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Should Even Bigots Get Their Say?

Discussion in 'Debate Archives' started by Misha, Feb 26, 2012.

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    Misha Starlight Queen of Directory

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    So there has been a lot of discussion here lately about whether hate speech and bigotry/intolerance should be allowed free reign under the principle of "free speech". So I created this topic to discuss the issue in general, and not just about how it's dealt with on the 'D.

    First, have some quotes, because these people say things so much better than I could: :p

    Milton has this to say about free speech:
    There's also Evelyn Hall's paraphrasing of Voltaire:
    Benjamin Franklin, though generally on the side of free speech, has this to say about freedom of the press:
    Franklin's point, I think, should apply only to libel/slander, and then only very cautiously. I don't think it should apply to hate speech, bigotry, or intolerance. This is because, while I think Milton is a bit of an optimist in his quote, I still agree in general with Hall/Voltaire. Deciding which speech is and isn't ok is a very slippery slope, and I am therefore quite against censorship by the government.

    Now, I have a different policy when it comes to private associations/ organizations, since I think that private groups should be able to restrict what speech is expressed inside the group. This applies, in my opinion, to RPGs (and to the 'D). When I was an admin of an RPG, I felt perfectly within my rights to restrict explicit content, disrespect towards other members, god-modding/power playing, discussion of certain topics, etc., just as you as a member had the right to decide whether or not to be a part of my board.

    So...what do you think? When and where (if ever) should free speech be restricted in favor of protecting people against hate speech and the like? And if you disallow hate speech/discrimination on your board, where do you draw that line between discrimination and simply expressing a different opinion?
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    Walkietalk I have a real flair with excuses.

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    Short and sweet.

    I think everyone has a right to say what they think/feel/believe...but that everyone should have respect enough for their fellow human beings to state their thoughts/feelings/beliefs in an unoffensive way. Hate speech becomes hate speech when it's hateful. Saying you think/feel/believe something that isn't a generally popular opinion isn't wrong.. but it can be offensive if you don't watch how you word it.

    So, yes. I believe that even negative opinions/dissenting opinions are protected under free speech (anywhere) but I lose respect for the person with that opinion if they say it in such a way that it's offensive/attacking.

    EDIT: cos Walker's stupid and wrote "lose disrespect" instead of "respect." -.-
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    Xalcen I'm Teemo and I know it!

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    And those in the majority should have to do the same. Sadly though, I have seen times where particular members on this very forum have, rather than debate, have resorted to our favorite little words, as quoted by Darkfire, to assail the dissenter.

    Source: http://www.rpg-direc...olicy-addition/


    I've seen those in the minority say things uncalled for and attack individuals. I've seen people in the majority do the same. Really what needs to come down is more a respect for the opposing individual debating than anything. By all means, disagree with every bit of passion one can muster, it makes great reading, but remember the individual respect.

    Now, onto the question.....

    I think that Misha more or less has it right. By the books anything on here is to the discretion of the staff, not much to say there. That said, the only speech I am really against on the D is when it becomes not on topic but attacks on each other and get personal. I am not talking the attacks of "This guy is against gay marraige. I am gay. HE'S ATTACKING ME!" I am talking about the spotlight going from the issue to the individual. Some people might have less tact than others in how they say it, that is not too much a concern as long as they stay on the issue and not make it about the people opposing their view. I believe in letting people hang by their own swords. And of course things like yelling fire in a movie theatre. That is not good either lol.

    But ya, I generally side on free speech in these matters. Even if I hate what is said. >.> And again, Topeka person, I see plenty of speech I hate from the whackjob brigade.
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    Ruffian Beast of All Saints

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    In short, yes.

    If a so-called bigot can speak their piece in a reasonable, non-aggressive/attack-y manner, then there is no reason that they shouldn't be allowed to speak.

    All this talk of bigots is giving me a headache. There are so many levels of grey in this discussion that I'm getting tired of the fact that we're still looking for black and white answers when it's pretty clear that there aren't many of those around. Times change, people change, and opinions under the umbrella term "bigotry" are always shifting. There's just nothing to be done about this except ride the waves as they come, and adjust our frame of mind accordingly.

    Belief is one of the main cornerstones of a person's mind and soul. "Bigots" aren't spewing things out just because they know it riles you up and want to see you get upset. They believe in the things they say, and for right or wrong, you can't successfully challenge what a person believes. They believe it. They will not stop believing it because you told them it was mean to believe it.

    Silencing people just because their opinions do not coincide with yours is not fair. Reprimanding people for purposefully and willfully wrapping their opinions in words designed to cause the most damage possible is.

    I'm extremely tired, so I hope that made sense, but I think this board has seen plenty of this conversation already. Let's start talking about roleplay again.
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    Lee blow up the outside world

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    Yep.

    Granted, this only applies to USAians, but it's a constitutionally-guaranteed right to be an obstinate STAFF EDITED

    Bigots have the right to their say. Other people have the right to tell them off if they feel like it. It's a two-way street, so, really, *****ing is pointless.

    Staff Edit: please refrain from using profanity on this board. thank you.
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    DesR "Sometimes, when you fall, you fly."

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    When they were teaching us "Right to Speech" in school, they used to teach us a very important restriction - you can speak what you like, but shouting "fire" in a crowded theatre hall for fun is probably going to get you into a LOT of trouble.

    I think the same applies here. You should NOT be allowed to spread hate and hurt people based on things about them that they can't even change.
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    Copper Chloride Hello there! :D

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    (Here's Copper breaking her 'never post in debate threads online' rule XD)

    The main issue that I've seen in the debates currently going around the 'D isn't that anything that could be offensive should necessarily be banned. It's that, if people are allowed to freely post material that could be offensive, other people should have the same freedom to tell them that they're offensive without then being censored themselves, and this is pretty much my opinion on it everywhere; free speech cuts both ways.

    Bigoted opinions phrased 'nicely' ultimately end up doing a lot more harm to people than aggressively-stated rebuttals to those opinions, because they are allowed a free pass and therefore legitimised. If you're not going to allow people to respond to that because of the potential for drama or arguments, then you shouldn't allow it in the first place.

    Also also, even if those opinions aren't stated with the explicit intent to hurt, that doesn't mean they aren't still harmful. If someone really didn't mean to cause hurt, you'd think that they'd reconsider after being told that yes, they are actually hurting people... But so often they blame the person they hurt for being 'sensitive' instead which says to me that they couldn't care less and just don't want to look bad. A phrase I've seen which would fit well here: 'your right to swing your fist ends at my face'.
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    RomanHk t(^_^t)

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    There is such a thing as being overly sensitive though, in my opinion, and the line between "bigoted" or hateful speech is different for everyone. I know I ended up having a good back and forth with Rhi-Rhi about the broad scope of what she considered bigoted, which conflicted with my much narrower one. Who's right? To help clarify, I'll use an example: the ESPN story about Jeremy Lin titled "Chink in the Armor". I'm Chinese and that word has never offended me. Neither do all the bad driving jokes. Should someone else have the right to be offended for me (based on the fact that other Chinese people could find it offensive)? Idunno.
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    daenelia Sky Pirate Captain with a Twisted Past

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    I am ambivalent about this.

    My instinct is to say: everyone has a right to an opinion and a right to voice that opinion even if it goes against the consensus. At the same time I am naieve enough to think that no one would start spouting nonsense that contradicts truth. And that line is so difficult to follow. Even when you think you can't argue with facts. If people just keep believing in their own truth than it is hard to convince them they are wrong (after all, it is their truth).

    But as a Dutch person I have to admit that seeing this in action, allowing a bigot to entrench himself in power and not have to answer or take any responsibility, is damaging to everyone. And then he has the gall to say he is being intolerant of the intolerant, when it is blatantly obvious he is the one who is intolerant to begin with!

    Bigotry is difficult to silence. Once a voice is taken away, another more vicious one pipes up. The best we can do is not be silent ourselves and keep pointing out and arguing, to stop bigots from going underground to undermine everything. Don't stoop to their level, with trying to shut out vooices that offer a different perspective, even if that perspective is hurtful. Always engage them in intelligent debate and thrash them that way.
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    Misha Starlight Queen of Directory

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    In my opinion, context is important here. I think that even if someone is personally attacking someone with their speech (so long as they aren't actually hurting someone physically, etc.), such speech should be legal. I do not think someone should be fined or put in jail for hate speech. Now on a private level, I wouldn't allow discussions to get heated on an RPG I adminned, nor I would I allow people to attack other people or groups of people.

    I would, however, allow discriminatory/racist/stereotyping speech, so long as the discussion didn't get too heated. For one thing, if it was a passing comment not meant to harm, sometimes it's just not worth engaging. And for another, like Daenelia and Copper say, it's the people who believe differently who have a responsibility to speak up, so long as they, too, refrain from attacking. Just because you are on the "right" side doesn't mean you have a free pass to personally attack people you feel are racist/bigots. Because, well, that brings me to my next point:

    Yes, I purposely used the term "bigot", though frankly, I'd never call someone that, because it's way too loaded and subjective a term. I find the discussion of how people define bigotry/racism quite interesting, but that wasn't the original point of this thread. But I used the term because, even if there was someone (or something they said) that everyone else agreed was bigoted, should that bigotry still be allowed to be expressed?
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    DesR "Sometimes, when you fall, you fly."

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    Sometimes, though, one must concede that the politest statement is STILL an attack. When something is blatantly rude, stereotyped and hurtful - it is hurtful no matter HOW polite you were. I am more likely to allow for some ignorance because frankly everyone is ignorant at times (especially me) but turning around and telling someone that they are 'too sensitive' is, quite frankly, not fair to me when someone else is saying that something is hurtful. You don't get to decide what it feels like.
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    Misha Starlight Queen of Directory

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    No, I would agree that you shouldn't ever dismiss a statement hurtful to someone else by saying that person is "too sensitive". While frankly, I do believe some people are "too sensitive" (I'm a teacher, and some of my students get upset by the most ridiculous things!), that doesn't mean it is right for you to purposely hurt them, or for you to get a free pass when you accidentally hurt them.

    And there is a difference between people who go out to hurt others, and those who do so out of ignorance. Like you say, I am more willing to let ignorance stand on my board (or in my classroom, for that matter). This doesn't necessarily mean I don't address it, or explain why it is hurtful. However, I don't count it as "against the rules", and I would likely not delete the content. You can't just bury the fact that people believe certain things you find hurtful. It's best if you bring it out in a free and open (and respectful!) discussion, because if no one ever talks about it, nothing ever gets changed and ignorance never gets educated.
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    daenelia Sky Pirate Captain with a Twisted Past

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    Outrage never changed anyone's mind. It is not enough to just dismiss someone's remarks as hurtful or hatespeech, because they will not understand why. Explaining and discussion is muchy better. Throwing a hissyfit and shouting how it upsets you without explaining why won;'t impress people who think differently and only gives them ammunition to push your buttons even more (oh gosh Dae, stop messing up your metaphores...)
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    Akhenaten thus the heart will break, yet brokenly live on

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    I think everyone has a right to say something given that it's not bad (I mean like homophobic, racist, etc.). I hate it when people say rude or unecessary things, I mean would you like it someone CONTINUOSLY pointed out your race, jested about it? Or if someone pointed out a pimple on your nose? Or kept arguing with you irrationally, making no sense as well as had nothing to back up their statements? Of course not and to be honest, it's only a headache to let these people talk XD ROFLMAO! I mean, you just kind of have to ignore them since all they just want is attention (or you fight, but that gives you migraines even if you're right-ish).

    Everyone has the right to say something, everything but there should be limits - I personally can't stand people who talk rubbish, who say the most rudest things and think they can get away with it because they have the right. I think a person can say anything given that it's nice xD or fit for the occasion. I mean there's dark humour and some jokes that are controversial/sarcastic, etc. that are actually funny, I suppose that has to do if with if the person does it well (like light-heartedly, not being ignorant or rude..). You can tell, at least in person in some cases (and sometimes even on the netty/phone), what the persons' intentions are whether they're good or bad. But that being said, just because a death joke is witty and funny doesn't mean it's the time or place to be said in someone's funeral... or just because a sex joke is funny doesn't mean it's okay to say in public near children.

    I'm all up for freedom but there's no real freedom =p I mean, there's rules and regulations everywhere... so this "freedom" isn't really freedom, and then you kind of wonder what really is freedom. Anyways, back to subject, because I personally love peace and love for all, I think there can't be peace or love if there's people running around hating on others with their words (words do have power over people, don't tell me they don't). So like others may have said, I think people should have the right and freedom to say whatever AS LONG AS it doesn't harm another person's gender, sexuality, orientation, rights as their own person, race, age, lifestyle, etc. I hope I've made sense.
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    Xalcen I'm Teemo and I know it!

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    I have a question on this. By whose measure? For example, if you look at RomanHK's post, some people have a big brush of what they consider bigoted compared to a narrower one. All in all, I think that is a huge contention on the issue. By which brush are we measuring it? If we measure it by a broad brush like Rhi-Rhi's, and she did have a broad brush, then it will cripple if not kill off the debate threads. Fortunately in the thread I linked in my previous post, my issues were answered to my satisfaction so I am fairly pleased. I'm just saying that elaboration is needed when you say things like that. Do you mean bashing homosexuals? Do you mean saying you are against gay marraige? To some, both are homophobic. To others, only one is.
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    daenelia Sky Pirate Captain with a Twisted Past

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    Ghormenghast, cnan you tell most of the politicians that as well? I can name more than a few that keep spouting hateful and untrue speech, and no one tells them to shut up. Because you can only get through tpo them, and people who vite, by debating and explaining your stance. You can't just shut theem up.

    (heeeyyy, I did not even have to check the spelling of your nickname :p)
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    Misha Starlight Queen of Directory

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    Just because I think everyone should have the right to speak whatever they wish doesn't mean that everyone should speak out whatever they wish. I hate when people use "free speech" as a justification for saying hurtful things. In my classroom, we study the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights. However, any discussion of rights always goes hand in hand with the discussion of responsibilities. And I think people have the responsibility to try to speak the truth, and to try to be respectful and without discrimination.

    However, I don't agree with the statement "everyone has a right to say something given that it's not bad". I believe that legally, everyone has a right to say something even if it's bad. As I've said before, I am a huge proponent of free speech, even if I vehemently disagree with what you have to say. But once again, just because something is legal doesn't make it right.
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    Copper Chloride Hello there! :D

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    As I touched on earlier, something doesn't need to be out-and-out 'this group of people is awful and should all die' to be problematic - in fact, often the more moderate-sounding positions are the ones that end up causing more social harm, because they're the ones that are more likely to be taken seriously. In the example of being against gay marriage, that opinion, when entrenched into society and legal structures, directly translates into LGBT people having fewer rights and legal protections than straight people do so yes, it is still an opinion that causes harm.

    If someone is allowed to express it in a space because of free speech, other people should be able to voice their objections to it without being censored themselves. And for me, this does mean they should be allowed to express their anger and hurt, as well - this is an opinion that directly impacts them, that they deal with the ramifications of in their daily lives, and their emotions are as legitimate a reaction to it as a clearly-thought-out carefully-worded thesis.

    If those objections aren't allowed in a space, then I don't think the opinion should be allowed, either. At that point, the space is catering to the comfort of the prejudiced over the comfort of the minorities they're hurting, and I think that is extremely unfair. It's all or nothing, for me.
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    Felix Mr. Inconsistent

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    I think that there is a proper forum for all debates, and on those proper forums intelligent people can share their views and try to sway the views of others.

    The sticking point is that politeness and respect for others means, for me, that you don't shove your viewpoint in others faces as the only 'right thinking', especially if you don't have anything other than traditions and hearsay to back it up, and do it in a belligerent manner.

    To that end on my board you can have a bigoted character but cannot harass other players out of character, and I will not force anyone to thread with that character if it makes anyone uncomfortable. The C box rules specifically state "Lighthearted Chat".

    I have some very definite views on things myself, and love to debate them. But I respect other peoples right to disagree.
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    Maccabee surely, we have perished sleeping, and walk hell.

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    The bolded part is the bit that sticks out to me. Anyways, this quote is pretty much exactly what I think and I believe that is similar to what Gormenghast is trying to say (that you should have the right to say whatever you wish but there is a certain point where it is should stop/is unnecessary/rude/harmful, etc, as in it contradcits with basic manners/human cooperation and what I mean by that is that humans have to have some sort of way with living with each other on this earth).

    There are a lot of people who just say what they want without thinking about the concequences or repercussions of what they say (whether it harms someone on a minor or grander scale). But also I don't think it's what they are saying that is the sole problem; for example, I've had people tell me "I don't care about people in Africa, if they show me a picture of starving children, I'll just shrug and eat my burger" and of course, that's a completely ignorant thing to say for various reasons (and for a human rights activist, this really angers me), but it's not what they're saying that's bad on its own. It's the thought behind the words - whether they say "women should be in the kitchen" or not, they will still believe that. But at the same time, although I believe in the freedom of speech, I also think that certain speech like that also harms others and can also remove their freedom (whether directly and indirectly), as Copper Chloride brought up.

    Another thing that I also consider when they say things like that in casual conversation (when it's politicians, I'm less patient): Are they thinking before they speak or do they actually believe that fervently? Most of the time, it's very difficult to debate with someone who is firmly set on their beliefs and it just gets messy, usually they don't want to change their minds as if it is a sign of surrender/inferiority. It's even more difficult to argue with someone who has a baseless opinion (I suppose, you can call them "an 'idiot' who allegedly knows 'everything'" as written by Shakespeare: "The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool". I do not mean they have a low IQ because there are some very smart "bigots" out there).
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