Je Suis Disappoint: French Court Convicts Idiots For Homophobic Stupidity

from the all-mixed-up dept

We're going to have to repeat this until the point sinks in: advocates of free speech don't get to pick and choose what speech is free based on whether that speech is likable or not. It might seem cruel to continue hammering France in particular on this point, given their most recent experience with Islamic extremists using terror tactics to try to silence protected parody, but the point will be made, cruel or not. The wake of the attacks on a satirical magazine saw many in the world come to France's aid in solidarity behind the ability to speak freely and offensively, even as France also arrested a controversial comedian for his speech and Paris announced it would file suit against Fox News for their very-Fox-News-y claims about so-called "no-go Muslim" areas in the city. Those types of actions don't necessarily negate the solidarity the world showed our European neighbors, but it sure doesn't help.

And it gets more problematic with each new example of France's hypocrisy when it comes to free and open speech. The most recent example is a French court convicting three assholes for spewing homophobic crap on Twitter.

A French court has handed out convictions for anti-gay hate crimes on Twitter for the first time, after three people used the hashtag “let’s burn the gays”. In what a major French LGBT rights group called a “significant victory”, three people were convicted in a Paris court this week after they accompanied tweets with hashtags including “let’s burn the gays on...“ or "#brûlonslesgayssurdu).” During the same period in August 2013, “#Lesgaysdoiventdisparaîtrecar”, or “gays must die because...”, was also trending.
Here's where proponents of free speech get put to the test and too often fail on the merits. It's quite easy to pat ourselves on the back in the West by saying that a political magazine should enjoy the freedom to mock a world religion, because that lines up nicely with secular values. Far more challenging is saying that homophobic idiots who aren't actually inciting real-life violence should be allowed to spew bigotry, because that doesn't line up with most of our values. It's more difficult. Too bad, do it anyway. Because if we're really going to claim that a stupid hashtag is grounds for conviction, someone had damned well better be scouring Twitter in the days following the terrorist attack and arresting anyone who called for violence against Muslims. Who wants to actually bet that such sentiments weren't expressed? Either speech is free, or it isn't. There's no middle ground.

And that's a lesson that my friends in French LGBT organizations probably want to learn pretty quickly, because while acceptance is more in vogue now than ever before, that can change over time.
Yohann Roszewitch, president of SOS Homophobie, an LGBT association which also reports on homophobic tweets, told the website: "We’re positive that this will send out the message that the internet is not a place with no rules where you can do whatever you want."
Yohann, the thought experiment you want to be doing right now is to ask yourself why those words can't be expressed against your group should those that don't like you find themselves in power in the future. "We've arrested several homosexuals for espousing their dangerous thoughts on Twitter in order to send a message to other homosexuals that they aren't allowed to speak freely." It's a statement that probably couldn't be made in France today, but progress isn't made with nary a step backwards. The best defense of a group's freedom to speak openly is the defense of everyone's freedom to do so. Please learn this lesson already, France.

Filed Under: charlie hebdo, france, free speech, hate speech, homophobia, lgbt, tweets


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  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 27 Jan 2015 @ 2:29am

    It's about time we stopped calling those crimes "hate crimes" or "anti-gay crimes" or "prejudice crimes". They are crimes plain and simple. There are several issues when you add another typification to the law or even to society.

    First you make the segregation official by giving an special spot to that specific "race". Secondly you open a wide door to abuse such as this case. Sure their tonne is reprehensible but if no threats or incitement to direct violence against other citizens is present then they are free to be bigots and to be 'socially punished' for their idiocy. With more speech, not with laws, not with arrests, not with violence.

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  • icon
    Violynne (profile), 27 Jan 2015 @ 3:20am

    Time to chime in.

    There's a TREMENDOUS difference between free speech and a hate crime.

    If someone wants to bash homosexuals based on ignorant views, it's speech I don't like, but they've a right to say it.

    ALL COMMUNICATION STOPS AS A FORM OF FREE SPEECH WHEN THE SUBJECT TURNS TO PHYSICAL HARM.

    That's where I draw the line. As far as I'm concerned, these three assholes, as Tim called them, can rot in hell for all eternity.

    If people can't understand the difference, all the while making excuses that it's okay to call for the harm of another human being, perhaps one should re-address the definition of "asshole".

    I get it. We joke about killing someone else we don't like.

    It's also banter that needs to stop, because it shows no signs of "civilized conversation".

    By all means, kill those who place atrocities other human beings.

    Arrest those who say it in public.

    To me, calling for the "burning of gays" is no different than saying "Come join ISIS".

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    • icon
      Rikuo (profile), 27 Jan 2015 @ 4:37am

      Re:

      "There's a TREMENDOUS difference between free speech and a hate crime."
      What makes a hate crime a hate crime? I hate religion, I'm fervently anti-religion so if I say (while on holiday in France) "Let's tear down all the mosques/churches/temples", should I be prosecuted?

      "To me, calling for the "burning of gays" is no different than saying "Come join ISIS"."
      As a bisexual man, I view this differently. Yes, saying "burn these people purely because of their sexual orientation" is horrible, but should we bring police and courts into the equation?
      As Mike and others have said, the proper response to speech you don't like is more speech, not censorship. Explain to these people why saying "burn gays/joining ISIS" is wrong, give them information, give people who are listening to this speech this information. If you go out and attempt to silence them, you're just handing them ammunition. They'll be able to crow about "We're oppressed! They fear our speech because they know we're right! Join us, take down the big man!"

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      • icon
        Ninja (profile), 27 Jan 2015 @ 5:30am

        Re: Re:

        I'd say that saying "burn all gays" is actually inciting violence directly and goes beyond free speech. Now, saying that homosexuality is a disease, that it's amoral, that it's wrong, that you actively hate it and gay people are the garbage of society (IT'S AN EXAMPLE I don't think this way) should be fully allowed as free speech yes. It's a deplorable opinion but you are free to say it.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 27 Jan 2015 @ 8:00am

          Re: Re: Re:

          A question, how do you distinguish between incitement and a figure of speech? People often use hyperbole in speech to signal feelings, and such speech is not an actual statement of intent.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 27 Jan 2015 @ 8:07am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Yeah, it's one thing to say "gays are horrible people", or "homosexuals are corrupting our society with their immoral ways". Those are just spewing racist views towards others.

          Their tweets were basically advocating for mass violence and extermination of all the gays. Inciting violence is against the law for good reasons.

          Look at it this way, if the someone says black people are horrible people there's no crime, and not many people will pay attention to them. If the that same person starts publicly advocating to shoot and burn all the black people they can get their hands on, then someone needs to step in and stop them.

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        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 27 Jan 2015 @ 8:44am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "I'd say that saying "burn all gays" is actually inciting violence directly and goes beyond free speech."

          I think it depends on the context in which it is uttered. In the US, simply being inciting language is not enough to exclude it from constitutional protection. It has to be speech that is likely to cause immediate violence.

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          • icon
            Ninja (profile), 27 Jan 2015 @ 10:00am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Yep, it's a fine line but it's much easier to over restrict free speech if you set the bar lower.

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            • identicon
              Pragmatic, 28 Jan 2015 @ 3:03am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              True, but unless you've been on the receiving end where there's little, if any speech on your side of the equation, the best you can do is offer platitudes while the [marginalized group du jour] gets treated like crap because enough people believe in the horrible speech.

              Shouldn't we be doing more to counter hurtful speech than merely saying it needs to be countered?

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    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 27 Jan 2015 @ 5:36am

      Re:

      To me, calling for the "burning of gays" is no different than saying "Come join ISIS".

      Actually just saying "Come join ISIS" as dreadful as it is does not incite direct violence. It's similar to "Come join KKK" and even the ACLU has gone in defense of the KKK members right to give their opinion when it did not incite direct harm or violence against black people. And they won.

      ALL COMMUNICATION STOPS AS A FORM OF FREE SPEECH WHEN THE SUBJECT TURNS TO PHYSICAL HARM.

      I think the point of this article is exactly this. Sometimes you say such things in a context that doesn't mean you want to actually burn people. I'd love to stab these assholes in the eye. But I wont. But taken out of context it may be interpreted as if I intend to.

      I also don't like capital punishment. We can't give life back in case of error so we shouldn't be so fast to punish with death.

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    • icon
      Padpaw (profile), 27 Jan 2015 @ 2:36pm

      Re:

      who decides what is offensive and what is not.

      Take Russia for example those currently in charge find promoting being gay and lesbian hate speech as it were against the man wife marriage version.

      If we arrest people for saying things even in public as opposed to doing those things we lose our rights for basically anything.

      We give up the right to say what we like at first then the people start more rights, saying it's for the good of everyone.

      In short we need to defend the rights of everyone to preserve our own rights, even if we despise them for it.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Jan 2015 @ 6:22pm

      Re:

      ALL COMMUNICATION STOPS AS A FORM OF FREE SPEECH WHEN THE SUBJECT TURNS TO PHYSICAL HARM.

      I disagree. I would suggest:
      ALL COMMUNICATION STOPS WHEN THE SUBJECT ACTUALLY PERFORMS PHYSICAL HARM.

      There is a big difference between doing physical harm and threatening or even encouraging physical harm. Telling people that others should be physically assaulted still requires somebody to actually physically assault. If not, then there is no harm.

      Before somebody jumps in and says "but there are always idiots who will use those words as an excuse and go out and bash somebody." True. And those people should be punished. "He told me too" is NOT AN EXCUSE! You should be made to pay for your own actions, not other people's words.

      Words are not bricks. They cannot harm you no matter how hard they hit.

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  • identicon
    Craig, 27 Jan 2015 @ 4:25am

    Um, 'Actually'...

    "Far more challenging is saying that homophobic idiots who aren't actually inciting real-life violence should be allowed to spew bigotry, because that doesn't line up with most of our values."

    That "actually" is trying to do a lot of work there, because what the court "actually" found was that they were doing just that.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Jan 2015 @ 4:26am

    This is gonna escalate........the governments are gonna get a taste for arresting people over what they say, in a couple years you'll be arrested for simply saying "i dont consent/agree"

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Jan 2015 @ 4:30am

    Not in so few words perhaps, just that general thought........if it does take so few words then something would be very wrong

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  • identicon
    scott, 27 Jan 2015 @ 4:31am

    Hate crimes in France

    Timothy,

    In the U.S. you'd have a point, but France (and much of Europe, and Canada) have hate speech laws, where the US does not. So the horse has pretty much left the barn there, so to speak. Then the game is to (1) obtain to victim status, and (2) make the case that speech, even plainly satirical speech, is an actual form of violence. In other words, entire the right not to be offended.

    This toothpaste is not going back in the tube, but we can stop it from happening here.

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    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 27 Jan 2015 @ 5:38am

      Re: Hate crimes in France

      Oh but it can be cleaned. As I said it's dangerous to classify something as a hate crime. It's a crime, full stop. If I threat someone it doesn't matter the color of the skin or if it's an alien it is a crime (well except for the alien maybe but I'm extrapolating).

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  • identicon
    David, 27 Jan 2015 @ 4:39am

    Uh what?

    There's no middle ground.

    Between publishing caricatures not catering to religious sensitivities, and calling for violence?

    Sorry, but there is. If you cannot see the difference between satirical magazines like "Charlie Hebdo" and "Der Stürmer" (which also employed caricatures a lot, by the way, like this), then you are indeed on the road to repeat history.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Jan 2015 @ 6:12am

      Re: Uh what?

      I think you may have missed the point slightly; that words have power.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Jan 2015 @ 9:25am

      Re: Uh what?

      Either speech is free, or it isn't. There's no middle ground.

      Of course there is middle ground. Though this smug op-ed piece is largely devoid of facts, I suspect that if I had the time to look into the matter myself I would agree with the conclusion... I mean, premise... that the convictions were unwarranted and the prosecution itself shortsighted. But to bluster that there's "no middle ground" and pretend that "free" is a toggle switch with only two positions is neither interesting, nor provocative, nor persuasive, nor valid.

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      • icon
        Padpaw (profile), 27 Jan 2015 @ 2:42pm

        Re: Re: Uh what?

        Care to point out which governments in history have used the power of censoring hate speech responsibly, and never used it to restrict speech as well as arresting anyone they do not like be it a person or a group of people.

        As I cannot think of any, but I do know a few that used it to suppress dissent and form dictatorships. As they gave themselves the power to shut down and criminalize anyone that they did not like. Until eventually people feared them enough to do whatever they were told to.

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      • identicon
        Dart, 27 Jan 2015 @ 3:31pm

        Re: Re: Uh what?

        Something is either legal or illegal, there is no middle ground. Either free speech is legal in all it's incarnations, or it isn't.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 27 Jan 2015 @ 6:53pm

        Re: Re: Uh what?

        But to bluster that there's "no middle ground" and pretend that "free" is a toggle switch with only two positions is neither interesting, nor provocative, nor persuasive, nor valid.

        No there isn't any middle ground. You can't define a line between free speech and punishable speech because language and ideas don't line up along an axis (or two or three, etc) so that you can draw a line between them. Its all open to interpretation.

        So, either all speech is free or nobody is really sure which speech is not free, so nobody is sure which speech is free, so everybody will be careful and cautious about all speech and then no speech is free.

        Either you can tolerate and ignore words you don't like - or you can't. Either you are for all speech being free or you are not. No greys there. No spectrums.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Jan 2015 @ 4:54am

    the problem with the comment that 'will still be made' is simple, it will 'still be ignored'! the reason being that if it actually came to it's senses, or at least the courts, there would be other things that would have to be recognised and not prosecuted for, like turning off gps on mobile phones, disallowing Google to 'take action against software' that IT thinks shouldn't be on YOUR phone!!
    i read where there is soon to be a new browser on the market. if the developer really wants to be successful, all that it needs in it (or not, as the case may be) is security, protection for speech, and no backdoors for 'the security services' to gain access. if that were to happen, the numbers using it, i am sure, would increase in leaps and bounds! Google has become far too obliging to those security services and it needs to be shown how people really feel about it!!

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  • identicon
    Arc, 27 Jan 2015 @ 5:18am

    I fail to see the hypocrisy, to be honest.

    All but the most radical idiots will agree that free speech must have limits, in order to be practically feasible.

    Clearly, free speech must not overrule laws against crimes like libel, fraud or incitement to commit violence.

    On the other hand, should there be laws against mockery of religion? That's highly questionable. France decided there shouldn't be, other European countries decided otherwise.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Jan 2015 @ 5:29am

      Re:

      "Clearly, free speech must not overrule laws against crimes like libel, fraud or incitement to commit violence."

      - Yes, for the peasants. But within the elite ruling class these things are allowed ... because freedom.



      " highly questionable"

      - No question about it. Some within the religious world intentionally instigate mockery in order to further their agenda, it puts their face on the front page and it provides free advertising.

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  • identicon
    Major, 27 Jan 2015 @ 5:25am

    Je Suis Disappoint ?

    The title should be "Je Suis Déçu" unless the approximative french was on purpose :)

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Jan 2015 @ 5:31am

    "continue hammering France in particular on this point"

    One needs not look any further than their own front yard in order to find hypocrisy, it is everywhere. Politicians seem to be blind to their own idiotic statements and they double down on stupid.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Jan 2015 @ 5:40am

    Strange how there is barely any country where you could shittalk on both muslim and jewish religion equally...
    One is banned, other is often sponsored by the government itself.

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  • icon
    aglynn (profile), 27 Jan 2015 @ 5:40am

    Responsibility

    Free speech doesn't imply freedom from responsibility for what is said, as all hate speech law recognizes. You have the right to say what you want, and you have to take responsibility for what you say. The two are not contradictory.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Jan 2015 @ 6:49am

      Re: Responsibility

      When "responsibility" for simply "saying" something is being arrested and thrown in prison, you do not have free speech.

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      • icon
        beltorak (profile), 27 Jan 2015 @ 7:21am

        Re: Re: Responsibility

        Not so fast. It's like this. You have the right to blow the whistle to the public on crimes committed by the government, and you should take responsibility for the repercussions of that by spending 9 months in solitary confinement before being placed in prison for 35 years.

        at least I *think* that's what aglynn is trying to say....

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Jan 2015 @ 7:37am

      Re: Responsibility

      Getting arrested is not responsibility, unless you advocate violence, ratter then simply using it image to to express a sentiment. Responsibility means that other people, not the police, will hold you accountable if you say something controversial or wrong.

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    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 27 Jan 2015 @ 8:53am

      Re: Responsibility

      The entire point of these sorts of laws is to suppress speech, so it is unquestionably a restriction on free speech. I don't think anyone disputes that -- the argument is whether or not it's a reasonable restriction.

      It has nothing to do with responsibility, it has everything to do with a society determining that there are certain things you are not allowed to say.

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      • icon
        aglynn (profile), 27 Jan 2015 @ 9:41am

        Re: Re: Responsibility

        Your argument hinges on the notion that the laws protecting free speech, in any of the countries involved in the various incidents, have ever been interpreted as protecting any kind of speech, and then had certain restrictions amended. This is simply not the case.

        In the U.S. and Canada, as well as England and those European countries that in fact do have laws protecting speech acts, only certain types of speech acts have ever been covered. In the U.S. for instance only speech "contributing to public debate" is protected under the First Amendment.

        “On the whole does [speech] enrich public debate? Speech is protected when (and only when) it does, and precisely because it does.” - U.S. Supreme Court

        The type of absolutist 'free speech' being posited here is no more than a myth. It hasn't existed in any actual society in history.

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        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 27 Jan 2015 @ 9:58am

          Re: Re: Re: Responsibility

          "Your argument hinges on the notion that the laws protecting free speech[...]"

          No, it doesn't. My argument is that being punished by the law for engaging in certain types of speech is not "taking responsibility" for that speech. It's just being punished.

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          • icon
            aglynn (profile), 27 Jan 2015 @ 10:29am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Responsibility

            I was referring to the more meaningful argument that hate laws intrinsically restrict 'free speech' not the inane argument here.

            Arguing that it is merely punishment is entirely equivalent to saying that since many murderers don't experience being responsible for their actions that the laws prohibiting it aren't based on society holding them responsible. Since capacity for responsibility has to be demonstrated in a criminal case, it is relevant from society's perspective. Switching to the criminals' perspective is just that, not an argument in any meaningful sense

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            • icon
              John Fenderson (profile), 27 Jan 2015 @ 11:13am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Responsibility

              "I was referring to the more meaningful argument that hate laws intrinsically restrict 'free speech'"

              OK, then -- in what sense to hate laws not restrict free speech? Restricting the ability for people to say anything they like is the entire purpose of the laws. Note that I'm not arguing whether or not such restrictions are acceptable, just that they are undeniably restrictions.

              "Arguing that it is merely punishment is entirely equivalent to saying that since many murderers don't experience being responsible for their actions that the laws prohibiting it aren't based on society holding them responsible."

              Yes, it is -- and I agree. Putting a murderer in prison is not an example of the murderer taking responsibility. It's just getting a dangerous criminal off the streets.

              "Since capacity for responsibility has to be demonstrated"

              That's a different thing. Just because a murderer is capable of taking responsibility does not mean that being incarcerated is taking responsibility.

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              • icon
                aglynn (profile), 27 Jan 2015 @ 11:26am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Responsibility

                "That's a different thing. Just because a murderer is capable of taking responsibility does not mean that being incarcerated is taking responsibility."

                Yes, I agree with you. Holding someone responsible and taking responsibility are not necessarily the same thing.

                "in what sense to hate laws not restrict free speech? Restricting the ability for people to say anything they like is the entire purpose of the laws. Note that I'm not arguing whether or not such restrictions are acceptable, just that they are undeniably restrictions."

                The assumption in the way this is being approached is that free speech is an actual thing that can post facto be restricted. In the sense that is implicit, no such right to free speech exists, so there is no restriction placed on it by hate laws, or by privacy or defamation laws for that matter. Where free speech is a valid right it has generally trumped the others, where it isn't a valid right there's no restriction involved since there's nothing to restrict.

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                • icon
                  John Fenderson (profile), 27 Jan 2015 @ 12:25pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Responsibility

                  "The assumption in the way this is being approached is that free speech is an actual thing that can post facto be restricted. In the sense that is implicit, no such right to free speech exists, so there is no restriction placed on it by hate laws"

                  I think i see where our disconnect comes from: the notion of rights. I'm not talking about rights at all! Free speech is an actual thing: I am physically and mentally capable of saying or writing anything I like. That's free speech. Laws that punish me for saying certain things are restricting my inherent ability to speak anything whatsoever, so they are restricting free speech.

                  I'm not talking about laws restricting the right to free speech: what rights you have depend on what nation you live in (to oversimplify). I'm talking about laws that punish you for doing something you are perfectly capable of doing. That is, by definition, a restriction. On speech.

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  • icon
    DaveK (profile), 27 Jan 2015 @ 6:12am

    What's a "no-go Muslim"?

    I think the word 'areas' should have been inside the quote marks as well!

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Jan 2015 @ 6:17am

    "We've arrested several homosexuals for espousing their dangerous thoughts on Twitter in order to send a message to other homosexuals that they aren't allowed to speak freely." It's a statement that probably couldn't be made in France today,


    ... but which can easily be made in Russia.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Jan 2015 @ 7:41am

    ...

    "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"

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  • icon
    Kasper (profile), 27 Jan 2015 @ 7:55am

    Far more challenging is saying that homophobic idiots who aren't actually inciting real-life violence should be allowed to spew bigotry, because that doesn't line up with most of our values.

    Isn't that exactly what they did when they tweeted letthegaysburn?

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  • icon
    Max (profile), 27 Jan 2015 @ 12:22pm

    So, umm, looking past the mind-numbingly retarded stance that inciting to violence should be allowed as "free speech", should that extend in your opinion to what we currently consider libel and slander...? Should I just be able to tell everyone I know (and everyone I don't, too) that you're a child molester, and get away with it untouched, because if I'd have to answer for any of it my speech wouldn't be free anymore...? SERIOUSLY?!?

    ...I'm sure you won't mind spending the rest of your life perpetually out of a job and never getting anyone quite convinced that you've been baselessly and falsely accused. In the mean time, I'll be perfectly happy to watch anyone advocating bodily harm to anyone else in any form getting locked up for quite a while.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Jan 2015 @ 7:03pm

      Re:

      Should I just be able to tell everyone I know (and everyone I don't, too) that you're a child molester, and get away with it untouched, because if I'd have to answer for any of it my speech wouldn't be free anymore...? SERIOUSLY?!?

      Yes you should be able to say that if you wish. Untouched and unpunished. Seriously.

      I'm sure you won't mind spending the rest of your life perpetually out of a job and never getting anyone quite convinced that you've been baselessly and falsely accused.

      Oh, only if people believed you. And didn't believe me. Everybody. If I don't get a job because the potential employer believed your rantings then I'm suing him for discrimination and unfair predjuice.

      I don't care what you say. So feel free to yell what you say from the roof-tops. You're not that important. Nobody is that important. Everybody can say what tey like from all the roof-tops of the world.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Jan 2015 @ 11:34pm

      Re:

      It's mind-numbingly retarded that inciting to violence should be allowed as free speech?

      You do realize, that the United States of Amercia, as an independent country, was founded by men that incited people to violent rebellion against their lawful government with their speech, right?

      That the same is more or less true of a number of number of South American countries as well.

      World War II saw radio programs advocating violent resistance to the Nazi's and their puppet governments. Plus more than a few politicians making speeches advocating violent opposition to the Nazis.

      9/11 saw numerous people calling for the deaths of those responsible for it. Advocates of the death penalty are ultimate advocating homicide under certain circumstances.

      Anytime someone calls for war or death they are essentially "inciting to violence". As history has shown time and again, there are plenty of times when such incitation is what is needed. Plus even more times when such incitation is a normal part of the discussion as to the best course of action.

      Start restricting it, and it does not take long for calls for any sort of opposition to the government to become "inciting to violence".

      Naturally there will be come people that call for violence for nothing more than their own prejudices and hatreds. The proper answer to them is to ridicule them for it. Calls for violence are meaningless if everyone ignores them. Should someone answer such a call, they should be judged based on their actual actions.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Pronounce (profile), 27 Jan 2015 @ 4:23pm

    The Free Speech Wave

    I've seen some comments around the web on this topic and it seems there is a belief that the leftists are using the "free speech" public sentiment as a push to remove other ideologies from the web.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    BruceB, 28 Jan 2015 @ 5:21am

    "Free speech" doesn't mean the same thing everywhere

    As has been pointed out, "free speech" in the US doesn't include libel, fraud, incitement to commit violence, or as the Supreme Court has ruled, the right to scream "FIRE!" in a crowded theater. So even in the US, there are some restrictions. The restrictions in France are different that the US restrictions.

    French law looks at speech differently depending on what it's aimed at. In the case of Dieudonné (the so-called "comedian"), his speech was ruled as against the law because it was aimed at individuals (somewhat similar to the idea behind libel laws), not at an organization, a religion or any other organized group or company. For the most part, speech that doesn't concern individuals, or specific groups of people (as people) falls under free speech. But anything aimed at individuals or groups of individuals can fall foul of hate speech crimes. So you can say anything you want about any religion or company (as long as it's not libelous) etc. but you can't say the same thing about individuals in those organizations.

    I'm not saying that I personally agree with the French approach to "free speech" (even though I live there), I tend to agree with a more American viewpoint, that free speech isn't free unless the most odious speech can be defended. But even under the US system, there are nonetheless imposed restrictions.They're just different than the French restrictions.

    Each version has cultural and historical reasons for their different interpretations (and they are interpretations), and taking them out of context can only lead to a conversation of the deaf.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JP Jones (profile), 28 Jan 2015 @ 1:17pm

      Re: "Free speech" doesn't mean the same thing everywhere

      or as the Supreme Court has ruled, the right to scream "FIRE!" in a crowded theater

      https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20121102/13355920920/stop-saying-its-okay-to-censor-because -you-cant-yell-fire-crowded-theater.shtml

      Stop. Just...stop.

      Also, for someone to be convicted of speech that could cause "clear and present danger" (a term also later discarded) there must be evidence that individuals were likely follow the suggestion.

      I'm a bit baffled by the debate on this. Rappers encourage listeners to commit sexual assault, murder police, and other violent acts, yet we haven't arrested them for "hate crimes." We don't arrest them because it's extremely unlikely for listeners to follow those actions.

      By the logic the French use here, Techdirt should be arrested for hate speech too. After all, they quoted the offending hashtag, and you all read it, so obviously you're about to go out burning people, right?

      Of course not. A blanket post on Twitter to "violence" is extremely unlikely to cause actual violence. If anything it will cause a bunch of #LookAtThisIdiot responses. Even for the bigots that are following these guys I doubt they're going to log on and see "burn all the gays!" and think "Hey, that's a good idea, time to get the lighter!" And if they do, well, they were probably already going to do it. People aren't that open to suggestion.

      This is censorship, pure and simple. It has nothing to do with protecting any group and preventing violence. They've found a way to enforce their values and they've decided to use it. We can gripe back and forth about "hate speech" all we want but until you can show a casual link between saying "burn the gays!" and actual violence taking place, or real plans to commit violence, we're aren't talking about violence; we're talking about speech.

      And arresting people for speech is, by definition, a form of censorship that directly opposes freedom of speech.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JP Jones (profile), 28 Jan 2015 @ 10:17pm

      Re: "Free speech" doesn't mean the same thing everywhere

      I'll add one more article that touches directly on this subject that says it more eloquently that I could:

      http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/jan/02/free-speech-twitter-france

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Tony (profile), 28 Jan 2015 @ 1:43pm

    Sad

    There was a recent post right here about how one person's calls to limit "hate speech" had to be parody, because people can't actually believe that way.

    Then we see the same thing being espoused right here in the comments.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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