Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Freedom of Speech



The right of people to express their opinions publicly without governmental interference, subject to the laws against libel, incitement to violence or rebellion, etc.

The right, guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, to express beliefs and ideas without unwarranted government restriction.

The right to express information, ideas, and opinions free of government restrictions based on content and subject only to reasonable limitations…

There is only speech, and government opposition to it.

The protests in France and elsewhere – supposedly in support of free speech – are laughable.  France, having some of the more draconian speech laws, is now the center of the world for free speech and expression.  The politicians, marching arm-in-arm in support of blasphemous cartoonists, are arresting free speakers at the same time they march.

This mass killing has been turned into a free speech issue – an issue guaranteed to garner public support (if the cartoons received as much publicity in the mass media as the march did, perhaps the public outcry would be tempered).  But what does Charlie Hebdo have to do with free speech?

Nothing.

What does free speech even mean?  I do not understand the idea of “free speech” in a private context.  If you are in my house and insult me, I will throw you out.  Have I violated your rights somehow?  If you are in my store and tell every patron that my prices are too high, must I allow you this platform?  I am not asking in the context of current law – I am asking in terms of a respect for private property.

I understand free speech in the “Congress (or whatever legislative body) shall make no law” sense (too bad the protestors don’t understand the thousands of laws that violate this concept).  But not in the private sphere.

And the Charlie Hebdo event was in the private sphere.  Technically, France has laws prohibiting what Charlie Hebdo was doing – yet, did not enforce these laws.  In other words, the government did not prohibit Charlie’s free speech in this case.

In the private sphere, I cannot grasp the concept of free speech.  I understand it only in terms of property rights.  I have a right to limit what is said on my property, and remove individuals of my choosing for reasons of speech.

In the private sphere, I cannot grasp the concept of violations of the right to free speech.  I understand it only in terms of aggression.  The employees at Charlie Hebdo suffered a violation of physical aggression.

There is so much hypocrisy in this episode, not the least of which is crafting the narrative into one of free speech.  It provides a much more sympathetic narrative than does the truth.

9 comments:

  1. and then a couple of days after France went all misty eyed over the free speech of a magazine that made outrageous, if not particularity funny statements, France arrests a comedian for making outrageous,if not particularity funny statements at magazines expense.

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/14/dieudonne-arrest-facebook-post-charlie-coulibaly-paris-gunman

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    1. Just goes to show you that "freedom of speech" is "freedom of speech that we like" in practice.

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  2. Then again was a freedom of religion issue? Namely should someone have the right to practice their religion without it being mocked?

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    1. Hmmm

      A right to practice absolutely, but the right to stop someone else from speaking about it publicly no. That is the problem of course in a nutshell with the Charlie Hebdo attack. It basically created a license for the government to arrest anybody that says anything against Jews in General and Israel in particular. At the same time, it reinforced and formalized the definition of free speech to mean anything goes except against the Jews. The real message being broadcast in the after math of the Paris attack is simple; Jews and Jewish interests come before the rights and freedoms of everybody else.

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    2. I'm not sure why you're bringing this up, Gil. Are you insinuating that you think people have, or should have, the right to practice their religions without them being mocked?

      I think this is a lot easier to understand in terms of private property rights. Charlie Hebdo has every right to publish anything using its own property (i.e. property that it justly acquired). Therefore the attack on Charlie Hebdo was aggression and is to be condemned.

      So I guess the right to publish anything at all with one's own property - notwithstanding contractual arrangements to the contrary - means there's no right to practice any religion without it being mocked. And you know what, that phrase ("the right to practice their religion without it being mocked") actually strikes me as awkward. You're really just talking about the right of a religion to not be mocked. Well as far as I'm concerned, no one has the right to not be mocked.

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  3. Exactly right. Ridiculous, absurd nonsense from a population of people worldwide who just can't think. And therefore are easily manipulated by politicians. Par for the course, of course.

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    1. Since pretty much everyone is inculcated from birth to have blind faith in "their" governments, it's no surprise then that most people systematically employ (however unwittingly) the argument from ignorance whenever things like this happen.

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  4. The Maltz Museum has been buying-up artworks of Marc Breed's and destroying them.
    -UPI Newswire

    http://topclevelandartists.blogspot.com

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    1. I think that the Maltz Museum has every right to do so - to the extent that it's not supported by taxation.

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