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Should extremist political parties be given air time?





DoctorBeaver
Question Time is a popular television program in the UK where a panel of politicians, various experts, and other prominent people face a series of topical questions from the audience. On the panel last night was Nick Griffin, the leader of the British Nationalist Party (BNP). For those who don't know, the BNP is a fascist party masquerading under a veneer of respectability. They hold extreme views on immigration, Islam, and many other issues.

A lot of fuss was kicked up about Mr. Griffin's appearance on the program. Many people were highly critical of the BBC for inviting Mr. Griffin to appear. There was the requisite demonstration by anti-fascists outside the studio with the intent of preventing Mr. Griffin from entering. However, eventually Mr. Griffin was able to enter the building and duly appeared on the program.

I have not yet seen the program, but from what I can gather from various news sources, his was not exactly a salutory performance.

But, regardless of his performance, should Mr. Griffin have been invited to sit on the panel? Do fascists, and others with extemist views, deserve the right of free speech when their words can incite (even indirectly) racial tension? It has been noted by some that rascist attacks increase whenever Mr. Griffin has appeared on television.

Throughout my life I have believed in free speech, in the tenet "I may not agree with what you say but I will defend unto death your right to say it". However, I find it hard to apply that belief to Mr. Griffin et al who spout hateful, racist bigotry.

I would be interested to hear how others view this.
DoctorBeaver
I should add that the BNP are not an insignificant, lunatic-fringe cult. Almost 1 million people voted for them in the last series of council elections. They have councillors in quite a few constituencies across the country and even have 2 members in the European Parliament.

The BBC claim it is not their job to censor extremist political views, that being a job for politicians. As the BNP is a bona fide political party with representation on councils and in the European Parliament, the BBC say they are obliged to allow its views to be aired.
deanhills
Good question. Also a difficult one. Nick Griffin is a British citizen and he is a leader of a legally registered political party in Britain. I believe as such he has a right to be invited and to serve on the panel. If British citizens feel strongly that his political Party is harmful to British society, then possibly this should be legally resolved by submitting a complaint to the right authorities for investigation and disbanding of the party?

Perhaps by rioting anti-fascists are making themselves just as guilty as the accusations that they are levelling against the fascists? More subtle and shrewd move would be legal action against a party that seems to be inciting racial tension and intolerance.

The BBC has a good point. Theirs is a role of reporting, not of arbitration or taking political positions.
ocalhoun
DoctorBeaver wrote:
I should add that the BNP are not an insignificant, lunatic-fringe cult. Almost 1 million people voted for them in the last series of council elections.

And those 1 million people should be denied equal political opportunity because the rest find their beliefs offensive? Denying any group political representation is a great way to motivate a revolution- if they think they can't achieve their goals by legitimate means, they may decide to accomplish their goals by other means.

If you're going to have a democracy in fact, not just in name, you'll have to abide by mob rule, which sometimes includes mobs with very bad intentions.
Despite that, it is better than other political systems, where you might get forced to live under a fascist king or dictator for as long as their regime stays in power, rather than being forced to give fascists air time, which might possibly lead to the election of a fascist (who, hopefully, would obey the laws of the land and step down in favor of the next elected official).
DoctorBeaver
Deanhills & ocalhoun - thank you for your replies, both of which were very sensible & considered.

Although I find it difficult to support the right of the BNP to spout their hateful nonsense, it certainly goes against what I believe in to ban them; and as much as it pains me, I do believe they have the right to be heard.

The format of Question Time did not really allow Mr Griffin to propagandise and from what I gather, he actually made himself look like the bigotted idiot he is when answering the questions put to him. However, it would be a different matter were the BNP allowed to make a party political broadcast in which there would be no-one to challenge their views. I'm not sure of the BBC's rules regarding party political broadcasts so I do not know how likely that is to happen.
ocalhoun
DoctorBeaver wrote:
it would be a different matter were the BNP allowed to make a party political broadcast in which there would be no-one to challenge their views.


Political parties represent groups of political views held by people.

If you prohibit one party from doing this, you have to prohibit all of them from doing so. (Which I think would be excessive government interference with the media.)
DoctorBeaver
I agree, which is why, against my better nature, I have to support the BNP's right to be heard.
Ophois
"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, will make violent revolution inevitable."
~ John Fitzgerald Kennedy (assassinated American President, 1961-63)

I don't know much about the BNP, so I will assume that they are a little on the extreme side, politically, from what I have been told. Even so, they are a legitimate party, and should be treated as such, especially given how many people support them. Ocalhoun said it right, denying them air time would be denying their supporters a forum to voice their political views. Voicing their political views is the proper, and peaceful, way to go about change. And as Mr. Kennedy said, if they are denied a peaceful way to enact that change, they will inevitably choose the other option.
DoctorBeaver
Ophois - the BNP have views similar to the Ku Klux Klan but without the crucifixions & burning crosses (although I wouldn't put that past them if they thought they could get away with it).

I have now see the broadcast in question and I'm not worried that the BNP may have gained support from it. Nick Griffin was shown up as the lying, bigotted racist he really is. The other panelists and, indeed, the audience, did a good job of stripping away the veneer of repectability with which Mr Griffin surrounds himself and his rotten core was exposed for all to see.

He spent a lot of the program denying he had said things he's been quoted as saying but was backed right into a corner on 1 particular occasion when it was pointed out that he was on video saying those things.

With any luck, the program, far from bolstering support for Mr Griffin and the BNP, will have damaged them beyond repair.
deanhills
DoctorBeaver wrote:
Ophois - the BNP have views similar to the Ku Klux Klan but without the crucifixions & burning crosses (although I wouldn't put that past them if they thought they could get away with it).
Would certainly be interesting in the UK. Probably would also mean the end of the BNP as well.
ocalhoun
deanhills wrote:
DoctorBeaver wrote:
Ophois - the BNP have views similar to the Ku Klux Klan but without the crucifixions & burning crosses (although I wouldn't put that past them if they thought they could get away with it).
Would certainly be interesting in the UK. Probably would also mean the end of the BNP as well.

Quite. If criminal acts can be traced to party-sanctioned activities, that would be justification for disbanding the party.
DoctorBeaver
As far as is know, they haven't actually indulged in anything illegal. However, it was ruled in the courts recently that they had to change their membership policy to allow non-whites to join. Somehow I can't imagine any non-whites wanting to join, though.

Just as a slight aside, Nick Griffin showed a gross lack of historical knowledge during the interview. He was talking about indiginous people and said that the majority of people living in the UK were descended from those that were here 17,000 years ago; citing the Celts as being those inhabitants. Oh dear. The last ice-age ended 10,000 years ago and the historical evidence is that there was mass immigration into these islands after that. That was the period when the Celts came.

Scholars now think that the majority of people in the British Isles can trace their ancestry at least in part to the pre-Celtic inhabitants - the so-called Bell-Beaker People - and that the Celtic & Germanic invasions did little to change the ethnicity.
deanhills
DoctorBeaver wrote:
As far as is know, they haven't actually indulged in anything illegal. However, it was ruled in the courts recently that they had to change their membership policy to allow non-whites to join. Somehow I can't imagine any non-whites wanting to join, though.
That would be very interesting! Smile

DoctorBeaver wrote:
Just as a slight aside, Nick Griffin showed a gross lack of historical knowledge during the interview. He was talking about indiginous people and said that the majority of people living in the UK were descended from those that were here 17,000 years ago; citing the Celts as being those inhabitants. Oh dear. The last ice-age ended 10,000 years ago and the historical evidence is that there was mass immigration into these islands after that. That was the period when the Celts came.

Scholars now think that the majority of people in the British Isles can trace their ancestry at least in part to the pre-Celtic inhabitants - the so-called Bell-Beaker People - and that the Celtic & Germanic invasions did little to change the ethnicity.
I thought most of the Celts originated from Europe? The invaders who really captured my imagination however were the Vikings. I found an interesting Website about both at this url:
http://www.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/Homework/celts.htm
DoctorBeaver
As far as is known, the Celts originated in East/Central Europe then migrated westwards.

I, too, am fascinated by the Vikings. There was so much more to them than the mad, cleaving & pillaging barbarians most people know them as. They had a massive trading empire using the great rivers of Europe. They were quite prominent in Byzantium (there were many Viking mercenaries in the Byzantine army) and even traded in North Africa. I have even seen it suggested that they travelled as far east as India although I do not know of any hard evidence of such.

Russia is named after the city of Rus, which was originally a Viking town.
deanhills
DoctorBeaver wrote:
As far as is known, the Celts originated in East/Central Europe then migrated westwards.

I, too, am fascinated by the Vikings. There was so much more to them than the mad, cleaving & pillaging barbarians most people know them as. They had a massive trading empire using the great rivers of Europe. They were quite prominent in Byzantium (there were many Viking mercenaries in the Byzantine army) and even traded in North Africa. I have even seen it suggested that they travelled as far east as India although I do not know of any hard evidence of such.

Russia is named after the city of Rus, which was originally a Viking town.
Looks as though invasions or near-invasions (such as WWII) can sometimes be a good thing, especially in the UK. For example, the Vikings managed to spice up things and WWII brought out the best of Brit character. I guess however Griffin may not agree with this. He is re-creating the origins of his ancestors to suit his political dogma.
DoctorBeaver
Bonnie Greer (http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/bonniegreer) slapped him with a good one about indigenous races when she pointed out that we are all descended from Africans.
ocalhoun
DoctorBeaver wrote:
Bonnie Greer (http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/bonniegreer) slapped him with a good one about indigenous races when she pointed out that we are all descended from Africans.

That must be especially galling to someone with ideological hatred of Africans! ^.^
deanhills
ocalhoun wrote:
That must be especially galling to someone with ideological hatred of Africans! ^.^
Are you sure this is "ideological hatred of africans"? I'm not a Griffin fan by a long shot, but in fairness, from what I understand his platform is more along the lines of preserving British culture and ideology for the British as the Brit identity is in danger of getting extinct by too many other cultures that are allowed to invade and settle in the UK. He does not hate those cultures, he just wishes the flood to stop.
DoctorBeaver
Deanhills - That's the respectable veneer he tries to use to disguise his racial views. He wraps his racism in a desire to preserve British culture. Griffin is as racist as they come & when he's caught a bit off guard that becomes blatantly obvious.

He openly states that the BNP used to be a racist organisation and says that he has taken it away from that. Well, my question is, if he is not a racist why did he join the BNP in the first place if it was a blatantly racist party? The only thing he has changed is the outward face of the BNP. Inside it's just as rotten as it ever was.
deanhills
DoctorBeaver wrote:
Deanhills - That's the respectable veneer he tries to use to disguise his racial views. He wraps his racism in a desire to preserve British culture. Griffin is as racist as they come & when he's caught a bit off guard that becomes blatantly obvious.

He openly states that the BNP used to be a racist organisation and says that he has taken it away from that. Well, my question is, if he is not a racist why did he join the BNP in the first place if it was a blatantly racist party? The only thing he has changed is the outward face of the BNP. Inside it's just as rotten as it ever was.
I imagine blatant racism has to be against the law and perhaps he knows how to play the rules of the game? Perhaps there are quite a large number of racists in the UK then, and they know how to play politics with what is allowed in terms of the law?
ocalhoun
deanhills wrote:
I imagine blatant racism has to be against the law

So, you have thought police in the UK now?

Discrimination based on race is illegal, but racist thoughts, and even racist words are still legal.
Racism is a horrible thing, and needs to be gotten rid of, but thought police and loss of the freedom of speech are worse.
handfleisch
Racist words are illegal in much of Europe, stemming from their experience with Nazism.
ocalhoun
handfleisch wrote:
Racist words are illegal in much of Europe, stemming from their experience with Nazism.

Oh, my mistake. Apparently there are thought police. ^.^
deanhills
ocalhoun wrote:
deanhills wrote:
I imagine blatant racism has to be against the law

So, you have thought police in the UK now?

Discrimination based on race is illegal, but racist thoughts, and even racist words are still legal.
Racism is a horrible thing, and needs to be gotten rid of, but thought police and loss of the freedom of speech are worse.
I can't see the difference in this. Racism is racism. Griffin seems to be able to cover it up, as per DoctorBeaver's explanation. I would imagine one could think any racist thoughts to your heart's content, but if you speak them out loudly you would be in real trouble. I agree racist words that are loosely used and not directly in a racsist meaning could be legal, but that is playing with semantics. It would appear the people in the UK pretty much know where they stand with Griffin. His party is even referred to as of a Nazi nature.
DoctorBeaver
Yes, racist words are illegal which is why Griffin disguises his racism behind patriotism. There aren't that many racists in the UK, but the BNP has gained votes because of this veneer of respectability and the fact that the major parties are in denial about immigration. They refuse to admit that situations exist that people see for themselves. People are genuinely concerned about immigration but as soon as the issue is raised the word "racist" is bandied around. The BNP appear to listen and sympathise with peoples concerns.
Bikerman
handfleisch wrote:
Racist words are illegal in much of Europe, stemming from their experience with Nazism.

Well, in the UK no words are illegal. Certain words may be judged, depending on their context, to be incitement to racial hatred which IS illegal, but words on their own? No, certainly not.
Now, in Germany the law is certainly different, but I can't give you details on that.
DoctorBeaver
Bikerman wrote:
handfleisch wrote:
Racist words are illegal in much of Europe, stemming from their experience with Nazism.

Well, in the UK no words are illegal. Certain words may be judged, depending on their context, to be incitement to racial hatred which IS illegal, but words on their own? No, certainly not.
Now, in Germany the law is certainly different, but I can't give you details on that.


Good point, Chris.
handfleisch
ocalhoun wrote:
handfleisch wrote:
Racist words are illegal in much of Europe, stemming from their experience with Nazism.

Oh, my mistake. Apparently there are thought police. ^.^


Many Americans have a pretty childish view on the matters of free speech and society. Proclaiming European life as beholden to thought police, especially when we have rigidly controlled totalitarian societies like China in the world, is nonsense.

Bikerman wrote:
handfleisch wrote:
Racist words are illegal in much of Europe, stemming from their experience with Nazism.

Well, in the UK no words are illegal. Certain words may be judged, depending on their context, to be incitement to racial hatred which IS illegal, but words on their own? No, certainly not.
Now, in Germany the law is certainly different, but I can't give you details on that.

I am not sure it is so different in UK than in Germany. I could amend what I wrote and say the words themselves are not illegal but the incitement is, but is it possible to use strong racial epithets in public in UK without it being incitement to racial hatred? I suppose a comedian could maybe. In a dramatic portrayal it also would be another thing, if the performance isn't inciting. Essentially there are racial slurs that, if used for people in something like a political speech, are pretty much de facto incitement. Also, displaying swastikas and the Hitler salute -- both considered speech in the USA -- are illegal in parts of Europe.
Bikerman
handfleisch wrote:
I am not sure it is so different in UK than in Germany. I could amend what I wrote and say the words themselves are not illegal but the incitement is, but is it possible to use strong racial epithets in public in UK without it being incitement to racial hatred? I suppose a comedian could maybe. In a dramatic portrayal it also would be another thing, if the performance isn't inciting. Essentially there are racial slurs that, if used for people in something like a political speech, are pretty much de facto incitement. Also, displaying swastikas and the Hitler salute -- both considered speech in the USA -- are illegal in parts of Europe.
No. The law is clear on this - the prosecution has to PROVE incitement. Simply calling someone a 'paki' would certainly not qualify. Now it would, certainly, generate a lot of bad feeling, public outrage, and social/peer criticism - especially if it came from a national politician - but it wouldn't land you in court.
handfleisch
Bikerman wrote:
handfleisch wrote:
I am not sure it is so different in UK than in Germany. I could amend what I wrote and say the words themselves are not illegal but the incitement is, but is it possible to use strong racial epithets in public in UK without it being incitement to racial hatred? I suppose a comedian could maybe. In a dramatic portrayal it also would be another thing, if the performance isn't inciting. Essentially there are racial slurs that, if used for people in something like a political speech, are pretty much de facto incitement. Also, displaying swastikas and the Hitler salute -- both considered speech in the USA -- are illegal in parts of Europe.
No. The law is clear on this - the prosecution has to PROVE incitement. Simply calling someone a 'paki' would certainly not qualify. Now it would, certainly, generate a lot of bad feeling, public outrage, and social/peer criticism - especially if it came from a national politician - but it wouldn't land you in court.

Yes, I see the distinction you are making. A politician in Germany wouldn't automatically be charged because of saying the equivalent of "paki" either. What about swastikas and Hitler salutes in UK? Because that definitely is automatically prosecutable in Germany and some central European countries.
Bikerman
Neither are prohibited here. In fact the swastika was used by Baden Powell as the official 'symbol' of the boy scout movement (it has been changed Smile ) and still features in Hindi and Buddhist literature and iconography.
There have been moves in the European Parliament to ban the symbol, but I don't think it will come to anything, and I am completely against the proposal.
Germany is, obviously, a special case in this regard and I think it is best to leave such decisions to the duly elected German Federal govmt.
handfleisch
Bikerman wrote:
Neither are prohibited here. In fact the swastika was used by Baden Powel as the official 'symbol' of the boy scout movement (it has been changed :-) ) and still features in Hindi and Buddhist literature and iconography.
There have been moves in the European Parliament to bad the symbol, but I don't think it will come to anything and I am completely against the proposal.
Germany is, obviously, a special case in this regard and I think it is best to leave such decisions to the duly elected German Federal govmt.

The Nazi swastika is slightly different that the Hindi symbol. It's reversed and usually is in a distinctive color scheme. Hindi books or decorations with the symbol are not banned in Germany or the other places that ban the Nazi swastika. But the Nazi swastika is banned, as is the Hitler salute. And a fascist political party that used racial epithets during a speech would probably be treading the line that could be prosecuted.

BTW, related to this topic, the US has just passed a historic expansion of its hate crimes law:

http://www.voanews.com/specialenglish/2009-10-30-voa6.cfm
Quote:
Gays and Disabled Are Now Protected Under Hate Crimes Law in US
Conservatives objected to adding sexual orientation. Separately, the U.S. criticizes international efforts by Islamic countries to ban anti-religious speech Transcript of radio broadcast:
30 October 2009

This week, President Obama signed an expansion of federal law on hate crimes. Such laws provide more investigative resources or longer sentences, or both, for crimes driven by prejudice.

Until now, federal law has covered crimes based on a victim's race, color, religion or national origin. Congress first acted in nineteen sixty-eight after the murder of civil rights leader Martin Luther King.

Now, after years of effort by gay rights groups and others, the law will include sexual orientation. And it will extend protection to those victimized because of their gender or gender identity or a disability.

ocalhoun
handfleisch wrote:
ocalhoun wrote:
handfleisch wrote:
Racist words are illegal in much of Europe, stemming from their experience with Nazism.

Oh, my mistake. Apparently there are thought police. ^.^


Many Americans have a pretty childish view on the matters of free speech and society. Proclaiming European life as beholden to thought police, especially when we have rigidly controlled totalitarian societies like China in the world, is nonsense.

Oh, there surely are worse examples in the world, but that doesn't excuse anything.

If you can get charged with a crime for saying the wrong thing, there's no freedom of speech.
handfleisch
ocalhoun wrote:
handfleisch wrote:
ocalhoun wrote:
handfleisch wrote:
Racist words are illegal in much of Europe, stemming from their experience with Nazism.

Oh, my mistake. Apparently there are thought police. ^.^


Many Americans have a pretty childish view on the matters of free speech and society. Proclaiming European life as beholden to thought police, especially when we have rigidly controlled totalitarian societies like China in the world, is nonsense.

Oh, there surely are worse examples in the world, but that doesn't excuse anything.


Um, no, it's not about some place being worse. You said there are thought police in Europe, a silly statement on its own. In fact, the range of opinion in the public sphere is much greater than in the USA.

Quote:
If you can get charged with a crime for saying the wrong thing, there's no freedom of speech.


So you're saying there's no freedom of speech in the USA? Because you can get charged for saying the wrong thing, like falsely yelling fire in a crowded movie theater or advocating the violent overthrow of the government.
ocalhoun
handfleisch wrote:

So you're saying there's no freedom of speech in the USA? Because you can get charged for saying the wrong thing, like falsely yelling fire in a crowded movie theater or advocating the violent overthrow of the government.

You can be arrested for planning to or conspiring to overthrow the government, but not for advocating doing so.

You can get arrested for yelling fire in a theater, but that is for causing panic and casualties, not for expressing an opinion.
Bikerman
ocalhoun wrote:
handfleisch wrote:

So you're saying there's no freedom of speech in the USA? Because you can get charged for saying the wrong thing, like falsely yelling fire in a crowded movie theater or advocating the violent overthrow of the government.

You can be arrested for planning to or conspiring to overthrow the government, but not for advocating doing so.

You can get arrested for yelling fire in a theater, but that is for causing panic and casualties, not for expressing an opinion.

Are you sure about that?
http://www.reuters.com/article/domesticNews/idUSN2848993920080128

Methinks you are not too familiar with the the SMITH Act (1940)
Quote:
Sec. 2. (a) It shall be unlawful for any person--

(1) to knowingly or willfully advocate, abet, advise, or teach the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying any government in the United States by force or violence, or by the assassination of any officer of any such government;

http://1stam.umn.edu/main/historic/Smith1940.htm
ocalhoun
Bikerman wrote:


Methinks you are not too familiar with the the SMITH Act (1940)
Quote:
Sec. 2. (a) It shall be unlawful for any person--

(1) to knowingly or willfully advocate, abet, advise, or teach the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying any government in the United States by force or violence, or by the assassination of any officer of any such government;

http://1stam.umn.edu/main/historic/Smith1940.htm

Oh, look. A blatantly unconstitutional law.

Quote:
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.

Note, it doesn't say, 'except for...'

I'm very disappointed to see that this law exists. Seems that every thing the government does reduces freedom, and nothing they do increases it.
handfleisch
ocalhoun wrote:
Bikerman wrote:


Methinks you are not too familiar with the the SMITH Act (1940)
Quote:
Sec. 2. (a) It shall be unlawful for any person--

(1) to knowingly or willfully advocate, abet, advise, or teach the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying any government in the United States by force or violence, or by the assassination of any officer of any such government;

http://1stam.umn.edu/main/historic/Smith1940.htm

Oh, look. A blatantly unconstitutional law.

Quote:
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.

Note, it doesn't say, 'except for...'

Well, it doesn't say "except for" falsely yelling fire in a movie theater, or say that it only covers expressing an opinion, both exceptions that you gladly made. The point is not to make sweeping generalizations about "thought police" and "no freedom of speech" about some place (as you did about Europe) because you find a prohibition you don't understand.

ocalhoun wrote:
Seems that every thing the government does reduces freedom, and nothing they do increases it.

That seems true, when considering recent things like the rejection of basic rights of Habeas Corpus and due process, the use of torture, and government spying on US citizens by the Bush administration. However, the current federal government has made steps in the other direction -- stopping those practices, increasing freedom to access of previously secret documents, and it has just expanded the right of minority groups to gain justice for hate crimes, to name a few examples. Not to mention freedom of access to the basic human right of affordable health care...
ocalhoun
handfleisch wrote:

Well, it doesn't say "except for" falsely yelling fire in a movie theater, or say that it only covers expressing an opinion, both exceptions that you gladly made. The point is not to make sweeping generalizations about "thought police" and "no freedom of speech" about some place (as you did about Europe) because you find a prohibition you don't understand.

The 'thought police' comment was mostly a joke.
But, I still maintain that if you can be charged with a crime for expressing the 'wrong' opinions, freedom of speech is also a joke.
Quote:

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
ocalhoun wrote:
Seems that every thing the government does reduces freedom, and nothing they do increases it.

That seems true, when considering recent things like the rejection of basic rights of Habeas Corpus and due process, the use of torture, and government spying on US citizens by the Bush administration.

Seems true? It is true.
Quote:
However, the current federal government has made steps in the other direction --

Tiny, superficial, questionable steps.
Quote:
stopping those practices,

Have they stopped? By habeas corpus and due process, I'm assuming you're referring to the Gitmo detainees... Sure, the intention to fix this has been voiced, but what has been done?
The use of torture had already stopped, and isn't really a freedom issue anyway, more of a human rights issue.
Has this administration stopped the spying? I wasn't aware that they had.
Quote:
increasing freedom to access of previously secret documents,

Sure, expose the secrets of the previous administration. It really helps to distract from the new secrets of the current administration.
Quote:
and it has just expanded the right of minority groups to gain justice for hate crimes,

But not the right of majority group(s) to gain justice for hate crimes? Or am I to understand that it is impossible for a straight christian white male to be killed because someone hated him for belonging to one of those categories? Anyway, this doesn't allow them (the minorities) to do anything they couldn't do before, so how does it increase freedom?
Quote:
Not to mention freedom of access to the basic human right of affordable health care...

But, without fixing the problem of those who really can't access it, only helping those who can't afford it.
Also, what about my freedom to choose to have coverage or not?
handfleisch
ocalhoun wrote:
The 'thought police' comment was mostly a joke.
And yet indistinguishable from your usual posts.

ocalhoun wrote:
But, I still maintain that if you can be charged with a crime for expressing the 'wrong' opinions, freedom of speech is also a joke.
Back to square one. So you think freedom of speech in the USA is a joke. Okay, whatever.
catscratches
I wouldn't go so far as to call it a joke, but true freedom of speech does not exist in America. Nor does it exist in Europe or any other place today.
deanhills
catscratches wrote:
I wouldn't go so far as to call it a joke, but true freedom of speech does not exist in America. Nor does it exist in Europe or any other place today.
I can't agree. Fox News seems to be doing pretty well, and so are some of the Far Right groups in the United States as well as in Europe. I do think however that there are too many rules and regulations. As soon as one starts to enact a law in the "public interest" it automatically takes some freedom away in order to protect the "public interest".
ocalhoun
handfleisch wrote:

ocalhoun wrote:
But, I still maintain that if you can be charged with a crime for expressing the 'wrong' opinions, freedom of speech is also a joke.
Back to square one. So you think freedom of speech in the USA is a joke. Okay, whatever.

Yes, it is. Unconstitutional laws denying it need to be removed, or it will remain so.
catscratches
deanhills wrote:
catscratches wrote:
I wouldn't go so far as to call it a joke, but true freedom of speech does not exist in America. Nor does it exist in Europe or any other place today.
I can't agree. Fox News seems to be doing pretty well, and so are some of the Far Right groups in the United States as well as in Europe. I do think however that there are too many rules and regulations. As soon as one starts to enact a law in the "public interest" it automatically takes some freedom away in order to protect the "public interest".
Oh, yeah? How about eg. cartoons and art depicting minors involved in sexual actions or bestiality (yep, that's right ocalhoun). You'll get thrown into jail for making it, or even possesing it. Unless it has "serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value." Seriously? I should trust the government to decide for me what works have artistic value?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not in favor of child pornography, but I don't think cartoons etc. should count as it.
ocalhoun
catscratches wrote:
Seriously? I should trust the government to decide for me what works have artistic value?

There are those who seem to trust government with all kinds of decisions... Perhaps they just have some over-idealized view of politicians?
deanhills
I don't trust politicians, but I do believe in Government rules that are "reasonable". Most of the time they are and the ones that catscratches refer to are reasonable ones. I also wish these rules could be expanded to include tolerance and respect for differences in cultural and religious beliefs.
catscratches
Why is it reasonable? Whom do these cartoons harm?
ocalhoun
catscratches wrote:
Why is it reasonable?

Because society (especially the religious) find it offensive, so they find whatever reasons to ban it they can.
Quote:
Whom do these cartoons harm?

Nobody, of course, except for those they offend. The main problem is that it is gradually becoming illegal to offend people.
deanhills
ocalhoun wrote:
catscratches wrote:
Why is it reasonable?
Quote:
Whom do these cartoons harm?

Nobody, of course, except for those they offend. The main problem is that it is gradually becoming illegal to offend people.

Because society (especially the religious) find it offensive, so they find whatever reasons to ban it they can.
Ocalhoun put it nicely for me catscratches. People take their religion quite seriously, and if we can have laws against discrimination on the basis of sex, perhaps there should be laws against discrimination on the grounds of culture and religion as well. I'm convinced lack of tolerance of different beliefs is at the heart of bullying at schools as well. Cartoons can be tricky, as it would be difficult to draw the line between what is offensive or not, but I'm sure one would be able to comprehend if a cartoon would be upsetting or not. News agencies who publish those cartoons usually have lawyers who advise them.
ocalhoun
deanhills wrote:
Cartoons can be tricky, as it would be difficult to draw the line between what is offensive or not,

Why draw a line at all? Offending people should be legal.
catscratches
Everything is offensive to someone. By that logic, we would should not be permitted to draw anything.
deanhills
catscratches wrote:
Everything is offensive to someone. By that logic, we would should not be permitted to draw anything.
The opposite logic can also apply. For me the important part would be peace, safety and security of the majority and what is just and reasonable. What is preferable? To grow up in communities where it is quite OK to offend others by making racial or religious slurs, and take cheap shots in cartoons? Or to teach society to have respect for other people's religion and different points of view? Discrimination hurts badly and giving reason for offense is at the centre of discrimination. That is also where the beginnings of motivation for violence are created. Including the violence we find at schools. I'm almost certain if people can have greater respect for one another's differences that much of violence in society could be avoided.
catscratches
Prohibiting criticism (and therein offensive material) just further raises differences and discrimination. Sorry, but teaching the society respect for other cultures isn't as simple as banning criticism against said cultures.

Besides, personally, when I am not allowed to do something is when I really want to do it. If people want to prohibit me from drawing Mohammed-pictures, that's when I do it. (Me and my friends did that quite a lot in 9:th grade, and we'd never have started was it not for the moral outrage.) When people get mad at me for drawing suggestive sexual material, that's when I draw child rape. (Only happened once, I swear.) Prohibiting certain viewpoints and art won't get rid of them, it'll just make those who hold these views to feel opressed.

Edit: What exactly do you mean by "opposite logic"?
deanhills
catscratches wrote:
Prohibiting criticism ....
That was not what was meant. I meant there should be rules and regulations for extreme situations. Such as the ones we have mentioned. At the minimum it would serve to make people aware that to make slurs against other people's religion can create unsafe consequences.

I get your point that people like to do that which is against the law, but surely people don't go out and murder other people? Extreme cases for me would be if you had a very large Islamic society in your country who are citizens of your country, and other citizens of the country publish cartoons that poke fun at this Group's religion. Like putting a match stick to dynamite and creating conflict and unrest. Preferable one would think this is common sense for the news paper to behave in a responsible manner so that legislation is not necessary, but in this case it did create lots of harm. Not only of the violent kind, but countries outside Denmark in the Middle East were offended too. Some boycotted importation of products from Denmark for a number of months resulting in real financial and economic damage for the companies in Denmark.
ocalhoun
deanhills wrote:
Discrimination hurts badly

Enforced censorship hurts worse.
catscratches
How do you define these "extreme situations"?

Edit: Oh, and I'm not doing such things because they're against the law. I do such things because I think that the law is wrong and it steps on my rights. I hardly think many would agree that the law against murder steps on their rights.
deanhills
@catscratches. I believe the golden rule would be "in the public interest" for safety and security.

@Ocalhoun. I agree, censorship should not be indiscriminately applied. But if it can be proven that a cartoon can be harmful for public safety and security, then it would obviously be in the ineterest of the public that it should not be published. I can't understand however why it should ever get to censorship. Surely a newspaper would have a common sense responsibility for knowing that a cartoon could be offensive, enough to create riots.
catscratches
Never trust anyone to have common sense.
ocalhoun
deanhills wrote:
But if it can be proven that a cartoon can be harmful for public safety and security, then it would obviously be in the ineterest of the public that it should not be published.

Cartoons critical of the government could be harmful for public safety and security. Problem is, that defeats the main purpose of free speech- to keep the government honest... well, as honest as possible.
deanhills
ocalhoun wrote:
Cartoons critical of the government could be harmful for public safety and security. Problem is, that defeats the main purpose of free speech- to keep the government honest... well, as honest as possible.
I guess this is what happens when a Government becomes too big and overregulated. People begin to see it as a separate Institution, rather than "their" Government. Maybe people can't have it both ways. Have complete free speech and a Government being put in the position of "care taker" and acting in the best interests of the public at the same time. For every "care taker" rule, there has to be a price to pay in "freedom of speech".
ocalhoun
deanhills wrote:
For every "care taker" rule, there has to be a price to pay in "freedom of speech".

Hence why the government should NOT be a 'care taker'.

Every time the government takes care of you, you pay a price in freedom. Once you loose your freedom entirely, the government can take that dearly bought care away, and leave you with no recourse.
deanhills
ocalhoun wrote:
Every time the government takes care of you, you pay a price in freedom. Once you loose your freedom entirely, the government can take that dearly bought care away, and leave you with no recourse.
Not to mention the cost and expense, as people have to pay for the legislation, as well as the administration of the legislation in a million ways. Do you know whether there is a Legislation Committee in the US Federal Government that gets to check through all of the legislation and those that may have become redundant or no longer necessary? Sort of a Legislating Weeding Committee?
ocalhoun
deanhills wrote:
Not to mention the cost and expense, as people have to pay for the legislation, as well as the administration of the legislation in a million ways. Do you know whether there is a Legislation Committee in the US Federal Government that gets to check through all of the legislation and those that may have become redundant or no longer necessary? Sort of a Legislating Weeding Committee?

If there is one, it isn't doing its job very well.

Plenty of outdated laws are still in effect. Hotels must provide accommodations for customers' horses... In one state it is illegal for women to drive unless a man walks in front of the car warning people of the oncoming female driver... If someone shoots your dog on your property in Nevada, you may legally execute the shooter by hanging... In New York, the penalty for jumping off a building is death...
Then, there are the more serious cases... Sprawling federal agencies that have been working at their assigned tasks for decades (using up a LOT of money), and yet their missions are further from completion than ever.

A (not toothless) body to eliminate obsolete and/or dysfunctional programs and laws should exist... But it obviously doesn't.
deanhills
ocalhoun wrote:
Plenty of outdated laws are still in effect. Hotels must provide accommodations for customers' horses...
This should be one that pleases you .... Laughing

ocalhoun wrote:
In one state it is illegal for women to drive unless a man walks in front of the car warning people of the oncoming female driver...
This has to be hilarious, but I wonder at the women movement in that State or for that matter Federal feminist movements not having done something about that yet.

ocalhoun wrote:
If someone shoots your dog on your property in Nevada, you may legally execute the shooter by hanging...
I like this one. Although I guess it would not be enforceable?

ocalhoun wrote:
In New York, the penalty for jumping off a building is death...
Even more hilarious, how did this law even get to be legislated. Sort of a double death in the end.

ocalhoun wrote:
Then, there are the more serious cases... Sprawling federal agencies that have been working at their assigned tasks for decades (using up a LOT of money), and yet their missions are further from completion than ever.

A (not toothless) body to eliminate obsolete and/or dysfunctional programs and laws should exist... But it obviously doesn't.


Looks as though there are really laws that can be nixed and some sort of "scrutiny" is needed. Is there a list of the outdated laws somewhere?
ocalhoun
deanhills wrote:
ocalhoun wrote:
Plenty of outdated laws are still in effect. Hotels must provide accommodations for customers' horses...
This should be one that pleases you .... Laughing

But, there is no provision in the law for limiting the cost of such a service.
One time, a man set out to force a hotel to accommodate his horse, in order to point out the outdated-ness of the law. After much arguing and calling of police, the hotel owner relented, and searched for boarding stables that would accept the horse that late in the night.
The hotel won in the end though... They charged $5,000 for the service.
Quote:

Looks as though there are really laws that can be nixed and some sort of "scrutiny" is needed. Is there a list of the outdated laws somewhere?

http://www.idiotlaws.com/
http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1228232/amusing_outdated_laws.html?cat=17

The worst one I know of in my state? In South Dakota, if three or more Native Americans are walking towards you, they can be considered a raiding party and you may legally shoot them.
Similarly, in Wyoming, you may legally open fire on any group of 7 or more Native Americans.
deanhills
ocalhoun wrote:
http://www.idiotlaws.com/
http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1228232/amusing_outdated_laws.html?cat=17

The worst one I know of in my state? In South Dakota, if three or more Native Americans are walking towards you, they can be considered a raiding party and you may legally shoot them.
Similarly, in Wyoming, you may legally open fire on any group of 7 or more Native Americans.
Thanks for the links. One would have thought that there would be a special way of getting rid of redundant laws. Some of them are really funny though.

I also found the following one:
Quote:
Illinois- It is illegal to speak English, American is the officially recognized language

at this link: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1228232/amusing_outdated_laws_pg3_pg3.html?cat=17
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