Sunday, September 10, 2006

What limits, if any, would you put on freedom of speech


Blogger L>T said...

- A professor who has suggested the World Trade Center was brought down by explosives has been placed on paid leave by Brigham Young University-

As far as this is concerned the guy is prob. a conspiracy theory nut case. It prob. doesn't have as much to do with that particular statement as it has to do with his overall mental state. That's my guess.

In answer to your question:
"As few as possible."

Let me ask you, "Do you think there are any benefits to putting limits on freedom of speech?

9:51 PM  
Blogger Professor Zero said...

Here's the commentary that has appeared on my site so far, where you also posted this question.

Hi Mister Pregunto! That is a broad question. In general terms, I am more or less with the ACLU on it. 'Speech' which is a threat or an intimidation tactic, I'd limit somehow. I am not entirely sure how, though. I'd need to look at existing laws, rules, and conventions, and at their histories, to see what their implications have been.

The BYU case specifically is about academic freedom almost more than freedom of speech generally. Note that this wasn't about the professor getting off topic in class, or conducting research outside his field. It is about an opinion given and discussed outside working hours. The administration's statement in defense of itself, that this was something upon which only an engineer could opine, is pretty thin.

The Changeseeker:

My confusion on all this stuff about 9-11 involves the increasing body of facts that very clearly suggest (with much engineering and other evidence, not to mention logic) that the whole situation was radically different from the way it was presented and perceived at the time. How long are we to ignore this evidence and logic?

The Bush administration has told so many lies that are now understood as such (and in most cases even admitted to), at least one of which sent us into a full-scale bottomless pit of war against a nation that had not and was not about to attack us, but we keep operating as if this doesn't matter. I don't understand this. Why doesn't it matter? We're concerned with freedom of speech, but not with an administration caught in a series of crucial, intentional, public prevarications?

With all the documented lies already on the table, why would it be a freedom of speech issue that one more question keeps being raised by multiple speakers? Striking down the BYU professor for even discussing the matter outside of class is like recruiting children to rat out their parents for not supporting the government. Is it now a crime not to support the U.S. government? Is it a freedom of speech issue to say the emperor wears no clothes?

My comment on l>t's comment is, it seems to me that people often say 'that's a conspiracy theory' about news they don't know about, or about discussions events which have happened, as if inevitably, as a result of multiple causes, not as a result of a conspiracy.

7:20 AM  
Blogger Phil Plasma said...

I would limit free speech to the discussion of mollusks.

1:43 PM  
Blogger Mister Pregunto said...

I should state up front that while I am for freedom of speech, I do not hold to the notion of absolute freedom of speech. Using speech to threaten others, or to urge others to hate or harm other people would be examples of unacceptable behavior.

Even apart from even the use of threats, there are times when people annoy me with their knee-jerk overdefence of free speech. I just remembered that I blogged on this as Copernicus earlier in the year.

On the other hand there are plenty of times when I think one should stand up for free speech. Possibly the professor's case is one. That would be true whether or not he is a crazy conspiracy theorist. (I have no opinion on that point.)

In the immediate aftermath of 911 there was a marked tendency to shout down people who questioned America's role in 911. And that doesn't just mean people who suggested that Americans actually plotted against Americans. Even people who just wanted to ask questions about the western world's involvement in 3rd world countries were shouted down.

Personally, I haven't heard any theoriees that I feel compelled to believe--although, admittedly, I haven't really paid enough attention to them to be properly informed--but I think it's important that we allow people to ask questions.

In my opinion, we would be doing our best to defend free speech by asking some good questions of our own.

What do you think the best way to defend free speech would be?

9:14 PM  
Blogger Mister Pregunto said...


All mollusks are liars.

9:15 PM  
Blogger L>T said...

What do you think the best way to defend free speech would be?
The best way to defend free speech is to stick up for yourself.
Don't let the status quo bully you if you don't agree.

Also, reconize your own self that everyone's input is valuable even if you don't agree with them.
For instance, sometimes a completly opposing veiw is the best catalyst to help you form your own opinion.

Don't be to quick to judge, be open minded.
(of course I contradict myself here by saying the professor is prob. a conspiracy theory nut case )But, then again I'm willing to admit that was a fallacy in thinking.

Also, I would say being reasonable & polite in your exchanges of ideas with other people benefits free speech.

8:50 AM  
Blogger L>T said...

I have been talking to a good friend of mine on the phone all week who is grieving over her husband who was killed on the plane that slammed into the Pentagon.(this anniversity has opened up a lot of wounds) really heartwrenching stuff.
& I'm browsing the 9/11 blogs this week too. & I came to one that really hit me wrong with it's tone negative anti-American sentiment.
(I know this person feels that way anyway, No big deal she has a right.)
The point is I didn't want to see that sort of thing at the moment so i exercised my right not to read it.
Doing that can solve alot of problems in dealing with some one elses freedom of speech.

8:41 AM  
Blogger Mister Pregunto said...

Perhaps the implication of what you are saying is that we need to recognize that there is more to the freedom of speech than just speech itself. There is a collection of freedoms that work together. In this case, the freedom of speech is one, but there is a closely related one that is the freedom to listen (and, consequently, the freedom not to listen) that go along with the freedom of speech. If one becomes problematic, the other can be used to reintroduce balance.

Do you suppose we should rename it the "freedoms of speech and tuning out"?

[Or something like that?]

10:02 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

wow - l>t stole my answer...
see the most recent discussion on tg for about 5 trillion more words on the topic

6:51 AM  

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