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Freedom of Speech


BC_chick

Where do we draw the line?  

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Hey White Doors...

Well, much like the results of this poll, 3 out of 4 of us were in the middle group. The other person fell into the 1st group, he believed in not having any regulation at all for free speech (or else he said it's not that free). In his opinion, it should only be a crime when/if the person carries out a violent act.

I asked if he feels just as passionately about Muslims having the right to yell "kill all infidels" in the street as he did toward "kill all xyz (minority group)" by a white-supremacist group.

He did. According to him, that's a true "democracy"...

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Hey White Doors...

Well, much like the results of this poll, 3 out of 4 of us were in the middle group. The other person fell into the 1st group, he believed in not having any regulation at all for free speech (or else he said it's not that free). In his opinion, it should only be a crime when/if the person carries out a violent act.

I asked if he feels just as passionately about Muslims having the right to yell "kill all infidels" in the street as he did toward "kill all xyz (minority group)" by a white-supremacist group.

He did. According to him, that's a true "democracy"...

Interesting. My free speech views fell in the middle the middle group as well - which most closely reflect the values of the US Constitution. Canada's fall under the third category right now due to section 13 of the CHRC code - which hopefully will be over turned someday soon.

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Hey White Doors...

Well, much like the results of this poll, 3 out of 4 of us were in the middle group. The other person fell into the 1st group, he believed in not having any regulation at all for free speech (or else he said it's not that free). In his opinion, it should only be a crime when/if the person carries out a violent act.

Ah you you agree then that the Iranians fellows "pre-crime" is really in Canada a hate crime.

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Ah you you agree then that the Iranians fellows "pre-crime" is really in Canada a hate crime.

I actually just edited this post to delete my original response to you because you are completely hijacking this thread.

This thread isn't about whether or not any specific incident is in fact hate speech or not... be it Ahmadinjad, Mark Steyn, whatever. That's why in my example to WD above, I specifically said "Kill all infidenls" or "kill all xyx (minority group)" as an example of hate speech.

I'm trying to see if people believe a clear-cut example of inciting violence (you can't be more clear than "kill all xyz") should be allowed.

If I were interested in debating whether certain leaders have crossed that line or not, I would have responded to you on that thread....

Edited by BC_chick
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Last night I participated in a debate on this topic, and I thought I'd propose it in front of a larger audience to see how MLF members feel on this subject.

Fundamental to this question is the issue of whether one believes that content of speeh can cause tangible harm. I can think of several cases where harm is indeed caused:

- Libel

- Threats to harm

- Falsely yelling "fire" where it is likely to cause a stampede

I also think that inciting people to violence falls into that same category.

All of this behaviour should be penalized.

Having said this, I don't believe hate speech should be prohibited, only to the extent that it incites violence.

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No limits except for what would be covered under existing laws regarding uttering threats and inciting violence.
How to define "inciting threats"?

The market of ideas should be as large as possible. One never knows where an idea will arise. In criminal law, I would draw the line at exploitation of children and the mentally incapable. False witness of a private individual should be covered by civil law.

I dunno.

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I concur. There are laws in place to protect people from verbal threats.

The right of one's freedom of expression (we don't have free speech protection per se) is limited (and should be) so that it does not infringe upon another's fundamental freedoms, democratic mobility and legal rights, or equality rights. These limits are reasonable in that the freedom of expression must be balanced under the Constitution. So while between tow people in a private conversation, you have the right to express your hate for gays, or any other minority, you cannot take that into a public forum with the intent of cause gays or other minoritys a loss of right they have to exist. BY the same token one cannot go around spreading lies and falsehoods about people if the intent is to injure them or limit their rights as human beings.

There is no doubt that the burden of proof is extensive in proving an incitement to hate but that does not lessen our legal responsibility to act with regard to another's Charter rights in exercising our freedom.

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The right of one's freedom of expression (we don't have free speech protection per se) is limited (and should be) so that it does not infringe upon another's fundamental freedoms, democratic mobility and legal rights, or equality rights. These limits are reasonable in that the freedom of expression must be balanced under the Constitution. So while between tow people in a private conversation, you have the right to express your hate for gays, or any other minority, you cannot take that into a public forum with the intent of cause gays or other minoritys a loss of right they have to exist. BY the same token one cannot go around spreading lies and falsehoods about people if the intent is to injure them or limit their rights as human beings.

There is no doubt that the burden of proof is extensive in proving an incitement to hate but that does not lessen our legal responsibility to act with regard to another's Charter rights in exercising our freedom.

That definition appears to be sound.

In real life though it's a pain (especially at work) - don't joke or talk about:

Race

Religion

Beliefs

Sexual Orientation

Physical Appearance

Mental Ability

Physical Ability

Origin

Nationality

Traditions

Politics

...

the list goes on and on...

Soon, with the FREEDOM OF SPEECH that we have, we will be allowed to talk about NOTHING (unless pre-approved in writing by the company management and endorsed by cross-religious, cross-sexual and cross-racial commissions etc. etc. etc.)

Edited by PoliticalCitizen
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I actually just edited this post to delete my original response to you because you are completely hijacking this thread.

This thread isn't about whether or not any specific incident is in fact hate speech or not... be it Ahmadinjad, Mark Steyn, whatever. That's why in my example to WD above, I specifically said "Kill all infidenls" or "kill all xyx (minority group)" as an example of hate speech.

I'm trying to see if people believe a clear-cut example of inciting violence (you can't be more clear than "kill all xyz") should be allowed.

If I were interested in debating whether certain leaders have crossed that line or not, I would have responded to you on that thread....

I'm a pretty strong supporter of freedom of speech and opponent of censorship. I don't think we really need most of our "hate speech" laws, and I don't think human rights groups should have any control whatsoever in what people choose to say or write.

That being said, I think we need to make a distinction between the kinds of misuse current hate laws have been put to, such as human rights commissions looking into media which published cartoons some Muslims didn't appreciate, and an influential demagogue shouting inflammatory rhetoric to crowds of people, some of whom are likely to be influenced into acts of violence by that rhetoric. It's against the law to threaten people. It's against the law to suggest or argue for or attempt to convince people to commit acts of violence or any other criminal act. None of this is part of hate speech laws. Saying "kill all xyx" is illegal under the crime of Counseling an Offense." I don't really have a problem with that because we've seen in certain circumstances how demagogues can sway people into committing acts of violence in both the UK and US. I do think we need something a little more, though, than simply this. My problem is that the present hate speech laws are too broadly applied and take into account, as you've noted, simply causing offense to people. I think the cutoff point ought to be whether the activities or statements of a given person or group are intended to cause acts of violence, or even whether they are part of an ongoing campaign which is liable to cause acts of violence to be committed against a given person or group.

Under most current harassment guidelines, for example, a single act is not considered to be harassment. Harassment has to be an ongoing thing. In the same way, I think that except in the most explicit of cases, the only laws which should be in place, are those designed to govern ongoing speech, campaigns or efforts directed against individuals or groups.

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I'm pro freedom of speech unless it does one of the following

Communicates a threat (Bomb in a school, fire in a theater)

Causes mass hysteria or civil disobedience. (Important to note I consider Hate speech a freedom of speech)

Unfortunately with a Democracy, despite what I think of White supremacist, or any other group of that nature we have to allow the bad with the good.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Freedom of speech should be limitless. If it incites violence, those that commit acts of violence are to be blamed. I don't blame others for things that I do, I don't find it fair that somebody could blame their own actions on my words. Just my humble opinion.

Intresting opinion. Would your "limitless" freedom of speech include protecting bomb threats phoned in warning that a plane or building was going to explode?

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Freedom of speech should be limitless. If it incites violence, those that commit acts of violence are to be blamed. I don't blame others for things that I do, I don't find it fair that somebody could blame their own actions on my words. Just my humble opinion.

Its a slippery slope. So if someone in a cave tells his followers to go and kill people, they shouldn't be responsible? I doubt most people would agree with that interpretation. There must be some accountablility for saying certain things that affect others. Speech, or in the larger sense the conveying of ideas through some media is a form of propaganda and can be very powerful. What we see on TV and read in the news can change the opinions of people. It can influence young or impressionable minds who have no frame of reference, to put the information in context. Thats why I believe there should be some rules, there should even be some standard of decency, when information is given in public forums. Whether that be TV, Radio, signs in store windows or the mottos on peoples T-shirts.

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Intresting opinion. Would your "limitless" freedom of speech include protecting bomb threats phoned in warning that a plane or building was going to explode?

Sure you are free to do that. But you must know that a bomb threat is quite different from hate speech. A bomb threat is not freedom of speech and has dire consequences. It is just plain dumb.

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But you must know that a bomb threat is quite different from hate speech. A bomb threat is not freedom of speech and has dire consequences.

Of course it is different, but Kitch's comment didn't restrict itself to hate speech. ("Freedom of speech should be limitless.")

Of course a bomb threat is not freedom of speech. One is a protected right, the other is an action. The question at hand is if the action is protected under that right. As I've said before, I think it does not and should not.

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