First Amendment Discussion Thread (Freedom of speech/expression)

Discussion in 'Opinions & Current Events' started by GranTurNismo, Jun 25, 2019.

?

What is your opinion on free speech and freedom of expression?

  1. All types of speech and expression should be legal, no exceptions.

  2. All speech and expression should be legal, but not which that is threatening to others (current 1A)

  3. Most speech should be legal, but there should be guidelines which define illegal hate speech.

  4. Speech and expression should be heavily regulated and limited.

  5. Other (please specify)

Results are only viewable after voting.
  1. GranTurNismo

    GranTurNismo Premium

    Messages:
    267
    Location:
    United States
    The First Amendment in the United States, strictly defined as "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances" is a subject matter which has sparked controversy in the US since the election of Trump, which merits discussion. In short, 1A grants freedom of all speech and expression, so long that it does not incite violence or threaten one's safety. The issue with this premise is, it allows hateful speech and expression to thrive, as hate speech is, from a legal standpoint, non-existent the US, in the sense that bigoted and hateful rhetoric can go without punishment. Examples of unarguably hateful speech and expression would be the N-word, Swastikas/Nazi propaganda, Confederate Flag, and other slurs directed to racial minorities, religious minorities, and the LGBT community. Matter of fact, a new study from the Washington Post estimates that up to 40% of college students in the US oppose the first amendment, which is far higher than ever recorded in history.

    My position on 1A (freedom of speech/expression) is simple. It should be abolished, just like 2A (right to own a firearm). Why? Because it not only allows, but justifies and protects, extremely harmful and bigoted types of speech/expression which dehumanizes marginalized people, most specifically African Americans, Jews, Muslims, and those of the LGBT community. Yes, because of 1A, Americans can go out in the streets chanting the N-Word, wave swastikas, and tell LGBT people that they aren't worthy of humanity, all because it's supposedly "not inciting violence or threatening". And this is more of a problem than ever right now, as President Trump emboldens hateful and oppressive rhetoric, extremist groups take to the streets to promote Nazism and openly racist/homophobic causes. These types of people are louder and more empowered than they've been since Jim Crow. These types of people attend LGBT pride marches with swastikas, and BLM rallies with confederate flags and shout the N-word, it has happened just a week ago or two. Though it is allowed under 1A, this type of speech/expression is immoral and oppressive, and simply should be illegal. To me, if you are truly an ally towards people of color, religious minorities, and LGBT individuals, then you would acknowledge that 1A is threatening to these groups and should be repealed, or drastically modified in the very least, so that these peoples are protected from hate speech and expression.

    What is the solution? A clearly defined list of hate speech and expression should be established. A large issue is, people debate what constitutes hate speech and hateful expression and cannot reach a consensus, which is why 1A has been in place for so many years and has not be replaced. The reason why hate speech in the US is still perfectly legal. Therefore, here is a simplified guideline which defines what is hate, and should be illegal. The punishment system would be this; those caught using hate speech would at first be given fines; serial offenders would eventually be arrested for a misdemeanor hate crime. This system would be similar to the ticket system for drivers; first you get a ticket and have to pay a small amount of money; if you get too many tickets, you'd be arrested for traffic violation, etc. You see the point.
    • Speech which incites violence and overtly threatens ones safety (already illegal in the US).
    • Speech and propaganda, which emboldens and promotes undeniably hateful ideologies such as Neo-Nazism, Ku Klux Klan, etc.
    • Racial slurs.
    • Religious slurs.
    • Homophobic slurs.
    If other types of speech/expression should be added to these guidelines, feel free to add them to the thread.

    However, this important distinction should be made. These types of speech/expression only constitute as a hate crime if they are perpetrated IN PUBLIC ONLY. One who uses the N-Word or flies a Nazi flag in their home should (reluctantly) not face criminal punishment, though one who uses the N-Word to a black person or flies the Nazi Flag in the street therefore would be punishable. If one says the N-Word, for example, under their breath in public, would not be punished, though one who walks up to a black person and calls them that slur, most definitely should be. Point is, laws regarding this should be flexible and situational.

    The goal of hateful speech/expression being banned (restricted 1A) is simple: to protect the marginalized from hate. If people are no longer allowed to openly voice their bigoted views, than marginalized people would likely be more inclined to voice their opinions as they would not have to worry about being ridiculed and shut down by bigoted people. This is the type of America we should be striving for.

    As the current state of freedom of speech/expression is heavily disputed, I encourage you to voice your opinion on these matters and engage in some thoughtful discourse. Lets get the ball rolling!
     
  2. Dotini

    Dotini Premium

    Messages:
    11,531
    Location:
    United States
    Personally, I do not practice hate speech of any kind and stay far away from those that do. However, I see two big immediate problems for the idea of legally banning hate speech as you suggest.

    1) Amending the Constitution is a big and very difficult process.

    The Constitution provides that an amendment may be proposed either by the Congress with a two-thirds majority vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate or by a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of the State legislatures. The Constitution provides that an amendment may be proposed either by the Congress with a two-thirds majority vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate or by a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of the State legislatures. A proposed amendment becomes part of the Constitution as soon as it is ratified by three-fourths of the States (38 of 50 States)​


    2) Justices of the Supreme Court have already considered and rejected the idea.
    From the Wikipedia article, "Freedom for the Thought that We Hate":

    Justice Stevens recounted Lewis' argument that an acceptance of hate speech is necessary, because attempts to regulate it would cause encroachment upon expression of controversial viewpoints.[17] He pointed out that Lewis and Waldron agreed that Americans have more freedom of speech than citizens of any other country.[17] In his review, Stevens cited the 2011 decision in Snyder v. Phelps as evidence that the majority of the U.S. Supreme Court supported the right of the people to express hateful views on matters of public importance.[17] Stevens concluded that, although Waldron was unsuccessful in convincing him that legislators should ban all hate speech, The Harm in Hate Speech persuaded him that government leaders should refrain from using such language themselves.[17]
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_for_the_Thought_That_We_Hate

     
    Xavier2342 and Groundfish like this.
  3. ryzno

    ryzno Premium

    Messages:
    4,050
    Location:
    United States
    That they can, people also run around the streets calling Trump supporters every name in the book or assaulting them... Language warning even though its bleeped...

    I personally think everyone should grow a pair and move on. There are always going to be idiots saying stupid crap, wearing a shirt someone doesn't like or flying a flag someone doesn't like. Do we need to clog our already overflowing prison system with people that haven't done anything except open their mouth or wear a hat or hold a sign cause someone doesn't like what it says?
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2019
    Johnnypenso and Jawehawk like this.
  4. Dennisch

    Dennisch Premium

    Messages:
    26,130
    Location:
    Netherlands
    If you start banning speech, you'll end up controlling everything what people say.
    And I'm pretty sure that that is fascism.


    Edit.

    Who gets to decide what qualifies as hate speech? If you take the big brains of GTP, you have free speech. If you take the blue haired wonders of tumblr, you get Italy in the 1930's.
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2019
  5. Famine

    Famine Administrator

    Messages:
    65,578
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    You just created a law that treats people differently based on the colour of their skin.
     
    zzz_pt, Blood Eagle and Johnnypenso like this.
  6. Exorcet

    Exorcet

    Messages:
    6,994
    It is the type of America we should be striving for, but how we do it matters. Free speech should not be curtailed. Challenge the people who lie or are ignorant and lend your assistance to those who you think deserve it. We don't need to force people to conform to a specific way of life to achieve equality.
     
  7. Danoff

    Danoff Premium

    Messages:
    24,656
    Location:
    United States


    Edit:

    Updated the video to the full version


    Edit:

    I had to stop what I was doing and re-watch that. Man he was so good. Spellbinding.
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2019
  8. BobK

    BobK Premium

    Messages:
    6,541
    One major issue is how would "hate speech" be defined, and who would do the defining? Consider that a number of words today are proscribe3d but were considered normal expressions only a few decades ago. What words in common usage today will be considered "hate speech" in the future?

    Mark Twain's Adventure of Huckleberry Finn is considered one of the Great American Novels, but it is it is virtually banned today because of liberal usage of a single word. At no time in the book was the word used in a derogatory manner, yet its existence is sufficient to have the book condemned.
     
    zzz_pt and ryzno like this.
  9. HenrySwanson

    HenrySwanson

    Messages:
    391
    Stick around here long enough and you'll probably change your mind!

    It's a noble intention to restrict "hate speech" but the argument for it is usually found out to be flawed.
     
  10. Daz555

    Daz555

    Messages:
    535
    Speech cannot be completely free because as soon as you get to the edge cases it becomes clear that total freedom to say what you like, when you like, is dangerous and unworkable.

    Shout FIRE FIRE FIRE for a joke in a crowded space and watch as someone is crushed to death in the panic. That 'joker' is going to jail.
     
    kembro likes this.
  11. TexRex

    TexRex Premium

    Messages:
    12,875
    Location:
    United States
    Consequences; freedom from which the First Amendment does not guarantee.
     
  12. Famine

    Famine Administrator

    Messages:
    65,578
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    ... for the consequences, not for the speech - likely manslaughter (an action taken knowing that it could result in death or injury resulting in death or injury). If nobody panicked, nobody would have been crushed; the speech is not the offence.
     
    TexRex, Blitz24 and zzz_pt like this.
  13. Danoff

    Danoff Premium

    Messages:
    24,656
    Location:
    United States
    Check out how it plays out in the first moments of that video that I just posted literally 3 posts above yours.
     
    ryzno likes this.
  14. zzz_pt

    zzz_pt Premium

    Messages:
    7,513
    Location:
    Portugal
    @Danoff That's my favorite video on this subject and I agree with it 100%.

    I have so many questions after reading the OP though.

    But the most important are:

    1) If, as you correctly said "people debate what constitutes hate speech and hateful expression and cannot reach a consensus", who do you think should have or has the moral high ground and the knowledge to decide what's hate speech and what's not, what's a hateful ideology and what's not? On what grounds?

    2) What other country in your opinion has the best solution and why?

    3) Can a white homeless man be considered maginalized? Would it be hate speech if a non-white person called him a racial slur in public? I'm asking because you seem to focus more on the grups than on the individuals, regardless of their backgrounds or appearence. What if it was not a racial slur but just a bunch of expletives, expressed in rage? Would that be OK?


    PS: I'm not an american citizen but I do like the 1A of the US Constitution.
     
  15. TexRex

    TexRex Premium

    Messages:
    12,875
    Location:
    United States
    I mean...just...yes! You don't eliminate bigotry by punishing it but by getting to the root of what started it, which, to my mind, most often tends to be misunderstanding and fear. Once you eliminate that misunderstanding, that fear, you create an environment in which that bigotry has little opportunity to survive, thrive and spread.

    So, I've had to stop it at about the halfway point--he's just spoken of Sir Thomas More--and I intend to finish it when I get the opportunity, but I want to address the one thing with which I've taken issue before I do, to get it out now for consideration and discussion, and that's the apparent (at least to me) implication that the commonly-held belief is the most convenient and anyone who dissents does so only after considerable thought. Especially now, when contrary views are so easy to encounter through social media, I think dissenters are often (which isn't to say "most often", though I imagine the percentage would be noteworthy) merely contrarians for the sake of it, or at the very least hold contrary beliefs because what's commonly held isn't convenient for them.
     
  16. DDastardly00

    DDastardly00

    Messages:
    1,839
    Location:
    United States
    No, let's not.

    This new groupthink attempt at censoring certain viewpoints within the USA is reminiscent of what the Nazi party did in 1937 under the direction of Dr. Joseph Goebbels and it lead to the Holocaust. Would you like another holocaust to occur? Do you like fascism? Because that is where this leads, is that really what you want?

    Sound familiar? Hollywood, Big Tech companies and the Media are largely already doing this, look at the Veritas Google story....Look censorship has been tried and had disastrous results, we need to learn from history not repeat it. If anything is the answer here, it's education not censorship. Racism and bigotry are things that are taught, these ideologies can be corrected and someday, hopefully eliminated though education.

    Look, there are very few things I would take up arms for (I'm pacifist) but this is one of them. I would fight and I would die to protect freedom of speech and expression from those who would attempt to take it away so callously in the name of 'helping' the marginalized few. Too many of our forefathers fought and died to protect our basic freedoms to let those who would do so, attempt to undermine our basic rights in the guise of outlawing "hate speech". This topic sucks, sorry if that comes off strong, but obviously I feel very strongly about the First Amendment and I'm going to say exactly what I think about any attempt made to alter the very identity this nation was founded on.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2019
  17. Danoff

    Danoff Premium

    Messages:
    24,656
    Location:
    United States
    Hitchens says what the contrarian has to say "must have taken him some effort to come up with, might contain a grain of historical truth, might give people to think about why they know what they already know". And he talks about it being instructive to visit "first principles", especially when confronted by a flat earthers and anit-evolutionists. He's driving at two points. One, that it is actually slightly more difficult (let's call it effort anyway, it might be more convenient in certain circumstances) to go against what everyone is telling you. I think that's almost unquestionably true. It is less work to accept what you are told than to question it or to put forth an alternative, no matter how crackpot that alternative is. And two, that when people do go through that kind of gyration, you need to have thought through your own position well enough to have a response (which is possibly more work still).

    I think these are good messages. He's not a flat earther or an intelligent design guy (quite the contrary). But he's saying that it does take some effort to maintain those positions in spite of the rest of the world moving on, and it's important to question yourself if only to make sure that you're not being misled because... and he makes this point... you cannot hide behind consensus.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2019
    TexRex likes this.
  18. TexRex

    TexRex Premium

    Messages:
    12,875
    Location:
    United States
    The ball is rolling, and it seems to be rolling very much away from the sentiment espoused in the OP. The desire you've expressed, which is to not have that ball roll at all, isn't in the spirit of discussion and is at odds with your claims of support for free speech.
     
  19. Danoff

    Danoff Premium

    Messages:
    24,656
    Location:
    United States
    [​IMG]
     
  20. DDastardly00

    DDastardly00

    Messages:
    1,839
    Location:
    United States
    Altering the First Amendment is a non-starter, you can talk about it all you like.
     
    Groundfish likes this.
  21. Blitz24

    Blitz24 Premium

    Messages:
    14,416
    Location:
    United States
    We should alter the second amendment though so people understand that they are supposed to have bears in their arms.
     
  22. TexRex

    TexRex Premium

    Messages:
    12,875
    Location:
    United States
    Okay, yes, absolutely. Dissent is definitely more difficult than blind acceptance or even acquiescence, and conventional wisdom should always be subjected to critical thinking, but my argument is that it isn't always critical thinking that leads to dissent.
     
    Danoff and UKMikey like this.
  23. zzz_pt

    zzz_pt Premium

    Messages:
    7,513
    Location:
    Portugal
    There are a lot of trolls on the internet and social media. Outrage also brings clicks / money so we've seen a rise in unpopular opinions (not hateful, but that's one form of dissent) in the last 3-5 years.

    But when Hitchens made that speech we didn't live in today's world and he was talking more about public and face to face confrontation / dissent - not virtual / anonymous.
     
    DK and TexRex like this.
  24. GranTurNismo

    GranTurNismo Premium

    Messages:
    267
    Location:
    United States
    Thing is, Nazi propaganda, white supremacy, and overt homophobia is beyond a controversial viewpoint, it's flat-out hatred. "Controversial views" would be supporting a vexed politician such as Trump or Pete Buttigieg, for example, rather than hate speech. Or believing that the earth is flat, or that vaccines are bad, or that God is real, or that a pig can fly, etc. There is a clear distinction here.

    Easier said than done. It's way easier for a white man to brush off being called "cracker" than it is for an LGBT person to brush off being told that they shouldn't exist, as the former is not a marginalized person. Hateful speech has decimated the LGBT community to the point that many of those individuals are afraid to come out and represent their true identity, fearing that they will fall victim to the bigoted. You're not wrong when you say that there "are always going to be idiots saying stupid crap" but the least we could do is try to lessen it.

    It's not fascism when the point of banning HATE speech and expression, not CONTROVERSIAL speech, is to reduce bigotry and protect the marginalized. As to who gets to decide what is hate speech, it would be the marginalized. These types of people would define the types of hatred that they receive (Anti-semitism, racism, homophobia, Islamophobia, etc). And please don't lump me in with those so-called blue-haired tumblr "activists".

    Well to be fair, since you've brought up race, almost all victims of racially motivated bigotry are nonwhite. There are far more legitimate slurs and flags which dehumanize and oppress Black people, for example, than there are for whites. This type of policy would seek to protect people of color, rather than be discriminatory towards whites, which it isn't.

    Because the word in question was not used in a derogatory manner, as you mention, this book should not be banned. Context still matters. That being said, it should be left out of school curriculums, as the frequent presence of the word can render frightening to the race that word affects. Plus, it's common sense that swear words should be left out of schools.

    Fair point. So, enlighten me. Is it possible to and argument which advocates defining and banning hate speech, without being flawed. What specifically is flawed about my own argument?

    To address your first question, to my knowledge, Germany has banned any public displays of Nazism and Anti-Semitism to protect the Jewish Community, and Sweden restricts Islamophobic speech. That's definitely a start. It's pretty hard to argue against these policies.

    Yes, a white male who is homeless would be considered marginalized to a certain degree. He is marginalized due to his poverty, lack of shelter, and further marginalized if he also happens to be disabled. That being said, his race or gender does not marginalize him, unlike many victims of hate speech. Also, what racial slurs could be directed at him in your view? And no, "cracker" is not a racial slur, rather a slang term.

    A bunch of hateful expletives yelled in rage, not at a certain individual, would likely not be unlawful, but it is situational. No situation is clear cut.

    Why not? This is clearly a controversial topic and there are many varying viewpoints here. Hopefully, we can reach a consensus on hate speech through thoughtful discourse. If you do not wish to contribute, than I invite you to not complain.

    You seem to be very close-minded about this topic. Why can't it be? An explanation would be worthy.
     
  25. TexRex

    TexRex Premium

    Messages:
    12,875
    Location:
    United States
    Decimated? Not even the "Lavender Scare" managed that.

    Newsflash: governments do stupid things.

    And I have the nagging suspicion you're about to discover it isn't all that difficult to argue against those sorts of policies.
     
  26. ryzno

    ryzno Premium

    Messages:
    4,050
    Location:
    United States
    Haaa! I'm sorry you've lost me on this bombshell...
     
  27. GranTurNismo

    GranTurNismo Premium

    Messages:
    267
    Location:
    United States
    Maybe that wasn't the word to use, but hopefully you saw my point. Hate speech/expression has negatively impacted the LGBT community, and it's happening more than ever now.

    Hopefully I can regain you with this explanation. Let's compare "cracker" with the obvious slur towards Black people, the n-word. The N-Word's origin was during the era of slavery; slaves were called this word as a slur for not living up to their owners' expectations. It was simply a way to dehumanize these peoples. The n-word does not have the same historical context as cracker. The word "cracker" being used in post-slavery literature written by Black people directed at whites is merely a result of whites enslaving them and oppressing them for centuries, being called the N-Word on the slave fields day in, day out. It's only natural that the oppressed would rebel against their oppressor.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 26, 2019
  28. zzz_pt

    zzz_pt Premium

    Messages:
    7,513
    Location:
    Portugal
    Doesn't seem to work that well, as anti semitism has been on the rise and people use swasticas all the time. You also see a lot of that anti semitism in the streets being voices by Islamic groups, not only german far-right nationalists.

    An article from last month.

    In Sweden the problem is similar, if not worse, because people can't speak freely about problems their communities face. It's been documented. Hate speech laws are a short term solution that brews long term problems.

    So is there a graph / scale supported by investigattion and research? What if he was abused by his mother as a kid? What if he has suicidal tendencies? Or only external, physical, visible characteristics count?

    What if HE disagrees and files a complaint for hate speech? By the same token, what if you an Asian person calls a black person a "n-word" in public but the black person ignores it and gets on with his/her life? Is anyone listening witnessing a hate crime? Should they file a complain for someone else who didn't care?

    I'm talking about directing it at an individual, instead of a racial slur, a bunch of expletives in a loud voice, in public.

    That idea flies in the face of implementing laws for hate speech (because no one agrees on what it is and each person has a different threshold of tolerance for speech).


    Edit: didn't know the "n-word" was censored on GTPlanet
     
  29. Northstar

    Northstar Premium

    Messages:
    20,865
    Location:
    United States
    That must be why they just had a massive Pride Festival in my area that attracted close to 400,000 people.

    I really hate to see these "It's worse than ever!!!" arguments/comments because it just shows a lack of knowledge about the history of what minorities have had to go through in the past (and in the process diminishes their struggles). Granted there is certainly room for improvement, but we are far more accepting of the LGBTQ community than any time in the past.

    I'm curious, what's your stance on African-American's using the n-word? Should they suffer the same punishment as a white person that uses it? And if not, why?

    Also, don't feed the troll, you're better than that. :cheers:
     
    TexRex and zzz_pt like this.
  30. ryzno

    ryzno Premium

    Messages:
    4,050
    Location:
    United States
    All that is true, but we're talking about now, not then. The "n word" is slang when black people use it amongst themselves. If I say the "n word" to a black person, that is racist.
    I've been called "my n word" by black people, I take it as a compliment. I WOULD NEVER say the same in return. I also would not appreciate being called a "cracker". I do find it funny though you have no problem typing out cracker but won't type out the "n word". Funny enough on our docks at work I do have an inside joke where I say "what's up my cracker?" I've also heard jokes like when I had a crapload of cases cheez its, saltines and cereal. Dude said, "Gwinnett already has enough crackers, why you bringing more?" I was not offended and actually found it funny considering Gwinnetts nickname is Gwimexico...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 26, 2019