The fallacy of the “free speech”-dogma

 
arildno
 
Avatar
 
 
arildno
Total Posts:  1290
Joined  26-12-2006
 
 
 
06 January 2008 05:51
 

This is yet another of those false absolutes by which we are indoctrinated in the present time.

First off, when pressed, most will grudgingly admit that exhortation to criminal actions (like murder of specific individuals) are NOT protected by “free speech” after all.

Let us see why that is the case:

It is because a criminal action is INCOMPATIBLE with respecting another person as an equal.

Therefore, to exhort criminal actions is an act of strong disrespect towards others, and is itself incompatible with the moral obligation that lies upon us all, namely to treat each other individual as of equal worth as yourself.

We have a moral obligation to respect the free expression of ALL statements compatible with mutual respect.

But that is NOT the same as to say we also have the moral obligation to respect the free expression of opinions incompatible with that mutual respect.

Such opinions constitute what we could call “bannable” opinions.

But, although some opinion is bannable, it does not necessarily follow that we ought to ban it.

In fact, a healthy society might be said to be one in which there is no need to ban any of the bannable opinions in circulation in that society.

But, an unbanned, bannable opinion, although it is expressed in the same way as unbannable opinions (i.e, those we are morally obliged to respect the expression of) does not, in virtue of being unbanned become unbannable.

If I hold the opinion “I think the new opera house should be painted green, and those who disagree with me should pay higher taxes or face criminalization”, then I have expressed a bannable opinion, since the opinion thinking the opera house ought to be painted white IS compatible with mutual respect of others. My opinion is not, it is a violation.

But, that opinion need not be banned because it is so wacky that there is no chance it will gain such a lot of adherents that it ever will come to fruition in reality and trample on the rights of others.

Bannable opinions, however, that DO have the potential to overwhelm the public debate, and thereby kill it off, must in some cases be banned.
And no injustice will then be done to the opinion holders, since they were the violators of the basic moral code of mutual respect.

Retaliation and concerns for self-preservation need not be at the same low level as violations.

 

There are therefore two distinct concerns to be taken:

1. Is that feature which the opinion opposes, or seeks to restrict, or criminalize compatible with having mutual respect?
  If that feature IS compatible with such respect, then the opinion seeking to limit it bannable. It is a violation.


  If the feature is incompatible with such respect, then the opinion seeking to restrict it MAY be legitimate.
  (Note that to determine whether some particular feature, practice or opinion is COMPATIBLE with mutual respect in no way depends upon what reaction, if any, is admissible towards it. Compatibility determination is prior to, and independent from, bannability determination)
2. Given a bannable opinion, should it actually be banned?
  That depends on numerous factors, the graveness of its contents, its likelihood to come into reality etc.

 

Rather than sticking to such silly absolutes like “free speech”, the public debate ought to be more concerned with determining precisely where the dividing lines ought to go.

Having an emotional attachment to that absolute will make person verging towards upholding essentially suicidal doctrines, and that is not an emblem of moral superiority.

[ Edited: 06 January 2008 07:17 by arildno]
 
mcalpine
 
Avatar
 
 
mcalpine
Total Posts:  791
Joined  28-08-2007
 
 
 
06 January 2008 11:50
 

Call to suicide hotline:

“I believe in God and the Bible.”

“OK, how long have you had these suicidal thoughts? Actually, I shouldn’t be talking to you. Have a nice day.”

 
arildno
 
Avatar
 
 
arildno
Total Posts:  1290
Joined  26-12-2006
 
 
 
06 January 2008 11:55
 
mcalpine - 06 January 2008 04:50 PM

Call to suicide hotline:

“I believe in God and the Bible.”

“OK, how long have you had these suicidal thoughts? Actually, I shouldn’t be talking to you. Have a nice day.”

Well, you can call again when you have something more intelligent to say, for example a rationally based criticism of what I wrote.

 
arildno
 
Avatar
 
 
arildno
Total Posts:  1290
Joined  26-12-2006
 
 
 
06 January 2008 12:43
 

Now let’s analyze this a bit further.

My “wacky” statement can be regarded as the union of two other statements:

1. I want the opera house to be painted red
and
2. I want to criminalize those who wish the opera house to have a non-red colour.

Clearly, the bannability of the joint statement stems from 2, substatement 1 is not bannable, since it is compatible with mutual respect.

But that means the joint statement has the same moral value as 2, i.e, the moral value of the joint statement is NOT some average of 1 and 2.

An ideology is as bad as its worst contained element.

Similarly, there is only one way to “clean up” my original statement, namely by discarding the worst element within it, i.e 2.

[ Edited: 06 January 2008 12:46 by arildno]
 
arildno
 
Avatar
 
 
arildno
Total Posts:  1290
Joined  26-12-2006
 
 
 
01 March 2008 06:31
 

The historical basis for the right to free speech.

Historically, “the right to free speech” was concerned with:

That criticisms towards authorities secular, or spiritual, should not be punished by those authorities, or their adherents. Nor should publications printing such criticisms be financially penalized by those authorities.

Now, let us take a typical issue and see if they are “bannable”, or if they are, in fact, unbannable:

State organization:
Monarchy vs. democracy

Now, in any society, some will have power, others will not.
To argue for one system or the other, say to argue for either the construction or abolition of absolute monarchy is not in any way IN PRINCIPLE incompatible with the principle of mutual respect. For example, a monarchist may well argue that political bickerings and endless drawn-out debates about
how to organize medicare, schools, military etc is more harmful than that a single individual decides to the best of his knowledge, and if he proves wrong, retrace his steps. Furthermore, whereas a political democracy will result in a mish-mash of intended and unintended consequences and pulverized responsibilities, an absolute monarch has no one else to blame than himself if his programmes go wrong. And so on..

Although this line of reasoning sounds very weak to our (and mine!) ears, it can hardly be regarded as “incompatible” with mutual respect.

Rather, the thrust behind it is founded upon the fact that i) somebody needs to wield power, and ii) The most efficient power wielding is that which a single individual wields.

By perceicved “necessity” then, a single individual is selected to do this job, but that can well be done without elevating that person as being of different moral worth than others, yet remains subject to the same moral laws than any other private individual.

Thus, to advocate “absolute monarchy” (even advocating yourself as that monarch!) is not, as such, strictly incompatible with the principle of mutual respect, and is therefore to be regarded as an unbannable opinion.

 
mcalpine
 
Avatar
 
 
mcalpine
Total Posts:  791
Joined  28-08-2007
 
 
 
01 March 2008 10:16
 

I do not see the connection between freedom of speech and mutual respect.

 
arildno
 
Avatar
 
 
arildno
Total Posts:  1290
Joined  26-12-2006
 
 
 
01 March 2008 10:25
 
mcalpine - 01 March 2008 03:16 PM

I do not see the connection between freedom of speech and mutual respect.

No, it does not need to exist.

Those statements that are incompatible with the pronciple of mutual respect need not be protected by reference to “free speech”, i.e, they are bannable (not necessarily to be banned).

It is, however a moral duty to protect the free utterance of statements that are compatible with mutual respect, irrespective of your agreement with the statement or not.

 
mcalpine
 
Avatar
 
 
mcalpine
Total Posts:  791
Joined  28-08-2007
 
 
 
02 March 2008 10:40
 

I’m a little slow, but it sounds like limiting unbannable speech to mutual respect would be the end of 90% of the material on discussion forums like this one. It brings to mind the old Twilight Zone episode It’s a Good Life.

 
arildno
 
Avatar
 
 
arildno
Total Posts:  1290
Joined  26-12-2006
 
 
 
02 March 2008 10:45
 
mcalpine - 02 March 2008 03:40 PM

I’m a little slow, but it sounds like limiting unbannable speech to mutual respect would be the end of 90% of the material on discussion forums like this one. It brings to mind the old Twilight Zone episode It’s a Good Life.

Hmm..I made quite clear what I meant with that phrase in my first post.