View Full Version : Racism and freedom of speech
Sun, 26th Jan '03, 11:02am
First let me say, I am not racist. I do not support any groups such as the KKK. But I have a question I'd like to pose. If we limit groups such as the KKK, are we infringing on their right to freedom of speech? Now, let me be clear on this. I'm not talking about practices of hate groups that turn violoent and commit illegal crimes. I'm talking about not allowing them to get together to rally, or whatever you call it. Or in some cases, they have not been allowed to hold one of their parades.
By doing actions such as that, are we violating their freedom of speech?
[ January 26, 2003, 11:02: Message edited by: Elios ]
Sun, 26th Jan '03, 11:24am
I would say yes, we do infringe on their freedom of speech and opinion. Apparantly there are views that are not wanted by the society and thus more or less illegal. It is even worse in Europe than in the US I think. They are allowed to meet and demonstrate but they are surrounded by alot of limiting laws and rules. Not to mention the witchhunt for the 'poor' nazis by all the politically correct people around. Here in Sweden there is a crime called 'hets mot folkgrupp' roughly translated into goading a people which outlaws certain symbols and makes it illegal for you to call someone nigger, faggot, gook, jewish swine and etc. The fun part is that it is the person that is targeted by the degrading remarks that is more or less to decide if the crime has been comitted or not. Everything that can give offence is illegal which even though I can understand the need of controlling antidemocratic movements is in it self a infringment on democracy. For instance so were there some crazy gay people that wanted to outlaw the bible and the koran because of the degrading remarks of gay people in it, it didnt happen of course but to just have such a mindset as those people is more frightening to me than the christian and muslim view of homosexuality.
I think Germany have the hardest laws against nazism and racism in the world, which is perhaps natural considering their past but which cannot be fruitful in the long run. But I am not an expert on german legislation but I know it is extremely rough on people expressing unwanted ideas, perhaps someone could enlighten us?
Mon, 27th Jan '03, 12:02am
"First let me say, I am not racist. I do not support any groups such as the KKK. But I have a question I'd like to pose. If we limit groups such as the KKK, are we infringing on their right to freedom of speech?"
You are only free to say what you want to say until it infringes upon the rights of others. So in actuality you are looking at the question in the wrong way. The KKK infringe upon the freedoms of other people, they are making a conscious effort to limit the freedoms of others. That goes against everything the word "freedom" means.
Mon, 27th Jan '03, 12:15am
Under freedom of speech, whatever you said has to be based on truth, fact. Does "all nigger is stupid" sounded like a fact to you? We are not taking away the freedom of speech from the racist groups. We are just preventing false information to be spreaded.
Mon, 27th Jan '03, 3:29am
I have to agree with Inquisitor. Freedom of Speech only goes so far as to not cause harm to another. I'd say that groups like this are causing slander to another's preconcieved reputation. There is a law term for this, "defammation of character". Essentially, these racist groups are committing this on a massive scale.
Mon, 27th Jan '03, 6:07am
I disagree I like the fact that these people can say what they want.Having them out in the open lets us keep a better eye on them,and lets those of us who disagree with this thinking try to change the situation.Its all about winning peoples hearts and minds.
Over the course of my life I have seen some die hard racists change their views(over a long period of time)when exposed to the things they hate the most the most.
Granted this is not always the case and some people will never change,but I say let them shout as loud as they want at least we know who they are.
Mon, 27th Jan '03, 7:45am
(1) The First Amendment right to speech for an individual is not contingent upon truth value in the way you indicate. Perhaps you're thinking of lible law where truth is a defense?
(2) When the KKK speaks they are not infringing upon the rights of others. When the KKK acts, by burning crosses on others lawns, or attacking others, they are infinging upon the rights of others. Sure, when the KKK speaks they speak stupidly, ignorantly, or in a racist manner that promotes hatred but they haven't actually DONE anything to anyone directly.
This nation believes in the freedom of conscience. This freedom is mentioned explicitly and repeatedly throughout our constitutional jurisprudence. The right to speak is related to this underlying freedom of conscience and policing speech, even stupid speech, is a step toward punishing thought. Some will say, "no, it isn't punishing thought because you are free to think what you will just not to say it." However, the freedom of conscience is meaningless without the ability to express that thought -- man is not a solitary creature.
One of the earlier proponets of free speech was J.S. Mills who argued that there should be no limits on speech whatsoever. By opening the "marketplace of ideas" to all manners of thought via speech we have a broader exposure to ideas which then allows us to more accurately determine the merit of the thoughts put forth as mainstream. The speech of the KKK serves this important function. A small minority of people listen and agree. A much larger majority listen and realize that there is a great deal of work that still needs to be done in order to achieve a society where equality is a reality and not a goal. The words of the KKK are as important to achieving equality as the words of the ACLU (who regularly defends the KKK) or Anti-Defamation league. Consider the reaction in communities where the KKK has marched. Invariably you will see a huge outpouring in those communites of people opposed to the KKK. Racism is given a face and we are forced out of our complacency to consider the state of racial equality in our world, our nation, and our own backyard.
For this reason, I am grateful for the KKK whose unabashed brutal words galvanize us to make a better tommorrow.
Mon, 27th Jan '03, 1:49pm
I see that this way: everything is OK when you are giving facts. If someone considers facts offensive it's his own problem unless you infringe his privacy in aspects protected under the law. But that's an infringement of his privacy and not an offense. Unconvinient facts are never libellous anyway. Giving your opinions in a civil manner is allowed without limitation, but if one wants to limit your right to do so, he changes the differentiation of what's civil and what isn't. If you say *you think* Jews are greedier than any other nation, Poles are *in your opinion* much of drunkards, Italian can't learn proper English *in your eyes* etc there shouldn't really be any problems, but people will sue you twisting the law as they see fit if only thay have enough money to do so. The other way of explaining this issue is that you have the freedom of expression, but not the freedom of speech in democracy. The truth is that money rules.
Mon, 27th Jan '03, 2:48pm
Good Sir Knight, if only people could be as considerate in their speech as you propose! To my observation, most people state their opinions in the form of Gospel truth rather than personal preference. Why settle for being a world-class authority on where to get the best pizza when you can move onto much broader topics?
Let hate groups TALK all they like, but stop them from acting. The real key is to have fewer and fewer people LISTEN to what they're saying, until the audience has dried up completely.
Mon, 27th Jan '03, 3:44pm
Rallymama, that would work for so many things. But I think it is much easier said than done. The world is a stage and there will always be an audience.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."
That's the wording from the Bill of Rights. Notice the word peacably in there. So if we go by that wording, couldn't you say then that if we do not allow a group, such as the KKK to assemble, that we are not infringing on their freedom of speech? Because they may not have peaceable intentions when they meet?
Yes, for those of you who are wondering, I was a little bored the other day so I decided to read the constitution.
[ January 27, 2003, 15:45: Message edited by: Elios ]
Mon, 27th Jan '03, 4:23pm
The right to peacably assemble =/= the right to speak. Go back and read it again Elios, they are seperate clauses and treated as such by our constitutional jurisprudence. That's why you hear about freedom of speech and freedom of assembly; they're not the same.
Mon, 27th Jan '03, 4:27pm
Well, Elios, the genesis of this Board is FANTASY gaming, now isn't it?! :D
You're right, of course - there will always be an audience for such speech. All that average people can ever do is try to minimize it and hope that those who DO listen can confine themselves to practicing their beliefs instead of forcing them onto everyone else. Oops, sorry, I forgot for a moment that we're dealing with humans in the real world here.
As long as hate groups limit themselves to peaceable assembly and expression, I have no problem. I can change the channel or go somewhere else. However, I do have a problem when a goal - stated or implicit - of such assembly is to whip adherents into a fervor so they go out and take action on their own. The organization is NOT blameless then, but how can this be prevented without degenerating into the kind of thought-police surveillance we were debating on another thread?
Mon, 27th Jan '03, 5:41pm
Laches, so then I should refer to it as "is it infinging on their first amendment rights, not their freedom of speech?"
Mon, 27th Jan '03, 5:59pm
I'm just pointing out that the right to peacably assemble is a different right than the freedom to speak -- they're seperate clauses. I take this thread to be about the right to speak and not the right to assemble. The words of the First Amendment do not modify the right to speak with "peacably"; "peacably" refers to the right to assemble.
[ January 27, 2003, 18:01: Message edited by: Laches ]