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Freedom of Speech

  1. Aug 28, 2005 #1

    Lisa!

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    What do you think of freedom of speech? Do you think humans should have the right to say whatever they want and why? Do you think we have freedom of speech through internet? I don't think so.


    Persoanlly I think everyone has the freedom of speech, but I'm not sure if they have the freedom after speech!
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 28, 2005 #2
    I don't think that can be said any better.
     
  4. Aug 29, 2005 #3

    russ_watters

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    Speech is just the vocal manifestation of thought, so freedom of speech is essentially tied to freedom of thought. As such, it is considered one of the most basic of rights (the usual cavats on threats, etc. apply).

    The internet is an enabler - it is a place to post your thoughts - but the right itself is granted/protected by government.

    edit: The difference between "granted" and "protected" is that countries like the US consider rights to be fundamental or intrinsic and therefore not something for a government to give or take, but only to protect or not. Priveledges are things that are granted.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2005
  5. Aug 29, 2005 #4

    selfAdjoint

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    As the practice of the law works out, I think this is a distinction without a difference. The Bill of Rights can always be interpreted to the taste of the power elite, and in fact freedom of speech has been brutally curtailed in the US on a number of occasions.
     
  6. Aug 29, 2005 #5

    arildno

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    Unless "vocal manifestation" of something is in itself something which you regard as in principle regulable.
    For example, neighbours might complain that a tenant plays/sings his music too loudly, whereas he defends himself that playing music loudly is just his "vocal manifestation" of his pursuit of happiness.

    Is the police justified in demanding he lowers the volume?
    I think they are..
     
  7. Aug 29, 2005 #6

    Lisa!

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    I don't know what you mean by freedom of speech. Do you think that it means humans should have the right to say whatever they want in every place and every time?


    But there's a different. Nobody could understand what we're thinking about, unless we share our thoughts with others. And our thought usually can't hurt anyone unless we act base on them.
     
  8. Aug 29, 2005 #7

    russ_watters

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    I think both of you are missing the intent of "freedom of speech". Freedom of speech is about the content of the speech, and therefore, is directly connected to freedom of thought.

    Lisa, governments that restrict freedom of speech do so for exactly that reason: they see thoughts themselves as dangerous things.
     
  9. Aug 29, 2005 #8
    I'm all for it assuming it doesn't directly violate other people's rights, e.g. screaming fire in a crowded theater or making a death threat.

    Freedom of speech is certainly available on the internet. Although private owners of websites certainly have a right to edit their site as they see fit.

    Why, what you get in trouble for? :tongue2:
     
  10. Aug 30, 2005 #9

    Lisa!

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    I know what you mean. You have to think about something first and then talk about it. But I think you can have the freedom of thought most of time since nobody can read your mind.
    Let's be more specific: You can think whatever you want about religion and probably discuss it somewhere, but you're not allowed to discuss religion in this site, can you? Here you have the freedom of thought but you don't have the freedom of speech! :uhh:

    Yeah, for sure they don't want people think in a way that is dangerous for them, but they can't make all people to think like that. It's difficult to take people's freedom of thought. I think all they can do is , stop people to speak their mind in public. They try to take the freedom of thought by fooling people and do their best to keep them fool all the time, that's the only way that they have to take people's freedom of thought. But as Lincoln's said " You can fool all people sometime and some people all the time, but you can't fool all people all the time".
     
  11. Aug 30, 2005 #10

    arildno

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    Nope.
    Already, you have shown that your "just a vocal manifestation" idea was a mere over-simplification.
    Now, you have suddenly altered your position to say that what is "essential" is the "content" of the speech, but that is something quite different from a vocal manifestation. (I might accept that it is the externally verbalized manifestation of your thoughts, though).

    Furthermore, do you think yourself entitled to go to court and penalize your employer if he or she constantly comes up to you and whispers stuff like "I want to suck your ****, russ?"
    Most would say that yes, this type of sexual harassment is not allowed even though it is merely the expression of the person's thoughts to you.
    That is, some sort of compensation from your employer is in order because he/she overstepped a line of talking.
    That is, it is recognized that there ARE limits to the freedom of speech (in this case, you are not to sexually harass others through either deeds or words).


    The morally crucial difference between vocalizing your thoughts and just having them, is that by speaking, you are INTERACTING with other humans, whereas by just having thoughts you are not.
    But it is precisely the field of human interactions that may or may not be regulated.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2005
  12. Aug 30, 2005 #11

    russ_watters

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    Huh? How so?
    Sorry, I didn't change the intent of my post. That should be clear enough from a comparison of the thesis of each:

    Post 1:
    -Speech is just the vocal manifestation of thought, so freedom of speech is essentially tied to freedom of thought.
    Post 2:
    -Freedom of speech is about the content of the speech, and therefore, is directly connected to freedom of thought.

    Same point, slightly different wording.
    arildno, I didn't say that all speech was protected! In fact, you have no freedom of speech whatsoever in your job. And even if you did, sexual harassment still wouldn't qualify.

    Did you miss the caveat in the parenthases in my first post?
    You are correct, but that changes nothing about what I said!

    To put it more simply, your thoughts (and therefore your speech) are protected as long as you don't use them to harm other people.

    edit: I think the confusion here might be because I am talking about the basis for freedom of speech, while you are focusing on the limits of freedom of speech. But the basis needs to be dealt with first.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2005
  13. Aug 30, 2005 #12

    russ_watters

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    Yes. And as a matter or fact, the POWs in Vienam reported that what allowed them to keep their sanity (and most did), was that they started "living inside their minds". It is true that the only part of your life that you have complete control over is what is going on inside your head.
    Well, the reason the Bill of Rights mentions freedom of speech is exactly for the reason in the first part of your post: you can't get inside someone's head unless they let you. So the Bill of Rights (and the rules of this site) exist for reasons of practicality, above all.
    Again with the practicality (and you're right) - since you can't control what goes inside someone's head, tyrannical regimes simply silence their words to prevent the ideas from spreading.
     
  14. Aug 30, 2005 #13

    arildno

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    Since your thoughts cannot harm anyone BY THEMSELVES (at least not in any sense I know of), I'm not sure I follow you here..

    As for "freedom of thought", what do you mean by that?
    The trivial fact that others are unable to directly force some thought into your head, or actively repress a mental process going on in there?
     
  15. Aug 30, 2005 #14

    Lisa!

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    It seems that for the first time we have the same idea! :biggrin: Now do you think is there any country in the world that people have the freedom of speech? And do you think humans should have the freedom of speech in every issue and every where?
     
  16. Aug 30, 2005 #15

    russ_watters

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    You mean absolute freedom of speech? Certainly not. But many places, such as the US, have freedom of speech as close to absolute as is practically possible.
    No. Such a thing is pretty much a logical contradiction, since one person's exercising of such a right could interfere with the rights of others.
    It may seem odd that a conservative would support an idea at is pretty much the very essence of liberalism, but where I stand politically is muddled enough that neither side adequately covers it.
    Thoughts can't, but words can, and since the two are linked, affecting (restricting) one is just as good as affecting the other (at least, as far as a government or that guy you're screaming at cares). More to the point, since a government can't directly affect thoughts, they go after the words.

    In a free country, thoughts are free and words or actions based on those thoughts are restricted only as much as is necessary to prevent those actions/words/thoughts from harming others.

    In a tyranny, governments need to control all 3: words, thoughts, and actions. Just outlawing certain words or actions is not enough: people with unacceptable thoughts are physically separated from society, lest their thoughts inflict others.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2005
  17. Aug 31, 2005 #16

    Lisa!

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    I hope so! Could you please talk about the limits in US? What should a government do in order to support the freedom of speech?




    I think most of people included me agree with you even tyrannical regimes. They don't let their people to have the freedom of speech because they say you're ruining national rights. For example they say if you critisize the government and oppose its plans , it could have bad affect on the government's reputation and power in the world.



    I didn't mean that!
     
  18. Aug 31, 2005 #17

    selfAdjoint

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    In the US the courts have interpreted protected "speech" to include certain actions, like waving signs, etc. But the problem of conflict between rights of different people becomes great here. For example people opposing abortion used to harass women going into abortion clinics, shoving them , shouting at them, throwing rubber fetuses at them and so on. The Supreme Court held that although the right to free speech is important, the right of the women not to be interfered with trumped it, and certain things (the fetuses) were forbidden, while the protesters were required to gather on the opposite side of the street from the clinic.

    Criticising the government is pretty much unrestricted - look at Cindy Sheehan!
     
  19. Aug 31, 2005 #18
    I assume 'freedom of speech' in the US refers also to written communication, so is not just vocal manifestation. Right now, in the UK, we are on our way being stripped of some right to speech, targetting religious hate-speech. I find this rather bizarre and needless. It's like the shouting 'fire' in a theatre. Freedom of speech should still defend your right to shout 'fire', but not exonerate you from causing deliberate harm and distress to others. The two can be crowbarred quite effectively. Any regulation of actual expresison of thought, verbal or written, seems more a means of ensuring that, at some point, there is a loophole such that people can be persecuted for expressing thought without causing harm or distress. Or maybe persecuting irritating do-gooders who really did spot a fire.

    Freedom of speech as an extention of freedom of thought is interesting, but governments (certain North American ones in particular) have been known to persecute persons for their thoughts rather than words. Mere association to a communist party not too many decades ago could end up with your a55 hauled to some small white room where you'd be intimidated (i.e. threatened with whatever came to hand) into incriminating other thought-criminals. This still goes on to some extent. Of course, this isn't a constitutional issue. The official line would never suggest 'we are policing and restricting thought', but that is essentially what was happening.
     
  20. Aug 31, 2005 #19

    selfAdjoint

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    Not to defend HUAC in any way, but members of the CPUS were persecuted not for what they thought, but for what they did - join an organization that was really steered from the USSR and really did have a policy advocating the overthrow of the US government. Expropriating the expropriators was what they called it. They should have been able to advocate overthrow as long as they didn't do anything, but being complete patsies of the Soviets, who could depend on that?
     
  21. Aug 31, 2005 #20

    russ_watters

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    One little thing to add to that: I think few people would defend the general concept of McCarthyism - It was not consistent with the Bill of Rights for more than one reason. But that doesn't mean that there weren't (as SA pointed out) other actual threats that the government was justified in dealing with.
     
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