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Yes, we can yell "fire" in a crowded theater.

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posted on Dec, 28 2018 @ 02:22 PM
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Apologists for censorship and speech policing have often made the excuse that we cannot yell fire in a crowded theater, a classic, if not overused and misquoted reference to the ruling of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes in The United States v. Schenck back in 1919.

Here’s the actual sentence from the opinion, which may serve useful to those who routinely misquote it:


“The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.”


That particular case had nothing to do with theaters (or falsely yelling “fire” in them) but was rather about convicting a man for anti-war activism. Charles Schenk, an anti-war socialist, was arrested for distributing fliers criticizing the draft. He was charged under the Espionage act.

Justice Holmes’ fatuous opinion in the case was that Schenck’s pamphleteering during the war was not protected speech under the first amendment because it posed a “clear and present danger” which could bring upon us all “the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent”.

The “shouting fire in a theater” remark was simply an ancillary analogy he used to give force to his legal opinion. The phrase itself, however, has no legal force whatsoever, and never did.

It was his other remark, “clear and present danger”, that became the new standard for first amendment cases. But even that was overturned nearly 50 years ago in favor of the current standard, “immanent lawless action”.

All this is why we should beware those who abuse the phrase because they do so in the spirit of Justice Holmes: as an imbecilic excuse for unwarranted and cowardly censorship.

We can falsely shout “fire” in a theatre if we damn well please—and you can yell at us to “shut up”.




posted on Dec, 28 2018 @ 02:26 PM
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a reply to: Propagandalf

Sure you can. There are also consequences for doing so, quite aside from being punched in the mouth by a parent whose child has been hurt in the resulting panic...

If there ever was, which I doubt, absolute freedom of speech, there isn't now.



posted on Dec, 28 2018 @ 02:27 PM
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a reply to: Propagandalf

Screw Apologists. And Screw Censorship too.



posted on Dec, 28 2018 @ 02:28 PM
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originally posted by: seagull
a reply to: Propagandalf

Sure you can. There are also consequences for doing so, quite aside from being punched in the mouth by a parent whose child has been hurt in the resulting panic...

If there ever was, which I doubt, absolute freedom of speech, there isn't now.


There is absolute freedom of speech. But only if you refuse to hang out with censors.



posted on Dec, 28 2018 @ 02:33 PM
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a reply to: Propagandalf




Yes, we can yell "fire" in a crowded theater


I dare you to try it , record what happens and post it here to ats.



posted on Dec, 28 2018 @ 02:35 PM
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a reply to: scraedtosleep




posted on Dec, 28 2018 @ 02:35 PM
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Freedom of speech comes with responsibility and in a civil society I believe that there is inevitably going to have to be some sensible laws in place to step in when members of society refuse to adhere to that responsibility. Absolute true freedom of speech is a lie you do not have the right to verbalise anything you want and not face some kind of criminal punishment.

These kind of laws are essential to the smooth and safe running of a civilised society.

The fire in a theatre analogy is a good one but there are others that demonstrate this need. If we had true absolute freedom of speech with out a legal framework that ensures we also live up to the responsibility that comes with that freedom civility would be at threat. It would mean that for example I could just phone in bomb threats against random targets and say that anyone trying to punish me for it is infringing on my absolute freedom off speech. We could go darker, what about using a claim of absolute freedom of speech to groom underage children. What about a group of journalists going on live TV and causing mass panic then defending it all because they were just expressing their absolute freedom of speech to say "nuclear bombs are dropping" on TV....because. This becomes even darker if we take a view that freedom of speech equates to freedom of expression but for now I guess thats another debate.

I believe like I said that absolute freedom of speech is a lie but I also believe that the restrictions on freedom of speech should be a absolute minimum. Now where we all draw that line I guess comes down to personal views but for me one thing is for sure.

You cannot walk into a theatre and should fire and not expect to get into some kind of trouble.
edit on 28-12-2018 by OtherSideOfTheCoin because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 28 2018 @ 02:37 PM
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a reply to: Propagandalf

If there are consequences, of any sort, then the freedom is not absolute, is it?

There's no such thing as absolute freedom of speech. Misuse of it brings consequence. If they're consequences you can live with, then fine.



posted on Dec, 28 2018 @ 02:38 PM
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a reply to: OtherSideOfTheCoin

We do have absolute freedom of speech already, so long as we have means of expressing ourselves. Try it; you can say anything you want. Unfortunately, we do not have freedom from censors, those ready to silence us and punish us for speaking.



posted on Dec, 28 2018 @ 02:39 PM
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originally posted by: seagull
a reply to: Propagandalf

If there are consequences, of any sort, then the freedom is not absolute, is it?

There's no such thing as absolute freedom of speech. Misuse of it brings consequence. If they're consequences you can live with, then fine.



Yes it is. Try saying the worst thing you can think of. You are absolutely free to do so. What we are not free from are censors and those who would silence us.



posted on Dec, 28 2018 @ 02:43 PM
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originally posted by: Propagandalf
a reply to: OtherSideOfTheCoin

We do have absolute freedom of speech already, so long as we have means of expressing ourselves. Try it; you can say anything you want. Unfortunately, we do not have freedom from censors, those ready to silence us and punish us for speaking.


I guess yes we do have the freedom to say whatever the hell we want, our very ability to speak means we can say just about anything our biology is capable of saying.

That however does not mean we have the absolute freedom of speech in civil society to say whatever we want and not face some kind of punishment. Like I said it does not mean you can shout fire in a theatre (insert whatever analogy you want) and not have to live with the consequences of that. Which may include finding ourselves incarcerated by the state for committing a crime.

The "censors" as you put it are the laws that facilitate the safe and effective running of society. They are the same laws that prevent perverts grooming our kids, stop idiots calling in bomb threats or people just causing mass panic for fun with out any kind of punishment.

I get the impression that what you mean by this thread is to simply point out that as human beings we can say anything our biology is capable of saying....errr duh.... don't think anyone is debating that. However when we talk about freedom of speech it is generally about the freedom to express yourself in anyway with out repercussions and in reality that absolute freedom does not exit.
edit on 28-12-2018 by OtherSideOfTheCoin because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 28 2018 @ 02:45 PM
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I need a drink





posted on Dec, 28 2018 @ 02:48 PM
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a reply to: Propagandalf

You should find a crowded theater on new years eve and yell fire and live stream it. And make sure the footage remains on YouTube until after an investigation is started, then will really believe your awesome point.


Just what this country needs now... advocating doing dumbshlit cuz we haven't had a mass shooting in months



posted on Dec, 28 2018 @ 02:49 PM
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originally posted by: OtherSideOfTheCoin

originally posted by: Propagandalf
a reply to: OtherSideOfTheCoin

We do have absolute freedom of speech already, so long as we have means of expressing ourselves. Try it; you can say anything you want. Unfortunately, we do not have freedom from censors, those ready to silence us and punish us for speaking.


I guess yes we do have the freedom to say whatever the hell we want, our very ability to speak means we can say just about anything our biology is capable of saying.

That however does not mean we have the absolute freedom of speech in civil society to say whatever we want and not face some kind of punishment. Like I said it does not mean you can shout fire in a theatre (insert whatever analogy you want) and not have to live with the consequences of that. Which may include finding ourselves incarcerated by the state for committing a crime.

The "censors" as you put it are the laws that facilitate the safe and effective running of society. They are the same laws that prevent perverts grooming our kids, stop idiots calling in bomb threats or people just causing mass panic for fun with out any kind of punishment.


Some are still killed for blasphemy or renouncing their faith. Those censors, of course, do so for the "safe and effective running of society". So I'm wary of excuses such as yours.
edit on 28-12-2018 by Propagandalf because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 28 2018 @ 02:52 PM
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a reply to: Propagandalf

Sorry les the more I think about this thread the dumber it seems, its like your usual cacophony of clever sounding mumbo-jumbo that when you break it down is basically utter rubbish.

TLDR version of this thread.

Humans can make noises with their mouths so we have freedom of speech......



posted on Dec, 28 2018 @ 02:52 PM
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a reply to: odzeandennz




posted on Dec, 28 2018 @ 02:53 PM
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a reply to: Propagandalf

SCotUS says, the test for when speech isn't free. Is that if the speech isn't going to cause imminent lawless action.

en.wikipedia.org...


The two legal prongs that constitute incitement of imminent lawless action is as follows:

Advocacy of force or criminal activity does not receive First Amendment protections if (1) the advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action, and (2) is likely to incite or produce such action.


So while yes, you can shout fire in a theater, your freedom of speech doesn't protect you if someone gets hurt because of your words caused something to happen.



posted on Dec, 28 2018 @ 02:54 PM
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originally posted by: OtherSideOfTheCoin
a reply to: Propagandalf

Sorry les the more I think about this thread the dumber it seems, its like your usual cacophony of clever sounding mumbo-jumbo that when you break it down is basically utter rubbish.

TLDR version of this thread.

Humans can make noises with their mouths so we have freedom of speech......



It only took you a couple posts to get angry and walk away from your excuse-making for censorship. It must sting not having means to silence me.



posted on Dec, 28 2018 @ 02:54 PM
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a reply to: grey580

Bingo.

Quite aside from angry parents...



posted on Dec, 28 2018 @ 02:54 PM
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a reply to: Propagandalf




Some are still killed for blasphemy or renouncing their faith. Those censors, of course, do so for the "safe and effective running of society". So I'm wary of excuses such as yours.


Well like I said in my first post I believe that the constrictions put on freedom of speech should be at a absolute minimum to ensure that we can express ourselves as fully as possible. The catch is where society draws that line and all societies draw it differently. Sure in some countries you can be killed for blasphemy and I think thats wrong I am not excusing that. This is not me making excuses this is simply the reality of live we need laws that stop idiots calling in bomb threads and then defending it as freedom of speech.

What I am trying to say to you is that what you call "censors" have to be there and that absolute freedom of speech does not exist. Do you agree or disagree with this?

PS: am not getting angry or whatever, I actually like debating the finder details of freedom of speech really I do, but when you break it down what you are saying is "Humans make noise with their mouths.....freedom of speech"
edit on 28-12-2018 by OtherSideOfTheCoin because: (no reason given)



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