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Free Speech Exists

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posted on Apr, 24 2018 @ 04:55 PM
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A post-modernist argument against free speech is that it doesn’t exist. According to them, there has never been a civilization with free speech. Every society limits expression and engages in censorship because competing values are involved, and some values simply trump free speech. Therefore, free speech absolutism is untenable, and these crazy free speech advocates are really arguing over nothing. (Read the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy's entry on the subject)

We should note that the argument that such and such freedom doesn’t exist, and therefore we should accept the current state of affairs or limit our debate to what is only now possible, was used in the defence of slavery. No, freedom does not exist for slaves, just like free speech does not exist for the censored. Sure, it is true that if every society engaged in slavery freedom would cease to exist, but it is certainly no compelling argument in favour of enslaving human beings nor against their emancipation.

An evident fact remains among the clouds of their casuistry: we are free to speak and think however we please until someone comes along and forces us to do otherwise. We can prove this by opening our mouths and speaking about whatever we want. Free speech exists.

How does the post-modernist overcome this problem? Sophist Stanley Fish found a solution that even some objectivists and libertarians find comforting. The title of his controversial book, "There is no such thing as free speech (and that is a good thing, too)", hints at his conclusion. According to Fish, “regulation of speech is constitutive of meaningful discourse”. If we had free speech, speech itself would be meaningless. Society already places restrictions on speech, a system, a “background understanding”—grammar, syntax, meaning, decorum, and so on. If there were no limits to speech, conversation itself would be impossible. We would all be speaking nonsense, and on top of that, speaking over one another. Speech is always regulated; therefor we do not have free speech.

It is a clever argument, but one unworthy of reality. He conflates language, manners, and convention as "regulations". Though linguists often describe grammar, syntax and the like as “rules”, they don’t function as such, as if declared and imposed by some authority. They do not govern or regulate our speech like some censor or commissar might. Rather, they help us to speak and engage in conversation. They are the foundational and natural features of any language. We are not forced or coerced into utilizing these foundations—we can completely disregard them and babble like a baby if we wanted to—but we choose to use them on the basis that it is advantageous to do so, so that others might understand us. One doesn’t abide by the conventions of his language because they are imposed on him by “regulation”. We do it by choice, freely, even by natural inclination. Free speech implies the liberty to convey ideas, to speak one’s mind, to speak so that others might understand what we said, all of which would be impossible without first learning the language and applying what we have learned. Our speech would be severely limited, if not impossible, if it had turned out otherwise.

Fish’s salad of words serves to attack the principle without having to attack the arguments in favour of it. Why argue about speech codes, censorship, and the regulation of speech if we already do it anyways? As is the going rate with arguments against free speech, these are the roundabout and deceitful defences of censorship. The whole “free speech doesn’t exist” nonsense is merely a consolation in order to waylay the cognitive dissonance involved in supporting censorship and denying freedom.

Such thinking gives a credulous mind another reason to feel better about the obvious: censorship exists. There are people, societies and social pressures that seek to limit the free speech of others.

But we can ask the post-modernist a pointed question: if free speech does not exist as you so believe, why do you advocate limiting it?

- LesMis




posted on Apr, 24 2018 @ 05:18 PM
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I believe we have freedom of thought, but we do not have the freedom of expression.

Certain methods of expression are accepted like art, but even that has been attacked in recent history.

Speech is being constantly attacked, music has been attacked for being "too violent".

The platforms we use to express ourselves are being attacked and the cracks are starting to show.

I'm glad I'm able to speak freely on this website within moderation, however, just because my words on the screen abide by the Terms and Services of this site, A future employer might deny me a job position because I had a view that they disapproved of.

The internet is policed massively in the UK, they have a hate crime division and GCHQ trawling through all of your internet posts.

So, even here, our speech is not free.

I could express my discontent to myself however, I guess it would be free then, but sharing with another is when you could be held liable.



posted on Apr, 24 2018 @ 05:24 PM
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a reply to: zGrimReapah




I could express my discontent to myself however, I guess it would be free then, but sharing with another is when you could be held liable.


Speech is free until someone comes along and seeks to limit it. You could share your discontent with me and remain free. It's the censors we need to worry about.



posted on Apr, 24 2018 @ 05:34 PM
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a reply to: LesMisanthrope

What kind of screwed up society is this? The only form of free speech that has a legal right to exist unfettered is pornography.



posted on Apr, 24 2018 @ 05:36 PM
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a reply to: toms54




What kind of screwed up society is this? The only form of free speech that has a legal right to exist unfettered is pornography.


An authoritarian, paternalistic society hell-bent on safety and comfort.



posted on Apr, 24 2018 @ 07:40 PM
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The entire argument begs the question. It reminds me of the adage, "Freedom of the Press is for those who own one." Freedom of speech is meaningless if it cannot be disseminated or heard. So do you have freedom to be published? Sure, if you have help. The days of printing your own pamphlets and distributing them in the town square are over. You need some cooperation--and an Internet connection. You need to squeeze into an existing site like ATS and abide by their Terms and Conditions. And, for the record, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. Yes, technically, free speech exists, but it is meaningless without context. It's like that old Stephen Crane poem:

A man said to the universe: “Sir, I exist!” “However,” replied the universe, “The fact has not created in me A sense of obligation.”

And LesMis: "anyways"??? Really?



posted on Apr, 24 2018 @ 08:49 PM
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originally posted by: schuyler
The entire argument begs the question. It reminds me of the adage, "Freedom of the Press is for those who own one." Freedom of speech is meaningless if it cannot be disseminated or heard. So do you have freedom to be published? Sure, if you have help. The days of printing your own pamphlets and distributing them in the town square are over. You need some cooperation--and an Internet connection. You need to squeeze into an existing site like ATS and abide by their Terms and Conditions. And, for the record, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. Yes, technically, free speech exists, but it is meaningless without context. It's like that old Stephen Crane poem:

A man said to the universe: “Sir, I exist!” “However,” replied the universe, “The fact has not created in me A sense of obligation.”

And LesMis: "anyways"??? Really?


Well, getting speech published and getting people to take speech seriously is another matter. The point of free speech isn’t to elevate all speech to a certain equal status, to publish something simply because someone said it; the point is to simply stay out of the way.



posted on Apr, 25 2018 @ 08:14 AM
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posted on Apr, 25 2018 @ 08:23 AM
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originally posted by: schuyler
The entire argument begs the question. It reminds me of the adage, "Freedom of the Press is for those who own one." Freedom of speech is meaningless if it cannot be disseminated or heard. So do you have freedom to be published? Sure, if you have help. The days of printing your own pamphlets and distributing them in the town square are over. You need some cooperation--and an Internet connection. You need to squeeze into an existing site like ATS and abide by their Terms and Conditions. And, for the record, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. Yes, technically, free speech exists, but it is meaningless without context. It's like that old Stephen Crane poem:

A man said to the universe: “Sir, I exist!” “However,” replied the universe, “The fact has not created in me A sense of obligation.”

And LesMis: "anyways"??? Really?


I will disagree on one point.

Free speech does not exist. Freedom of speech does, but there are costs to everything so nothing is ever "free".

In regards to the OP, this is just another thread in a long list of threads on the same topic by the same member...saying the exact same things.

The theme we have seem occurring over and over in those threads is that the OP does not believe in personal responsibility or your right to own your various forms of speech.

Not only are you free from consequence, you have no ownership of your speech. It belongs to everyone.



posted on Apr, 25 2018 @ 08:29 AM
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a reply to: LesMisanthrope

Free expression should exist, but people justify inflicting consequences on speech because they don't like the content.


It's a justification for censorship by saying, "We don't have free speech".



posted on Apr, 25 2018 @ 08:31 AM
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a reply to: introvert




The theme we have seem occurring over and over in those threads is that the OP does not believe in personal responsibility or your right to own your various forms of speech.


I believe in personal responsibility, and your strawmen and your dishonesty are common features of all your posts.



posted on Apr, 25 2018 @ 08:33 AM
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a reply to: LesMisanthrope

Everything cost something, nothing is really free, including your will.



posted on Apr, 25 2018 @ 08:34 AM
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originally posted by: DBCowboy
a reply to: LesMisanthrope

Free expression should exist, but people justify inflicting consequences on speech because they don't like the content.


It's a justification for censorship by saying, "We don't have free speech".



It does in certain spaces. I’m sure you if you and I were having a beer, no threat of outrage or political correctness or censorship would hang over the conversation.



posted on Apr, 25 2018 @ 08:35 AM
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originally posted by: andy06shake
a reply to: LesMisanthrope

Everything cost something, nothing is really free, including your will.


I suppose that’s true, but the cost of speech is very little. The problem is that people overestimate the the cost of speech.



posted on Apr, 25 2018 @ 08:36 AM
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originally posted by: LesMisanthrope
a reply to: introvert




The theme we have seem occurring over and over in those threads is that the OP does not believe in personal responsibility or your right to own your various forms of speech.


I believe in personal responsibility, and your strawmen and your dishonesty are common features of all your posts.


You do not believe in consequences that stem from the act of free speech and you openly admit that people are not entitled to own any creation that comes from their freedom of expression.

That is on record and you admit it.

Not sure why you would be dishonest and resort to ad hom fallacies.



posted on Apr, 25 2018 @ 08:45 AM
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originally posted by: introvert

originally posted by: LesMisanthrope
a reply to: introvert




The theme we have seem occurring over and over in those threads is that the OP does not believe in personal responsibility or your right to own your various forms of speech.


I believe in personal responsibility, and your strawmen and your dishonesty are common features of all your posts.


You do not believe in consequences that stem from the act of free speech and you openly admit that people are not entitled to own any creation that comes from their freedom of expression.

That is on record and you admit it.

Not sure why you would be dishonest and resort to ad hom fallacies.


There are consequences to speech. When we speak, breath comes out of the mouth. When we write, we scratch ink onto paper. Those are the consequences. Your consequences, on the other hand, are products of magical thought.

How that translates to me not believing in personal responsibility is quite the leap.



posted on Apr, 25 2018 @ 08:47 AM
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a reply to: LesMisanthrope

Well without free expression/speech, or at least the notion of such, our respective societies would be very differet places to exist i suppose.

The cost such can vary depending on circumstance, take for instance the fact that free speech protects the morronic racist buffoons of our world and there ideologies.

A necessary evil granted, but the cost is rather apparent, especially so in the information age in which we live.
edit on 25-4-2018 by andy06shake because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 25 2018 @ 08:48 AM
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a reply to: LesMisanthrope

Just judging from your posting, it would appear you have not spent much time in a elderly care facility. Many of these residents have come to that time in their lives when they have become totally free to speak their mind.

That aside; I have often heard it said that we have the right to freedom of speech but we do not have the right to not be offended.
In a free society, we do 'self censor" our speech and language in accordance with what is acceptable to others whom we encounter. An adult will often temper the words which they use in the presents of small children and women whom the are not familiar. Where as, when in the comfort and company of those in their own homes, they may speak in an all together different manner. This does not mean we no longer have the freedom of speech in these situations, simply that we are civilized enough to be aware of the sensitivities of others.
Now, as I stated before, we have the freedom of speech but not the freedom to not be offended. For when the "offended" party is allowed to take control of another's freedom to speak all people automatic lose this most basic of freedoms. The only recourse for someone who finds themselves in the presents of an offensive speaker is to remove themselves from the speaker's presents. All most any other action could be interpreted as an effort to censor that person's right to their own freedom of speech.
Have you ever hear the expression "So long as one man is a slave, then all men are slaves"? The same could be said for denying someone of their freedom of speech.



posted on Apr, 25 2018 @ 08:51 AM
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originally posted by: andy06shake
a reply to: LesMisanthrope

Well without free expression/speech, or at least the notion of such, our respective societies would be very differet places to exist i suppose.

The cost such can vary depending on circumstance, take for instance the fact that free speech protects the morronic racist buffoons of our world and there ideologies.

A necessary evil granted, but the cost is rather apparent, especially so in the information age in which we live.


What is the apparent cost? That someone might believe it?



posted on Apr, 25 2018 @ 08:55 AM
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originally posted by: tinymind
a reply to: LesMisanthrope

Just judging from your posting, it would appear you have not spent much time in a elderly care facility. Many of these residents have come to that time in their lives when they have become totally free to speak their mind.

That aside; I have often heard it said that we have the right to freedom of speech but we do not have the right to not be offended.
In a free society, we do 'self censor" our speech and language in accordance with what is acceptable to others whom we encounter. An adult will often temper the words which they use in the presents of small children and women whom the are not familiar. Where as, when in the comfort and company of those in their own homes, they may speak in an all together different manner. This does not mean we no longer have the freedom of speech in these situations, simply that we are civilized enough to be aware of the sensitivities of others.
Now, as I stated before, we have the freedom of speech but not the freedom to not be offended. For when the "offended" party is allowed to take control of another's freedom to speak all people automatic lose this most basic of freedoms. The only recourse for someone who finds themselves in the presents of an offensive speaker is to remove themselves from the speaker's presents. All most any other action could be interpreted as an effort to censor that person's right to their own freedom of speech.
Have you ever hear the expression "So long as one man is a slave, then all men are slaves"? The same could be said for denying someone of their freedom of speech.



I agree with with you. There are many courses of action to avoid offensive speech that does not involve the denial of civil liberties. But I would argue that sometimes it is necessary to view the offensive speech and ideas, at least to discover the sorts of ideas a civil and democratic society is up against.



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