1357: "Free Speech"

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Re: 1357: "Free Speech"

Postby Wnderer » Sat Jan 10, 2015 9:41 pm UTC

addams wrote:This is a serous subject, for a comic.


Yes. Charlie Hebdo is a serious subject for a comic. :)

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Re: 1357: "Free Speech"

Postby addams » Sun Jan 11, 2015 3:08 am UTC

Wnderer wrote:
addams wrote:This is a serous subject, for a comic.


Yes. Charlie Hebdo is a serious subject for a comic. :)

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Re: 1357: "Free Speech"

Postby Boson Collider » Tue Mar 15, 2016 1:25 pm UTC

In retrospect, I would frankly say that this is the single worst XKCD comic in terms of its effect on the world, which has been rather depressing. The key issue with American politics in the last few decades has been that people with opposing viewpoints don't talk to each other enough. This comic has made that problem significantly worse as people are increasingly banning/no-platforming everyone who won't say exactly what they agree with and cite this comic as justification.

I say everyone who would ever think of following this comic's advice should calm down, and be forced to watch the CGP Grey video about how people with the viewpoint opposed to yours are not evil incarnate, regardless of what people who agree with you might have told you: https://youtu.be/rE3j_RHkqJc
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Re: 1357: "Free Speech"

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Mar 15, 2016 2:58 pm UTC

Do you have any evidence whatsoever that this comic has had a significant impact on the freeze peach "debate"?

All it does is point out a simple and uncontroversial truth about what rights actually mean.
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Re: 1357: "Free Speech"

Postby Weeks » Tue Mar 15, 2016 3:23 pm UTC

This comic provides no advice.

I'm curious to know where this seemingly terrible behavior happened and what could have prompted it. I mean you used the word "increasingly" so I would guess you know a fair amount of cases.
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Re: 1357: "Free Speech"

Postby madaco » Tue Mar 15, 2016 4:58 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Do you have any evidence whatsoever that this comic has had a significant impact on the freeze peach "debate"?

All it does is point out a simple and uncontroversial truth about what rights actually mean.


Well, people do seem to quote/link/etc. It, while interpreting it in perhaps not quite the way that the comic meant.

I don't mean to say that the comic doesn't make some good point(s), but I don't think it's true that it has had only non-negative aeffects on discussions.

I.e. , while it may have had (probably did have?) a positive aeffect on discussions overall, I think it has had some negative aeffects also, so it's not terribly surprising that someone might have by chance seen a unrepresentative sample of the results, and concluded that it had a net negative result?
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Re: 1357: "Free Speech"

Postby Weeks » Tue Mar 15, 2016 5:15 pm UTC

Gmal also said nothing about net negative or positive, just significant. It doesn't seem like it would have a very noticeable effect, either way.

Also, the word you're looking for is "effect".
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Re: 1357: "Free Speech"

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Mar 15, 2016 5:57 pm UTC

If people quote it or post it a lot in discussions, it's likely because it eloquently gets across a point they were already trying to make.

Which means its primary effect has been to make things more concise and efficient.
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Re: 1357: "Free Speech"

Postby orthogon » Tue Mar 15, 2016 6:26 pm UTC

Weeks wrote:Also, the word you're looking for is "effect".

Well, all the right letters were there, contiguous, and in the right order. That's better than 90% of spelling on the Internet. @madaco: were you actually trying to cover off both options, like when you try to shape a handwritten letter such that it could be either of two possibilities? ;-)

It does seem to me that there have been increasingly many cases of "no-platforming" recently; where the debate might previously have been about whether out-and-out obnoxious people should be allowed to stand up and deny the Holocaust, now we are seeing poster persons of the left/liberal/feminist/gay-rights movements like Germaine Greer and Peter Tatchell being no-platformed. I'm not saying this is anything to do with the comic, and for the moment I'm reserving judgement on the rights and wrongs of it, just that as a phenomenon it's either becoming more prevalent or being talked about more, and that might be what Boson Collider had in mind.
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Re: 1357: "Free Speech"

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Mar 15, 2016 7:00 pm UTC

orthogon wrote:Peter Tatchell being no-platformed.
Without reading the rest of that article, I notice that it seems to start out with the same misunderstanding of freedom of speech that the comic is addressing.

Calling someone a racist (and saying you won't share a stage with them) doesn't violate anyone's freedoms.

(Also more generally, white people need to grow thicker skins when it comes to being told they did or said something racist.)
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Re: 1357: "Free Speech"

Postby Boson Collider » Tue Mar 15, 2016 7:16 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
orthogon wrote:Peter Tatchell being no-platformed.
Without reading the rest of that article, I notice that it seems to start out with the same misunderstanding of freedom of speech that the comic is addressing.

Calling someone a racist (and saying you won't share a stage with them) doesn't violate anyone's freedoms.

(Also more generally, white people need to grow thicker skins when it comes to being told they did or said something racist.)


...but it removes an opportunity for people of opposing viewpoints to talk. Hence you have just strengthened my point that the thought expressed in this comic is just a lazy excuse for people to not debate someone because other people have called them an asshole, regardless of whether the assertion turns out to be true or not. The potential viewers of such a debate are then left strictly worse off, and the divide between different cliques widens.

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Re: 1357: "Free Speech"

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Mar 15, 2016 7:23 pm UTC

Not every interaction in front of every possible audience is or should be a debate, though.

And on top of that some debates are wastes of time, because the participants don't show up with the same understanding of things like facts and arguments. In addition, dignifying certain positions with public debate lends an air of legitimacy where there should be none.
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Re: 1357: "Free Speech"

Postby Boson Collider » Tue Mar 15, 2016 8:07 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Not every interaction in front of every possible audience is or should be a debate, though.

And on top of that some debates are wastes of time, because the participants don't show up with the same understanding of things like facts and arguments. In addition, dignifying certain positions with public debate lends an air of legitimacy where there should be none.


...but a lack of debate and a campaign of public smearing can make it look like you have no actual argument against someone who had no point from the beginning, which has certainly been a trend over here in Sweden, and still leads to a lack of information exchange. Instead of assuming that people are stupid and need to be told what to think so they won't end up making the wrong decisions or think the wrong thoughts, we should allow everyone to say what is on their minds and let people decide for themselves whether the opinions expressed should be dignified or not.

Regarding disagreements on facts, sometimes you need that engineer in a room full of business majors or that business major in a room full of engineers, who tells people what they don't want to hear. Any information exchanged in those cases is better than no information exchange at all.

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Re: 1357: "Free Speech"

Postby morriswalters » Tue Mar 15, 2016 8:07 pm UTC

Randell's cartoon is a restatement of fact, the actual Amendment says it better, without commentary. I doubt that understanding anything about the First Amendment will be helpful in the UK and thus to the people in the linked article. I can't seem to find out why she called him a racist because of the letter he signed. I read it and didn't see any reference to race at all. All the participants appear to be, may I say it, white. Barring her or the NUS, standing to and providing evidence of his Racism, it looks a lot like a have you quit beating your wife argument, augmented by sticking her fingers in her ears and going na, na, na, leaving him the heavy lifting of proving a negative.

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Re: 1357: "Free Speech"

Postby Weeks » Tue Mar 15, 2016 8:19 pm UTC

Again, like...where was this comic used specifically as a justification for banning people from an online community? Also, how does that point to the comic, and not the people doing the banning, as stifling open conversation? If that even is the case. You can ban someone from a site, or close a thread, or whatever, and conversation on the topic might continue, as often happens here.
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Re: 1357: "Free Speech"

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Mar 15, 2016 8:21 pm UTC

Boson Collider wrote:Instead of assuming that people are stupid and need to be told what to think so they won't end up making the wrong decisions or think the wrong thoughts, we should allow everyone to say what is on their minds and let people decide for themselves whether the opinions expressed should be dignified or not.
Nice false dichotomy you've got there.

No one is disallowing anyone from doing anything they have some kind of innate right to. If I don't invite you to or let you stay at my private gathering (or volunteer-moderated forum) because I think you and your ideas suck, I haven't actually deprived you of anything you deserved to have in the first place. And the reasons to disallow or disinvite or otherwise no-platform someone are far more wide and varied than assuming people are too stupid to make up their own minds.

With that attitude, are you also a big supporter of the "teach the controversy" method of trying to wedge creationism into science classes?
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Re: 1357: "Free Speech"

Postby madaco » Wed Mar 16, 2016 12:33 am UTC

Weeks wrote:Gmal also said nothing about net negative or positive, just significant. It doesn't seem like it would have a very noticeable effect, either way.

Also, the word you're looking for is "effect".


I say aeffect because I didn't care to remember which was effect and which was affect.

(Pseudo edit: so, orthogon, yes, that was my intent)

If it is unclear or otherwise unpleasant or unwanted I can use a different phrasing while on these forums.

Ok, uh, in response to the other part of your response, and in response to Gmalivuk(I'm on mobile, so I don't feel like trying to do a multi quote),

I guess that would be the largest component of the impact, but I think people might view xkcd as somewhat of an authority/respected source? I suspect that people would be more likely to assume that an idea expressed by an xkcd comic is the dominant/standard/normal view, than they would be if they just saw the idea expressed by j random internet commenter. Which, I'm not saying that's a bad thing. I think it is probably sorta good?

But, I don't think it's true that the ideas expressed on xkcd don't have any influence on what views are considered normal on the internet, or don't shape conversation. Again I want to emphasize that this is not meant to be a complaint.

It seems like any popular comic that is commonly interpreted as expressing a view, makes that view easier to express, compared to alternate views, due to the ease of linking to it, and this can change the degree to which different views are expressed.

Again, I repeat myself, this is not a criticism of the comic in question. I think the comic is fine and amusing.
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Re: 1357: "Free Speech"

Postby orthogon » Wed Mar 16, 2016 1:41 pm UTC

madaco wrote:
Weeks wrote:Gmal also said nothing about net negative or positive, just significant. It doesn't seem like it would have a very noticeable effect, either way.

Also, the word you're looking for is "effect".


I say aeffect because I didn't care to remember which was effect and which was affect.

(Pseudo edit: so, orthogon, yes, that was my intent)

I see . Might I suggest a small improvement, viz the use of the ligature in future: æffect?

gmalivuk wrote:
orthogon wrote:Peter Tatchell being no-platformed.
Without reading the rest of that article, I notice that it seems to start out with the same misunderstanding of freedom of speech that the comic is addressing.

Well, ok, Tatchell himself wasn't strictly no-platformed, instead another speaker refused to share a platform, and the lecture by Germaine Greer was to go ahead until she decided to cancel it herself. But there were attempts to no-platform both speakers, and in Greer's case it was arguably successful. Of course in most fora the host can choose who does and who doesn't speak; but it's the flipside of the debate: you can say anything you want, but that doesn't mean you should; similarly you can stop anybody you like from speaking, but that doesn't necessarily mean you should. The way I see it, any forum that purports to be providing a space for debate (as opposed to say a special-interest group or safespace), be it a newspaper, university, students' union or web comic forum, has a responsibility to promote free speech, because it's one of those social goods that has to be delivered by society in general; and in most cases they do. This very forum is a great example: as you point out, you could ban anyone you want, but in the four years I've been coming here I've almost never seen that happen; I've seen one thread closed and one person asked to leave one thread, and that was for personal abuse rather than any views expressed. It's clear that there are plenty of members who you think are assholes, but you don't generally show them the door, you argue with them.

Come to think of it, isn't the comic guilty of the same thing as is called out in the title-text? I mean, if the point is narrowly about what the 1st amendment of the US constitution does or doesn't make illegal, then fine, I can't argue with that, but you could say "the most compelling thing you can say about [no-platforming] is that it's not literally illegal to [do it]".
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Re: 1357: "Free Speech"

Postby Zinho » Wed Mar 16, 2016 2:23 pm UTC

orthogon wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:
orthogon wrote:Peter Tatchell being no-platformed.
Without reading the rest of that article, I notice that it seems to start out with the same misunderstanding of freedom of speech that the comic is addressing.
Well, ok, Tatchell himself wasn't strictly no-platformed, instead another speaker refused to share a platform, and the lecture by Germaine Greer was to go ahead until she decided to cancel it herself.

Interesting.
It seems to me that Fran Cowling, by refusing to appear with Peter Tatchell, was exercising her innate right to freedom of association (not 1st amendment right, as the event was not in the U.S.A.). This is very different from denying someone else the right to attend/speak at a public function, and much less problematic morally. Of course, it's also something of an insult to the hosts; she should not be surprised if she's not invited in the future. Putting this in the context of the comic, feel free to leave any time you want; don't let the door hit your backside on the way out.

I subscribe to a (perhaps) unusual religious belief along those lines - in God's mercy He will forgive all sinners who are willing to return to live in His presence. If you get to heaven and find you don't like the company when you get there, you are free to go live somewhere else. 8-)

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Re: 1357: "Free Speech"

Postby ucim » Wed Mar 16, 2016 4:33 pm UTC

madaco wrote:It seems like any popular comic that is commonly interpreted as expressing a view, makes that view easier to express, compared to alternate views, due to the ease of linking to it, and this can change the degree to which different views are expressed.
You say this as if it were a bad thing. I get the sense that you are implying that making one view easier to express inherently disenfranchises other views, and is thus a form of censorship.

That's quiiiiiiiite a stretch. It goes even further than the comic does in terms of what it seems to be addressing.

I do hope I'm reading too much into it.

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Re: 1357: "Free Speech"

Postby Keyman » Wed Feb 22, 2017 3:03 pm UTC

Imagine my surprise, when this "Like" from my niece appeared in my Twitter feed..

https://twitter.com/jk_rowling/status/833814967795249153

So, can we now assume J.K Rowling is a Randall fan?
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Re: 1357: "Free Speech"

Postby forbz1 » Sun Apr 23, 2017 9:32 am UTC

This comic is often shared around but it makes a categorical mistake. Yes, there is a law about freedom of speech but there is also the concept of free speech which is distinct and supersedes the law.

The law exists because of the concept and the concept is a vital one. It is important that it is upheld in all of its forms - with no limitations and no exceptions - because otherwise we get into territory where people suffer consequences (loss of job or personal attacks, to name two) just for thinking differently.

When someone or a group of someones opposes free speech in this definition, they are not "just showing you the door", they are showing themselves to be intolerant, close minded, foolish people who can't handle criticism of their ideas because they know them to be weak. They are so afraid of challenge - that instead of meeting you halfway and debating you, they seek instead to silence you.

Actions carry consequences - words and thoughts should not.

TL;DR: Free speech is an idea that led to the law. Freedom of thought should be upheld always. No one should suffer consequences for any beliefs or speech they might have.

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Re: 1357: "Free Speech"

Postby Quercus » Sun Apr 23, 2017 11:43 am UTC

forbz1 wrote:It is important that it is upheld in all of its forms - with no limitations and no exceptions

So anyone should be allowed, by both law and custom, to show up at a stranger's funeral and start loudly insulting the deceased and mocking the mourners?

Free speech without limitation or exception leads to some pretty awful consequences. And yes, free speech is important, but so is the expectation of privacy and individual autonomy, sometimes they come into conflict, and sometimes free speech should be the one that gives, because it is less important in those particular circumstances.

Actions carry consequences - words and thoughts should not.

Of course words carry consequences, and it's patently absurd to argue that they do not. Words influence the actions of others. If someone holds a rally where they loudly and persuasively encourage the crowd to kill members of group x, are you arguing that they bear no responsibility for anything that happens subsequently?

To give an even more cut and dried example, if a gang boss orders a hit on someone, are you arguing that only the hitman and not the boss should suffer legal consequences, because the boss used only words, which should not carry consequences in your view?

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Re: 1357: "Free Speech"

Postby The Great Hippo » Sun Apr 23, 2017 12:02 pm UTC

forbz1 wrote:This comic is often shared around but it makes a categorical mistake. Yes, there is a law about freedom of speech but there is also the concept of free speech which is distinct and supersedes the law.

The law exists because of the concept and the concept is a vital one. It is important that it is upheld in all of its forms - with no limitations and no exceptions - because otherwise we get into territory where people suffer consequences (loss of job or personal attacks, to name two) just for thinking differently.
So, okay: I'm going to go out on a limb here and presume you don't actually believe this, because otherwise you'd be okay with me telling a six year old that this bottle of rat poison is magical candy that will make them fly.

What you probably mean is that people should be able to express their beliefs without fear of consequence... but that's still silly. Do you think it's important to protect an employer's 'right' to sexually harass their employees? What -- he's not actually going to sexually assault you, he's just telling you how he'd really like to! Do you think it's important to stop police officers from intimidating the people they're supposed to protect? What -- he's not actually going to shoot you and your family, he just wants you to know that the only reason he won't is because the law won't let him! Do you think it's important to stop me from sending dead animals to your doorstep for you and your family to find? What; I'm not actually going to murder you, I'm just expressing myself! Stop trying to violate my right to free speech, man!
forbz1 wrote:Actions carry consequences - words and thoughts should not.
Speech is a subset of actions. Ergo, they have consequences. Yelling 'FREEDOM OF SPEECH!' whenever someone points those consequences out is childish. Being kicked out of a community because you talked shit is nothing like being persecuted for your beliefs, and any attempt to draw a correlation is spitting in the face of people who have actually paid the price for daring to speak when others did whatever they could to silence them.

Every word you speak, write, and type carries a consequence. Own up to it.

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Re: 1357: "Free Speech"

Postby morriswalters » Sun Apr 23, 2017 1:34 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:So, okay: I'm going to go out on a limb here and presume you don't actually believe this, because otherwise you'd be okay with me telling a six year old that this bottle of rat poison is magical candy that will make them fly.
This is misdirection. That isn't the type of speech I would guess he is talking about. Even under the law there is a recognition of the limits of speech. However the government shouldn't choose which speaker to tolerate and which speaker to silence. Unless it does so to protect the population at large. Which it has done for almost every point you brought up. The cartoon is talking about a popularity contest. And how that will work out is dependent on where you hang out.

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Re: 1357: "Free Speech"

Postby Quercus » Mon Apr 24, 2017 12:56 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:Even under the law there is a recognition of the limits of speech.


Yes, and forbz1 says they don't support those limits (emphasis mine):

forbz1 wrote:It is important that it [freedom of speech] is upheld in all of its forms - with no limitations and no exceptions


Establishing that there are limits to free speech with good ethical foundation (which TGH's and my reductio ad absurdums attempt to do) is an important step in the discussion from here, because it moves the discussion from whether there should be limits to free speech (which to me is an obvious "yes" given the scenarios discussed above) to where those limits should be drawn (which IMO is a much more interesting, difficult and ultimately more productive question).

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Re: 1357: "Free Speech"

Postby morriswalters » Mon Apr 24, 2017 9:14 pm UTC

What the poster meant is a function of how he defines speech. I reacted to my view. Unless he weighs back in we might never know what he meant. To me the only meaningful speech is political speech. If the OP meant it in in any other way, what can I tell you. That people fail to understand what free speech is about isn't my problem, its' theirs.

Quercus wrote:Establishing that there are limits to free speech with good ethical foundation (which TGH's and my reductio ad absurdums attempt to do) is an important step in the discussion from here, because it moves the discussion from whether there should be limits to free speech (which to me is an obvious "yes" given the scenarios discussed above) to where those limits should be drawn (which IMO is a much more interesting, difficult and ultimately more productive question).
Would the example of Turkey be a good example of what you might have in mind?


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