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The Consequence of Speech Part 1

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posted on Apr, 29 2018 @ 12:24 PM
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The Consequences of Speech — Part 1

By now we’ve all heard the tedious platitude “Freedom of speech but not freedom from consequences”. The phrase is meant to concede that we will give you freedom of speech, but with the caveat that you will never be given freedom from the consequences of your speech. With justifications like these we are one step closer to censorship. As Idi Amin once quipped, “there is freedom of speech but I cannot guarantee freedom after speech”.

This dangerous belief (as half-witted as it is) is a roundabout way of blaming the victim for his own censorship, while leaving those who censored him out of the discussion altogether. It seeks to discredit the notion of free speech in minds already gravitating towards defending censorship.

If the speaker is heckled, fired or assassinated, it was the consequence of his speech, and not the consequence of intolerant bigots. If he is jailed it is the consequence of his speech, and not of the laws, dogmas and injustice of the authorities.

In a letter to the editorof the New York Times, Bertrand Russell made the important point that “in a democracy, it is necessary that people should learn to endure having their sentiments outraged”. Free speech and tolerance, and thus democracy, often requires a rhino’s skin. But he wrote this after being declared morally unfit to teach philosophy and math at the College of the City of New York in 1940.

The magical thinking used to justify the inquisition of Russell illustrates the common overestimation of the power of speech. The judge presiding over the case ruled that Russell’s appointment would “adversely affect public health, safety, and morals” (Russell had numerous marital affairs, and worse, was godless), as if his teachings and character were contagious. The judge argued that the court was obligated to step in to “protect the community's safety and welfare”, as if they were under attack by an invading force. Instead of protecting the community’s welfare, they simply denied Russell the posting. That era’s outrage-machine had convinced itself that a looming, existential threat existed in the expressions of an old English pacifist.

It’s a shame because we’ll never know if Russell’s teaching position would have affected public health, safety and morals. He was denied the position ex ante, and without proof of any real, actual consequences beyond the ones found in the judge’s skull.

Russell had freedom of speech but not freedom from consequences, according to this tired platitude. As it follows, the denial of his teaching position was the consequence of his speech, teachings and moral character, and not because his accusers and censors were unable to endure having their sentiments outraged.

If the arguments against of Bertrand Russell sound familiar, it is because they are. Human beings tend to profess the superstition that speech possesses causal powers extending beyond the obvious and measurable. Words affect us like spells and curses, are capable of manipulating human beings into uncontrollable action. Speech “affects public health, safety, and morals”, as in the case of Russell. It “corrupts the youth”, as in the trial of Socrates. It causes “disorder and mischief” to the one true faith, as in the inquisition of Galileo. Through words we are “incited”, encouraged, roused into various fits of immorality: hatred, discrimination, lawless action. Sophists have been pronouncing the causal powers of speech since Ancient Greece. Gorgias, the father of sophistry, said that words were like drugs—“some cause pain, others joy, some strike fear, some stir the audience to boldness, some benumb and bewitch the soul with evil persuasion”.

Speech has consequences. This superstition is so ancient it is crystallized in our language. In linguistics it is best formulated in the work of JL Austin. Speech is an action, a “speech act”. Saying something involves making locutionary acts (the actual speaking), but also illocutionary acts (the intent) and prelocutionary acts (the effect).

But it’s all post-modernist piffle. The “illocutionary act”, the intention of the “locutionary act”, never leaves the speaker’s skull, unable to effect anything beyond the grey matter of the speaker. The “prelocutionary act”, the effect of the speech, is the very same as any other sound coming from the mouth. The speech act theory denies basic physics, biology, chemistry, and is founded on the untenable account of human nature best illustrated by Aristotle and Locke: the mind is a “blank slate”.

There is no consequence of free speech that differs in any way, with slight variation, to any other human noise-making. The so-called consequences of free speech, used as it is to justify the censorship of a speaker, is rather the consequence of superstitious, unthinking men, unable to endure having their sentiments outraged




posted on Apr, 29 2018 @ 01:21 PM
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"You must say what I want you to do and do what I want you to do", said someone somewhere in someplace.
"and if I do not what shall be the consequence" someone replied.
"I shall make you suffer dearly, for not following my plan" came a reply
"Ok then if that is the case, I shall utter every little thing you wish to hear and abide closely to your plan. I shall pamper to your every whim" and in his skull, he said "till you sicken, till you regret your threats and only then will I return to my freedom of speech" he vowed.
"Very wise young man, very wise in speech and in deed," said the somebody.
What an absolute fool this man is, he believes everything he hears. Little does he know my silent words are tougher than spears. The young man thought to himself.a reply to: LesMisanthrope


edit on 29-4-2018 by ancientthunder because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 29 2018 @ 01:21 PM
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Such responses are not unexpected from a populace that is increasingly uneducated and even illiterate. Unable to reply in any satisfying way they resort to ad hominem labels. Not only the decline of literacy but the short attention spans common to the digital age have only made the problem worse. If one cannot argue with reason and evidence this type of response is about all they can muster.

The fact that many have lost their jobs and are being punished by the British legal system for internet postings is more than a travesty but a trampling of our natural rights. 400 years ago such responses might have been expected but aren't we supposed to be living in the " age of enlightenment "?

The vicious quality of some of these responses has been actively encouraged to stifle certain ideas and to silence speech before it is even uttered. If one must ask whether or not it is worth the #storm one knows will follow then we are not free to speak our minds even less so our hearts.

edit on 29-4-2018 by Asktheanimals because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 29 2018 @ 01:27 PM
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Yeah, well, so? Idi Amin was right. Actions, i.e.: speech, have consequences. You live in a social realm, not alone, and your speech affects that social realm. If you swear at me and I punch you in the face, I just committed a felony, and so my own actions have consequences as well, perhaps more severe for me than for you. You seem to be suggesting that the recipient of speech is obligated to accept whatever you say passively and that any other action is interfering with that person's "free speech." If you say something idiotic and I respond with, "You're an idiot." I am exercising my free speech as well. If that bothers you, then our roles have been reversed and suddenly you are the aggrieved party. What would you have us all do and how would you enforce it?
edit on 4/29/2018 by schuyler because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 29 2018 @ 01:35 PM
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a reply to: schuyler

The beauty of free anything is there is nothing to be enforced. No government action required. Assaulting someone regardless of what they say is never a proper response in the first place. We have laws that cover defamation, libel, slander, plagiarism and incitement (yelling fire in a theater). Everything else is wide open and up to the speakers discretion.

Quoting Idi Amin as a source for valid ideas?
C'mon now.
edit on 29-4-2018 by Asktheanimals because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 29 2018 @ 02:24 PM
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originally posted by: schuyler
Yeah, well, so? Idi Amin was right. Actions, i.e.: speech, have consequences. You live in a social realm, not alone, and your speech affects that social realm. If you swear at me and I punch you in the face, I just committed a felony, and so my own actions have consequences as well, perhaps more severe for me than for you. You seem to be suggesting that the recipient of speech is obligated to accept whatever you say passively and that any other action is interfering with that person's "free speech." If you say something idiot is and I respond with, "You're an idiot." I am exercising my free speech as well. If that bothers you, then our roles have been reversed and suddenly yu are the aggrieved party. What would you have us all do and how would you enforce it?


You punching me in the nose is the consequence of you own choice, not my words. Simple physics and biology.



posted on Apr, 29 2018 @ 02:28 PM
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originally posted by: Asktheanimals
a reply to: schuyler

Quoting Idi Amin as a source for valid ideas? C'mon now.


OP quoted Idi Amin, and though most consider him a monster, he expressed an idea about free speech that involves consequences, which is a major theme in OPs discourse. C'mon now yourself.



posted on Apr, 29 2018 @ 02:31 PM
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a reply to: LesMisanthrope


Speak your mind and suffer the consequences.

Whether it is statues being knocked down or social media sites punishing those who do not obey the conventions of some ideological thought, censorship is here.

It is real.

And people are applauding it's deployment.



posted on Apr, 29 2018 @ 02:43 PM
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Just a little something for everyone to chew on.

Speech means nothing without the words in the speakers head or on his or her paper. If the words are strong enough to enact major social change, the speaker better start watching his back. Establishments don't take it lightly when someone threatens their establishment. Ask Jesus. Or MLK. Or Kennedy.

But if you take those same words and put them on the internet in an anonymous manner, if the change comes, it will come slowly.......if at all.

In short, if you want to speak something that many would consider controversial, consider your audience. And if you're a master of words, you might want to ask yourself: "Is speaking them worth dying for?"



posted on Apr, 29 2018 @ 03:21 PM
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a reply to: LesMisanthrope

Language was/is a virus.

-True story-



posted on Apr, 29 2018 @ 04:54 PM
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originally posted by: LesMisanthrope

originally posted by: schuyler
Yeah, well, so? Idi Amin was right. Actions, i.e.: speech, have consequences. You live in a social realm, not alone, and your speech affects that social realm. If you swear at me and I punch you in the face, I just committed a felony, and so my own actions have consequences as well, perhaps more severe for me than for you. You seem to be suggesting that the recipient of speech is obligated to accept whatever you say passively and that any other action is interfering with that person's "free speech." If you say something idiot is and I respond with, "You're an idiot." I am exercising my free speech as well. If that bothers you, then our roles have been reversed and suddenly yu are the aggrieved party.? What would you have us all do and how would you enforce it


You punching me in the nose is the consequence of you own choice, not my words. Simple physics and biology.


You are avoiding the question. What would you have us all do and how would you enforce it?



posted on Apr, 29 2018 @ 05:33 PM
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a reply to: LesMisanthrope


Why do you write in such a general way?

I.E.



Human beings tend to profess the superstition that speech possesses causal powers extending beyond the obvious and measurable. Words affect us like spells and curses, are capable of manipulating human beings into uncontrollable action.


The rest of the above paragraph continues with the characterization of speech as influencing people as a "superstition".

Question: do you acknowledge differences between humans that result from different environmental affordances i.e. some people were born into situations that allowed their mind and brain to develop more extensively at a cognitive-symbolic level more than other minds.

It seems like your basing your entire argument on ignoring the vital significance of development on the capacities of human beings.

My view is the one suggested by the empirical sciences; physical reality is dynamical; human beings are physical objects made of 20-100 trillion cells, and like all physical living beings, is continuously self-adjusting to maintain an 'internal coherence', or symmetry, to handle the tasks of the outside world.

Because of this, some people - very well read and self-aware people - are less influenced by the power of speech than people who aren'tt very educated - and therefore, do not have the metacognition that is required to process the way environmental inputs affect it.

To whitewash the differences between humans - and to ignore how this difference derives from real life events - is to mislead people as to the significance speech and language can have on perceptual and cognitive processes - especially via the way it can activate and direct emotive processes.

For example, your statement here is a patent idealization:



There is no consequence of free speech that differs in any way, with slight variation, to any other human noise-making. The so-called consequences of free speech, used as it is to justify the censorship of a speaker, is rather the consequence of superstitious, unthinking men, unable to endure having their sentiments outraged


First, speech is symbolic; and symbols orient 'meaning-making' processes. They are a higher level constraint on affective dynamics between humans, so to say it is "just another noise", may sound nice, but it isn't exactly coherent i.e. doesn't respect the facts of how symbols actually work.

Second, the right orbitofrontal cortex is precisely that organ of the brain-mind which allows a person to constrain, inhibit, and regulate their feelings. If you are growing in a threatening context, and the world 'out there' presents itself again and again as threatening, the right orbitofrontal cortex can become 'over-regulated' (meaning too much inhibition, which prevents awareness of the meaning of something) or under-regulated (induces anxiety and forces frantic self-correcting processes). This means some people are structurally unable to control their feelings when they're triggered (under-regulated), or conversely, to be persuaded of something that they don't want to hear (over-regulated). The brain doesn't allow them to think clearly.

I agree that not demonizing other people is important; I agree with Popper, for instance, that social change should happen in a piecemeal way, which means, having compassion for the largest number of people; of course, compassion isn't an emotion many people feel comfortable with, but that is really the sort of affect that is needed to actually tolerate people you disagree with. It is also, even more importantly, a realistic response that offers the only plausible pathway out of this ridiculous dichotomous structure that currently exists - and is insidiously enforced - by human fraities.

That said, it is also idealistic to think that some people can simply 'endure' other views as if their teleodynamic functioning isn't be upended by hearing views that conflict with what they believe to be coherent. This is a defense mechanism as basic as the dogs barking at a doorbell (which there is probably a good genetic reason for its existence). The organism seeks to 'self-right' in the ways it has learned in the past; and since for us this 'self-righting' are the self-states that encode psycholinguistic and social-identifications, when other 'self-states' - or viewpoints, formed from a completely different context and canalization history, appear before us, we react as if a bee is stinging us - we attempt to shut it down.

This theme of mental functioning is known as 'dissociation' by clinical psychologists and 'cognitive dissonance' by cognitive psychologists. The former field emphasizes the 'dysregulating' nature of the thing that is dissociated, while the latter field emphasizes the cognitive result of being dysregulated: feeling confused, and therefore, feeling threatened.

Thus, there has to be some recognition that some people are very liable to take speech - and especially carefully designed propagandic speech (i.e. "rhetoric") - in exactly the way that the propgandists intend. This is because the whole 'self-state' phenomenology of human experience is built around the 'need to be known' i.e. entails the (largely unconscious) trafficking of 'ways humans identify', or as the psychiatrist Richard Chefetz puts it, "ways of being me".

And so elite culture typically corrupts whoever enters it - as I'm sure elite culture - and the people which make it up - are very aware of. It's precisely because of this dissociation between affective processes and psycholinguistic narratives that speech can be used to control the minds of other human beings. It is precisely the 'metacognitive' framework that is used to 'channel' how meaning is made.

Intelligent people are far more resilient to these effects, precisely because they are aware of the fact of how social-processes work on their functioning. The "being aware of" is like having a force-field that attuned to the specific nature of the threat it may face. This 'knowledge of' allows the brain-mind to be cued when the external cue indicates itself in interaction, after which the 'self becomes aware', and shifts to a more focused mode of being.

In other words, if you understand processes in the following diagram,



you have the 'required immunity' - the "proper signs" - to deal with the threat.

edit on 29-4-2018 by Astrocyte because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 29 2018 @ 08:09 PM
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originally posted by: schuyler

originally posted by: LesMisanthrope

originally posted by: schuyler
Yeah, well, so? Idi Amin was right. Actions, i.e.: speech, have consequences. You live in a social realm, not alone, and your speech affects that social realm. If you swear at me and I punch you in the face, I just committed a felony, and so my own actions have consequences as well, perhaps more severe for me than for you. You seem to be suggesting that the recipient of speech is obligated to accept whatever you say passively and that any other action is interfering with that person's "free speech." If you say something idiot is and I respond with, "You're an idiot." I am exercising my free speech as well. If that bothers you, then our roles have been reversed and suddenly yu are the aggrieved party.? What would you have us all do and how would you enforce it


You punching me in the nose is the consequence of you own choice, not my words. Simple physics and biology.


You are avoiding the question. What would you have us all do and how would you enforce it?


I wouldn’t enforce anything, and that is the point. It’s a simple choice between censoring others and not censoring others. Teaching and education, on the other hand, can do wonders that legislation, coercion and enforcement couldn’t do.



posted on Apr, 29 2018 @ 09:01 PM
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a reply to: Astrocyte

No, development is very important. That is the reason we should “develop” people to understand the nature of language, and to better endure their own sentiments when faced with things they do not wish to think about. When it comes to language, if we consider ourselves in the active voice instead of the passive one, we become to realize we control language instead of it controlling us. I think this is powerful.

They can “endure other views” exactly because it isn’t the other views that stresses them. It is something else they must endure, namely, themselves.

I agree that people take speech in the way it is intended. But taking speech the way it was intended is not the consequence of the speech, just like it isn’t the consequence of the speech if people take it any other way.



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