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Old 03-13-2012, 01:51 AM
 
Location: Canada
5,710 posts, read 6,564,084 times
Reputation: 8233

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stubblejumper View Post
I respectfully disagree (strongly!) with much of this post.

One of the difficulties with freedom of speech and opinion is that we have to accept that the most offensive, ignorant, boorish people share the same rights that the rest of us do.

It's fundamentally important to protect unreasonable speech. No social progress has ever been made without the use of unreasonable speech, often with the use of offensive language. I'm not suggesting that blatant hate speech is socially progressive, only that it's not for lawmakers to decide which side of an argument is right or wrong.

It's conceivable that at some point, you or I would hold an opinion that runs counter to prevailing public or government attitudes (which are often wrong). If we're willing to allow arbitrary restrictions (and they are arbitrary) then we've eroded that check which allows us to speak out against that wrong.

Not only that, but if we allow that offensive language is criminal, how do we determine context, reasonableness or offensiveness? None of these are really quantifiable. Is Patti Smith equal to David Duke? Both used the same language. Are we to leave it to the courts to interpret artistic context?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stubblejumper View Post
So, why hold them to a different degree of scrutiny than the rest of us? If I offend someone with a piece of outsider art, should I be jailed for it?


Women's suffrage, racial rights, gay rights, the anti-war movements, etc. have all been considered unreasonable in the eyes of authority figures. So, you're making a judgement call, based on your own opinion of right and wrong, as to who's allowed to make a speech that goes against the grain of public opinion.

You can't do that, because there's no guarantee that somebody who agrees with you is going to be in that position of authority. Freedom of speech doesn't mean much when everyone agrees with you and things are rosy. It would mean an awful lot if society were to take an ugly turn and you couldn't say anything for fear of arrest.

The limits you want to put on speech are arbitrary. Who gets to decide what's hate speech, what's ignorant blustering and what's genuine questioning of the status quo?

Your example of FIRE! is already covered under the criminal code as mischief. Incitement to riot and conspiracy to commit a crime are also already criminal code violations, too.

There's an incredible difference between somebody saying "I don't like you such-and-such people" as compared to "Let's all go kill a such-and-such person". The first one is an expression of opinion (as ignorant as it may be), the second is conspiracy to commit a crime, which is already a crime, regardless of hate speech laws.

My opinion has nothing to do with this -that's the whole point. In regards to what people are allowed to say, whether or not I like it shouldn't have any relevance.

You can't have context and offensiveness matter because neither of them is quantifiable. How can we possibly make a rational decision about where we draw the line? How can society function if we're making things illegal and we can't even decide what they are?
This is a good link which addresses many, if not all of your arguments. A brief quote from the lengthier article:

"The apparent assumption of free speech defenders is that offensive speech is essentially harmless—that is, just words with no demonstrable link to consequences. But questioning whether speech can really incite someone to bad behaviour seems irresponsibly obtuse. Obviously, words have consequences and frequently inspire actions. A primary purpose of language is to communicate with others in order to influence them. If that weren’t so, there would be no multi-billion dollar advertising industry, no campaigns for political office, no motivational speakers or books, no citizen-led petitions, no public service announcements, and no church sermons, along with a myriad of other proven examples where speech leads others to act..."

I think you're misunderstanding the law in Canada on what constitutes hate speech, because there is nothing arbitrary about it. I would also take issue with your use of the word 'unreasonable' with regards to women's rights, racial and gay rights, etc. They were controversial but they were not unreasonable, in that those groups asking for their rights as citizens did not infringe on anyone else's citizenship rights or calling for the deaths of their opponents.

I do agree that this law, like any law, has the potential to be abused but if we chuck out the laws that might be abused, we won't have any laws left.

Context is relevant in everyday life as well as in the criminal courts, so how can context and offensiveness not be quantifiable? I am not saying that the courts or a country's citizens are perfect in their judgement, but we certainly use context when we, as one example, don't judge a killing made in self-defense the same way as we do someone who murders their spouse for insurance money.

Last edited by netwit; 03-13-2012 at 01:52 AM.. Reason: typo
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Old 03-13-2012, 02:10 AM
 
Location: Canada
5,710 posts, read 6,564,084 times
Reputation: 8233
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cavaturaccioli View Post
That doesn't explain why Mark Steyn was accused of a crime.
Anyone can challenge a book - teachers, parents, librarians and otherwise ticked-off people. For your information, Steyn's book was never banned in Canada. The complaints were dismissed by the involved Human Rights agencies in 2008.
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Old 03-13-2012, 06:36 AM
 
Location: Staten Island, NY
6,480 posts, read 6,218,245 times
Reputation: 6960
Quote:
Originally Posted by MexiQuebecois View Post
Replied:
No one has the right to not be offended. NO ONE.
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Old 03-13-2012, 06:37 AM
 
Location: Staten Island, NY
6,480 posts, read 6,218,245 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MexiQuebecois View Post
I haven't read the book (And have no intention of doing so) but here's what the article says:

The complaint states that the article "discriminates against Muslims on the basis of their religion. It exposes Muslims to hatred and contempt due to their religion." Elmasry complains that Steyn's book tars entire Muslim communities as complicit in violent jihad.
And?
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Old 03-13-2012, 06:39 AM
 
Location: Staten Island, NY
6,480 posts, read 6,218,245 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by netwit View Post
Anyone can challenge a book - teachers, parents, librarians and otherwise ticked-off people. For your information, Steyn's book was never banned in Canada. The complaints were dismissed by the involved Human Rights agencies in 2008.
The charges should never have been brought. Steyn should never have been exposed to criminal penalties for expressing an opinion.
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Old 03-13-2012, 09:16 AM
 
Location: Mexico City (Montreal soon!)
179 posts, read 663,706 times
Reputation: 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cavaturaccioli View Post
And?
And what? I said in the beginning of my reply that I haven't read the book nor am I aware of case. I'm not following it since for me it isn't big news (like it is a big scandal for Americans)

Do you want me to make something up?
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Old 03-13-2012, 09:20 AM
 
Location: Mexico City (Montreal soon!)
179 posts, read 663,706 times
Reputation: 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cavaturaccioli View Post
No one has the right to not be offended. NO ONE.
And you say this based on what? Where are your sources? Merely writing with Caps Lock ON doesn't cut it.

I'd argue it's quite the opposite, No one should be subject to discrimination or offensive language. Why are you so adamant on defending someone's fundamental right to "insult and offend others"?
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Old 03-13-2012, 09:30 AM
 
Location: Staten Island, NY
6,480 posts, read 6,218,245 times
Reputation: 6960
Quote:
Originally Posted by MexiQuebecois View Post
And what? I said in the beginning of my reply that I haven't read the book nor am I aware of case. I'm not following it since for me it isn't big news (like it is a big scandal for Americans)

Do you want me to make something up?
First, it is no scandal down here, much less a big one. It hardly made the ripple it should have done when the story broke. My point is that speech -short of speech inciting an imminent threat to safety- harms no one in any way save feelings. We each of us hear speech that offends us almost every day (on CD alone); if we want our rights protected we are obliged to respect that self-same rights in others. Even when they say something just dreadful.
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Old 03-13-2012, 09:36 AM
 
Location: Staten Island, NY
6,480 posts, read 6,218,245 times
Reputation: 6960
Quote:
Originally Posted by MexiQuebecois View Post
And you say this based on what? Where are your sources? Merely writing with Caps Lock ON doesn't cut it.

I'd argue it's quite the opposite, No one should be subject to discrimination or offensive language. Why are you so adamant on defending someone's fundamental right to "insult and offend others"?
Because government has no right to determine what is or isn't insulting or offensive, much less the right to sanction speech it deems so with force. The fact is that some people deserve to be insulted. Sometimes it's the government itself that must bear 'offensive' speech and be insulted. It we permit government to determine what is or isn't off limits, we may as well say that government has the right to ban speech criticizing the government itself.

That way lies tyranny.

The cure for bad speech is more speech, not less speech. People themselves can determine what speech suits their own consciences. If we are to remain a People with a government as opposed to a Governemt with a people we must never surrender to government our Right to express our minds as we see fit.
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Old 03-13-2012, 10:53 AM
 
Location: Lethbridge, AB
1,132 posts, read 1,657,429 times
Reputation: 974
Quote:
Originally Posted by netwit View Post
This is a good link which addresses many, if not all of your arguments. A brief quote from the lengthier article:..."

... I would also take issue with your use of the word 'unreasonable' with regards to women's rights, racial and gay rights, etc. They were controversial but they were not unreasonable, in that those groups asking for their rights as citizens did not infringe on anyone else's citizenship rights or calling for the deaths of their opponents.
You're defining unreasonable based solely on your perception of what's good and right. Bear in mind that in the eras where those movements occurred, most people would have disagreed with you.

And that's my point. Those people were wrong, but had free exchange of ideas not been allowed, regardless of the validity of the idea, then those good ones would never have been expressed either and we'd still be living with those wrong ideas.

Either we decide that we, as a society, are perfect, and that debate isn't necessary, or we open debate and accept that some really terrible ideas will be brought forward along with the good ones.

Would you call Malcolm X's call for segregation and black supremacy controversial, but not unreasonable?

As for the hate crime stuff, it is arbitrary. We've taken things that were already criminalized and added the motive of "hatred" to them. How do you quantify hatred?
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