How free do you want your Free Speak?

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Re: How free do you want your Free Speak?

Postby Brace » Mon Sep 08, 2014 7:58 pm UTC

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Re: How free do you want your Free Speak?

Postby Zamfir » Tue Sep 09, 2014 7:00 am UTC

Derek wrote:I like to point out that the "shouting fire in a theater" example was originally used to defend restrictions on anti-war speech (in World War I). The point being that it is incredibly easy for exceptions like that to be twisted into shutting down legitimate speech.

I think this is misleading. It implies that there was an exception first, which then allowed the government to arrest people with legal cover. While in practice it worked the other way round: judges wanted to give the government legal cover for the arrests, and therefore they made up a figleaf argument.

The analogy between 'calling fire' and 'calling to refuse the draft' is very tortuous. It's not an incredibly easy argument, it's only easy if you're the highest court and no one can overrule your decisions. The difference between the two is exactly the political dimension that free speech is supposed to protect. It's not an argument made to convince people, except those who wanted to be convinced anyway.

The lesson here is not that you should close All The Loopholes in order to be safe. The lesson is that a high court can always find a loophole if they really want to, and if they have enough outside support.

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Re: How free do you want your Free Speak?

Postby BattleMoose » Wed Sep 10, 2014 7:26 am UTC

Zamfir wrote:The lesson here is not that you should close All The Loopholes in order to be safe. The lesson is that a high court can always find a loophole if they really want to, and if they have enough outside support.


I think the first lesson is to start with a bill of rights that carefully elucidates peoples rights to free speech and restrictions on it. In so far as to limit the potential for the highest court to perverse the rights enshrined in the bill of rights.

Secondly greater attention should be paid to the selection of new justices. Having sitting presidents nominate new judges who share their political views is probably not the best way to protect people's rights. Better for the sitting judges to nominate new members from which the political body can select.

Perhaps the third lesson is that the United States Bill of Rights, a document that is over 200 years old, was probably not perfect and was one of the first of its kind. Since then we have gotten progressively better at constructing what a "bill of rights" should be. But the USA is shackled to this dated document that demands freedom of expression as absolute yet has laws which violate it. That's not to say the laws are wrong or bad but having laws that are not consistent with the bill of rights is unacceptable.

An ordinary citizen should be able to appeal to the judicial system when his or her rights are being violated as elucidated within the bill of rights and then the purpose of the judicial system is to make rulings to ensure rights of ordinary citizens are protected. This is the value of having a bill of rights. That it protects ordinary citizens. If it cannot do this then it fails in its core function.

Its problematic that so many laws within the USA violate the bill of rights and/or depend on judicial interpretation. The solution I think should start with reassessing the value sets of the USA and issuing a new bill of rights that reflect those values in such detail to limit perversion of those rights. Now of course I know this isn't going to happen, but that reality isn't going to stop me from thinking that it should happen.

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Re: How free do you want your Free Speak?

Postby leady » Wed Sep 10, 2014 9:09 am UTC

BattleMoose wrote:Secondly greater attention should be paid to the selection of new justices. Having sitting presidents nominate new judges who share their political views is probably not the best way to protect people's rights. Better for the sitting judges to nominate new members from which the political body can select.


How is getting sitting Judges to nominate new members based on their political views any better?

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Re: How free do you want your Free Speak?

Postby BattleMoose » Wed Sep 10, 2014 11:51 am UTC

leady wrote:
BattleMoose wrote:Secondly greater attention should be paid to the selection of new justices. Having sitting presidents nominate new judges who share their political views is probably not the best way to protect people's rights. Better for the sitting judges to nominate new members from which the political body can select.


How is getting sitting Judges to nominate new members based on their political views any better?


I thought it would be extremely obvious that judges tend to be less politically involved than, the president.

And have much less vested interest in the political views of the nominees.

But perhaps mostly its alarming that you assume the nominees will be selected based purely on the political views of the sitting judges.

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Re: How free do you want your Free Speak?

Postby leady » Wed Sep 10, 2014 2:10 pm UTC

Judges are people, not godkings

A conservative bench would select judges that interpret law conservatively and remain conservative

A progressive bench would select judges that interpret law based on wider societal benefits perceived

I suppose the consistency of interpretation might be generally helpful, better? why?

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Re: How free do you want your Free Speak?

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Sep 10, 2014 2:50 pm UTC

BattleMoose wrote:
leady wrote:
BattleMoose wrote:Secondly greater attention should be paid to the selection of new justices. Having sitting presidents nominate new judges who share their political views is probably not the best way to protect people's rights. Better for the sitting judges to nominate new members from which the political body can select.


How is getting sitting Judges to nominate new members based on their political views any better?


I thought it would be extremely obvious that judges tend to be less politically involved than, the president.

And have much less vested interest in the political views of the nominees.

But perhaps mostly its alarming that you assume the nominees will be selected based purely on the political views of the sitting judges.


They are, somewhat. And generally somewhat less subject to short term winds of change.

But...a self policing group with power is usually problematic. What KEEPS them that way when they nominate their own? Sure, judges nominating judges would likely go corrupt slower than say, senators nominating replacement senators, but there would still be a lack of recourse to balance their power.

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Re: How free do you want your Free Speak?

Postby BattleMoose » Wed Sep 10, 2014 4:23 pm UTC

leady wrote:Judges are people, not godkings

A conservative bench would select judges that interpret law conservatively and remain conservative

A progressive bench would select judges that interpret law based on wider societal benefits perceived

I suppose the consistency of interpretation might be generally helpful, better? why?


A republican president will always try and appoint a conservative judge. A democratic president will always try and appoint a more liberal judge. This is worst case scenario for appointments. I would hope and expect that actual judges won't base their appointments solely on politics. But I am sure you will continue with your nirvana fallacy.

But...a self policing group with power is usually problematic. What KEEPS them that way when they nominate their own? Sure, judges nominating judges would likely go corrupt slower than say, senators nominating replacement senators, but there would still be a lack of recourse to balance their power.


They are not self policing. Their powers come from laws, which the politicians have sole dominion on. Its the role of judges to interpret the law. They cannot issue new laws nor are they above the law. And in what ways do you expect them to be corrupt? Acceptance of bribes perhaps? (This is constant between both scenarios so don't see it as a relevant issue) Otherwise their decisions almost universally effect other people.

There is recourse if they break the law. If they behave within the law, then, that's good?

Regardless, the politicians still have to approve the nominations.

But I guess if everyone is happy to have a judge appointment to match the political views of the current president, more power to you then.

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Re: How free do you want your Free Speak?

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Sep 10, 2014 8:04 pm UTC

BattleMoose wrote:
But...a self policing group with power is usually problematic. What KEEPS them that way when they nominate their own? Sure, judges nominating judges would likely go corrupt slower than say, senators nominating replacement senators, but there would still be a lack of recourse to balance their power.


They are not self policing. Their powers come from laws, which the politicians have sole dominion on. Its the role of judges to interpret the law. They cannot issue new laws nor are they above the law. And in what ways do you expect them to be corrupt? Acceptance of bribes perhaps? (This is constant between both scenarios so don't see it as a relevant issue) Otherwise their decisions almost universally effect other people.

There is recourse if they break the law. If they behave within the law, then, that's good?

Regardless, the politicians still have to approve the nominations.

But I guess if everyone is happy to have a judge appointment to match the political views of the current president, more power to you then.


So? If they decide that the latest law passed means "all judges are above the law"(or any other interetation that is incorrect), how are they stopped? All laws are subject to judge's interetations. If they have the last word on literally all law, AND control who gets to be judges, then there is little practical check on their power.

But...if you have politicians approving nominations instead, then that's much like the modern system, and there's fairly little practical difference, save for less balance, and a tendency for one party to dominate the high court forever.

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Re: How free do you want your Free Speak?

Postby leady » Wed Sep 10, 2014 8:26 pm UTC

BattleMoose wrote:A republican president will always try and appoint a conservative judge. A democratic president will always try and appoint a more liberal judge. This is worst case scenario for appointments. I would hope and expect that actual judges won't base their appointments solely on politics. But I am sure you will continue with your nirvana fallacy.


Hope and expect away - then either check how impartial judges are in reality when it comes to interpretation (as a hint it correlates practically identically to their politics) and or check out the insular outcomes of any internally selected committee.

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Re: How free do you want your Free Speak?

Postby BattleMoose » Thu Sep 11, 2014 1:46 am UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:So? If they decide that the latest law passed means "all judges are above the law"(or any other interetation that is incorrect), how are they stopped? All laws are subject to judge's interetations. If they have the last word on literally all law, AND control who gets to be judges, then there is little practical check on their power.


If they could do this under the "new system" then they could have done this at any time over the past 200+ years. They are not afforded new powers. That this hasn't happened is because its complete nonsense.

then either check how impartial judges are in reality when it comes to interpretation (as a hint it correlates practically identically to their politics)


This is a direct outcome of judge appointments being made primarily on political alignment, by the president. Maybe if that wasn't a thing...

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Re: How free do you want your Free Speak?

Postby Djehutynakht » Thu Sep 11, 2014 2:00 am UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:So? If they decide that the latest law passed means "all judges are above the law"(or any other interetation that is incorrect), how are they stopped? All laws are subject to judge's interetations. If they have the last word on literally all law, AND control who gets to be judges, then there is little practical check on their power.



United States Constitution, Article II, Section 4. Impeachment.

If judges get too out of hand, they can always be impeached by Congress for abuse of power.

"All laws subject to judge's interpretations" is no less now than it'd be if the judiciary self-appointed. And they really can't get away with reversing something written plain-as-day-without-nuance.

And if they tried, then we're getting to governmental meltdown levels.... and honestly, we'd probably just pull an Andrew Jackson on them.

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Re: How free do you want your Free Speak?

Postby leady » Thu Sep 11, 2014 9:56 am UTC

BattleMoose wrote:This is a direct outcome of judge appointments being made primarily on political alignment, by the president. Maybe if that wasn't a thing...


And other judges will consistently select based on previous interpretations and rulings which will then correlate straight back to political viewpoint again. There is no magic bullet here I'm afraid.

All laws subject to judge's interpretations" is no less now than it'd be if the judiciary self-appointed. And they really can't get away with reversing something written plain-as-day-without-nuance.


You would be suprised I'd expect at just how difficult / impossible it is to write law or similar statements as plain-as-day-without-nuance. Especially so when they are deltas to whole heap of existing laws and precidents

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Re: How free do you want your Free Speak?

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Sep 11, 2014 2:19 pm UTC

BattleMoose wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:So? If they decide that the latest law passed means "all judges are above the law"(or any other interetation that is incorrect), how are they stopped? All laws are subject to judge's interetations. If they have the last word on literally all law, AND control who gets to be judges, then there is little practical check on their power.


If they could do this under the "new system" then they could have done this at any time over the past 200+ years. They are not afforded new powers. That this hasn't happened is because its complete nonsense.


They can, and do make bad interpretations for partisan reasons. They simply are not all on the same side, so the errors are corrected and balanced out. Mostly. Perfect, it ain't, but it's more or less even.

then either check how impartial judges are in reality when it comes to interpretation (as a hint it correlates practically identically to their politics)


This is a direct outcome of judge appointments being made primarily on political alignment, by the president. Maybe if that wasn't a thing...


Everyone has political opinions, dude. Everyone.

Djehutynakht wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:So? If they decide that the latest law passed means "all judges are above the law"(or any other interetation that is incorrect), how are they stopped? All laws are subject to judge's interetations. If they have the last word on literally all law, AND control who gets to be judges, then there is little practical check on their power.



United States Constitution, Article II, Section 4. Impeachment.

If judges get too out of hand, they can always be impeached by Congress for abuse of power.

"All laws subject to judge's interpretations" is no less now than it'd be if the judiciary self-appointed. And they really can't get away with reversing something written plain-as-day-without-nuance.

And if they tried, then we're getting to governmental meltdown levels.... and honestly, we'd probably just pull an Andrew Jackson on them.


That's a significantly higher bar. The president can be impeached too, but in practice, it mostly doesn't happen. And when it IS put on the table, it's often for, again, partisan reasons. Impeachment does not seem to be a very good check on power.

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Re: How free do you want your Free Speak?

Postby Djehutynakht » Mon Sep 15, 2014 5:36 am UTC

leady wrote:You would be suprised I'd expect at just how difficult / impossible it is to write law or similar statements as plain-as-day-without-nuance. Especially so when they are deltas to whole heap of existing laws and precidents


I'm aware, though I was specifically pointing to the constitutional passage on impeachment. Basically 'Congress has the power to impeach federal officers". That in particular would be hard for judges to say "no no it doesn't mean that". And being that the Constitution is as high as you go with written law, there's not much wriggle room.

Tyndmyr wrote:That's a significantly higher bar. The president can be impeached too, but in practice, it mostly doesn't happen. And when it IS put on the table, it's often for, again, partisan reasons. Impeachment does not seem to be a very good check on power.


True, but I have a feeling it'd work here.

"Checks on power" pertain mostly to keep one branch from wrestling too much control and authority from the others.

If we got to the point where Judges were saying "we decide everything now and there's nothing at all anyone can do about it" that'd probably constitute a challenge to Congressional authority as a whole to merit unified congressional action against said judges.

Admittedly though, Congress has let the Executive branch gain itself a lot of power over the years, but I'm not sure it's quite as blatant as this situation would be.

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Re: How free do you want your Free Speak?

Postby Autolykos » Mon Oct 06, 2014 1:54 pm UTC

BattleMoose wrote:If they could do this under the "new system" then they could have done this at any time over the past 200+ years. They are not afforded new powers. That this hasn't happened is because its complete nonsense.

Don't be so sure. Similar things happen in other countries. In Germany, it is practically impossible for judges above a certain level (starting with "Oberlandesgericht") to be convicted for intentionally and maliciously ignoring/misinterpreting laws ("Rechtsbeugung"), and in many other countries this isn't even theoretically possible. That's pretty close to judges being able to do as they damn well please (in their role as a judge, at least).

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Re: How free do you want your Free Speak?

Postby leady » Mon Oct 06, 2014 2:30 pm UTC

In those systems though, don't judges police judges?

I.e. do something egregous and you get removed from the bench?

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Re: How free do you want your Free Speak?

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Oct 06, 2014 5:59 pm UTC

leady wrote:In those systems though, don't judges police judges?

I.e. do something egregous and you get removed from the bench?


Self policing is not an effective distribution of power. It's like the police policing themselves. They have a strange tendency to find themselves justified in their actions.

In the US, only one SC justice has ever been impeached, and the trial failed to find him guilty. This is as close to untouchable power as anyone has in the US, and since we've had over a 200 year streak of nobody challenging judicial power in this way, it's safe to say that impeachment is not a significant check on power.

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Re: How free do you want your Free Speak?

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Mon Oct 06, 2014 6:39 pm UTC

Judges are, however, routinely reversed by judges above them in the appeal chain.
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Re: How free do you want your Free Speak?

Postby Zamfir » Mon Oct 06, 2014 7:36 pm UTC

Sure, though the chain ends somewhere. It's often at the highest levels that judges become an alternative locus of political power, and those levels have to function well for a constitution to be effective. The high judges have to be shielded from day to day politics, or they cannot act as counterbalance. But they can't have so much discretionary power that their interpretation become de facto unchecked lawmaking.

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Re: How free do you want your Free Speak?

Postby leady » Mon Oct 06, 2014 10:38 pm UTC

The UK used to have the law lords to make those final decisions on points of law, but then crazily we moved to a supreme court model because that would be less politicised by being outside the legislature .....

Sometime the self delusion in politics is quite funny :)

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Re: How free do you want your Free Speak?

Postby Autolykos » Wed Oct 08, 2014 2:03 pm UTC

leady wrote:In those systems though, don't judges police judges?

I.e. do something egregous and you get removed from the bench?

That should be the case. But the worst that can happen to them is that their rulings are overturned at a higher court, and if that happens too often, it might ruin their chances of promotion (both are not much of a threat, since "Oberlandesgericht" is already pretty high up). And that's about it for consequences.

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Re: How free do you want your Free Speak?

Postby Carry002 » Mon Nov 10, 2014 2:20 am UTC

i believe there are not absolute Free in the word,as a country one or two political party always control the country,that means some powerful force can get benefit from all aspects.

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Re: How free do you want your Free Speak?

Postby Ormurinn » Mon Nov 10, 2014 3:00 pm UTC

The "No fire in a crowded theater" argument is generally invoked in order to say that speech which directly causes harm should be banned, but political speech shouldn't be.

I find that shortsighted, and a case of inventing an imaginary distinction.

Shouting fire will get, at most, a couple of dozen people killed. A widespread programme of resistance to conscription could lead to an entire country falling under military occupation. There is a very real sense in which political speech has the potential to be more harmful than say, hate speech, or fraud, or deliberately causing a panic.

Political speech in the form of advocacy for socialism and communism indirectly caused over 100 million deaths in the last century. Think of how much better a world we would live in if the Tsarist government's censors had banned Das Kapital, instead of permitting it's publication as an "educational work".

You can believe in unalloyed free speech as either a social good or an absolute deontological right, but as soon as you start placing restrictions on speech for reasons of harm reduction political speech should be top of the list for banning. Anti-nuclear protests do a lot more harm than racist jokes.
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Re: How free do you want your Free Speak?

Postby Forest Goose » Mon Nov 10, 2014 4:13 pm UTC

Yelling fire in a crowded theater creates immediate harm with no other intent than to do so, or an absolute reckless disregard. The same cannot be said of political speech, the whole premise of free speech is not "say anything", but to enable a "free and open exchange and debate of ideas".
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Re: How free do you want your Free Speak?

Postby morriswalters » Mon Nov 10, 2014 6:29 pm UTC

Ormurinn wrote:Political speech in the form of advocacy for socialism and communism indirectly caused over 100 million deaths in the last century. Think of how much better a world we would live in if the Tsarist government's censors had banned Das Kapital, instead of permitting it's publication as an "educational work".
Hindsight is 20/20. You had to go there to know.
Ormurinn wrote:A widespread programme of resistance to conscription could lead to an entire country falling under military occupation. There is a very real sense in which political speech has the potential to be more harmful than say, hate speech, or fraud, or deliberately causing a panic.
Maybe so, maybe no. In the US it led to a stronger, smaller Military, purely voluntary. I wish I could say it led to less Military adventurism. The outcome of political speech is always unknown. The outcome of yelling fire in a crowded theater is very well known.

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Re: How free do you want your Free Speak?

Postby leady » Tue Nov 11, 2014 1:58 pm UTC

Forest Goose wrote:Yelling fire in a crowded theater creates immediate harm with no other intent than to do so, or an absolute reckless disregard. The same cannot be said of political speech, the whole premise of free speech is not "say anything", but to enable a "free and open exchange and debate of ideas".


The question to ask is whether the scenario of "fire in theater" meaningfully exists in reality - because clearly the scenario itself results in nothing more than bemused people looking around for verification. What that scenario is there to do is to set up the premise that there is some speech that has immediate harmful consequences, but I never shake the feeling that this is a set up to allow for further restrictions. For an apparent fallacy, the "slippery-slope" has remarkable predictive qualities. If you ban speech in one context, why not another and so forth - particularly if you can wrap it in "social good" clothing.

to deconstruct the fire scenario, I would suggest you have 3 degrees of freedom

Is there a fire or not (is it truth)
The intentions of the speaker (is the speaker lying)
The consequences (what happens as a consequence - admittely highly subjective)

The scenario of "No", "lie", "immediate negative consequences" I'd suggest are invariably covered by explicit crimes such as fraud, conspiracy, accomplice etc.

What worries me is that "Yes", "truth", "negative consequences" regularly gets caught in the same net

and "No", "Truth", "Negative consequences" end up straight in the current prevailing political winds bucket, e.g. People can openly be communist with minimal consequences, but facists are vilified (and potentially arrested)

I think the fire example exists to allow the social control of the latter two scenarios, not out of a root belief.

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Re: How free do you want your Free Speak?

Postby morriswalters » Tue Nov 11, 2014 5:12 pm UTC

leady wrote:The question to ask is whether the scenario of "fire in theater" meaningfully exists in reality - because clearly the scenario itself results in nothing more than bemused people looking around for verification.
The consequences (what happens as a consequence - admittely highly subjective)
In the literal sense this is not open to question. Its utility in the context seems to be outmoded since the Supreme Court overturned the decision the quote arose out of.

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Re: How free do you want your Free Speak?

Postby leady » Tue Nov 11, 2014 5:27 pm UTC

sure its happened (what hasn't?), but you get the principle.

Lying and giving someone a poisoned sweet is murder
Lying and causing mulitple people to take an expected action (theatre fire back in the day they were made of propane) is murder
An adult lying causing multiple deaths they don't expect, but others deem a likely outcome is manslaughter
A child lying causing multiple deaths they don't expect, but others deem a likely outcome is an accident

only the 3rd one is a free speech issue to be honest and not a very common one to worry about its chilling effects vs framing it the other way :)

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Re: How free do you want your Free Speak?

Postby Derek » Wed Nov 12, 2014 12:23 am UTC

leady wrote:to deconstruct the fire scenario, I would suggest you have 3 degrees of freedom

No deconstruction is necessary, this is an unbuilt trope. The phrase originates from a case in which it was used to defend suppression of anti-draft speech. Specifically, it was argued that distributing leaflets urging men to dodge the draft presented a "clear and present danger" tantamount to shouting fire in a crowded theater. It was mis-applied in it's very origin.

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Re: How free do you want your Free Speak?

Postby ucim » Wed Nov 12, 2014 4:32 am UTC

Derek wrote:The phrase originates from a case in which it was used to defend suppression of anti-draft speech. Specifically, it was argued that distributing leaflets urging men to dodge the draft presented a "clear and present danger" tantamount to shouting fire in a crowded theater. It was mis-applied in it's very origin.
IMHO the fact that it was misapplied at its origin does not detract from its applicability where it is applicable.

As I see it, the embodied idea is that it represents speech that cannot be reasonably evaluated in time. If there were a fire in a theater, say backstage or in the basement dressing rooms, it is not reasonable to expect the public, upon being told of this, to go down into the basement and investigate whether or not this is true, or to debate amongst themselves whether there is time to watch the rest of the film before exiting. The prudent thing to do is to get the ch*rp out of there pronto. Somebody truthfully shouting fire in this circumstance is counting on that. It's not really a matter for debate.

Somebody doing so falsely is also counting on that.

An orderly exit from a crowded theater which everybody assumes is burning down is not assured however. Panic and trampled people are not unlikely, and have happened. A person falsely shouting 'fire' in a crowded theater probably knows this, and is doing so not to communicate an idea, but to precipitate the expected immediate response. It is not so much speech as action. Action disguised as speech does not merit the protections granted to speech. Another example would be telling a person that this is unleaded (no-caffeine) coffee when the person knows it's laced with cyanide. It's action disguised as speech.

Speech can be disguised as action. Silently but publicly burning (one's own copy of) the American Flag on Veteran's day is technically an action, but it's an action intended to convey an idea. It's speech, though not speech "spoken" in the English Language. Despite one's opinion about the content of the speech, it does not in itself cause harm, nor does it lead to a situation where harm is caused because people are reasonably unable to think about the consequences of ignoring it. Thus, IMHO it should be permitted.

If you agree with this logic, it should hold even if the first court case did not use it. The first court case simply made a (politically motivated?) mistake.

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Re: How free do you want your Free Speak?

Postby Ormurinn » Wed Nov 12, 2014 11:19 am UTC

Derek wrote:
leady wrote:to deconstruct the fire scenario, I would suggest you have 3 degrees of freedom

No deconstruction is necessary, this is an unbuilt trope. The phrase originates from a case in which it was used to defend suppression of anti-draft speech. Specifically, it was argued that distributing leaflets urging men to dodge the draft presented a "clear and present danger" tantamount to shouting fire in a crowded theater. It was mis-applied in it's very origin.


In a nation at war, there is a compelling argument that encouraging draft-dodging is more dangerous than causing a panic in a theater.

danger = degree of harm*people affected*probability of occurrence.

Political speech affects massively more people than causing a panic. It's consequences can be more severe. And crucially, the more people affected by political speech, the more likely its negative consequences are to occur.
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Autolykos
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Re: How free do you want your Free Speak?

Postby Autolykos » Wed Nov 12, 2014 2:11 pm UTC

danger = degree of harm*people affected*probability of occurrence.

And that's actually the point about which people disagreed here. How likely is this going to change length and outcome of a war, and how much harm is caused either by prolonged war or by occupation. Especially the latter one is practically "game over" for anyone in power (who thus see it as way worse than other outcomes), but may or may not harm anyone else, depending on what the occupier is going to do. And that's pretty much universally the case with political topics. In short, the differences between any political statement, no matter how wrong, disgusting, misleading or evil and "shouting fire in a crowded theater" are:
- In political debate, both sides tend to believe that the other side's course of action is more "dangerous" (using the above definition) than theirs. There is no intent to harm.
- In political debate, the audience has time to listen, gather evidence and think for themselves (which they may or may not do, but that's their problem). Thus, everyone is responsible for their own actions - you can't blame the speaker for that.

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Re: How free do you want your Free Speak?

Postby HungryHobo » Wed Nov 12, 2014 2:20 pm UTC

leady wrote:For an apparent fallacy, the "slippery-slope" has remarkable predictive qualities. If you ban speech in one context, why not another and so forth - particularly if you can wrap it in "social good" clothing.


That would be because it's not actually a fallacy provided one condition is fulfilled: that you give a good argument for why changing the position will make people more willing to accept further change.

With free speech that's quite easy because people tend to be less freaked out by things that were normal when they grew up.

It's easy in the other direction because your opponents are the living proof whenever they use the argument that "we ban all these cases so it's only logical to extend that further"

Hell, personally I'm at the far end of a slippery slope that starts with something like "people should be allowed to read newspapers that aren't controlled by the state" and ends with me being able to walk into a library or open up a web page and read about the manufacturing methods for enzyme inhibitors(read pesticides/nerve gas) or the filming of scat porn.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show was shocking to people a generation or 2 older than me but struggles to rate a 3 on the 1-10 WTF scale for myself.
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Re: How free do you want your Free Speak?

Postby Arky » Wed Nov 12, 2014 11:42 pm UTC

It's a difficult question.

On the one hand, I totally support freedom of speech including political speech and including political speech I completely disagree with. I totally support no censorship, including of the media. Every tyrant begins by clamping down on those two things.

However: I also think that humanity is mature enough to be able to accept some restrictions on freedom of speech without going down the slippery slope. A great many democratic countries outside the USA manage to have laws against racial abuse and other hate speech. Even the US has some minor forms of this like film and TV classifications, and not allowing swear words before a certain time of night, not to mention restrictions on libel and communications of classified information. Nowhere truly has absolute Free Speak, not even the USA with its much vaunted First Amendment, and there's nothing wrong with that. It might be getting a bit far afield for this thread to start wondering about the difference between speech and non-verbal communication, and then the difference between communicating through sign language and communicating by punching someone in the face - something which has been regulated uncontroversially in human society for millennia - but ultimately I think to some extent the First Amendment is misguided for that reason because it tries to extract speech from the rest of human behaviour and put it on a pedestal.

However part 2, and this is where it gets controversial: I increasingly think that dishonesty in the media is a real problem. In an ideal world the media would report facts, without exaggerations or spin. Opinions would be identified as opinions, and people could make up their own minds based on the actual facts, instead of ending up in situations where people have no real idea about the facts of climate change (whether they agree something should be done or they believe it's a lie spread by scientists for some evil reason or other) or the real numbers of Muslims in their country, or the unemployment rate, and so on. I wish there was a penalty for media which intentionally lies to and misleads people. BUT the difficulty of doing so without it being a tool for the government of the day to suppress the media unfavourable to them, rather than using it to keep the media honest as intended, is probably too great.
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Re: How free do you want your Free Speak?

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Nov 14, 2014 2:41 pm UTC

Arky wrote:However part 2, and this is where it gets controversial: I increasingly think that dishonesty in the media is a real problem. In an ideal world the media would report facts, without exaggerations or spin. Opinions would be identified as opinions, and people could make up their own minds based on the actual facts, instead of ending up in situations where people have no real idea about the facts of climate change (whether they agree something should be done or they believe it's a lie spread by scientists for some evil reason or other) or the real numbers of Muslims in their country, or the unemployment rate, and so on. I wish there was a penalty for media which intentionally lies to and misleads people. BUT the difficulty of doing so without it being a tool for the government of the day to suppress the media unfavourable to them, rather than using it to keep the media honest as intended, is probably too great.


I think where intent to deceive can be proven, we should maybe be a little more active in punishing media. We certainly don't want to get into the realm of punishing honest mistakes in pursuit of truth, because holy chilling effect, Batman. However, intentional deception is no longer really news.

I'd also be ok with somewhat stronger truth in advertising laws, which would go along with that fairly nicely.

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Re: How free do you want your Free Speak?

Postby HungryHobo » Sat Nov 15, 2014 3:09 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:I think where intent to deceive can be proven, we should maybe be a little more active in punishing media. We certainly don't want to get into the realm of punishing honest mistakes in pursuit of truth, because holy chilling effect, Batman. However, intentional deception is no longer really news.

I'd also be ok with somewhat stronger truth in advertising laws, which would go along with that fairly nicely.


Even that's tricky.

"yes I knew that there was 100 randomised controlled trials showing that what I said was false but in my heart I honestly believe that they were all wrong/due to bias/due to conspiracy/against gods will"

It's hard to prosecute this person without also prosecuting someone who says that smoking causes cancer back in the day when the tobacco industry genuinely was spending a lot of money to put fake evidence and research out there.

Also proving someone is wilfully distorting the truth can be remarkably hard if they know that all they have to do is play stupid:

http://www.badscience.net/2010/07/and-t ... llionaire/
“Lies”, I can tell you from personal experience, is one word you can never use in England: even if you can show that someone was obviously wrong, even if you can show that they probably knew they were wrong, you still need to show that they deliberately distorted the truth, and that’s almost always impossible, without direct access to their thoughts. They might just have been mistaken, after all. Or sloppy. Or stupid.


And if you don't allow for being wrong, going against the majority and insist on some official reference for what is true then it's also hard to avoid the scenario of someone being arrested for saying that the glorious motherlands fresh clean air is dangerously polluted despite the fact that it can be proven that they knew that the official government position was that the air is perfect based on these very reliable government reports and they have potentially harmed many businesses by putting off tourists with their lies.
Give a man a fish, he owes you one fish. Teach a man to fish, you give up your monopoly on fisheries.

veit
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Re: How free do you want your Free Speak?

Postby veit » Tue Dec 30, 2014 1:56 pm UTC

leady wrote:
BattleMoose wrote:From the South African constitution:

2) The right in subsection (1) does not extend to:
a. propaganda for war;
b. incitement of imminent violence; or
c. advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion, and that constitutes incitement to cause harm.



I think this highlights one problem quite nicely

propaganda is a loaded subjective term and should never be contained in law imo. Practically any speech can fall into this definition even if true.

I can think of numerous scenarios that incitement to imminent violence is not only necessary but a moral action (hell surely South Africa is incapable of declaring war on an aggressor with this law? or is it as I suspect that group X (politicians) have an exemption and can do what they like, just not the plebs :)

Advocacy of hatred is a loaded subjective term and also never be contained in law either - its thought crime territory (also why these groups and not the myriad of others, short people, the disabled, red heads, war veterans, the poor, people who believe in alens etc etc)


I like how you focus this problem. But I think there's an underlying assumption which is ultimately wrong. That is, the assumption, that legal practice is possible without "loaded subjective terms". If this would be right, jurisdiction would be an objective matter. Which it isn't because there's always a decision necessary: Does the law apply? And this decision isn't "purely objective" - hence the term "decisionism". (I'm not a fan of Carl Schmitt, but I think he's right here.)

I for one tend to trust judges - not totally, but enough to trust them with the necessary consideration. For example: Did someone really intent to incite hatred against a minority with his (speech) acts? (That doesn't constitute "a thought crime". Intent is often considered and rightly so.)

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Re: How free do you want your Free Speak?

Postby Cradarc » Wed Dec 31, 2014 5:23 am UTC

I think all speech should be free until it is challenged. Once challenged, the issue is put up to debate and a consensus is reached whether or not that particular kind of communication should be restricted. The debate should be very public and everybody should be made aware of the general consensus. The jury voting should have an equal number of people on both sides of the issue.
People are expected to follow formally established precedents unless there is a large momentum to change them.

If the speech in question has clearly caused objective problems (leading to physical injuries or loss of money/credibility for example), the burden of proof is on the speaker. If the speech has resulted in no obvious detriment other than making some people uncomfortable hearing it, the burden of proof is on the people who want it restricted.
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Re: How free do you want your Free Speak?

Postby XTCamus » Thu Jan 08, 2015 6:24 pm UTC

So, where would this argument come down on criticizing religion say, or posting 'cartoonish' images of a certain prophet?


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