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Thread: Is Free Speech Under Attack in this Country?

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    Is Free Speech Under Attack in this Country?

    We've spoken a lot about this in political correctness thread and a few others.

    I'm fully aware that this notion will be mocked and dismissed, but I'd welcome any data that can be presented, any thoughtful commentary on specific examples posted, and whether or not open and free speech is at risk in the US. The majority of examples I come across are leftists trying to shut down conservative speech, but if you come across the other way around, please post it.

    Note - I do not contend the government is oppressing free speech. For the great majority of examples I've seen and will post about, the action is legal. My question would be whether or not it is healthy and protects free speech throughout our society.

    I contend we're slipping down a path where certain (non-controversial) opinions are being silenced. Would love to discuss it on the board if you think it's a worthwhile topic.

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    I just saw this today, so I'll go ahead and post it:


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    This guy wrote an interesting article last week that I thought was pretty good. He says being conservative has led to the bullying and stigma he feared about being gay.

    Link to article:
    http://thefederalist.com/2018/12/11/...se-stigma-gay/

    Today I find myself in that same frame of mind and under the same weight of frustration and skepticism, but it’s not because I’m gay. Today I look out across the turbulent sea of political discourse and ask, “Why would anyone choose to be a conservative?” To be a conservative means to openly invite others’ hatred into your life and to lose your humanity in the eyes of strangers who view you exclusively through stereotypes and prejudices.

    To be a conservative means to be forced to choose when to speak and when to remain silent, since offending someone on the left, even mildly or by accident, is a social battle you may not be able to win. To be a conservative means carefully regulating your speech and constructing opinions in such a way as to avoid being banned from the public square. To be a conservative means to be a marginalized voice, suppressed and dehumanized; bullied into hesitating to speak out.
    He was predictably scolded online by people mocking the notion. But it's difficult to dismiss someone who has lived through both.


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    I tend to agree that it has become more difficult to have honest public conversations without someone claiming they have been offended. Opinion is just that and if the intent of a speaker is to simply express that opinion without threatening physical harm or extremely violating cultural norms (racist, sexist, homophobic, etc.), people need to grow some skin and let that go. Stand-up comics are no longer going to college campuses and it's no mystery why. Even something ludicrous is attacked. I largely blame an education system that has become more intent on filling students with useless bits of knowledge and foregoing any attempt to supply students with critical thinking skills so they can tell the difference between satire (or statements made for comic effect) and real life.

    This is a bit difficult for a lot of people in my age group. I read The National Lampoon voraciously and that entire oeuvre was laced with what would now be considered unacceptable. I grew up in an era of very casual racism featuring the Frito Bandito, Jose Jimenez (a horrid caricature of a Mexican played by a Jewish guy), white actors portraying Native Americans as mindless savages, etc. But most have adjusted to a new reality and that is a good thing. It's a little trickier with what would be considered serious real world topics and conversation. As I said above, as long as sentiments, radical or otherwise, are expressed in a manner that meets overall cultural norms, people need to allow that without getting all hot and bothered.

    I don't agree with a vast majority of Jordan Peterson's analysis of what's wrong with the world and Bill Maher gets a too preachy for my tastes, but I thought this segment on Maher's show was pretty good.


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    The only thing that has changed is that our speech is more out there with social media. "Immoral" opinions have always got blowback from other private citizens. Abolitionists were lynched. Advocating for many things like interracial marriage and voting rights for various groups. Would anyone here be okay working with someone who supports NAMBLA? How about a Middle Easterner who celebrates when one of our troops dies? Just a political opinion right?



    The issue is a culture war for whats acceptable speech. What we have is the results of indoctrination in public schools. They dont need reeducation centers when they can drill it into you at your most impressionable age.
    "State power feeds on crisis and enemies"

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    anyone have data to share on "attacks on free speech" or even anecdotes? so we can compare the situation today versus prior periods in history
    It's a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning. Senator Bob Corker

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    I am going to take a wild guess and say less people are publicly lynched for their opinion these days.
    "State power feeds on crisis and enemies"

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    Quote Originally Posted by cajunrevenge View Post
    I am going to take a wild guess and say less people are publicly lynched for their opinion these days.
    actually i was thinking about that very thing...plus the violence suffered by those involved in the civil rights movement in the South and elsewhere (essentially for exercising their first amendment rights)...compared to those "good old days" things are not so bad
    It's a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning. Senator Bob Corker

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    Quote Originally Posted by sturg33 View Post
    We've spoken a lot about this in political correctness thread and a few others.

    I'm fully aware that this notion will be mocked and dismissed, but I'd welcome any data that can be presented, any thoughtful commentary on specific examples posted, and whether or not open and free speech is at risk in the US. The majority of examples I come across are leftists trying to shut down conservative speech, but if you come across the other way around, please post it.

    Note - I do not contend the government is oppressing free speech. For the great majority of examples I've seen and will post about, the action is legal. My question would be whether or not it is healthy and protects free speech throughout our society.

    I contend we're slipping down a path where certain (non-controversial) opinions are being silenced. Would love to discuss it on the board if you think it's a worthwhile topic.
    Then the answer is no. There has never been freedom from public scrutiny for speech. I think the only difference these days is what’s considered controversial and which groups are most likely to hold such opinions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nsacpi View Post
    actually i was thinking about that very thing...plus the violence suffered by those involved in the civil rights movement in the South and elsewhere (essentially for exercising their first amendment rights)...compared to those "good old days" things are not so bad
    I don't think the bar should be set at "well we're not lynching people anymore so things aren't bad"

    Those folks faught for law changes and meaningful reform to individual liberty.

    I'm more focused on today and the future, not the past. It appears to me that speech on the right is being snuffed out without legitimate cause (i.e. Ben Shapiro is not a "threat" to.anyone).

    @50, thanks for sharing that video. I respect Maher a lot due to his consistent defense of speech. I also think Peterson is very bright (he too has been vilified relentlessly).

    I think the problem stems in the education sector to raise kids to get upset at anything that doesn't go their way.

    For the record, as mentioned above, I do not believe our first amendment is at risk and I don't believe people will be lynched for their opinions... But I do fear that legitimate speech is being silenced out of fear of being completely ostracized from the community.

    Lastly, we are starting to see the expansion of hate speech (particularly on college campuses). Many of those are publicly fundiled which is a concern

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    Expects Yuge Games nsacpi's Avatar
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    Allen Dershowitz complained about being ostracised and shunned last summer during his visit to Martha's Vineyard I believe. Now I actually enjoy listening to AD. And unlike many of Trump's defenders I think he occasionally raises a good point. But I also think he is doing the devil's work in using his intellect and knowledge of the law to normalize or defend what has been happening. So if I travelled in his social circles (and I don't) I wouldn't consider it an infringement on his free speech rights if I decided not to be as friendly.

    When we bring up words like ostracization, it covers a lot of things. I have some very enthusiastically pro-Trump relatives. In some cases, I have a lot less to do with them than I once did. And I don't think I'm infringing on anyone's free speech rights in taking that course.

    Another anecdote along the same lines. I like to eat at the hotel bar when travelling for business. On occasion I've finished my meal in a hurry because I didn't want to prolong a political conversation. I enjoy talking to people of a different political persuasion. But not all such people. Sometimes it gets so absurd and ridiculous that just leaving the bar (which is a form of ostracisation) seems to be the best course of action.
    Last edited by nsacpi; 12-19-2018 at 11:08 AM.
    It's a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning. Senator Bob Corker

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    A Chip Off the Old Rock Julio3000's Avatar
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    Yeah, I think there are some legitimate concerns here, and some legitimate differences of opinion about whether de-platforming self-styled provocateurs whose real interest is monetizing a ginned-up argument is suppression of dissent or just good sense.

    Id throw public support for Palestine or Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions wrt Israel into the ring for the discussion, too.

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    I forgot to mention the Israel thing. A lot of government contracts are requiring you sign anti-boycott Israel stuff. Een had a teacher fired for refusing to sign it. I also believe Harvey relief required you sign it as well.


    Personally I dont know what I could boycott but if the government says I cant boycott them then I will. Their stipulation is hilariously unconstitutional.
    "State power feeds on crisis and enemies"

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    One of my clients had a presentation on racial equity yesterday. I couldn't stay to catch the whole thing, but they had a nice little handout that I thought was really insightful. The presentation dealt with racial equity, but I think the principles can be applied to other areas. The piece was entitled "Courageous Conversations" and its four agreements were: (1) Stay engaged, (2) Experience discomfort, (3) Speak your truth, and (4) Expect/Accept non-closure. I think the problem we have in dealing with contentious (and sometimes not-so-contentious) issues is that people throw up a wall when the get to (2). I think the "trigger warning" issue gets a little overblown, but in and of itself, such warnings allow individuals to avoid some of the realities of life. It's that bubble-wrapping that really has to be explored if we are ever going to be able to rebuild any type of consensus in this country.

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    Schools are training kids to act a certain way when dealing with someone with an opinion they dont like. First start crying. If that doesnt work say you dont feel safe. If that doesnt work claim you are in pain because you heard their opinion. Many people automatically assume the "injured" party is in the right.



    One of the few things I looked forward to in a Trump presidency was combating this SJW movement. Its a cancer and they are winning.
    "State power feeds on crisis and enemies"

    John T. Flynn 1944

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    Here is an example of a person on the left using our current environment in order to harass and shut down this person bc they don't like their politics.

    This obviously isn't about a cake... This is about shutting down opposing viewpoints


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    Quote Originally Posted by sturg33 View Post
    Here is an example of a person on the left using our current environment in order to harass and shut down this person bc they don't like their politics.

    This obviously isn't about a cake... This is about shutting down opposing viewpoints

    Just plain stupid. Whether or not I agree with the baker's personal views, he should be left alone at this point. He's not the only baker in Colorado.

    PS--Who in the hell would want a Satanic Dildo Cake? That's probably something that should be made at home.

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    And the law has remedies for this. First off I bet there are no shortage of people wanting to relitigate the issue who will fund lawyers for them. A good law firm might take it up just because they can get the plaintiffs to pay the legal fees.


    Does anyone ever stop to consider how history will remember the "magic man in sky" people? Your just a cult that got too big to fail. I wonder what percentage of believers today only do so because it was forced on their ancestors with violence or the threat of violence and passed down from there.
    "State power feeds on crisis and enemies"

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    Quote Originally Posted by cajunrevenge View Post
    Schools are training kids to act a certain way when dealing with someone with an opinion they dont like. First start crying. If that doesnt work say you dont feel safe. If that doesnt work claim you are in pain because you heard their opinion. Many people automatically assume the "injured" party is in the right.



    One of the few things I looked forward to in a Trump presidency was combating this SJW movement. Its a cancer and they are winning.
    I don't blame the teachers or the kids. I blame the parents and it's parents of all political stripes that I blame. Teachers are walking on eggshells these days because parents run right to the school board/school administration when they believe their child has been treated unfairly or ridiculed and with all the choice in public education these days (open enrollment, charter schools, alternative learning environments) the process becomes "all about the customer."

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    I'm a firm advocate of free speech. I think using any kind of power to silence any viewpoint is a dangerous business to start. I've never encountered anything so awful, dangerous, and evil that it can't be talked about.

    When I try to argue with people that free speech is important, the argument I often hear back justifying people taking action to shut down someone they disagree with is "The first amendment only protects you from the government. It doesn't protect you from other people." This is a legally true statement. You have every right to protest and demand someone's business be destroyed or their employer fire them. However, I find that abhorrent to the philosophical reasons supporting freedom of speech.

    A marketplace of ideas only works if people are not afraid of retribution for stating their belief. And I don't think where the retribution comes from should make a difference. In the past, the government has been the one shutting down free speech. It often still does. But more and more we're seeing people banding together and using new media to try to exert power or pressure institutions with power to use that power to silence speech.

    Suppose you have a scientist who wants to publish a paper detailing how the dumping of certain chemicals contaminates water supplies and causes cancer. Now suppose there's a company that dumps a lot of these chemicals that's also a big donor to the private university that employs that scientist. The company tells the university they wont donate any more money if any faculty members publish any papers about those chemicals. The university then tells the scientist that if he publishes that paper, he'll be fired or never get tenure.

    In this case you've had a private actor (the company) pressuring another private actor (the university) to silence the scientist and so hold back what could have been beneficial information to society. This is the danger of silencing speech whether it's a government silencing it or a private actor.

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