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ASPartOfMe
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19 Oct 2021, 9:31 am

Is the Traditional ACLU View of Free Speech Still Viable? Ira Glasser Speaks Out. Glenn Greenwald for the intercept

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THAT A BELIEF IN FREE SPEECH is rapidly eroding in the U.S.is hardly debatable. Every relevant metric demonstrates that to be the case.

Both a cause of this contamination and a result is the growing popular belief that free speech can no longer be protected as a primary right but must be “balanced” — meaning constricted — in the name of other political and social values that are purportedly in conflict with free expression.

A 2019 poll found that large percentages of Americans, in some cases majorities, believe the First Amendment goes too far in protecting free speech and its understanding should be “updated” to reflect contemporary cultural views.

Just this week, the New York Times Magazine published a cover story by the thoughtful liberal journalist Emily Bazelon which explicitly questioned — one might say rejected — the ongoing viability of the First Amendment and free speech values on the ground that the U.S., in Bazelon’s view, is “in the midst of an information crisis caused by the spread of viral disinformation, defined as falsehoods aimed at achieving a political goal.” As a result, Bazelon approvingly argues: “increasingly, scholars of constitutional law, as well as social scientists, are beginning to question the way we have come to think about the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech.”

But perhaps the most potent and disturbing trend illustrating how rapidly this erosion is taking place is that it has even infected sectors of the organization that has, for decades, been the most stalwart, principled, and unflinching defender of free speech: the American Civil Liberties Union. Internal debates over whether the group should retreat from its long-standing free speech position have been festering for years.

One of the most intense crises in the organization’s history came in 2017 when ACLU lawyers defended a white supremacist group that was denied a permit by the city of Charlottesville, Virginia to protest in a prominent and symbolically important public square. The ACLU prevailed, and when one of the extremists in that group plowed his car into a group of counter-protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer, numerous ACLU activists and even some lawyers angrily insisted that the group should not represent the free speech rights of racist or neo-fascist groups.

The ACLU’s leadership then issued a series of confusing statements and memos that suggested at least somewhat of a retreat from their long-standing organizational posture, though Executive Director Anthony Romero insists that they were simply re-affirming what had always been the group’s policy regarding armed protesters.

But today’s SYSTEM UPDATE episode is devoted not to my views on these questions but those of Ira Glasser, who served as the Executive Director of the ACLU from 1978-2001, when he retired shortly before the 9/11 attack.

Glasser is an old-school civil libertarian in the best and most classic sense of that term. One of his first challenges upon assuming his leadership position was dealing with the fallout of the crisis the ACLU faced in that era: public and internal fury that its largely Jewish lawyers had represented a neo-Nazi group’s right in 1977 to march through the town of Skokie, Illinois, which had not only a large Jewish population but one with thousands of survivors of the Nazi death camps. Glasser steadfastly defended the nobility of that position even as donors and even some staff members left in droves, threatening the ongoing viability of the group, and he continues with great eloquence, and with great relevance to our current debates, to defend that decision today (on its site, the ACLU also continues to defend that Skokie case as one of its proudest and most important moments).

Glasser has not been shy about very vocally and vehemently criticizing what he regards as a retreat by the modern-day ACLU from the organization’s long-standing mission. He is particularly scathing about how the politicized money that has poured in has caused the group to pursue standard-issue liberal policy goals at the expense of the Constitutional rights it once uniquely and fearlessly defended.

What fascinated me most was Glasser’s recounting of the Skokie controversy was how African American civil rights leaders of the 1970s and 1980s were among his staunchest allies and supporters when it came to defending the free speech rights of white supremacists groups — because they knew they would be among the first to be targeted by successfully implemented precedents of state censorship. Equally fascinating is Glasser’s invocation of his experience, as a Jewish leftist, and how it led him to believe that defending the free speech rights of those whose views he found most repugnant was not just ethically right but a matter of self-interest.

Glasser is an important figure in the political and legal battles of the 20th Century. He remains an incredibly eloquent advocate and compelling thinker on all of these issues. Too many people are unaware of this history.

Bolding is mine
Besides it being the morally the right thing to do perceived self interest as an Autistic is an important reason I am against the increasing acceptance of more restrictions on freedom of expression by influencers and institutions.


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magz
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19 Oct 2021, 9:55 am

What freedom of expression is:
Not being arrested or punished by the state for expressing opinions.

What freedom of expression is not:
Right to be published by anyone you ask;
Not being told to STFU by non-government entities;
No internal rules for online communities and social media;
Right to hold a rally (that's regulated by different laws, as public order and safety also matter);
Not being scorned if others find your opinions disgusting;
Not being held responsible if what you publish causes harm.

Did I miss something?


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Fnord
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19 Oct 2021, 10:02 am

magz wrote:
What freedom of expression is:
Not being arrested or punished by the state for expressing opinions.

What freedom of expression is not:
Right to be published by anyone you ask;
Invalidation of internal rules of online communities and social media;
Right to hold a rally (that's regulated by different laws, as public order and safety also matter);
Not being held responsible if what you publish causes harm.

Did I miss something?
What freedom of expression is not (Addendum):
Requiring others to acknowledge and address you by irrelevant labels or titles.
Uttering or publishing deliberate lies or distortions of truth.
Uttering or publishing threats or incitement to violence.



slam_thunderhide
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19 Oct 2021, 5:12 pm

magz wrote:
What freedom of expression is:
Not being arrested or punished by the state for expressing opinions.

What freedom of expression is not:
Right to be published by anyone you ask;
Not being told to STFU by non-government entities;
No internal rules for online communities and social media;
Right to hold a rally (that's regulated by different laws, as public order and safety also matter);
Not being scorned if others find your opinions disgusting;
Not being held responsible if what you publish causes harm.

Did I miss something?


Too many people on this sub-forum seem to mistakenly believe (or pretend to believe?) that the only possible threats to free expression are those that might come from the state.

It's as if people look at the First Amendment to the US Constitution and mistake it for an iron law of political science. It's bad enough when US-based posters do this, but it looks like this flawed argument is confusing the minds of other posters on this sub-forum too.

If powerful private entities can cut off your internet access, or electricity, or gas, or water supplies, or access to banking services - all because they don't like your political opinions, then you don't have free speech. If your employer can fire you for your privately held political opinions, then you don't have free speech. If gangs of masked thugs can get away with intimidating you into silence because they don't like your political opinions, then you don't have free speech.

It's not enough for the state "not to punish you for your speech". You don't really have free speech unless the state actively protects you from private entities restricting your speech.



AngelRho
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19 Oct 2021, 6:16 pm

slam_thunderhide wrote:
magz wrote:
What freedom of expression is:
Not being arrested or punished by the state for expressing opinions.

What freedom of expression is not:
Right to be published by anyone you ask;
Not being told to STFU by non-government entities;
No internal rules for online communities and social media;
Right to hold a rally (that's regulated by different laws, as public order and safety also matter);
Not being scorned if others find your opinions disgusting;
Not being held responsible if what you publish causes harm.

Did I miss something?


Too many people on this sub-forum seem to mistakenly believe (or pretend to believe?) that the only possible threats to free expression are those that might come from the state.

It's as if people look at the First Amendment to the US Constitution and mistake it for an iron law of political science. It's bad enough when US-based posters do this, but it looks like this flawed argument is confusing the minds of other posters on this sub-forum too.

If powerful private entities can cut off your internet access, or electricity, or gas, or water supplies, or access to banking services - all because they don't like your political opinions, then you don't have free speech. If your employer can fire you for your privately held political opinions, then you don't have free speech. If gangs of masked thugs can get away with intimidating you into silence because they don't like your political opinions, then you don't have free speech.

It's not enough for the state "not to punish you for your speech". You don't really have free speech unless the state actively protects you from private entities restricting your speech.

I completely disagree. The state is the MAIN and most significant threat to free speech.

You are making the assumption that things like internet access, electricity, gas, etc., are entitlements and basic human needs or rights. You do not have a protected right to ANYTHING that is privately owned. Not morally or ethically, anyway--I'm well aware of what the laws are in different places about what SOME private individuals and businesses can/cannot do. The problem with internet services such as social media is that they are not public utilities. They are privately owned and as such can be governed by whatever rules their owners and creators make and enforce. It's only fair.

To put it as succinctly as I can: I have no right to curb your free speech. Whatever you want to say in the marketplace or in your own home, you are free to say it and I can do nothing to stop you. What I am NOT obligated to do, however, is hand you a microphone. I get to control my own microphone, and if I do not like what you have to say, I do not have to help you say it. Facebook's censorship practices are absolutely insane. Really off-their-rocker kinda stuff. But as bizarre as FB is, it is not my place to tell them they cannot deplatform people as they wish. If it means that much to me, I can create my own platform. I question some of the decisions of Alex and the mods on this website. But at the end of the day, what Alex chooses to do is what I must abide by if I wish to continue as a user of WP.



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19 Oct 2021, 7:49 pm

The concept of free speech is designed to allow the powerless to speak their truth against the powerful without fear of death, torture, jail or reprisal. It was imagined as a check against corrupt government, and it wasn't meant to promise you would be handed a microphone.

The massive issues caused by global social media were never envisioned or considered.

I do think we are in a time that we may have to rethink some of the details involved with applying free speech standards, and how to navigate those standards within the reality of social media platforms.

Case law has been very specific in applying free speech only to government. That does not and should not mean, however, that we don't strive for a broader acceptance of controversial speech socially and outside of government. How to reconcile that goal with the need for reliable information is a delicate dance.


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20 Oct 2021, 3:28 am

DW_a_mom wrote:
Case law has been very specific in applying free speech only to government. That does not and should not mean, however, that we don't strive for a broader acceptance of controversial speech socially and outside of government. How to reconcile that goal with the need for reliable information is a delicate dance.

That's quite problematic because freedom of expression in social media can be and is intentionally abused. It's not that expensive nor technically hard to mass-create fake "users" spreading conflicting messages if your goal is just to create chaos and distrust.
On WP, we track script-generated "users" - they're just another kind of spammers - but we're a relatively small site with traffic small enought to spot it. I can't imagine how to do the same in e.g. a major news broadcaster comments section, not to mention something of the size of f***book or tw*tter.

The problem is when real users pick misinformation and start promoting it. It's dangerous - sometimes very dangerous, think of all the bleach "cures" to autism if you want an apolitical example of misinformation harm - but on the other side, it often would be unethical not to let them speak.
Here, the very delicate dance begins.


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20 Oct 2021, 3:41 am

magz wrote:
The problem is when real users pick misinformation and start promoting it. It's dangerous - sometimes very dangerous, think of all the bleach "cures" to autism if you want an apolitical example of misinformation harm - but on the other side, it often would be unethical not to let them speak.
Here, the very delicate dance begins.


If you're going to start sanctioning people for spreading misinformation here, I've got a very long list of objectively untrue statements made by many heavy users of this site over the years, you'd hardly have anyone left. The relative ideological homogeneity here creates some real group blind spots, people often don't even know what questions they should be asking, or what information is missing from a given discussion.


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20 Oct 2021, 4:10 am

Dox47 wrote:
magz wrote:
The problem is when real users pick misinformation and start promoting it. It's dangerous - sometimes very dangerous, think of all the bleach "cures" to autism if you want an apolitical example of misinformation harm - but on the other side, it often would be unethical not to let them speak.
Here, the very delicate dance begins.

If you're going to start sanctioning people for spreading misinformation here, I've got a very long list of objectively untrue statements made by many heavy users of this site over the years, you'd hardly have anyone left.

Being far less than perfectly correct about things applies to every human on Earth, so no way we require being always correct on WP :mrgreen: No policy of sanctioning being wrong is ever intended here.

We're a small community and not really the center of the problem. WP power on whole nations' choices is very limited.

I have a problem with calling freedom of expression to evade responsibility for harm done by spreading harmful ideas.
In Europe, after what WWII did here, most people do believe that harm of Nazi ideology outweights benefits of freedom of expression - and we have an explicit limit to freedom of expression here.


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20 Oct 2021, 6:51 am

AngelRho wrote:
slam_thunderhide wrote:
magz wrote:
What freedom of expression is:
Not being arrested or punished by the state for expressing opinions.

What freedom of expression is not:
Right to be published by anyone you ask;
Not being told to STFU by non-government entities;
No internal rules for online communities and social media;
Right to hold a rally (that's regulated by different laws, as public order and safety also matter);
Not being scorned if others find your opinions disgusting;
Not being held responsible if what you publish causes harm.

Did I miss something?


Too many people on this sub-forum seem to mistakenly believe (or pretend to believe?) that the only possible threats to free expression are those that might come from the state.

It's as if people look at the First Amendment to the US Constitution and mistake it for an iron law of political science. It's bad enough when US-based posters do this, but it looks like this flawed argument is confusing the minds of other posters on this sub-forum too.

If powerful private entities can cut off your internet access, or electricity, or gas, or water supplies, or access to banking services - all because they don't like your political opinions, then you don't have free speech. If your employer can fire you for your privately held political opinions, then you don't have free speech. If gangs of masked thugs can get away with intimidating you into silence because they don't like your political opinions, then you don't have free speech.

It's not enough for the state "not to punish you for your speech". You don't really have free speech unless the state actively protects you from private entities restricting your speech.

I completely disagree. The state is the MAIN and most significant threat to free speech.

You are making the assumption that things like internet access, electricity, gas, etc., are entitlements and basic human needs or rights. You do not have a protected right to ANYTHING that is privately owned. Not morally or ethically, anyway--I'm well aware of what the laws are in different places about what SOME private individuals and businesses can/cannot do. The problem with internet services such as social media is that they are not public utilities. They are privately owned and as such can be governed by whatever rules their owners and creators make and enforce. It's only fair.

To put it as succinctly as I can: I have no right to curb your free speech. Whatever you want to say in the marketplace or in your own home, you are free to say it and I can do nothing to stop you. What I am NOT obligated to do, however, is hand you a microphone. I get to control my own microphone, and if I do not like what you have to say, I do not have to help you say it. Facebook's censorship practices are absolutely insane. Really off-their-rocker kinda stuff. But as bizarre as FB is, it is not my place to tell them they cannot deplatform people as they wish. If it means that much to me, I can create my own platform. I question some of the decisions of Alex and the mods on this website. But at the end of the day, what Alex chooses to do is what I must abide by if I wish to continue as a user of WP.


You are displaying exactly the sort of misunderstanding I was talking about. You have mixed up so many different concepts in your post that it suggests to me you have not really thought this through. Also, in parts of your reply you seem to be responding to some other previous vaguely related post you’ve read rather than responding to what I’ve actually said.

For a start, the question was whether or not the state is the only possible threat to free speech, not whether or not it is the main threat.

A person’s ‘freedom’ (of speech, of association, of movement etc) is a bit like their ‘security’. It can be negatively impacted by either state or private actors. What people are ‘entitled’ to, or what they have a ‘right’ to, or what some piece of paper (like the US constitution) says is beside the point.

Regarding ‘entitlements’, one might argue that nobody is really entitled to anything in this life. I don’t have a God-given entitlement to be able to leave my house. So if someone (be they a state or private actor) gets away with locking me in my house, then that might not be a restriction of my entitlements, but it is a restriction of my freedom.

Similarly regarding ‘rights’, one might argue that the only rights you have are those the state gives you. So if the state says I have no right to go outside, then my getting locked in my house might not be a restriction of my rights, but it is a restriction of my freedom.

The moderation policies on WrongPlanet are also beside the point. Of course Alex should be able to do what he likes with this site that he’s created. Given the small size of this site, that is only fair.

I would argue that the case with sites like Facebook and Twitter is different. They are so large that I believe they should be treated as public utilities. The fact that they are privately owned is irrelevant. Public utilities can still be privately owned or controlled (e.g., electricity etc).

I know several people on here would disagree with me about giant social media platforms being treated as public utilities. But you go way beyond that and refuse to agree with any aspect of my post. If you really, honestly think it is no restriction on a person’s freedom of speech for 'private actors' to deny them access to electricity, gas, banking services, employment or physical safety on account of their political beliefs, then I’m not sure what else to say.

Perhaps if the state started contracting out their tools of repression to private organizations, you’d be ok with that too. After all “private entities can do what they like within the law” and “nobody is entitled to anything”.



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20 Oct 2021, 7:11 am

^ I think it's a valid point that, similarily to other mass infrastructure, mass social media are kind of "public" providers. I don't use them myself but I believe that responsibility should be proportional to power - and they are very powerful.


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20 Oct 2021, 8:04 am

magz wrote:
^ I think it's a valid point that, similarily to other mass infrastructure, mass social media are kind of "public" providers. I don't use them myself but I believe that responsibility should be proportional to power - and they are very powerful.


I believe there is a concept "de-facto town square" which has been discussed on legal forums which could apply once social media (or equivalent) reaches a certain size. In these cases, the site would have taken on the role traditionally held by a "town square" where people could gather and speak freely (and was goverend under the first ammendment).

Similarly, Marsh v. Alabama (1946) (it's a short, easy to read article, that is worth having a look at) also has the potential to impact on certain websites' capacity to restrict speech of users on the site (The counter to "it's a private business, so can censor\restrict access to whoever they want" assertions some make):
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The U.S. Supreme Court examined the manner in which the Gulf-owned property functioned in the community. Writing for a 5-3 majority, Justice Hugo L. Black noted that “[t]he more an owner, for his advantage, opens up his property for use by the public in general, the more do his rights become circumscribed by the statutory and constitutional rights of those who use it.” The Court continued, “Whether a corporation or a municipality owns or possesses the town[,] the public in either case has an identical interest in the functioning of the community in such manner that the channels of communication remain free.” Accordingly, the Court reversed Marsh’s conviction, concluding that the state could not use a trespass law to punish Marsh for distributing religious literature on the sidewalk of a company town.

Three justices—Stanley F. Reed, Harold H. Burton, and Chief Justice Frederick M. Vinson—dissented. Reed wrote, “The rights of the owner, which the Constitution protects as well as the right of free speech, are not outweighed by the interests of the trespasser, even though he trespasses in behalf of religion or free speech.”

Case has remained a guiding principle of constitutional law

Although Marsh was decided at the end of the era of company towns, its central holding has remained a guiding principle of constitutional law. Two decades later, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 limited private property owners’ ability to refuse entry or service to individuals on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin in places of public accommodation. Additionally, Marsh became the conceptual foundation for PruneYard Shopping Center v. Robins (1980) and other cases in which individuals claimed First Amendment rights of speech and free exercise in shopping malls, airports, and other quasi-public spaces.


The question in that case would be whether "virtual" public spaces (such as "social media" sites) should be held to the same standards as "physical" public spaces.


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20 Oct 2021, 8:12 am

^ Are you sure you're not a lawyer? ;)
But yes, that argument should be part of the discussion.
Another is - how to prevent harm made by freedom of speech abuse on massive scale (e.g. misinformation spambots or malicious trolling).

You can kick a misbehaving individual out of your private site but once your site is considered public space, you can't do it - there would need to be an equivalent of the whole judicial process for misbehaving individuals.


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20 Oct 2021, 10:25 am

magz wrote:
^ I think it's a valid point that, similarily to other mass infrastructure, mass social media are kind of "public" providers. I don't use them myself but I believe that responsibility should be proportional to power - and they are very powerful.

I don't think it's valid at all. The debate that legislators have brought up is that sites like FB and Twitter BEHAVE like public providers and are therefore subject to the same requirements. The main problem posed by these service providers, even though they are still private businesses, is that they don't compete for a user base and for customers. They are in lock step with a common agenda. And so what happens is conservatives can't express their views on these platforms without being heavily censored or banned from the platform. It's not that easy for individuals and politicians to jump to a different platform because the same thing will happen there. If you can't say it on FB, you probably can't say it on Twitter, either. When that happens, they function as a monopoly, same as your local water or electric association or your public school board.

I've always said that if you disagree with FB, WP, Twitter, the 'gram, etc., just buy your own website. You're free to do that.

Except...

...

Web hosts deny service to sites with policies they dislike. Parler and Gab.ai are two examples of social media who were denied a home because of their promises of free speech.

And I STILL respect the right of Amazon and others to deplatform these social media. Why? Because webhosts are ALSO private businesses with the right to allow or deny whatever service they want. I think they are being stupid, but that's irrelevant. They have the right to do that even if it means being stupid.

What gab.ai did was raise the money to own and operate their own server outright. The worst that could happen would be, say, Google could specifically remove links to it from search results. But that won't stop users from navigating to gab directly. Now, gab is known for predominantly white supremacist language and the like, but...again, the owners have the right to enforce free speech policies that allow for that, same as FB has the right NOT to allow it. If you are a gab user and you hate racists, you are free to block those users and never have to read anything they say. I like gab as a concept because it keeps control in the hands of the individual users. But on the other hand, gab and sites like that do run the risk of becoming a breeding ground for violent groups to organize. That's just the risk you take.

But that's as it SHOULD be. If you run a website for social media and you wish to curb violent speech or keep violent people from using your website to organize, you assume responsibility for what happens on your website. My house is NOT a "free speech" zone for anyone else besides myself. If I don't like your ideas, I don't have to invite you in. I don't mind Jehovah's Witnesses coming inside and talking with me, but I expect to convey trinitarian theology to them, not be taught by them. I'm free to do that, and other people are free to do as they wish in their own space.

And with social media, we fall under the illusion that the space social media create is authentically OUR space, as though somehow Zuckerberg actually cares about us and values each and every opinion. We have the illusion that we own our space on social media. We do not. The more we realize that when we believe we are just exercising our free speech we are spewing things only we care about in someone else's house who may not agree or welcome our ideas, the more sense harsh policies and censorship are going to make.

Now...protecting ACTUAL public space is going to work in the best interests of everyone. Do people use FB, etc. to spread misinformation? Of course, they do. When people speak and behave hatefully on social media inciting violence in the marketplace, social media owners stand in the front lines to take away their platform from criminals. They ARE the gatekeepers. And if there really is something threatening going on that threatens public safety, it only makes sense to alert government authorities whose job it legitimately is to protect citizens from harm. It never makes sense to me how lawmakers get so bent out of shape over social media when social media functions precisely as their creators intended.

And yes, I also firmly believe that meat-space individuals and businesses have the right to ask what their goods and services are going to be used for and deny offering those services if the customer's intentions are less than honorable. It would be a terrible idea to sell ammonium nitrate to anyone you don't recognize as a local farmer. It's also wrong to commission someone to bake a cake with the INTENTION to use that cake in a manner that offends the baker's religious beliefs. I can go on and on. And the sad thing is in America it is often illegal to do the right thing and sometimes illegal to NOT do the wrong thing. Evil is rewarded and good punished. Protecting the rights of FB to do as FB likes is the same as protecting the rights of chemical suppliers and bakers. All speech is free until you cross the threshold of someone else's house.



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20 Oct 2021, 11:45 am

This is more about the character of the American people than anything. Most are gladly trading away their freedoms for the "protection" of Big Daddy Government. It is like putting the wolf in charge of the sheep.



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20 Oct 2021, 11:46 am

magz wrote:
^ Are you sure you're not a lawyer? ;)
But yes, that argument should be part of the discussion.
Another is - how to prevent harm made by freedom of speech abuse.
Weighting it is tricky.

Nope, not a lawyer, although one of dad's friends (a now-retired magistrate) suggected I should look into that line of work years ago, but my lack of knowledge on the work involved caused me to go in a different direction... At times I wish I had gone down that route (I'm tempted to undertake studies in this field via remote learning), as I do enjoy the research and the "rules" (laws) which you have to work within\compare words\actions against - As well as having experience with\requirement to understand particular areas of criminal law through former employment in the security industry (use of force, arrest powers, etc. - It's interesting comparing the laws in our state with those in other jurisdictions, as well as observing how little some people truly know\understand those laws)

As to preventing harm - there are already laws around this type of thing (libel\slander, for example) - A person's speech isn't restricted by them, but there are clearly defined "penalties" for certain actions, with minimal possibility of "bias" entering into their enforcement... Rules against "misinformation" are generally considered a "bad" thing due to the introduction of bias on behalf of those who decide what is\isn't "true", as well as the possibility of the basis of the information changing (Russia collusion, Covington boys, "very fine people", etc.), so that what was initially considered "misinformation" turned out to be accurate, whereas what was originally considered "true" was eventually found to be misinformation. Then there are the cases where people post their opinion as though it was a fact in order to "inform" others, yet when their error is pointed out, try to hide behind it being an opinion (rather than "misinformation"), despite their having intentionally phrased the comment so as to not give that appearance.

Best option - If it causes harm, the person\group so harmed should have a way to seek recourse, but the rules need to be clear in advance, and not have potential to be abused by\biased in favor of a particular side [1]. There should be no need for "protecting society" type rules, as individuals should be able to seek recourse themselves if affected... And (as an item of trivia) "shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic" is technically covered by the first ammendment [2]

[1] on this site, for example, there are rules to protect against "personal attack" - do they apply equally?

If a member posts a lie (defamation\libel) about another and the person who is the victim\target of the lie (or a 3rd party on their behalf) call that person out as a liar, would both members actions be treated in the same way, or is it more likely the lie will be allowed to remain and the person defending against it would be punished for their statement about the other person being a liar? Outside this site, the person who was the target of the lie would have recourse (libel\slander laws), yet here, they are lucky if a moderator will edit the post to remove the lie - but will almost certainly be "punished" should they indicate the other member was a liar in that instance.

Similarly, rules regarding "satire" are also unevenly interpreted\applied: Post an extract of text from a satirical site (Babylon Bee, for example), and you need a prominent "disclaimer", yet post a link to an article from another such site (McSweenys.net, for example) containing no indication of the fact a person is being directed to such a satirical site\article (instead presenting the link as though it is a "legitimate source of facts", with the explicit intention to decieve others), and there is no need for a disclaimer (this will certainly save on the copy\paste in future...).

As to "impartiality", I've heard enough stories from current and former members of this site (and had enough experiences with regards to it), to have come to certain conclusions on this subject...

[2] The common (mistaken) belief regarding "(falsely) shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic" not being covered under the 1st ammendment comes from Schenck v. United States (cited as one of the worst Supreme Court decisions in modern times) and was partially overturned in a later case (Brandenburg v. Ohio) where the limitation was corrected to only restrict speech "directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action"...An explanation of the history of this can be found at https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/627134/is-it-illegal-to-shout-fire-in-crowded-theater


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Quote:
"We count on the space of trust that confidentiality provides. When someone breaches that trust, we are all worse off for it." - Hillary Clinton

Quote:
"Sometimes I think that this is an era when sanity has become controversial." - Thomas Sowell