial killing. That if you are "right" enough, you are entitled to do anything, no matter how vile or cowardly.

This is a weakness a dismaying percentage of liberals are willing to buy into in one way or another, because liberals are idealists, and it pains us to see all the lunacy and bad faith in even our mainstream discussions.

But you never really win an argument that ends with some fined or imprisoned for thinking or saying the wrong thing. You just continue the argument to a later date, and lose all credibility in the process.

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Response to rbrnmw (Original post)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 02:51 PM

8. Well, it's never been without limits

"You can't yell 'fire' in a crowded theater" being but one example. (Others: you can't shout hateful things to women entering a clinic from closer than X feet.)

Some years ago I opposed the laws in some European countries (Germany, France) regarding anti-Semitic speech, etc., even though I understood why the rules were put into place. Now I'm not so sure. And I'm not so sure about us either. I've never been a rabid, fundamentalist First Amendment interpreter, but I've never been a censor either. I'm grappling the question of where the lines to be crossed on free speech are in today's hateful environment. I ponder history to consider these questions, and wonder how certain historical events might have been avoided had there not been a certain freedom of the press to spread incendiary and hateful ideas.

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Response to rbrnmw (Original post)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 03:07 PM

9. "I think this sucks, so it ought to be outlawed." (nt)

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Response to rbrnmw (Original post)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 03:14 PM

10. Unashamed First Amendment absolutist checking in.

It is really, really easy and lazy to write an article about "should we limit free speech?" by making a big list of the mean, horrible things that free speech allows people to say.

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Response to Nye Bevan (Reply #10)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 06:38 PM

12. "I don't really think you need *that* much of a right."

Lots of this kind of thinking. Once government's responsible for granting your "inalienable" rights, it's all a question of how much of a given right you "need"--with somebody else, of course, wiser and more mature, deciding "need" versus "want."

Usually the person making the claim that others don't "need" the right thinks s/he'll somehow be in charge of deciding, or that the decider will be just like them.

Seldom works out that way.

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Response to Igel (Reply #12)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 06:56 PM

13. And anyone who brings "need" into a rights discussion is only talking about privileges, anyway.

Particularly if they're framing it in terms of "you may only have this right if it's absolutely necessary," at which point they're turning rights into a whitelist of things they want instead of a blacklist of things which are forbidden.

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Response to rbrnmw (Original post)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 03:24 PM

11. Okay, Martin. You've convinced me.

Your limit is 10 words.

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Response to rbrnmw (Original post)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 06:57 PM

14. No.

 

But that doesn't mean you shouldn't kick someone's ass when they ask for it.

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Response to rbrnmw (Original post)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 07:01 PM

15. The only limits we need on free speech is

The social pressure that people who don't hate put on those that do. It is happening, very slowly I admit, but we are winning. We have a black President and gays are becoming more and more accepted, I know it isn't happening over night but no one said it would be easy.

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