P: I feel that it's important to specify whether we're discussing freedom of speech under a democracy or a dictatorship.
I defaulted to democracy.
T: I'm considering both. I'm talking about this in a global context. The less the exceptions the better the
P: I also referred to people expressing opinions knowing fully well the consequences they have. No "I accidentally
insulted someone" situations.
Also, I'm working with concrete examples to avoid overly abstract discussion, as it is very easy and dangerous to
T: cool, examples and thought experiments are awesome.
P: This is a very interesting topic you've brought up and I'm enjoying all the pro and against arguments! :)
T: Nice to know :)
P: Of course, all speech is edited, I agree with you there. You constantly filter out what you say to your parents, your
friends, your superiors (law, boss, parents etc.), and strangers. You restrict the expression of your opinions based on
whom you're communicating them to. Even if you hate cops, for example, you're not going to run up to one and start
insulting them, right? And if you hate your teacher, you aren't going to call them a bitch to their face.
T: Right, I here assume that people use best 'manner' of expression, thus excluding cases of miscommunication, immature
way of communication like calling your teacher a bitch instead of using better words to express some complaint. I'm
focusing more on the expressions themselves and not their manner of expression.
Manner of expression will be the main theme of this comment.
P: Restricting your own opinions is a matter of self-preservation and selecting the most favorable situation. Will
telling my boss that I think his new tie is ugly benefit me (boss will thank me and think better of me), or will it turn
out badly (boss likes his tie, gets pissed that I criticized it)? Will telling my friend that I hate her haircut, which
she likes, be good or bad for our relationship? Is it worth expressing my true opinion in these cases?
T: I'd say, in current thread's context, I'll tell my boss without considering the consequences. As we have established
that the tie sucks(or anything more serious for that matter as long as it's relevant to work) he should objectively
consider your opinion and deal with it.
P: However, freedom of speech =/= freedom of consequences. Expressing your opinion =/= being absolved of the
consequences of your words.
T: Good point. It's certainly true for 'speech', and 'expression' is even a more general term which also encompasses
blowing yourself up to make a statement. But I don't think it applies to 'conveying ideas precisely'. Let me explain-
- Not all expressions have consequences. If you design your expression keeping in mind the person you're talking to, the
social background and all, (it's a little less tough that it seems, because most of it we know by common sense, like you
can say someone is not good at something instead of calling them useless- Useless, idiot, retard, bitch, etc. are words
that have along with their pure intended meanings, other associated connotations that are linked to them in our brains
inseparably right from the childhood. This can have sophisticated forms like hearing nigger from a black guy doesn't
feel bad but hearing it from a white guy does, and from other races it's a bit confusing)
- many people who support freedom of speech often confuse it to mean freedom of impoliteness. Being impolite is an
action, you act on the listener directly by being impolite without the listener's permission. This is a very subtle
action, so some people, people who are more empathetic or with 'thick skin', would let a rude remark or two pass while
focusing instead on what you meant (very useful in debates). But yes, it's an unsolicited and hence an 'imposed' action
to speak too loosely. This makes it (very subtly) a bad form expression which I defined in previous comment.
- These are the borderline cases which is what makes freedom of conveying ideas so controversial. People who wrongly
support it are those who say being rude is fine. Isn't. People who oppose it wrongly associate rude/impolite/bad form
expressions with the good form ones and then call the whole bulk bad, mostly for selfish purposes.
So I think, properly conveying your opinions have absolutely no consequences by definition and it is possible to convey
any opinion in this manner to a mature sensible person, and even to an immature one but that might take some efforts
knowing that person beforehand.
P: I will note that you can't have absolute freedom of speech with exceptions, it would be a contradiction.
T: I believe I have convinced you that it can indeed be the case? A thing I'd like to clarify here is, by 'being polite'
i don't mean being 'nice'. You can tell the girl exactly what you mean to say exactly when you call her a bitch and tell
it to her till she gets what you mean as surely as her being. But you have to do that without using the imposing word:
bitch, because the word does stuff you don't really want it to do (which is why we rarely use 'bitch' to refer to a
female dog these days outside jokes)
If you still don't agree, I'll have to request an example that shows it is justifiable to expect consequences for the
act of conveying ideas.
P: Like you noted, an important difference is that while most democratic countries allow for freedom of expression, they
also allow you to say it without the negative consequences of living under a
T: Even monu talked about retaliatory consequences. I'm talking not about whether it is 'wise' to say whatever you want
(properly). I'm saying it is unambiguously and always 'right' to do it. And in the long run, what's right is what ends
up being considered wise.. after many.. centuries..
P: Imprisoning someone is not (usually) done to censor their opinions; it's (usually) done to keep other people safe.
Unless we're counting dictatorships.
T: Yes, but I think censoring opinions can be a punishment itself and can be justifiably imposed, even in very liberal
democracies. And I do not believe censoring opinions can keep anyone safe at all(reasons above), if a law or government
does so, it is plain wrong.
P: Some questions:
1. Are you advocating free expression of opinions from a legal standpoint, or from a moral one? Because insulting a
policeman has legal consequences, while insulting your mom doesn't (unless she decides to sue you, but IDK enough about
P: 2. (though maybe not directly related to the topic of the thread) what do you think about joking about
taboo/sensitive topics? For example, 9/11, rape, murder, illegal acts against animals or kids etc. In some cases, people
may censor themselves (like not telling rape jokes around a rape victim, or dead baby jokes around someone who's
recently had a miscarriage).
T: You have to be a damn good comedian to be able to joke about it the right way, there is a limit to how eloquent one
can be when even hearing the word rape would trigger such unpleasant emotions that it's not possible to listen. Joking
is not like insulting, but it can be if you're not good at it. Like if you make a really funny statement, it overrules
the negative connotations of the words you use.
Actually, this is what makes jokes one of the few things that can allow you to get away with being rude, provided you
are really funny enough (some like jimmy carr make it meta by being funny because he's rude).
https://youtu.be/YnyC2-51tQs <- i think this is a great
example of that where Patrice talks against gay people but he makes good points in a way amusing enough.