First Amendment Discussion Thread (Freedom of speech/expression)

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

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

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

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

  • Speech and expression should be heavily regulated and limited.

  • Other (please specify)


Results are only viewable after voting.
5,051
Netherlands
Netherlands
So just what would be a rigorous definition of "hate speech" then? For that matter, how about a rigorous definition of race?



Oh come now. Surely you already know the answer to that question.

It was a genuine question. I dont know if/how hatespeech is defined in US law as it is in some other countries.
 
22,377
United States
Here to Eternity
TexRex72
Oh come now. Surely you already know the answer to that question.
Do you? Because that response seems an awful lot like what one might say when they don't have an answer to a question but they want to respond anyway, and even though it's not framed quite as a question, it effectively is one ("Don't you already know the answer to that question?").

I would say that the First Amendment, insofar as it addresses free speech, is pretty absolute, as it applies specifically to Congress (and was later, appropriately, applied to individual state law).

What's more, I'd suggest that it (at least the bit about free speech) leaves much less up to interpretation than...say...the Second Amendment. But that doesn't eliminate confusion.

It seems far too many assume the First Amendment protects them from all reprisals for the stupid things they say, but it doesn't; say something stupid enough and your employment just might be terminated without any protection whatsoever from the document.
Aaaaand it's resentment over that fact that led to the rise of "political correctness" (which is to say invocations of such) in the early '90s; people trying to attribute penalties for the stupid things they say, penalties not levied by federal or state government, to political agenda (typically left-leaning) in an effort to assert First Amendment rights when they have none.

Things get a little murky when it comes to freedom of protest. Did you know that children can't actually be forced to recite the pledge of allegiance in public school? A child has every right to sit quietly (being vocally or physically disruptive in class is itself subject to disciplinary action) while others participate, but it doesn't always play out that way; in some states, a parent must provide written permission exempting their child from this activity prior to their child not participating, and any act of the child excluding themselves from this activity prior to written permission being submitted, even if that permission is ultimately submitted, is subject to disciplinary action, and that disciplinary action may be carried out even after permission is submitted, for acts committed prior to that submission.

Murkier still is the Establishment Clause, and you see that murky water flooding through state government RIGHT NOW as this abortion madness plays out, with those who hold so dear their religious freedoms protected by the word showing rank contempt for the other side of that very same word.

So now I ask you, @BobK, is the First Amendment absolute? "Surely you already know the answer to that question."
 

BobK

Premium
6,993
United States
Massachusetts, USA
It was a genuine question. I dont know if/how hatespeech is defined in US law as it is in some other countries.

Fair enough. The courts have exstablished that no, it is not absolute. For instance, "freedom of speech" is not a defense against slander or libel. I thought you were aware of that, hence my comment.

As for "hate speech" so far as I am aware there is no formal legal definition which I see as one of the problems with trying to restrict it.

So now I ask you, @BobK, is the First Amendment absolute? "Surely you already know the answer to that question."

No.
 
22,377
United States
Here to Eternity
TexRex72
And why is someone expected to know this? It is the Constitution, after all.

[Edit] And what of the word? "Congress shall make no law" clearly indicates that it's Congress to which the amendment applies, and it makes no ruling for private bodies. That strikes me as absolute. Does it not you?
 
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20,678
TenEightyOne
TenEightyOne
It isn’t. US has no laws regarding hate speech, unfortunately.

That's not strictly true, it's just that no law stands directly against the 1st Amendment in prohibiting people from saying what they want to say. There are plenty of precedents for governing consequence of speech, so taken all-in-all there is legal oversight of "hate" speech (or any other speech that a given State or organisation finds unacceptable).

For example, if I wanted to say that John A. Doe is a big turd who stole all of my money and pissed onto my cat then, if I were an American citizen, I would be free to do so. I wouldn't be free of the consequence of that action in law.
 
5,051
Netherlands
Netherlands
That's not strictly true, it's just that no law stands directly against the 1st Amendment in prohibiting people from saying what they want to say. There are plenty of precedents for governing consequence of speech, so taken all-in-all there is legal oversight of "hate" speech (or any other speech that a given State or organisation finds unacceptable).

For example, if I wanted to say that John A. Doe is a big turd who stole all of my money and pissed onto my cat then, if I were an American citizen, I would be free to do so. I wouldn't be free of the consequence of that action in law.

How is slander or defimation defined, especially in relation to the 1st amendment?
 
22,377
United States
Here to Eternity
TexRex72
How is slander or defimation defined,
20190629_080455.png


especially in relation to the 1st amendment?
It's not, but that isn't to say that no legal action can be taken against an entity (be it an individual speaking only for themselves, an individual speaking for a group or individuals speaking as a group) for the things they say.
 
5,051
Netherlands
Netherlands
View attachment 832046


It's not, but that isn't to say that no legal action can be taken against an entity (be it an individual speaking only for themselves, an individual speaking for a group or individuals speaking as a group) for the things they say.

Sorry I wasnt clear. I meant in US law.

edit: It seems there is a large obvious loophole in the first amendment. So how is the first amendment countered in law, when it comes to defamation, slander etc.?
 
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22,377
United States
Here to Eternity
TexRex72
Sorry I wasnt clear. I meant in US law.

edit: It seems there is a large obvious loophole in the first amendment. So how is the first amendment countered in law, when it comes to defamation, slander etc.?
"Congress* shall make no law..."

The First Amendment was written to establish limits to what Congress* can do, not people. The First Amendment is not a protection against consequences of speech.

*Later expanded to be applied to the State, appropriately.
 

GranTurNismo

Resident Car Nerd
Premium
2,892
United States
Elizabeth, New Jersey, USA
I've noticed eight members voted for the first option of the poll, which is "All types of speech and expression should be legal, no exceptions". Out of curiosity, why did you pick this? Not that it's an invalid or inherently problematic choice, but if you didn't realize this already, you're essentially disagreeing with the first amendment, to the same extent that I disagree with it. So, why should speech that incites violence (e.x. publicly calling for the death of someone or a certain group of people) be legal, which it isn't right now?
 
20,678
TenEightyOne
TenEightyOne
So, why should speech that incites violence (e.x. publicly calling for the death of someone or a certain group of people) be legal, which it isn't right now?

If I've learnt anything from the internet it's that it has to be the right people :D
 
9,401
Australia
Western Sydney
mustafur
I've noticed eight members voted for the first option of the poll, which is "All types of speech and expression should be legal, no exceptions". Out of curiosity, why did you pick this? Not that it's an invalid or inherently problematic choice, but if you didn't realize this already, you're essentially disagreeing with the first amendment, to the same extent that I disagree with it. So, why should speech that incites violence (e.x. publicly calling for the death of someone or a certain group of people) be legal, which it isn't right now?
It's possible they got confused on the question because they are probably not American.
 

GranTurNismo

Resident Car Nerd
Premium
2,892
United States
Elizabeth, New Jersey, USA
It's possible they got confused on the question because they are probably not American.
For some members that would probably be true, though there were other members who voted that option who are Americans...
 

Dennisch

Humongous member
Premium
28,708
Netherlands
Hilversum
Dennisch
Well, I was too quick with voting, I normally would vote option 2, but the finger was quicker than the mind.
 
20,678
TenEightyOne
TenEightyOne
I had to vote (1) because there's no option for "Should all speech be legal regardless of the consequences?". Because that's the option I would have chosen. Anybody should be free to say what they like (or represent whatever message they like in cases of representing third parties), but that doesn't mean they should be free from consequence.
 
1,268
United Kingdom
United Kingdom
I had to vote (1) because there's no option for "Should all speech be legal regardless of the consequences?". Because that's the option I would have chosen. Anybody should be free to say what they like (or represent whatever message they like in cases of representing third parties), but that doesn't mean they should be free from consequence.
Everyone IS free to say what they like. Unless you physically gag someone, we can all say whatever we choose.

Freedom of speech is all about consequence. No consequence = 100% freedom of speech. 100% freedom of speech without consequence can never exist however, and nor should it.
 
12,233
Australia
Adelaide
GTP_Imari
I had to vote (1) because there's no option for "Should all speech be legal regardless of the consequences?". Because that's the option I would have chosen. Anybody should be free to say what they like (or represent whatever message they like in cases of representing third parties), but that doesn't mean they should be free from consequence.

Isn't that sort of what illegal means though? Criminal law is mostly just a defined set of consequences for an action.
 

zzz_pt

Premium
8,125
Germany
Porto living in Hamburg
zzz_pt
I've noticed eight members voted for the first option of the poll, which is "All types of speech and expression should be legal, no exceptions". Out of curiosity, why did you pick this? Not that it's an invalid or inherently problematic choice, but if you didn't realize this already, you're essentially disagreeing with the first amendment, to the same extent that I disagree with it. So, why should speech that incites violence (e.x. publicly calling for the death of someone or a certain group of people) be legal, which it isn't right now?

I think in the case of shouting "bomb!" or "fire!" in a crowded theater, the illegally stems from the possible grave consequences to other people (who don't know the one shouting it is trolling, dunk or both).

I think it works more as a deterrent than as a punishment for the particular words coming out of someone's mouth. Usually the person shouting wouldn't be the one being trampled I imagine.

It could also be impossible to catch the person, if it's in the middle of a dark cinema room for instance.

I can imagine a situation where someone screams "I don't have a bomb!" and the consequence is just the same as "I have a bomb!"
 
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Danoff

Who is John Galt?
Premium
30,416
United States
Mile High City
I've noticed eight members voted for the first option of the poll, which is "All types of speech and expression should be legal, no exceptions". Out of curiosity, why did you pick this? Not that it's an invalid or inherently problematic choice, but if you didn't realize this already, you're essentially disagreeing with the first amendment, to the same extent that I disagree with it. So, why should speech that incites violence (e.x. publicly calling for the death of someone or a certain group of people) be legal, which it isn't right now?

It's really hard to pin down exactly what you think is speech and expression. Is graffiti speech? Sortof! But actually it's vandalism. Is a threat speech? Sortof! But actually it's the use of force. Is an appeal to a crowd to lynch a person speech? Sortof! But actually it's conspiracy with others to use force. Is telling someone you'll pay them $10,000 to kill your grandmother speech? Is pointing a gun at someone speech (via self expression through body movements)? Is swinging your first at someone's head and missing on purpose speech? How about missing accidentally? How about not missing?

Speech is not really it's own class of human behavior. Certainly not spoken language, given that language can be written down, or communicated via hand gestures. But also other forms of expression like walking, wearing clothing, pointing something at someone, holding up a noose, making a painting, placing a bag of flaming dog poop, promising to do something, signing a contract, assaulting someone (minus the battery), and assaulting someone (with the battery).

You should be free to express yourself as long as that expression does not infringe the rights of others, just like you should be free to move, and build, and enter into contracts, and labor as long as that movement, building, contract and labor does not infringe the rights of others.

If you point a gun at someone and say "give me your money or I'll shoot", I don't think any of us would doubt that you are using force against that person to deprive them of their property, even though you have not shot them. If you don't point a gun at someone but instead say "give me your money or I'll shoot", you're doing exactly the same thing. The presentation of the gun is only demonstrating credibility.

If that's illegal (telling someone you'll shoot them unless they give you their money), is that curtailing freedom of speech and expression? Depends on what you consider to be speech and expression.

When you attempt to force someone with speech or expression, you are using force and violating the rights of others. Speech, expression, movement... these are the only tools we have that can be used to violate the rights of others.

I think when someone says "all types of speech and expression should be legal, no exceptions", they mean all types which are not using force against their fellow man. When someone says "all types of painting should be legal, no exceptions", they're probably not including painting graffiti on someone's house. When someone says "human beings should be free to move as they see fit", they don't mean to move their car over a pedestrian. When someone says "human beings should be free to enter into contracts as they see fit, no exceptions" they don't mean a contract to murder an innocent person.

As with anything, freedom ends where it infringes on the rights of others.
 
1,971
United States
Seattle, WA
You seem to be very close-minded about this topic. Why can't it be? An explanation would be worthy.

I am closed minded about this topic because:

1. I oppose censorship in all forms.
2. We do not need thought police or a social credit system like they have in China.
3. Allowing censorship, basically the removal of free speech, brings us one step closer to becoming a communist state.

It may sound innocent, even virtuous in your mind, removing "hate speech" and all of that garbage. The truth is... it is anything but those things. I would like to invite you to read this NY Times Article about what is happening in China right now to Muslims. After you are done reading it, let me know if you still support your same positions.

China Is Detaining Muslims in Vast Numbers. The Goal: ‘Transformation.’ -
By Chris Buckley


Sept. 8, 2018

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/08/world/asia/china-uighur-muslim-detention-camp.html

This is hands down one of the scariest things I have ever read, and to think it could happen here in the US used to be unfathomable, but every day it seems more and more like it could become a reality.
 
20,678
TenEightyOne
TenEightyOne
3. Allowing censorship, basically the removal of free speech, brings us one step closer to becoming a communist state.

Some censorship is surely allowed for the operation of an open and civil society? How should that work on this forum? Should you be able to post what you like or should the mods/admins/site owner be able to censor your posts (as per your agreement with them) in order to protect the forum's right of speech?