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Robert Sorell

Well-Known Member
I'm sure you didn't mean it this way, but this is about as un-American an idea as you can get.
Define un-American.

"X" is un-American is, IMHO, a worthless argument. Fealty to fear of that which is un-American gave Joe McCarthy influence and power.

Amending the Constitution is very American.

Regulating hate speech is very in line with liberal democracies. Is liberal democracy inherently un-American?
 

Gary Indiana

Club Member
Club Member
Define un-American.

"X" is un-American is, IMHO, a worthless argument. Fealty to fear of that which is un-American gave Joe McCarthy influence and power.

Amending the Constitution is very American.

Regulating hate speech is very in line with liberal democracies. Is liberal democracy inherently un-American?
I find it unamerican to impede someone’s ability to express themselves, simply because the words might be disagreeable or hurtful.

For instance, I despise the KKK and the Westboro Baptist Church, but the same constitutional guarantee that allows them to preach their message also allows me to say “our president is a racist and worthless pile of ****”.
 

Robert Sorell

Well-Known Member
So now you’re going to legislate “hurt feelings”? No thanks.
The point is that it's not about hurt feelings.

I would classify hurt feelings as offensive, and what I wrote is that offensiveness is not problematic for hate speech.

Bringing it back to McNeil (the K-State alt-right organizer)

McNeil made crude homophobic comments, calling the LGBTQ+ community “degenerates” and using an anti-LGBTQ+ slur during an interview.
Treating homosexuals as "degenerates" has lead to very real physical harms. Take the example of Alan Turing who was castrated, despite being a war hero.

Admittedly, it's a huge grey area to get from language that promotes harm to language that causes actual harm.

You have to draw the line somewhere; free speech has limits; obviously yelling fire in a crowded public space can cause physical harm; it may be less obvious that calling someone a degenerate for being homosexual can cause harm.
 

Gary Indiana

Club Member
Club Member
The point is that it's not about hurt feelings.

I would classify hurt feelings as offensive, and what I wrote is that offensiveness is not problematic for hate speech.

Bringing it back to McNeil (the K-State alt-right organizer)



Treating homosexuals as "degenerates" has lead to very real physical harms. Take the example of Alan Turing who was castrated, despite being a war hero.

Admittedly, it's a huge grey area to get from language that promotes harm to language that causes actual harm.

You have to draw the line somewhere; free speech has limits; obviously yelling fire in a crowded public space can cause physical harm; it may be less obvious that calling someone a degenerate for being homosexual can cause harm.
You highlighted the flaw of your own argument. There’s a big delta between saying homosexuals are degenerates and taking actions to treat them as such.
 

Robert Sorell

Well-Known Member
You highlighted the flaw of your own argument. There’s a big delta between saying homosexuals are degenerates and taking actions to treat them as such.
Wading into that mess is what other liberal democracies like the UK and Australia do.

The harm need not be castration or execution. It can be exclusion from participation in society in various in sundry ways; do you take the view that individuals of protected classes just need to get over their feelings and then the harm goes away?
 

Gary Indiana

Club Member
Club Member
Wading into that mess is what other liberal democracies like the UK and Australia do.

The harm need not be castration or execution. It can be exclusion from participation in society in various in sundry ways; do you take the view that individuals of protected classes just need to get over their feelings and then the harm goes away?
No one is saying that the harm needs to be castration or execution. In fact, de jure discrimination against protected classes already exists and the limits of such are expanding everyday.
 

SINKRATZ

PhD in Analogy
Club Member
The point is that it's not about hurt feelings.

I would classify hurt feelings as offensive, and what I wrote is that offensiveness is not problematic for hate speech.

Bringing it back to McNeil (the K-State alt-right organizer)



Treating homosexuals as "degenerates" has lead to very real physical harms. Take the example of Alan Turing who was castrated, despite being a war hero.

Admittedly, it's a huge grey area to get from language that promotes harm to language that causes actual harm.

You have to draw the line somewhere; free speech has limits; obviously yelling fire in a crowded public space can cause physical harm; it may be less obvious that calling someone a degenerate for being homosexual can cause harm.
The difference between yelling fire in a movie theater and calling homosexuals degenerates, is that the former requires no other crime to be committed in order to cause the resultant harm - the latter does.
 

Robert Sorell

Well-Known Member
The difference between yelling fire in a movie theater and calling homosexuals degenerates, is that the former requires no other crime to be committed in order to cause the resultant harm - the latter does.
That's a useful distinction.

I do think you could you argue that the harm caused by yelling fire requires stupidity of others, not necessarily those who were injured. Ostensibly, everyone could calmly evacuate in an orderly fashion.

How does that distinction apply to a death threat for you? If words can't be crimes, then the threat is not criminal, only carrying out the threat is.
 

SINKRATZ

PhD in Analogy
Club Member
That's a useful distinction.

I do think you could you argue that the harm caused by yelling fire requires stupidity of others, not necessarily those who were injured. Ostensibly, everyone could calmly evacuate in an orderly fashion.

How does that distinction apply to a death threat for you? If words can't be crimes, then the threat is not criminal, only carrying out the threat is.
I think there’s a pretty clear distinction there when you’re talking about an imminent threat compared to derogatory language. A reasonable person could rightly feel an imminent threat when someone says “I’m going to kill you”, but not if someone called them a degenerate.
 

Robert Sorell

Well-Known Member
I think there’s a pretty clear distinction there when you’re talking about an imminent threat compared to derogatory language. A reasonable person could rightly feel an imminent threat when someone says “I’m going to kill you”, but not if someone called them a degenerate.
I'm just going down a rabbit hole here, but it's my way of trying to sort out the logic of all of this for myself; apologies if this gets to be exhausting.

So, imminence emerges as a distinction. "I'm going to kill you 10 years from today," fails to meet that criteria; so maybe it's specificity and credibility, but what does that do to the shouting fire example?
 

SINKRATZ

PhD in Analogy
Club Member
I'm just going down a rabbit hole here, but it's my way of trying to sort out the logic of all of this for myself; apologies if this gets to be exhausting.

So, imminence emerges as a distinction. "I'm going to kill you 10 years from today," fails to meet that criteria; so maybe it's specificity and credibility, but what does that do to the shouting fire example?
Not exhausting and please understand I’m not a lawyer so these are all my takes without regard to how the law actually treats these scenarios.

I think you hit it with “credibility” - can a threat to commit a crime 10 years from now really be credible or be perceived as reasonably credible to the person threatened? I don’t know. In a crowded theater, all it would take is 1 person in that theater to believe that the fire warning was credible.
 

skibum

Did not pee on the Alamo.
Club Member
Not exhausting and please understand I’m not a lawyer so these are all my takes without regard to how the law actually treats these scenarios.

I think you hit it with “credibility” - can a threat to commit a crime 10 years from now really be credible or be perceived as reasonably credible to the person threatened? I don’t know. In a crowded theater, all it would take is 1 person in that theater to believe that the fire warning was credible.
Let's go back to this example:

I think there’s a pretty clear distinction there when you’re talking about an imminent threat compared to derogatory language. A reasonable person could rightly feel an imminent threat when someone says “I’m going to kill you”, but not if someone called them a degenerate.
I can actually think of many situations where calling someone a degenerate would generate a "rightly felt" imminent threat.

What about the case of a bunch of white supremacists hold a rally where a bunch of their members are armed and they spew a bunch of hatred about certain people being degenerates, thugs, low-lifes, scum, etc, etc without ever explicitly calling for violence against them? Is that protected speech?

What if they hold that same rally outside of a black church during services? (Or mosque, or synagogue, "gay" church, etc?)

Physical and temporal location I think obviously places limits on what is protected "free speech." It is somewhat obvious that what may be protected in one space and time is not protected in another.

"The internet," social networks, ease of travel, and many other things are obviously challenging the limits and definitions of the spaces wherein so called "protected" free speech may be expressed.

We could be getting to a time where no one can yell "fire," because at any given point, some of the people who will hear and take action on the yell actually are in a crowded theater.
 

SINKRATZ

PhD in Analogy
Club Member
Let's go back to this example:



I can actually think of many situations where calling someone a degenerate would generate a "rightly felt" imminent threat.

What about the case of a bunch of white supremacists hold a rally where a bunch of their members are armed and they spew a bunch of hatred about certain people being degenerates, thugs, low-lifes, scum, etc, etc without ever explicitly calling for violence against them? Is that protected speech?

What if they hold that same rally outside of a black church during services? (Or mosque, or synagogue, "gay" church, etc?)

Physical and temporal location I think obviously places limits on what is protected "free speech." It is somewhat obvious that what may be protected in one space and time is not protected in another.

"The internet," social networks, ease of travel, and many other things are obviously challenging the limits and definitions of the spaces wherein so called "protected" free speech may be expressed.

We could be getting to a time where no one can yell "fire," because at any given point, some of the people who will hear and take action on the yell actually are in a crowded theater.
I guess it would be up to a jury to decide if someone being called a degenerate was right to believe they were in imminent danger.

To your demonstration examples, if a white supremacist group were holding a rally downtown denouncing homosexuals as degenerates, I would think that should be protected - they aren’t making specific threats. If their rally was saying “All gays should be murdered”, that’s a different story (to me at least).

Now the example of an armed rally outside a black church is hard for me to grapple with because now you’re dealing with the intersection of 1st and 2nd amendment rights and I’m no constitutional law expert.
 

BuffsNYC

Clubber Lang
Club Member
Let's go back to this example:



I can actually think of many situations where calling someone a degenerate would generate a "rightly felt" imminent threat.

What about the case of a bunch of white supremacists hold a rally where a bunch of their members are armed and they spew a bunch of hatred about certain people being degenerates, thugs, low-lifes, scum, etc, etc without ever explicitly calling for violence against them? Is that protected speech?

What if they hold that same rally outside of a black church during services? (Or mosque, or synagogue, "gay" church, etc?)

Physical and temporal location I think obviously places limits on what is protected "free speech." It is somewhat obvious that what may be protected in one space and time is not protected in another.

"The internet," social networks, ease of travel, and many other things are obviously challenging the limits and definitions of the spaces wherein so called "protected" free speech may be expressed.

We could be getting to a time where no one can yell "fire," because at any given point, some of the people who will hear and take action on the yell actually are in a crowded theater.
I disagree that stronger regulation of "hate speech" would be a common good, but I'm not supremely confident in that belief. As I said earlier, many European countries ban fascist speech and liberty hasn't dissolved.


I think my reticence is mainly because of the nature of American democracy, which has never approached a true democracy (and wasn't established as such.) It allows powerful minorities to write laws. So, while you may be thinking that it would be good to have laws that bar the demonization of gay people, I foresee laws that bar the questioning of Jesus's divinity.
 

skibum

Did not pee on the Alamo.
Club Member
To your demonstration examples, if a white supremacist group were holding an armed rally in a "gay" neighborhood during pride week and were denouncing homosexuals as degenerates and worthless human beings.
Is it a tougher call now?

If your audience is armed and there are large members of the targeted group in close proximity, I don't think there is any expression of hate that is not an imminent threat.
 

SINKRATZ

PhD in Analogy
Club Member
Is it a tougher call now?

If your audience is armed and there are large members of the targeted group in close proximity, I don't think there is any expression of hate that is not an imminent threat.
Yes it’s harder but partly because you’re not just dealing with 1st amendment rights but also 2nd amendment rights in that scenario.

None of this is easy or black and white.
 

skibum

Did not pee on the Alamo.
Club Member
Yes it’s harder but partly because you’re not just dealing with 1st amendment rights but also 2nd amendment rights in that scenario.

None of this is easy or black and white.
I just realized you're sort of approaching this like I would expect a lawyer to: evaluating the constitutionality of certain speech - and I agree with you, it's definitely a tough call.

I was approaching from a normative point of "should a society protect this type of speech?" Which is a much different question/discussion. It's a also a tough call, but the arguments and reasons behind them are somewhat different.
 

Robert Sorell

Well-Known Member
Since this has become the Hate Speech thread, I'll put it here; maybe mods can mop up the last couple of pages of posts and create a new thread?

More movement by YouTube and Reddit to ban hate speech on their platforms.


 

SINKRATZ

PhD in Analogy
Club Member
I just realized you're sort of approaching this like I would expect a lawyer to: evaluating the constitutionality of certain speech - and I agree with you, it's definitely a tough call.

I was approaching from a normative point of "should a society protect this type of speech?" Which is a much different question/discussion. It's a also a tough call, but the arguments and reasons behind them are somewhat different.
I’m looking at it both ways but am not a lawyer. In my ideal world the laws would align with my views on these issues, I just have not thought out all the potential circumstances that could arise to challenge those views so I appreciate the discussion.

Generally speaking I believe the default should be to protect speech unless there is some demonstrable risk to a person’s (or people’s) safety.
 
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