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Poll

In the scenario described on the bottom of the first post, who is guilty of murder?

Person A
- 5 (31.3%)
Person B - if premeditated
- 6 (37.5%)
Person B - even if by accident
- 0 (0%)
Both A and B
- 1 (6.3%)
Neither
- 2 (12.5%)
OJ Simpson
- 0 (0%)
Homer Simpson
- 0 (0%)
Maggie did it!
- 0 (0%)
Another bright shiny non-option to attract trolls and keep them from messing up real vote results.
- 2 (12.5%)

Total Members Voted: 15


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Author Topic: Absolutely positively no limits to freedom of speech?  (Read 24689 times)

Alex Libman

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Absolutely positively no limits to freedom of speech?
« on: March 08, 2011, 08:49:46 pm »

The purpose of this thread is give anybody and everybody a chance to convince me that there are any imaginable scenarios where Freedom of Speech of a fully self-owning individual ought to be restricted (without the speaker having entered into a contract beforehand).

Freedom can only be justified and defended on the basis of rationality, and a rational society depends on an open flow of information - complete (negative) freedom to express any idea, to study, to copy, to inquire, to (dis)agree, to criticize, to contemplate, etc.  This should apply to all ideas, no matter how irrational or undesirable, because punishment or suppression is a very irrational and dangerous way to filter ideas!  Storing huge quantities of information is increasingly cheap, while once something is gone from the human noosphere, it may never reemerge the same way again, or a "chilling effect" can prevent that and other ideas from being (re)evaluated properly.  History provides countless examples of collective fallacy and its horrendous consequences, which a culture of Free Speech could have easily prevented - and, no matter how far we progress, the danger is always theoretically there.  All possible aspects of the human condition can and, if anyone volunteers, should be examined openly - and even if it's just "stupid" self-expression for self-expression's sake.  No human mind, or minds, or even an agreement of all minds except one can ever hold a monopoly on truth that is immune to the need for perpetual empirical reexamination!

Giving anyone or anything the "authority" to limit Speech creates a slippery slope - an incentive to broaden and manipulate those "laws" for one's benefit in ways the people making those laws cannot possibly foresee.  Even if it takes multiple generations, tyranny has a tendency to find any possible crack and gradually widen it.  Human vigilance can be amazingly short-lived in preventing one "reasonable"-sounding exception after another after another... until, like free-range cows, we only have as much freedom as our "masters" would find profitable.  Like all living systems, given proper mechanisms of natural selection, tyranny just "finds a way"!

So, I firmly believe that there is no rational basis to criminalize "defamation", "slander", "libel", "hate speech", "genocide denial", "death threats", "fighting words", "blasphemy", "treason" (at least not against a government), etc, etc, etc.  To clarify, I believe that the Natural Right to Freedom of Speech also covers all possible information-based descriptions of violence (which at one point I've turned into an art-form) and any and all "threats" that are separate from the act of physical violence itself.  This distinction will become ever-more important as video game / VR technology progresses - I believe it to be an act of Free Speech to rape / humiliate / torture / kill a holographic projection of a real living person, but it would most certainly be a crime to as much as spit on or tear a living hair of that person in real life.

It's the prerequisite responsibility of any person who believes s\he would be harmed by any possible act of speech to take non-violent measures to prevent it.  People trying to prevent leaks should take responsibility for keeping their secrets secure, using explicit non-disclosure agreements, establishing a risk mitigation plan for any leak scenario (ex. always having the resources to spirit their "undercover agents" out of harm's way quickly), etc.  People who can take an information-based offense to constitute harm should be responsible for filtering their own Internet traffic, moving to a neighborhood association / charter city where everybody is contractually obligated to certain rules of censorship, etc - and now possibly even utilizing the latest technologies to filter their own natural senses!

People always keep coming up with "words can kill" scenarios, and I keep trying to debunk them - which is what this thread is all about.  The most popular, falsely "shouting 'fire' in a crowded theater", is nonsense - while a stampede is obviously a very undesirable outcome, individuals are nonetheless responsible for their own actions as they run into and trample each-other.  A self-owning adult should be expected to at least ascertain whether the danger is real and what the ideal course of action is before making a mad dash for the exit, especially as modern fire-proofing technology (which at present is being artificially retarded by government-subsidized extinguishing services) will continue to make a fire an ever-more-improbably occurrence.  The advent of high-speed high-resolution low-light camera and microphone technologies can make it ever easier to see and hear exactly what happened in a stampede and who initiated physical aggression against whom.  It is up to the theater visitors to decide which theater they want to go to (or if they'd rather stay at home and watch online video instead), and various theaters will compete with each-other on the basis of not just the quality of their attractions but also explicitly-stated rules, building certifications safety and security precautions, etc.  Ever-advancing technology will make it ever-easier for people to consider all these options very quickly before making the decision to go to a theater, or to any other place where they would be the subject of the property owner's rules.  So, while the property owners can "outlaw" shouting or doing anything they don't like being done on their property, as long as they communicate those rules up to an established level of explicitness in advance, but the government most certainly can not!

The most far-reaching Freedom of Speech scenario that I could think of (without indulging in far-off AI / brain virtualization scenarios that no one else seems to appreciate), which is the subject of THE ABOVE POLL, is as follows:

Person A was born without hands, and, some time after becoming a self-owning adult, he decided that he shouldn't allow his differently-abled limb configuration to prevent him from being able to defend himself and his family from the risk of violent attack.  So he acquired a technological solution for his situation - a hidden voice-activated "gun glove" that he could aim by moving his handless arm into place, looking through the sight, and then, instead of pulling the trigger, he would issue a voice command "alpha three one nine six fire" to fire.  One day Person A was attending a noisy dance club (the noise being a factor in speech recognition failure), and Person B said the words that caused Person A's glove-gun to fire, instantly killing an innocent bystander (Person C).

Who's guilty of murder?  Is Person A responsible for his physical property causing harm?  Is Person B responsible for "pulling the trigger", so to speak?  Does it matter if person B was just innocently saying something completely unrelated and the system malfunctioned?

The theory I am exploring here is: even if Person B was intentionally trying to get away with murder, since physical property never changed possession, it was still Person A's responsibility, if he chose to use such a device, to ensure its fool-proof safety mechanisms.  I believe this is different from a scenario where Person B grabbed Person A's gun and pulled the trigger, in which case Person B obviously would have been the murderer.  Physical movement (even if it's the movement of the tongue to activate a trigger) can constitute aggression, but no possible use of Speech / informational trigger ever should.
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eh?

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Re: Absolutely positively no limits to freedom of speech?
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2011, 10:22:56 pm »

I don't see where you have defined "murder."  So I didn't vote.

Freedom of speech/expression is properly a property rights issue.  Your property, express yourself as you like; not your property, you require the owner's consent and are bound by the owner's terms.

Lots of corner cases and boundary conditions.

What if the stuxnet (sp?) worm were to have led to a nuclear accident?
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To advocate compulsory taxation (there is no other kind) is to advocate aggressive violence.
Rare indeed seem those who would rather the lash were banished utterly from human interaction save in defense of self and property
than the haft thereof find on convenient occasion its lawful place nestled comfortably in their own grasp.

Alex Libman

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Re: Absolutely positively no limits to freedom of speech?
« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2011, 12:11:25 am »

I didn't give much thought to use of the word "murder" as a specific legal classification (as opposed to "manslaughter", what else?) - how should I rephrase it?  I think Person B isn't guilty of initiating any physical aggression, so none can be initiated against him,  (though of course he'd get very bad press from this incident and be ostracized by many).

Whether a very well-made (and/or very lucky) virus was involved or not, the property owner is still responsible when his property, even a nuclear power plant, does damage to others.  This would lead to a culture of risk mitigation, eventually putting nuclear energy very far away from residential areas.  (Space solar is the future anyway.)  In the poll's scenario, it would put more pressure on Person A to make the voice technology fool-proof, like manually raise the voiceprint threshold setting when in a crowded place, or spend more money on a "less lethal" self-defense solution, etc.

Moving the responsibility from the physical property owner to the person exercising Speech is a can of worms - is someone yelling "surprise!" at a birthday party now responsible if the person has a heart attack?  What if it's not lethal but just some claimed "mental anguish" over something somewhat said?  Where do you draw the line?  Vague laws are a danger to freedom, because they will always be selectively enforced to benefit the powerful.  And it would be very easy for irresponsible property owners to escape some or all of the blame - "prove that a virus didn't blew it up, there, reasonable doubt!"
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creaganlios

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Re: Absolutely positively no limits to freedom of speech?
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2011, 08:55:47 am »

I personally believe myself to be an Aboslutist on Freedom fo Speech..however, I still disagree with some of your premise.
I believe that 'hate speech,' and 'fighting words' come under Freedom of Speech.

However, Defamation (Libel & Slander) *are* different.  And I believe the following rule of thumb is the most rational way to distinguish them:

Speech can be actionable when it is the last link in a causal chain of events, and is delivered with criminal intent.

Someone who says they hate [insert group A] would be expressing protected speech if some idiot then went out and assaulted someone who was a member of Group A, because they weren't the last link the chain - the one who did the assaulting was.
However, someone who defames, for the purpose of causing harm, with malicious intent, is both the last link and has the requisite intent.

A side not on the 'crowded theater' example (which often comes up in these discussions).  POOR example. The *actual* SCOTUS decision said you couldnt falsely shout fire in a crowded theater (BIG difference).  If you do, and a stampede w/injuries results, the person SHOULD be guilty, since the stampeders do NOT have criminal intent: the Shouter was the last one in the Causal Chain with criminal intent. 

I should point out however that the case in which Justoce Holmes used the 'crowded fire' rule was actually overturned by a later court, and so it makes for a poor basis for legal discussion.
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Alex Libman

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Re: Absolutely positively no limits to freedom of speech?
« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2011, 02:59:34 am »

[...]  Speech can be actionable when it is the last link in a causal chain of events, and is delivered with criminal intent.  [...]

I believe that the proper definition of "speech" completely excludes any possibility of it being "the last link in a causal chain".  Speech is just information - it cannot alter life, liberty, nor property without other things in the chain of events doing the altering, even if it's the listener's own reaction.


However, someone who defames, for the purpose of causing harm, with malicious intent, is both the last link and has the requisite intent.

You do not own your fame, as you don't own the minds of others that hold certain opinions of you.  A society without defamation / libel / etc laws is necessitated to use the process of reasoning to filter information, teaching people not to jump to conclusions without evidence, with karma lost by those that do.  This makes for a stronger and freer society, with greater individual responsibility to RTFM and less blind faith.  Conversely, a society with such laws will inevitably see them abused to hide the truth and protect the powerful.  



[...]  The *actual* SCOTUS decision  [...]

This is an ivory-tower thread.  American legal trivia doesn't belong here.   :P
« Last Edit: March 31, 2011, 03:03:20 am by Alex Libman »
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Alex Libman

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Re: Absolutely positively no limits to freedom of speech?
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2011, 02:32:09 pm »

BUMP   >:D
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Dreepa

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Re: Absolutely positively no limits to freedom of speech?
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2011, 03:13:33 pm »

tl:dr
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rossby

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Re: Absolutely positively no limits to freedom of speech?
« Reply #7 on: May 25, 2011, 08:18:19 pm »

Person A was born without hands, and, some time after becoming a self-owning adult, he decided that he shouldn't allow his differently-abled limb configuration to prevent him from being able to defend himself and his family from the risk of violent attack.  So he acquired a technological solution for his situation - a hidden voice-activated "gun glove" that he could aim by moving his handless arm into place, looking through the sight, and then, instead of pulling the trigger, he would issue a voice command "alpha three one nine six fire" to fire.  One day Person A was attending a noisy dance club (the noise being a factor in speech recognition failure), and Person B said the words that caused Person A's glove-gun to fire, instantly killing an innocent bystander (Person C).

Who's guilty of murder?

No one.

Moving on then...
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Alex Libman

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Re: Absolutely positively no limits to freedom of speech?
« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2011, 11:02:08 pm »

Who's guilty of murder?

No one.

Is it my (mis)use of the word "murder", as opposed to "manslaughter" or some other lesser criminal classification?  Are you saying both persons in my scenario should get off scot-free?  Doesn't that encourage people to commit killings by setting up crackling contraptions to dodge direct responsibility?
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Uncle Walt

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Re: Absolutely positively no limits to freedom of speech?
« Reply #9 on: May 26, 2011, 09:35:08 am »

So, if I were to go around telling everybody that someone is a rapist, murderer, pedophile, whatever ... putting that information up on posters or billboards ... and it gets added to information an employer sees, and that person loses their job (or isn't hired) because of it ...

I shouldn't be held responsible, because it was Freedom of Speech?
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doobie

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Re: Absolutely positively no limits to freedom of speech?
« Reply #10 on: May 26, 2011, 09:38:41 am »

If Person B knows how the gun worked and did it premeditatedly then they are at fault otherwise person A.
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Alex Libman

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Re: Absolutely positively no limits to freedom of speech?
« Reply #11 on: May 26, 2011, 11:23:26 am »

So, if I were to go around telling everybody that someone is a rapist, murderer, pedophile, whatever ... putting that information up on posters or billboards ... and it gets added to information an employer sees, and that person loses their job (or isn't hired) because of it ...

I shouldn't be held responsible, because it was Freedom of Speech?

We are all responsible for all our actions, but speech never justifies initiation of physical aggression against the speaker, which is what "libel" / "defamation" / etc laws are all about.

Certain persons have done something almost as bad to me on the Free Talk Live BBS (ex), and I certainly have lost plenty of employment opportunities and IRL relationships because people Googled my name and found those lies.  Nonetheless, it is my responsibility to defend my reputation on the basis of facts and logic.  If successful, I would be able to document that those accusations are baseless, and any negative "karma" from this should go to the accusers instead of the accused.


If Person B knows how the gun worked and did it premeditatedly then they are at fault otherwise person A.

Intent and premeditation are also very difficult things to prove.  Person B's defense would certainly claim it was an accident, while the prosecution would certainly claim that anyone willing to RTFM some technical manuals, easily available online, would know exactly how to hack that device and make it look like an accident.

This logic, if applied consistently to all cases, creates a very dangerous slippery slope for suppression of free speech.
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Uncle Walt

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Re: Absolutely positively no limits to freedom of speech?
« Reply #12 on: May 26, 2011, 11:33:07 am »

So, if I were to go around telling everybody that someone is a rapist, murderer, pedophile, whatever ... putting that information up on posters or billboards ... and it gets added to information an employer sees, and that person loses their job (or isn't hired) because of it ...

I shouldn't be held responsible, because it was Freedom of Speech?

We are all responsible for all our actions, but speech never justifies initiation of physical aggression against the speaker, which is what "libel" / "defamation" / etc laws are all about.


Ah ... but how are they "held responsible"?

A person being forced to prove themselves innocent, is not holding the perpetrator spreading lies responsible.

I mean, I wouldn't mind taking the gov't out of it and going back to duels.  But that would still fall under "physical aggression", I guess.

EDIT:
Thinking about it further, by requiring me to correct/disprove the libel/slander about me ... I'm being held responsible for the actions of someone else.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2011, 12:07:58 pm by Uncle Walt »
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John Edward Mercier

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Re: Absolutely positively no limits to freedom of speech?
« Reply #13 on: May 26, 2011, 01:25:35 pm »

Actually, they're about that fact that in the 'old' days you'd find yourself dead.
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Alex Libman

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Re: Absolutely positively no limits to freedom of speech?
« Reply #14 on: May 26, 2011, 02:20:04 pm »

Think 21st century.  Reputation wikis.  Private research and arbitration agencies.  Etc.

You don't have to prove yourself innocent, just that their claims aren't backed by facts, which is ultimately their responsibility to do if they want to be taken seriously.  And people will eventually learn to be more rational and ignore baseless claims, especially anonymous ones.  People will be a lot more careful about throwing mud when they know it has their return address on it and might be scrutinized by professionals.
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