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When freedom to speak became freedom to hate.(16 posts)

When freedom to speak became freedom to hate.aeon
Apr 8, 2003 10:43 AM
I don't know if I'm the only person on the planet to think like this, but here we go.

Reading the cross burning thread below, I just don't really understand the position most are taking. Burning a cross is wrong. Whether you do it in the middle of the backcountry, or someone else's front lawn. What kind of message are we allowing here? What if a Jewish person burned a cross, would it be a different case than a KKK member burning one? On a related note, why does the US government allow the KKK to exist? What right do they have to wear simbols of hatred, perform actions of hatred, and spread lies and such? I equate that to slapping a swastika on my arm and taking a stroll through downtown. It's interesting that people cannot discriminate when, say, hiring someone for a job, but they are allowed to openly display the same discrimination to others.

Take the word gay. I'm not gay, I don't even know any gay people, but it still makes me sick when seemingly every kid (Hell, I'm only 20) in the country uses the word as a general insult. How on earth do people tolerate that?

I'll use one of the examples that Czar gave. If a person decides that they hate me, fine, I don't really care. If they display such hatred to other people, then I care. I might sue, call the cops, whatever. If they decide they're going to kill me, I'll defend myself by whatever means I can, lethal or not. In my view, a person determined to cause that kind of pain to another person (and effect his or her friends and relatives with the grief), forfeits their right to live peacefully near me. I don't get it. Killing is wrong. If you kill, what do you expect the consequences to be (I'm talking non-war here)? Should I let it slide, say "Oh maybe he didn't know killing is wrong. I'll just spend lots of money teaching him something that he should know be heart, and his parents, teachers, and government should have reinforced."

Any action you take sends a message. It doesn't matter if the message is intended or not, it's still there. Most of the arguments for these extreme examples of freedom of speech are so ridiculous, I just don't understand why they're accepted.

I'll construct a hypothetical example. Say a law was passed that allowed the government to insert a chip into your body. When you commit a crime (don't ask for details, it's just an example), it lets the police know what you did and where you are. Assume you can only use it for this purpose. Now I'd expect a great cry to go up, with people claiming various rights have been violated. I say, THE RIGHT TO WHAT???? Commit crimes??? That isn't your right! The law goes against the constitution, yes. Was the constitutions written to take this situation into account? No. So, you have to change the constitution. What exacly is the problem here?

Is it me, or are people missing the forest? Never mind the forest for the trees, the only thing you can spot is that shred of orange ribbon on the dirt!
the short answer as I see it...ClydeTri
Apr 8, 2003 10:52 AM
The government can't and shouldnt control what you think. YOu can think hatred, be a racist,its your life and right to do so. Its when your actions cross over and impact on others rights that it becomes illegal. The KKK is allowed to exist because in reality it is a political oriented organization (not political as in republican or democrat) and thus protected by the have to take the good with the bad in our society.....
so what if I want to express hatred for the KKK?DougSloan
Apr 8, 2003 10:52 AM
Hate speech is protected. Unless speech or conduct intended to be speech provokes emminent violence, the content is irrelevent.

Hate speech may be wrong or bad, but still protected. The Constitution is "content neutral," so we never get into censoring because of the content of our speech. What is "hate" to you, might well be "good" to someone else. What if I hate war, poverty, terrorism, bigots? Is that hatred ok?

Independent crimes committed are not exempt simply because they are tied to speech. You can't punch the President in the face to express your political disapproval.

Keep in mind that the ACLU is opposed to the cross burning ban. That should tell you something.

I embrace the freedom to hate...TJeanloz
Apr 8, 2003 10:54 AM
I'm not a hateful person, mind you, but if somebody wants to hate somebody else (or me), it's their right. What you're proposing is some kind of mind-control, whereby people aren't allowed to think certain things. You use an example of slapping a swastika on your arm and walking down the street -- if that's the statement you want to make, go for it. I don't want to live anywhere that regulates my right to think as I want to, and I don't want to regulate other people's thoughts, even if I find those thoughts reprehensible.

I apparently missed out on the cross burning debate below, but the Supreme Court ruled that it was legal to ban cross burning where the INTENT was to intimidate. As I read the law, if you want to burn a cross in the privacy of your own back yard, you're welcome to. Free speach ends at making overt threats to others.
I know you mean well, butOldEdScott
Apr 8, 2003 11:18 AM
that's the single scariest and most Orwellian post I've ever seen in this forum.
But really, would it be such a bad thing?aeon
Apr 8, 2003 1:20 PM
I mean, a great number of the terrible things in the Orwellian universe have already come to pass... maybe it's time we just gave up trying to save a sinking ship and just give in to it!

I jest, of course. =)

Well, I'm trying to defend myself here. From my youthful perspective, it just seems like Common Sense decided one day that it wasn't worth it, rolled over, and died.

Perhaps I will devote my life to the construction of the first black hole generator. If we're going to go, why not leave a nice large tombstone?
Ok, trying to clarify a bit.aeon
Apr 8, 2003 11:56 AM
Ok, I should explain that I was meaning for my point to apply to actions, not thoughts. No, the government (or anyone else) does not have a right to govern my thoughts. But, when I cross the (admittedly hazy) line between hating someone in my mind, and acting on that hate, that things must change.

I'll take my swastika example again. If I were to decide that Nazism is the way of the future, so be it (er, not that I do, by the way). But, wearing the swastika in front of people, whatever you intend your point to be, sends a message that people here don't tolerate. It gives the message that you support racial cleansing. In this case, I can't see any way that this freedom to express does anyone any good at all. There are some things that are just wrong, plain and simple (I dare anyone to argue in favour of killing Jews. No sane person can).

Burning a symbol is one of those cases I'd say someone has to step in. If you burn your country's flag, say, because you don't like your country/government for whatever reason, does it help your cause in a way that no other action could? Is there no other way to spread your message than by burning a country's most important symbol? I don't see how burning such a symbol wouldn't be a signal of hatred against EVERYTHING the symbol stands for. If you burn a Canadian flag, it's being pretty damn hypocritical to be proud of our health care, justice (ha!), or any other federal area. Same thing with religious symbols.

If the (vast) majority of a population recognizes something as wrong, and those who don't as, for lack of a better word, bad, why can't the government also?

What about a school who has a policy against hateful t-shirts, like mine did? Does the constitutional freedom overrule this policy?

A couple notes:
- I'm trying to avoid those grey areas here; I want to deal only with more clearcut things, like hatred against a race, religion, sex, or indirectly the symbols of such groups. I'm not going into inanimate objects or ideas (corporations, war, etc...)
- Doug, sorry I'm not familiar with the ACLU. Could you enlighten me a bit?
- I'm a bit grey on the whole US constitution, being a Canadian. If there's a specific part of it that pertains, by all means let me know.
- On the destroying symbols point, I suppose it only applies if other people are witnessing it. Buy and break as many crosses as you want in your house.
- Large groups, I think, have to be seperated from individuals. It's a different case to promote hate in a newspaper than tell it to a single person.
the most telling part of your message...DougSloan
Apr 8, 2003 12:29 PM
>sorry I'm not familiar with the ACLU. Could you enlighten me a bit?

American Civil Liberties Union. An organization with the purpose of protecting civil rights, no matter who the person is. They are seen by some to be extreme leftist, then they do a 180 and support the right of the KKK to march or burn crosses. What gives?

The ACLU take fairly pure positions. That is, they will protect speech, no matter who the speaker is or what he is saying. Content neutral. For the most part, I really admire the organization for that. They frequently seek to intervene, defend, or submit friend of the court briefs on important civil rights issues.

Read up on them:
the most telling part of your message...ClydeTri
Apr 8, 2003 12:39 PM
ah, the ACLU..we could get 100s of replies on that issue..but maybe another day!
I think it only tell you...aeon
Apr 8, 2003 12:55 PM
... that I'm not American =). Sounds like an organization I'd support in principle. Alright, back on topic then...

How can I study statistics when these kind of things weigh on my mind? Ugh.
ah, that makes senseDougSloan
Apr 8, 2003 2:06 PM
Where are you now? You know, the way we grow up can shape our thinking a great deal about these things.

Apr 8, 2003 2:25 PM
Best mountain biking in the world, if you want your riding to be high in the fear element. Good hockey, although I don't really follow hockey.

The only significant thing that seperates us from America is that we know we're not Americans.

Trying to study for finals this week in business classes at a university where all the students are disillusioned socialists, and where one right-wing party (best of a bad lot) controls 77 out of 79 seats in the provincial government. Maybe if I move to Switzerland I can escape from this mess.

And although there's no winter, it's been raining for 2 solid weeks. What fun.
Intimidation vs. expression ... and flag burningPdxMark
Apr 8, 2003 1:59 PM
In the recent case, and in priciple, an intimidating statement or action is not protected. Hence, a cross-burning in someone else's yard is an act of intimidation that is not protected. However, that same expression without the intimidation part, such as burning the cross in your own backyard, does not directly threaten another person.

An example is the movie Mississippi Burning, in which they filmed a cross burning. If the act itself is illegal, the movie-makers couldn't have filmed that scene, even though there was no intimidation in the act.

The issue is maybe easier to see when considering burning of the US flag, which sometimes (fairly rarely) happens at protests. The symbolism is expression of disagreement with government policies. Some (usuaally "Conservative") legislators have sought to make such expression illegal, but it is quitessentially political expression. Thankfully, those legislative attempts have always failed... not because I support flag burning, but because encroaching on political expression would cut to the core of US Constitutional protections.

Protection of freedom of expression means that we need to allow even those we disagree with to have their say... they just can't use that say to intimidate, threaten, or terrorize someone.
Here's how his swastika benefits youSpoiler
Apr 8, 2003 4:29 PM
"I'll take my swastika example again. If I were to decide that Nazism is the way of the future, so be it (er, not that I do, by the way). But, wearing the swastika in front of people, whatever you intend your point to be, sends a message that people here don't tolerate. It gives the message that you support racial cleansing. In this case, I can't see any way that this freedom to express does anyone any good at all."

Let's say you have a couple children. You are in the market for a babysitter. You hold interviews in a public park. The first candidate is named Miss Mary Magdalene. She's wearing a swastika. Now you're able to judge her qualifications by her choice to express herself.
Hits the nail on the head. You can only censor expression. . .czardonic
Apr 9, 2003 10:17 AM
. . .not thought. Leaving the Constitutional issues asided, as long as people are allowed to think whatever they want they may as well be able to express it.
". . .sends a message that people here don't tolerate."czardonic
Apr 9, 2003 10:39 AM
Well, I guess the difference is tolerance. It seems a bit odd to me to refuse to tolerate someone else's intolerance.

If your won't tolerate someone elses right to express themselves, then your own rights are in danger. It may sound reasonable to draw lines based on the "vast majority", but if the vast majority are offended by homosexuality, or inter-racial marriage?

Personally, I think that your schools rule against "hateful t-shirts" is wrong. It teaches students that the way to deal with beliefs that they don't like is to censor them.
Basically, it assumes that people can not be expected to control themselves when faced with a message that they find offensive and uses intolerance to protect them from those messages.

Censorship is not the way to get rid of hatred. Tolerance is the only counter-measure to intolerance.