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Heroes Community > Other Side of the Monitor > Thread: Open Discourse: Beyond Freedom of Speech
Thread: Open Discourse: Beyond Freedom of Speech This thread is 4 pages long: 1 2 3 4 · NEXT»
mvassilev
mvassilev


Responsible
Undefeatable Hero
posted May 21, 2014 10:18 PM bonus applied by Corribus on 28 May 2014.
Edited by mvassilev at 22:20, 21 May 2014.

Open Discourse: Beyond Freedom of Speech

Recently there's been some controversy about people getting fired and boycotted for anti-gay actions - Phil Robertson, a star of the popular show "Duck Dynasty", was fired for expressing Biblical opposition to homosexuality, Brendan Eich, the CEO of Mozilla, was fired after a backlash from sites including OkCupid, when people found out he donated a thousand dollars to the California's 2008 Proposition 8 campaign to ban same-sex marriage, and an Oregon bakery shut down after it was boycotted for refusing to serve same-sex couples. Longer ago, but recently enough to be relevant, a woman was fired for having a Kerry/Edwards sticker on her car.

What do you think about this? Should this be permitted? If not, doesn't this interfere with businesses' freedom to hire and fire whomever they want? If it is to be permitted, should it be done? Should businesses fire employees who disagree with their bosses' politics, and is it okay to boycott businesses whose views you disagree with? (Because it may be the case that you have the right to fire anyone, but it's still a bad idea to fire them for this reason.)

To summarize my position -

1. Firing/boycotts are a weapon that can be used by any sufficiently powerful group. Republicans can fire Democrats as easily as Democrats can fire Republicans. While pro-gay-equality forces are now strong enough to use this weapon on their enemies, this was not always the case - and if it were acceptable to fire people for their views, it's likely that pro-equality people would have been fired for their views, as they were weaker in the past and gay equality was less acceptable.

2. Freedom of speech is a basic freedom. There are many arguments for it that can be drawn from many different ethical theories. By "freedom of speech" I mean that expression is not an act that is permissible to retaliate against with force (except perhaps in the cases of libel and slander).

3. However, freedom of speech only means that no one (neither a private entity nor the government) is permitted to use force on you to prevent you from speaking or to punish your speech - no one is permitted to beat you up or steal from you because of what you say. It doesn't mean that people can't do things that are peaceful, rights-respecting actions, such as disassociating themselves from you, refusing to hire you, refusing to go to your shop, etc. Those actions wouldn't be rights-violations if done simply because you want to, and they aren't rights-violations when done because of something you said, either.

4. However, even though they're not rights-violations, there are still good reasons not to punish people for expressing views you disagree with, even if you think those views are evil. First, though it's non-coercive, it still has the effect of silencing people because people would be more afraid to express their views if they thought they'd be retaliated against for doing it, which is injurious to truth-seeking. What if the people you disagree with are actually right? If they're silenced, you'll never know. There are many unpopular views out there, and even if most of them are wrong, you should still consider that most of the views you hold were unpopular at some point in the past. If people in the past had been more successful in suppressing unpopular views, perhaps you'd never come to believe the things you currently believe are correct. In effect, suppressing dissenting views gives more power to those who are currently socially dominant, which is a bad idea. Second, firing/boycotting people contributes to a social norm of it being acceptable to fire people for their views, and as noted in 1, anyone can use this weapon. Even if you don't like homophobes, if you fire one and it makes the news, then socially conservative businesses may start firing pro-equality people because they'll think that this is a weapon to use in the culture war. Taken to an extreme, you end up in a scenario where people (whether pro- or anti-gay) can only be hired by those who agree with their views, which reduces both sides' opportunities for employment - it would be destructive*.

5. If you run a business and it's being boycotted because of an unpopular view an employee expressed, or if one of your employees is a known racist and this makes other people reluctant to apply to work there, firing them can be justified and is not a suppression of open discourse. This is because you're not punishing them for their views, but reacting to other people punishing you for keeping them employed, or because they're hurting your business in some other way. So, firing Eich was fine, since Mozilla was being boycotted because of him. Firing a worker who says racist things from time to time is fine if it creates a problem for your other workers. But firing a worker who's normal while on the job but posts to neo-Nazi sites in his free time is a suppression of open discourse.

* "Destructive" not in the sense of "great devastation", but "a net negative from either side's point of view".
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Corribus
Corribus

Hero of Order
The Abyss Staring Back at You
posted May 21, 2014 10:23 PM

Though not related to homosexual rights, the recent censure of Clippers owner Donald Sterling for "racist remarks" qualifies I think as topical.

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artu
artu


Promising
Undefeatable Hero
My BS sensor is tingling again
posted May 21, 2014 11:41 PM
Edited by artu at 23:42, 21 May 2014.

First of all, QP recommended.

I think the subject all boils down to this:

1- Should there be such a thing as a hate-crime? (Of course, we are not referring to hate-crimes that are already criminal in nature by other means, like physically attacking a minority member or murdering someone because he is gay etc.)
2- If so, exactly what constitutes a hate-crime?
3- Is it ethical, if there is any extra pressure on the private sector, other than the legal boundaries which constitutes a hate crime?

My stance would be

1- Yes.
2- Maybe, because I used to write myself, I am quite tolerant about the boundaries of hate-crimes. I always believed that words of others can be rivaled with your own, if necessary. And I think it is always the context that determines if something is an insult or provocative, rather than your pick of vocabulary. So things like banning or replacing words, censoring books or TV shows, imposing oversensitive agendas of political correctness always seemed like not only redundant things to do but also they felt, in a sense, anti-chivalric to me. A hate crime should only involve situations if you directly establish an eminent threat. Like somebody provoking a crowd to go burn all the houses of the Muslims or somebody nailing death threats on a door suggesting all n****** must be hanged...

Also since it is very unlikely for minorities to make the majority feel singled out, the boundaries should not (and do not anyway) work symmetrical. That is, James Brown singing "Say It Loud I'm Black and I'm Proud" and Willie Nelson singing "Say It Loud I'm White and I'm Proud" are very different things. Not that I think, if Nelson had made such a song, it should have been banned.

Hate-crimes should completely exclude any artwork no matter how radical, historical figures or religious sensitivities such as a movie teasing with the Bible or a novel distorting the Quran, a comedy show ridiculing gays etc etc. This part may be perceived quite like "yeah, sure" by Americans and Western-Europeans, I'm not so informed on the Balkans (which is like 40 percent of HC ) but these things still cause problems sometimes in other regions.

3- Now, this is the part where it gets tricky. Mvass will most likely take a stance saying owners of a company should have absolute initiative over their work place. If somebody gets fired from his job because he says a thing such as "Concentration camps was the greatest idea history ever seen" none of us would feel uncomfortable about it, if somebody gets fired because they criticize the politics of Israel, we may frown a little but still, the notion of the owner being the boss can still trump over. But what if someone gets fired because he is a Palestinian? Must the law be still left out? Should the law interfere and condemn this act as a hate-crime? And if not, how would such an issue be solved by social reaction alone? Boycotts? Shunning? What?

I haven't reached a conclusion about this yet and I'd like to hear ideas.

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Stevie
Stevie


Responsible
Undefeatable Hero
posted May 22, 2014 12:08 AM
Edited by Corribus at 02:49, 22 May 2014.

Haven't we had enough of this? Seriously, this is the 3rd or 4th thread already. And don't ******** me "it's not about gays" cuz it is, you constructed your argument on it.



Though it's interesting how intolerant really are those gay tolerance preachers.

And I don't agree with people getting fired or boycotted over their beliefs. Even if I disagree with gays on their sexuality I don't make their lives a pain over it. If you have something to say, say it, you have that right. Interfering with someone else's life because you hold a different view than him/her is not!

And those spineless companies should've rather contacted the authorities to deal with the situation, not fire their staff. What kind of message did they send to the people? IT WORKS!

Mod Edit: Please do not bypass the language filters. This is your second warning today.

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mvassilev
mvassilev


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Undefeatable Hero
posted May 22, 2014 12:23 AM
Edited by mvassilev at 11:46, 20 Jul 2014.

I should've known the example of gay rights is too distracting for the OSM. It's not about gay rights or even about hate speech, it's about people being fired or boycotted for their views in general. Gay rights are just a convenient example that's been in the news recently. Here's a hypothetical that doesn't involve them:
Suppose an idealistic young man works for an old military veteran. One day, the veteran hears the young man remark, "The US is too violent, it should disarm". The veteran fires the young man to punish him for his views.
Now suppose that a patriotic young man works in a coffee shop for an aging hippie. The hippie hears the young man say, "Nuclear weapons are great! Mutually assured destruction promotes peace". The hippie fires him to punish him for his views.

Regardless of which young man you agree with, there is no principle by which one of them gets fired and the other doesn't. ("Fire only people who disagree with me!" doesn't work.) So whatever principle you endorse, either both young men are fired, or neither is.
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artu
artu


Promising
Undefeatable Hero
My BS sensor is tingling again
posted May 22, 2014 12:29 AM

There is also the factor of level of disagreement. Not exactly quantifiable but still, there is a difference between the opposition of a Republican employer/a Democrat employee and a Jewish employer/a Neo-Nazi employee.

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mvassilev
mvassilev


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posted May 22, 2014 02:13 AM

How do you think that should affect the issue?
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artu
artu


Promising
Undefeatable Hero
My BS sensor is tingling again
posted May 22, 2014 06:09 AM
Edited by artu at 06:14, 22 May 2014.

Well, mvass, while you usually happen to deal with most political problems (real or hypothetical) as a matter of executing a set of ideals to the hilt or not, in fact, they are matters handled in degrees.

For example think of nudity, there is a degree of nudity that the society qualifies as your personal, liberal space and at some point (varying from country to country) you are told, hey, don't take it that far. There is no objective or rational criteria to determine if that point is sun bathing topless or a 7 cm mini-skirt or removing a head-scarf as in Iran. There are overwhelmingly radical practices, that almost everybody agrees to disregard such as forcing to wear burka but in general, it's a platform of tradition and in daily life, people seem to operate on that platform by a socially constructed common sense.

Of course, this always brings the danger of a cycle reproducing prejudice and irrational dogma and that's why societies need pioneers, philosophers, artists, scientists, intellectuals... but notice how, while in these fields, deconstruction of values is seen as something positive and even customary, the same thing is seen as something disgraceful in other compartments of life. People may be perfectly okay with a scientist who is an atheist or a poet who uses experimental drugs but when it's a mayor who drinks and doesn't attend to church, they act differently. I'm not suggesting this is perfectly swell or ideal, I'm not even suggesting it is correct. I'm just telling you that's the way it is, and I guess to a degree, it will always stay this way.


So, when you take a matter such as people getting fired because of their opinions, you may want to take it to that idealistic hilt again but the social context will create a difference between a man who got fired cause he was a member of the Ku Klux Klan and a man who got fired because he supports Green Peace. Since, it's almost impossible to totally control and regulate such things by legal means, it will be a matter of legitimacy and social acceptance. If it was the 1950's, the ones who got fired would be the ones supporting gay rights, not the other way around. Or think how Abraham Lincoln managed to abolish slavery, he had to make a political maneuver of manifesting "of course, I don't think white and black people are totally equal!"

So, before getting lost in your ice castle of idealistic principles again, take that into consideration.

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watcher83
watcher83


Supreme Hero
Child of Malassa
posted May 22, 2014 07:22 AM

Firing someone for his opinions is a really bad idea; and to motivate this I will give the following example: let's say I'm a black guy with a serious medical condition; at the hospital where I am treated there is this prodigy of a surgeon who because of his skill and knowledge in medicine has saved thousands of lives; but one day he makes a racist comment and so the hospital fires him. This is really bad for me, since the hospital has just decreased my chances of survival, because although he doesn't like black people he has always done his job flawlessly and has saved the lives of many other black people; so I would have much prefered to be operated by the best although on a personal level he might find me a lesser being than to risk dying while being operated by a person of lesser skill who thinks highly of me.
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mvassilev
mvassilev


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Undefeatable Hero
posted May 22, 2014 07:51 AM
Edited by mvassilev at 07:52, 22 May 2014.

Artu, that didn't answer my question at all. I asked you how that should affect the issue, and you answered with "Well, people tend to do this, and sometimes they do that..." I'm asking you what you think people should do; "it will be a matter of legitimacy and social acceptance" could mean almost anything.
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artu
artu


Promising
Undefeatable Hero
My BS sensor is tingling again
posted May 22, 2014 08:21 AM

Well, yeah... If I got it right, the examples in the main post are only meant to be examples, you're asking for a categorical stance. That's hard. When its not about freedom of expression but employer/employee, there are too many parameters, so each case is unique. That's why I set the basis on social context.

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JollyJoker
JollyJoker


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posted May 22, 2014 08:50 AM

Aren't we talking about two different things here?

1) The general right of a PRIVATE company owner to hire/fire people under certain conditions; the Church, for example does HAVE the right to hire only people living under "acceptable conditions". For example, a Catholic hospital may fire a divorcee.

Clearly, this means, that a private company has the right both to fire, say, a gay (because he's gay) or a hetero (because the owner is gay and wants an all-gay company).

2) The question whether this right extends to hire/fire people due to expressing an opinion.
If, for example, someone in the service of the Church SAYS something IN SUPPORT of something not tolerated by the Church - then what?
Here, the answer seems somewhat evident: If you work for the Church, but support divorce, abortion and gaydom - you should not work FOR the Church in the first place, but against it - and vice versa; clearly it doesn't fit.

ALL other cases are related. Even if it doesn't seem so. If someone is fired, seemingly just because of political correctness - for example, you expressed a somewhat anti-gay opinion ("those gays are too loud and get too much attention and to hell with these parades of them"), and you are fired by your politically correct boss who is of the opinion that you are a hater and intolerant against minorities - then you are fired, because someone in power doesn't want to work with you BECAUSE OF YOUR EXPRESSED VIEWS.

Now - the only relevant question is, whether this can be considered as a PUNISHMENT.

I would answer this with no. It's more like a consequence. A "punishment" is not to be understood as "any perceived disadvantage", but only as in LEGAL punishment (fines, doing time, and so on).

Think practical: if you watch a ballgame, say the Jets versus the Giants, and you stand up in the midst of a bunch of very loud Giants fans and cry: "the Giants are a bunch of spineless sissies", followed by a remark about the size of their genitalia, you've just leaned heavily on your right of freedom of speech, but you shouldn't be too surprised when the Giant fans will make an investigation about your personal yardstick the remark about genitalia size was based on - and they could make a case of being provoked.

Bottom line is: Si tacuisses (philosophus mansisses), is a Latin proverb that should be heeded. Think first, talk later, might sum it up as well.

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artu
artu


Promising
Undefeatable Hero
My BS sensor is tingling again
posted May 22, 2014 09:13 AM
Edited by artu at 09:20, 22 May 2014.

JJ said:
the Church, for example does HAVE the right to hire only people living under "acceptable conditions". For example, a Catholic hospital may fire a divorcee.

Clearly, this means, that a private company has the right both to fire, say, a gay (because he's gay) or a hetero (because the owner is gay and wants an all-gay company).

Do you think this also applies to things that are not based on our personality? I'm talking about congenital things like race and ethnicity.

Let's say I'm a Jewish-American immigrant owning a mega company. Someday, I learn that the secretary on the third floor is of German descent and the next day I fire her. Can the secretary sue and if she does, should she win?

(The gay thing is a little exceptional in this context because the extreme majority of anti-gay people have the strong conviction that gays have a choice to change.)

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JollyJoker
JollyJoker


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posted May 22, 2014 09:46 AM

I've learned, that theory is fine, but doesn't survive practice.

My opinion is, that in MY company I should have the right to hire & fire the way I see fit; this is of course somewhat different with bigger companies with shareholders and so on, but in the end, all they need is a "company policy".

So we have basically 3 levels here:

1) 1-person-owned company, e.g. a small shop;
2) multi-person-owned company with a "company policy".
3) state-owned stuff, the state as employer

For number 3, "company policy" is obviously the constitution, which is the ONLY valid policy here. So the only relevant things here are qualifications and the question whether a would-be employee is in accordance with the constitution or not.
So, strictly spoken, someone who says: "I don't like blacks in general, but I have no problem with them having equal rights", cannot be fired. Conversely, someone saying, "I haven't anything against blacks, I just don't think they are equal to real men" CAN.

For 1) - well. Does it really make sense to insist on working for someone who doesn't like you?
So, if the owner says, "dude, I hate muslims, blacks and gays, and you are all three of it, now tell me whether I should hire you or not" - is there really something to discuss?

That leaves 2: Say, small corp, couple of owners, all Jewish: company policy is: hire no one with ties to Nazi-Germany and no muslims.

Why and on what grounds would you want to forbid that policy? And asking further: as the daughter of German emigrants, would you really want to press the issue?

However - this is really simple. The question is this: suppose you ARE hired ALREADY, and the company changes hands, company policy CHANGING, what kind of COMPENSATION should you get, in case you are fired?
Answer: since you are not fired due to your abilities, you ´have certain rights here: appropriate compensation and excellent references - which would be something to sue for, if the company was balking.

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master_learn
master_learn


Legendary Hero
walking to the library
posted May 22, 2014 10:39 AM
Edited by master_learn at 10:52, 22 May 2014.

artu said:
Hate-crimes should completely exclude any artwork no matter how radical, historical figures or religious sensitivities such as a movie teasing with the Bible or a novel distorting the Quran, a comedy show ridiculing gays etc etc. This part may be perceived quite like "yeah, sure" by Americans and Western-Europeans, I'm not so informed on the Balkans (which is like 40 percent of HC ) but these things still cause problems sometimes in other regions.


Should I quote some wall of text from the art thread to proove that art can be very vague as a concept?

And here is the danger:You could always say your product is an art,while being rasist,chouvenistic,expressing hatred with every pixel(dot).

So who is to provide to proof:YOU that your work is ART(after the blame on you) or OTHERS that your work is NOT artistic?

Maybe some example could help clarifying your stance.

JollyJoker said:
However - this is really simple. The question is this: suppose you ARE hired ALREADY, and the company changes hands, company policy CHANGING, what kind of COMPENSATION should you get, in case you are fired?
Answer: since you are not fired due to your abilities, you ´have certain rights here: appropriate compensation and excellent references - which would be something to sue for, if the company was balking.

And what about the policy changed SECRETLY or with A DATE FROM THE PREVIOUS MONTH(very easy to manipulate the dates on the documents nowadays),then what happens with his rights?
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artu
artu


Promising
Undefeatable Hero
My BS sensor is tingling again
posted May 22, 2014 11:14 AM
Edited by artu at 07:10, 23 May 2014.

I'm not necessarily talking about quality art, it can be a stupid propaganda film. As long as it doesn't directly suggest violence and especially if it's fictional, all expression must be free.

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master_learn
master_learn


Legendary Hero
walking to the library
posted May 22, 2014 11:44 AM
Edited by master_learn at 11:47, 22 May 2014.

I'll try to stick the the subject of freedom of speech and not go much offtopic.

When HATRED is expressed,it can be done with many figures and lines,much more SOPHISTICATED now than before.We live in societies,where the direct words against individuals or harm is seeked to be punished and where the siphisticated aggression florishes,going unseeked.

To not leave my statement empty of eveidence,I'll point to jurisdiction system.The evidence for a trial is not an easy task to find and even if you find any,the lawyers of the criminal will try to distort the evidence to fit their agenda,so that he gets away.

As it still can be percieved as vague eveidence,I could point at OSM.
Here in our debates we often place clear messages/statements/points of view.Using our statements,our opponents suggest/ask/doubt what we said to have the meaning,which is written,and we have to defend what we say,as if it is not clear,but something abstract.

To not go in a long wall of text,I say that we should be careful when facing the aggression,hate and violence,which HAVE THEIR MASKS put on just to avoid been punished.

Maybe I should make it even more clear:
A hate wearing a mask,if still hate.
A violence wearing a mask,is still violence.
An aggression wearing a mask,is still aggression.
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JollyJoker
JollyJoker


Honorable
Undefeatable Hero
posted May 22, 2014 12:00 PM

master_learn said:

And what about the policy changed SECRETLY or with A DATE FROM THE PREVIOUS MONTH(very easy to manipulate the dates on the documents nowadays),then what happens with his rights?

That's what usually happens anyway (to avoid paying compensation and stuff).
Note, though, that this works in both ways.
You can be fired for perfectly valid reasons and get perfectly apt, not excellent references - but the employee can (and in some cases will) sue the company because of that, claiming "personal" reasons (rebuked sexual advances, an inability to fulfill unreasonable demands over and above the duties of the employee and so on).

That's why I say, theory is one thing, practice another. If the policy is changed secretly, you will be fired for an excuse of a reason - your performance wasn't good enough or some such, to the extent that records may indeed be forged.
That's why it pays, when you are working in a company, to COVER YOUR ASS (but the same thing is true for the employer).

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artu
artu


Promising
Undefeatable Hero
My BS sensor is tingling again
posted May 22, 2014 12:02 PM

Quote:
Maybe I should make it even more clear:
A hate wearing a mask,if still hate.
A violence wearing a mask,is still violence.
An aggression wearing a mask,is still aggression.


The question is, should it be banned? If you start searching for subtle messages and innuendos, suggesting they are harmful to society and than start banning them, the next step would be the good ol' book burning parades.

For example, do you think Muslims who outrage because some caricature of Muhammed was published in Denmark are justified in their actions and their demand that it should not be allowed? For the artist, who is not a Muslim, Muhammed is simply a historical figure just like Napoleon or Atilla The Hun and he can be drawn just like any one of these people. According to the Muslims, it's an expression of hate and an insult on their religion because you can never show the prophet on a picture.

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master_learn
master_learn


Legendary Hero
walking to the library
posted May 22, 2014 12:13 PM

You seem perfectly aware of their point of view of the situation.
I can say "YES" to their right to demand it should not be done.

It boils down to the same RESPECT,which is the fundament of our COC.

In a separate sentense-I didn't check what their actions were,so I don't intend to justify the actions.
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