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Scarbrems


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RE: Why Freedom of speech is so important.
I concur in re: 'why', Craig, and I do agree legislation can only go so far, but it's often the starting point needed, sometimes to overturn prejudicial legislation made by the generation now moaning about 'cancel culture'.

I agree, the current generations are doing rather better, building on the painful process that went before. But I do recognise the danger of simply creating a counter-culture that apes the one it wants to change.

"Why"? Is an interesting question. I have theories, but that's another story.



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lancellot


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RE: Why Freedom of speech is so important.
Message edited:

Okay, Banana. I think our, yours and mine, system in the United States is a fine example of how Free speech should be. The current 1st Amendment protections of the Constitutions as currently interpreted by SCUTUS. Is it perfect? No. But I hope we both can agree it is pretty good, considering it covers over 330 million people.


 


A word of caution: The Colorado wedding cake case is more complicated than what is being stated. I would suggest reading more about it.


Not everything is as simple as: Majority bad, minority good. 




Bananafish308

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RE: Why Freedom of speech is so important.
I do basically agree with your first paragraph, the operative words being: "Is it perfect? No. But I hope we can both agree it is pretty good..."

I was hoping you could give specific examples as to what types of speech you feel aren't protected by the 1st Amendment, but this is a reasonable starting point for what could be a meaningful conversation.

I am in a rush now, but I will hopefully return, as I have much more to say.

I have done extensive research on The Colorado wedding cake case, so I have a pretty good grasp of the relevant facts. It is my understanding that The Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruled against the bakery based on The Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act. The Court of Appeals upheld the decision, but SCOTUS ultimately overturned the judgment. They didn't reverse the ruling based on 1st Amendment rights, though. They did so because they felt that the state (Colorado Civil Rights Commission) showed "religious hostility" toward the bakery, which violated their "obligation of religious neutrality."

Hopefully, much more to come.


CD Richards

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RE: Why Freedom of speech is so important.
With regard to the Colorado wedding cake case, I've read both the majority opinion, penned by Justice Kennedy, and the dissenting opinion, recorded by Justice Ginsberg.

I found one of these to be verbose and rambling, the other succinct and logical. I think Justice Ginsberg did well to point out the superficiality of the majority SCOTUS opinion. They cited alleged unfairness in the approach of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, ignoring the actual facts of the case as addressed at several levels:

"I see no reason why the comments of one or two Commissioners should be taken to overcome Phillips? refusal to sell a wedding cake to [the same-sex couple]. The proceedings involved several layers of independent decisionmaking, of which the Commission was but one. . . ."

To pretend that any level of the legal system, including the highest court in the (any) land, operates in a vacuum is naive in the extreme. It is as plain as the nose on your face that the conclusion reached by the majority of SCOTUS judges in this case was dictated by their religious and ideological biases, as no doubt was that of the Civil Rights Commission, and Justice Ginsberg.

Laws, like scriptures, are subject to interpretation by fallible and opinionated humans, based on values dictated by their own prejudices. That's one reason why I've stated previously here that the power of laws to create a desirable society are limited. That's not to say laws are unnecessary, of course they are essential, but it is only in the thoughts and actions of individuals that there is any real possibility for justice, equality, and the things most of us claim to value.

I'm going to attempt to return to the main subject of this thread, which is the protection of "freedom of speech" as exercised by this Scottish street preacher and his followers.

One of the claims in defense of their actions was that they were "only quoting scripture." In the absence of any detail in the report of what this preacher was actually saying, has anyone actually considered which particular verses of scripture he might have been quoting, and what those verses might say?

An examination of what the Christian scriptures (the preacher is identified as such) have to say about same-sex relations might provide a warning to some about the unfettered right to preach what we like about other people.




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lancellot


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RE: Why Freedom of speech is so important.
Sometimes people can agree or find common ground on complex subjects. That is a good thing.

In the US, you generally have freedom of speech, meaning the right to criticize your government, and others (not including slander and libelous statements, calls to violence, which means threats of violence, that is illegal ), without repercussion from the government: federal, state, and local.

Now, your freedom of speech extend to most public areas. They do not extend to private spaces, or businesses. For example. If you want to stand on the sidewalk and protest, you generally can, unless you you're blocking public access and use. That's why you see people who protest in the road (without a permit) be arrested.

Freedom of speech also includes the freedom not speak, and freedom of expression. Like wearing an I hate Trump or Biden shirt in a public library. You can do that, but if you do that your private job, your employer can fire you.

Freedom of Speech also prohibits the government from Compelled speech. This is big one in certain places like NY and California. When they attempted to pass laws forcing or compelling the use of certain pronouns when speaking with a trans or non-binary person. Those laws never went into effect. Why? The 1st Amendment prohibits that. I think Canada passed some form of pronoun compelled speech, or they tried.

Now, offensive speech. Yes, the 1st Amendment protects this too. Mostly because, who defines offense, and you have no legal or constitutional right 'not to be' offended.

Hate Speech: Yes, but more specifically, according to SCUTUS there is no such thing as hate speech. Again, like offensive speech, this is totally subjective.

Hope that answers some things.

CD Richards

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RE: Why Freedom of speech is so important.
Message edited:

Yes, Lancellot, that answers some things, Not all, however. Perhaps you could clarify a couple of things for me:


1. If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them. Leviticus 20:13


Is this, or is it not, what you would consider a "call to violence"? Does it deserve, in your eyes, the protection of free speech laws? For the benefit of those who don't care to take the trouble to find out what this man was saying when he was "only quoting the Bible", not every verse demands the slaughter of those who participate in same-sex relations. Some of them simply call it "detestable" (Leviticus 18:22), "dishonourable", "shameful" and "debased" (Romans 1:26-28), leaving it up to those who agree with the assessment to determine what retribution the Almighty might demand for such crimes, with the solemn assurance that such evildoers will never see heaven (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).


2. From your statements as well as your posting of the video in the first place, it seems clear that you consider it perfectly acceptable, from a legal standpoint, for preachers to accost individuals in the street with messages such as these. I doubt anyone involved in this forum discussion would not uphold the right of individuals to privately hold these beliefs, if they so choose. Do you wish to confirm that, in your opinion, the right of individuals to publicly air these opinions carries more weight than the potential distress and harm to those who are on the receiving end of such messages?


We've all seen what happens when stupid people are given permission to hate. January 6, 2021 was a recent example. The violence perpetrated over decades towards people whose only "crime" is to love the "wrong" person is another example of why hate speech is simply evil, and not to be applauded as it has been here.



Scarbrems


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RE: Why Freedom of speech is so important.
I think Craig's last paragraph raises an important point. The issue with hate speech in a public space is what happens as a result.

Yes, there is legislation in the UK, but honestly, to get pulled up for hate speech alone is actually very rare. The instances I've known about haven't been the odd words shouted, they've been sustained and specific attacks on individuals, usually neighbour disputes where there is a lot more going on. The use of hate speech is only part of it.

In a public space, the police may (if you can find a policeman in the first place, these days) have words with someone whose rhetoric is causing unrest. And it usually would be just a word, probably with the advice to move on. Nobody wants a riot in the high street.

Police tend to develop a feeling of when things are about to kick off. What we don't see in the video is the level of hostility being caused. When things really go bad, and it gets nasty, generally the public are the first to condemn the police for not doing more to stop it before it escalates. It may well be that the area this man was preaching in is known to be volatile.

Whilst I take your point about 'minority good, majority bad', Lance, I would also argue the case in the video isn't as simple as 'just quoting scriptures'. It's not as simple as the words spoken, it's the effect of those words.

A good police officer can 'read' the street. De-escalation is a key part of training (I know this because I know people who have undergone the training). Modern policing isn't just about arresting the people left standing after a brawl.

Because I went off on a tinfoil hat tangent, I didn't bring this up before, but since understanding has been mentioned, it might be worth trying to understand a little more about why hate speech came to be viewed as a crime in the first place. It's easy to imagine it's about removing public freedom when you aren't dealing with increased levels of violence as a result of the things people say.

During the period of time around 9/11, when terrorist attacks were on the rise, there was a lot of ill-feeling here towards a specific group of people. Understandable, you may say, but not terribly fair on Mohammed Bloggs who had absolutely nothing to do with any terrorist activity. Naturally, the ill-feeling didn't stop at words, but that is what it started with. When there's a good chance words are going to end with petrol bombing innocent people's front doors, isn't it a good idea to look at how to prevent things going that far?

At the time when tension was at its highest, how many people do you imagine would have raised objection to similar police action if Mohammed Bloggs stood on the street quoting incendiary passages from the q'ran?

If we know darned well what's likely to happen on the street without intervention, but sit back and do nothing because, y'know, freedom of speech, how does that stand with the 'protect' part of 'to protect and to serve'?

Yes it requires possibly better judgement than used in the video, but we weren't there. A video of a massive brawl in the street which could have been prevented wouldn't have gone over well, either.

Police need the power of prevention to a degree, otherwise all they are there for is to clear up the bodies and dish out the penalities. Hate speech legislation is about prevention based on knowledge of cause and effect.



SimianSavant

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RE: Why Freedom of speech is so important.
Re: I pose this question to both Harambe and Lancelot: Do you believe there should be ANY limits to free speech, or do you feel a person should be able to say whatever they want, whenever they want, regardless of the consequences to others?

No yelling fire in crowded movie theaters. No personal libel. No lying about the number of bananas in a banana plantation investment deal. No specific threats of violence. No solicitation of abuse of children or depictions thereof, in a way sensibly deemed to be exploitative. No putting Chiquita banana labels on plantains.


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lancellot


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RE: Why Freedom of speech is so important.
I understand but this goes back to what I mentioned. Freedom of speech mean different things in different cultures and countries.

In the US, (legally) there is no such thing as hate speech. Here that is mostly something pushed or believe from those on the Liberal or Progressive side of the spectrum.
In the UK, maybe shouting Bible scriptures is a crime. I don't know. It is not here. Our laws are different.

Scarbrems


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RE: Why Freedom of speech is so important.
It's not a crime to quote the Bible, Lancelot, and I know full well you know that. Craig's addressed that. I know it's not a crime because the last time I was at King's Cross, end of last year, somebody was quoting scriptures' with a microphone and the police were notable by their absence. I suspect, however, that had he approached two people of the same gender and called them an abomination unto the Lord for holding hands, someone might have said something.

Yes, different countries have different ideas about 'free speech', but as I have tried to explain, it isn't really about 'speech' here in the UK.

I've yet to see somewhen arrested for using derogatory language alone. There's always more to it than that. If I wanted to walk down the high street tomorrow and randomly shout, 'death to all gays', I expect l wouldn't get more than tuts from passersby assuming I was drunk (fairly likely in Scarborough town centre).

If, however, I systematically hurled abuse of that nature at my neighbour, unprovoked, on a daily basis, the boys in blue might take an interest. At what point does it stop being my 'right' and start being harassment? It's still just words, right?

Similarly, if on a daily basis, I am on the high street quoting very pointed and specific bits of scripture and people are getting upset by it, that's also a form of harassment. A copper might have a word. But unless I got lairy with the copper, a word is what it would be.

Most scripture quoters here are regarded as street entertainment at worst. Nobody takes much notice. So, again, what was this guy doing that got people to take that level of notice? Not enough information, is there? And what did he do when the cops showed up? Maybe all they did was suggest he tone it down and he gave them a lot of lip. I have heard that even in the land of the free, police don't like people getting smart with them.
I have a feeling you have your fair share of over-zealous officers just like we do.

There's a lot we are free to do and say, here. Given that in my own town recently a rally was held by a white supremacist group perfectly legally, I don't think we are that short of places to air our opinions.

If anyone is that desperate to have a public rant about someone else's colour/religion/sexuality, there's always Speakers corner in Hyde park. Anything goes there, because it's designated space.

If I wanted to sit in the pub jawing chatting about those filthy gays to my mates, the armed response unit isn't going to burst through the doors demanding I get down on the ground. I suspect, however, the local Bobby might be round if I start directing my abuse at someone else. Even then probably not, unless the landlord asked me to leave and I didn't.

Yes, hate speech is a recognised crime, but it's far more nuanced and far less of an impingement on free speech than people might think (hence your man in the video not actually being charged with anything).

Apart from anything else, our police force is down to the bare bones. You're lucky if they come out for a bank robbery.

   
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