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Is it OK to mock ideas and idealogies?

  1. I'm religous and I would have it banned

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  2. I'm not religious: I would still have it banned

    2 vote(s)
    4.4%
  3. I'm religious but freedom of speech is all important to me so no

    6 vote(s)
    13.3%
  4. I'm not religious: freedom of speech is all important

    31 vote(s)
    68.9%
  5. Other: explain if you could.

    5 vote(s)
    11.1%
  6. What was the question again? Pass.

    1 vote(s)
    2.2%
  1. Feb 1, 2007 #1
    Considering the Danish photos and the broad amount of interent culture devoted to mocking religion: do you think freedom of speech can be taken too far, and that it can cause grave offense.

    Here's a fictional situation.

    Are they right to do so, or is freedom of speech beyond the laws of a civil society?
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2007
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 1, 2007 #2

    vanesch

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    As far as I'm personally concerned, I think the freedom of speech should be absolute. That said, we don't live in a society with many enlightened beings. As such we have to take into account that certain expressions which might be considered provocative by a certain lot of narrow-minded or brainwashed individuals, or worse, demagogues who cannot stand that one hurts the levers of their rhetorical techniques (such as religion) to help them gain power over the masses, might induce them to do bad things, and so it is probably a good idea to put up some auto-censure if we want to have our little peaceful existence.
     
  4. Feb 1, 2007 #3

    ZapperZ

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    But what exactly is "freedom of speech"? The freedom to say what you like, whenever you like?

    So you should be given the freedom to spew lies about me whenever you want, no matter how inaccurate?

    What about yelling "fire" in a movie theater, or making jokes about hijacking at airports?

    Can I just walk into a public school classroom and say whatever I like?

    You could say "oh, there's a few exception", but then that is the whole issue, isn't it? It isn't absolute, and that for safety and well-being, you have to start imposing rules and laws. It is this balance that is at the heart of all this. It is not easy, and people who claim to want this "freedom of speech" have not thought it through to when this "freedom" creates harm and disruption.

    As with any human activities, freedom of speech has its boundaries. It is where to put these boundaries that every society struggles with.

    Zz.
     
  5. Feb 1, 2007 #4

    Kurdt

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    One persons mocking is another persons criticism.
     
  6. Feb 1, 2007 #5

    vanesch

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    Yes, as long as they are an expression of OPINION. Stating things as facts, when they aren't, and when it is clear that you know they aren't, with the idea of deceiving, is not "freedom of speech".

    Your examples fall all into that category.

    Saying, for instance, that you are a fraudulent scientist, that you have written 20 bogus articles and so on, is NOT freedom of speech, but a well-known lie on my part, with the only idea to deceive others into disliking you for one or other reason.

    The first, no, the second, yes. I think it should be allowed to make jokes about hijacking at airports, as long as it is clear that you are joking, and not with the purpose of causing troubles with the security.

    Almost. You should be allowed to say about all your opinions (and I know that will shock quite a few). However, you should not be allowed to state things as facts, when they aren't (and you know it).

    The freedom of speech is about the freedom to say what is your opinion. Not about deceiving, lying and purposely misleading people.
     
  7. Feb 1, 2007 #6
    Technically this would be illegal in the UK, there is no constitutional right to free speech, but there are laws against inciting religious intolerance.

    I tend to agree that some people are just so deranged and deluded that they should either be locked up for their views or deported. In the same way as marching down the street with signs saying god hates *ags would get you put in prison here; you shouldn't be allowed to incite hatred and or intolerance against gender/colour/sexuality or creed in anyway, and in this country at least you can face jail time for doing so. I have no problem with this, it enables us to deport terrorists too.:smile:

    Obviously I voted other.
     
  8. Feb 1, 2007 #7

    vanesch

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    I didn't mean to imply that in many (western or other) countries, freedom of speech is legal. I just think it should be (under the conditions I pointed out to ZapperZ: freedom to express one's OPINION, no matter how depraved, shocking, politically uncorrect and unthoughtful).

    I am seriously disappointed by western democracies who seem to have adopted, for political correctness reasons, a whole bunch of laws repressing the statement of opinion. I think one should be allowed to state one's opinion, even if it is politically incorrect, such as racist, religious/anti-religious, fascist, revisionist, maoist or whatever. That said, one should not be allowed (or at least, one should bear the consequences of) INSULTING people on the road or anything. Freedom of speech doens't mean that one can put up anyone with one's conversation ! But one should be entitled to express one's opinion, no matter how "shocking", as long as it is clear that it is an expression of opinion.

    In other words, I would be tended to defend the right to march into the street with a note saying that "god hates *ags", or even far worse statements, which I cannot even give examples of, given that it is illegal to write it ! This doesn't mean that I AGREE with such statements of course. But one should be allowed to make them. Because it is the only guarantee that one day, against all opinion, we might not make illegal a GOOD IDEA. As in the times of the inquisition.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2007
  9. Feb 1, 2007 #8
    I personally think that you should be able to say and do what ever you want providing it does not physically affect another person.

    e.g. If I want to wear a T-Shirt saying people with green skin who have sex with fruit are subnormal and stupid then I should be allowed to, as I am not physically affecting either people with green skin or people who love fruit.

    If however I stood up and said people with green skin who have sex with fruit must die and rallied those listening to act on my words, that would be physically affecting either people with green skin or people who love fruit.

    I personally think that the more you are offended by an attack on you beliefs wether it be life belief or belief in your scientific work, the less strong that belief must be. If your belief is strong surely it can weather a few storms!

    p.s. Any body reading this forum who has green skin or may sleep with fruit, I was using you as an example, I don't really hate you and please don't come round and campaign outside my house....
     
  10. Feb 1, 2007 #9

    You were that close then buddy:wink: :biggrin:

    I know Vanesch I just wanted to express my opinion and point out technical illegality in most of Europe. Barring Russia and some non EU countries.

    Anyone know what Daniel means in Hebrew :smile:
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2007
  11. Feb 1, 2007 #10
    Although I consider myself religious, I think freedom of speech prevails. The situation described above is not close to the most shocking situations one can actually encounter in modern art museums (I can provide a list upon request). I actually find it funny (and I was raised in a christian family) ! :biggrin:

    We have a quote from a famous french humorist : "one can laugh about anything, but not with anyone". That could support the principle that we must be careful not to recklessly exhibit provocative ideas, in order to protect sensitive characters. Yet, once we give up on self-derision and take ourselves too seriously, we risk fanaticism which is one of the most dangerous current tendency in our societies. Religious fanaticism is especially not tolerable. So overall, I understand the opinion that we must restrain provocative behaviors, but feel it does not apply to the precise case at hand.

    As for Zz's intervention
    I feel this is exactly provocation here :biggrin: I agree with Vanesch's post #5.

    You may think that, as a french citizen, I do not like political correctness anyway :rolleyes:
     
  12. Feb 1, 2007 #11

    ZapperZ

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    But I don't believe it is THIS clear-cut. Many people confuse "opinion" with "facts". I'm sure I don't have to bring out any examples to illustrate this "fact". You may think that saying "god hates *ags" is an "opinion", but for those who have no shame to shout it out in public, that is a FACT to them, not an opinion. And there are many who are influenced into thinking that it is a fact because such-and-such is "in the bible".

    Furthermore, the categorization of things being not being deceiving, lying, or misleading are also highly subjective and not that clear all the time either. This again comes back to the point that I made that we struggle with the boundaries of "freedom of speech" all the time.

    Still, verbal communications cannot prevent emotional distress and, more importantly, can incite physical violence! What if the lies you are telling people about me causes me to lose my job? We have seen many instances of people being wrongly accused of sexual harassment or worse, child molestation, only to be found innocent. The stigma of that accusation continues for a long time. Such lies did not physically harm the person, but it damn well caused a lot of hardship of varying degree. We can't just say "oh, you or your belief were too weak in the first place to weather that storm". That's unacceptable! A person simply cannot go around irresponsibly affecting the lives of others with no consequences simply by using the excuse of "freedom of speech" that does no physical harm.

    Zz.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2007
  13. Feb 1, 2007 #12
    Don't say that. Americans are just as bad :wink:. Anyhow, i do NOT think that freedom of speach is an absolute value in our societies. For example, opinions that can harm our democracy (eg denying holocaust, neo nazism etc etc) should be banned. Also, mocking the church should be banned because too many people care about religion (too much, but we NEED to respect that).

    marlon
     
  14. Feb 1, 2007 #13

    Astronuc

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    ZapperZ expresses my thoughts well.

    It is a goal of an organized society to protect or provide security to its members - that is why people collect in groups.

    When speech threatens that security, limits on speech are necessary.

    What about hate speech that is designed to motivate hatred or threaten the safety of others? Can someone stand next to another and scream insults and threats because it is one's opinion that the person should or must be treated that way?

    I certainly think that one should be able to express disagreement or dissent. While I might disagree with various political leaders and I might express the opinion that they should resign or be 'legally' removed from office, I do not advocate that they should be violently removed.

    Concommitant with freedoms, isn't there some responsibility on the part of an individual to agree to certain norms or conventions while living within a society or community?
     
  15. Feb 1, 2007 #14
    What is unacceptable to me it to claim that people are too stupid to deserve fundamental rights. It is an opinion, which somehow I share, but we cannot apply it. Remember John Cleese's message to the citizens of the United States of America. That was a joke. That was incorrect and very funny.

    I could agree with you Marlon that denial of holocaust should be banned. I fear however this is not the correct way to deal with this problem, because then you turn dangerous individual into martyrdom.
     
  16. Feb 1, 2007 #15

    Kurdt

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    You can't ban mocking the church because people care about it too much. Whatever religion may be its inherently irrational and its pronouncements on things that affect our lives should therefore be scrutinised.
     
  17. Feb 1, 2007 #16
    Please ignore this message. Sorry ! :redface:
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2007
  18. Feb 1, 2007 #17
    That is why I both specifically stated physical harm, and used in my example the case that inciting physical harm which is then acted out is causing actual harm

    Then I would have inflicted physical harm. If the people you work with feel that your arguments against the lies are stronger then no physical harm is caused.
    I frequently say that the student sitting next to me is obviously inferior because he is Ginger. As far as I know this has not so far inhibited his career. As the argument that his work says different is stronger.

    As soon as you bring in the subjective area of feelings then you are open to the ridiculous litigation exercises that are spreading from the US into UK and Europe. You hurt my feelings so give me £10,000. The death of this person who earns £15k/year was unjust so give me £1m in cash.

    Why is it OK to hurt the feelings of Catholics in order not to hurt the feelings of Gays?
    Surely it is easier to say the Catholics can do as they please providing they cause no physical harm to the Gays and vica versa.
     
  19. Feb 1, 2007 #18

    vanesch

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    I think that the fact that denying the holocaust is illegal is one of the worst things that happened to a "free society". I think far more damage is done to our society by denying that species evolved, than by denying the holocaust, for instance. What's the point in forbidding its denial ? This is one of those "politically correct" attitudes which do more harm than anything. The holocaust is a historical fact, as accepted by most mainstream historians. What could we care that a few freaks want to say that it didn't happen ? Imagine that they are admirerers of Hitler's politics. Then it would be quite silly to deny the result of his main "life achievement", wouldn't it ? Imagine they want to be apologists for Hitler, and tell us that he wasn't such a bad guy after all. What could we eventually care ? If their purpose is to do it all over again, holocaust included, then there's no point in denying the first one. If they want to do it all over again, except for the holocaust, then they are going to be different in any case and there's no point denying what happened. So what good could be suppressing any such denial ?

    Should we also include laws concerning the denial that Julius Caesar invaded Britain or something ?

    Imagine me, as an MWI-proponent, denying that in some branches of the wavefunction, the holocaust did happen, going to jail for that ! :biggrin: :rofl:

    I find this kind of law more dangerous than anything else, because last year it made quite some upheaval when the same kind of argument was used in France to try to forbid the denial of the good Western colonization brought to African countries ! In fact this law was even voted, and only after some hesitation, president Chirac intervened to stop it.

    It is a slippery slope when the law tells you what are allowed opinions!
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2007
  20. Feb 1, 2007 #19

    It is an understandable reaction though I'm sure most Germans do not want to assosciate with neo-nazism and so the law in context is perhaps not right in terms of freedom of speech but it is understandable.

    In one of those realities Hitler was probablly a hero or won the war anyway, does that mean it would have been both legal and illegal to do it according to which MWI you happened to be in at the time? Or that my head hurts? Or that my ears have just leaked blood?:biggrin: Tell me what is happening with the wave function again :smile:
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2007
  21. Feb 1, 2007 #20

    Astronuc

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    One could also consider the 'freedom to live in peace or security'. Is there such a freedom, even if it is not written in some legal document?

    Let's assume such a freedom exists. What happens when one freedom conflicts with another - which one supercedes?

    Coincidentally, I hear a discussion about the Four Freedoms yesterday.

    http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/fdrthefourfreedoms.htm
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2007
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