[Discussion] Free speech. I think its ok to shut down fascists.

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Some comments on the Trump thread have got me thinking. Many people are worried that blocking those on the political right who wish to engage in fascism and disempower minorites is an infringement of free speech and will only make things worse. One argument is that we should support an equal political platform for them otherwise we should expect more push back and violence.

I'd like to tackle that here if people are interested.

To kick things off here are two articles that I agree with.

The free speech delusion.

Freedom of speech does not mean that you’re not allowed to challenge authority. On the contrary – the principle of free speech is all about our right to challenging authority, including the authority of employers, educators and political candidates.Too many liberal public intellectuals seem to have forgotten that this process did not end in 1968.

Freedom of speech does not mean that all citizens already enjoy equal access to free expression and movement. The United States, for example, repeatedly congratulates itself on being a society that allows far-right racists to march, and even allows them a police escort, while young black men are murdered merely for walking down the street in search of snacks. Somehow, every modern argument for free speech in America seems to begin and end with the defence of bigotry. In fact, some people’s speech is always privileged above others’.

Fighting words.

I’m extremely relaxed about anti-fascist counter-protests. Of course I am. I’m British. I come from a country, for all its faults, where if fascists want to march down your high street, you get out there and stop them. Why? Because not all political viewpoints are morally equivalent. Because some ideas should not be tolerated, because when you tolerate them, people start acting on them.

I think it's ok to shut down X. - said the fascist.

Up here in Canada, you can have legal action be taken against you for hate speech.

Canada is arguably a better place for minorities and non-old White dudes.

I think it depends on your definition of shut down. If you mean using your free speech to counter protest fascists and racists, sure I'm all for that. If you are talking about outlawing ideas, that's where I think it's far more likely to be used on liberal causes ( look at the host of state laws seeking to limit protest rights, largely aimed at BLM)

It's a classic and understandable contradiction. The only way to defend certain freedoms is to make sure no one is allowed to crush those same freedoms, so you can't do whatever you like. You can do what you like up to a point. As fascism is opposed to democracy, it cannot be allowed in a democratic society. You can voice the idea, but you can't act on it; and the line between speech and action in that case ought to be very well defined.

Even the idea that freedoms are anarchy or the idea that you can do what you like without consequences is a beggar or childish mindset. Freedoms are earned and fought for. They certainly don't exist in a vacuum without careful guardianship. They're granted to others because of certain tenets - we believe in equality being the most basic. So the freedoms that we enjoy and grant to others is something that was fought for, and that must continually defended. "I want my freedoms" is something a child says. "I fight for the freedom of others," is something a citizen says.

It's not surprising that people will differ on which freedom they would like and to what extent they would like to fight for those freedoms. A fascist says they like freedom of speech, but that understanding and freedom is usually very superficial and self-serving, largely limited to defending their own rights to say and do things that destroy democratic institutions.

Its the responsibility of individuals to shut down Fascist speech but maybe not the government. I am more than OK with people punching Richard Spencer, who we know with 100% certainty is a Nazi. Where that line falls as we move away from Richard Spencer to anyone else not sporting swastika tattoos I am far less sure about things.

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liquid wrote:

I think it's ok to shut down X. - said the fascist.

The goals of a fascist involve suppressing, interning, forcing into camps and ultmately killing whole groups of people who are different from them.

Does it make sense to stand back and allow a fascist to gain power and eventually to brutily suppress the freedom of a minority because you don't want to suppress the speech of the fascist?

Why do the fasicts freedoms matter more than other people's?

Malor wrote:
Demyx wrote:

The idea that we let pretty much everyone do whatever they wanted seems like a gross simplification to say the least. You certainly weren't allowed to do whatever you wanted if you were a woman, racial minority or LGBTQ throughout most of history.

Sure, absolutely. But fundamentally, this argument and the other ones is saying this: we are not willing to coexist with the Right. Their way of thinking is intolerable and cannot be allowed in a just society.

That's nonsense. You're saying the Right is defined by intolerance. And while it's certainly been hard historically to unravel conservatism and bigotry (and don't get me started on Trumpism), there is no reason the former cannot exist without the latter.

Malor wrote:

Well, they don't have to tolerate you, either. And their intolerance is a lot more dangerous.

Instead of convincing them they are wrong, the modern left is about forcing them to comply. They can play that game, too, and they're a lot better at it.

Why did we fight this whole WWII thing when all we had to do was convince Hitler his ideas were wrong?

It's important to keep in mind that tolerance of ideas isn't, by definition, universal, because if it was, it would destroy itself.

If we make it solely about speech, I suppose it becomes more complicated. But we already have examples of where society and even the federal government shut down and disbanded groups advocating for socially abhorred things. And if we can successfully dismantle a group advocating we repeal age of consent laws, why can't we dismantle the alt right for similarly abhorrent advocacy?

I for one support Duterte style round ups of fascists.

IMAGE(https://media.tenor.com/images/1b833b49d3f65db33f0b495df2c7847f/tenor.gif)

Gallows humor aside, as an American I feel free speech rights are sacrosanct. Crack down hard on one group simply for their message and you legitimize those same tactics being used on other groups fighting for equality. Furthermore, fascism is just one side of the autocratic coin, and I don't want to see an extreme left group have dictatorial powers given to them in the name of progress.

IMHO though local and state government needs to be far less tolerant of when fascists cross the line. For example, if a fascist rally veers off their designated marching route or even one of them gets in a fistfight, close the whole thing down with water hoses and tear gas. Use the electronic tools we have (and let's be honest most of the time that's just looking up somebody's Facebook account) to seriously prosecute online threats. Throw felony hate crime charges at fascists who so much as push someone or break a window- a tactic that was used against some of the Occupy Wall Street protesters to great effect. TL;DR let's start with enforcing the laws we have on the books instead of throwing out the First Amendment.

Free speech is important. It is easier to identify who is bonkers. As long as they don't harm others.

The notion that free speech is not entirely absolute has a long tradition in the United States.

Arthur Garfield Hays, general counsel for the ACLU in the 1920s wrote:

In a society where interests conflict I realize there can be no absolutes. My freedom to swing my arm ends where the other fellow’s nose begins.

I would agree that the bar for abridgement of speech should be set pretty high, but that doesn't mean that people who are inciting others to violence should be able to do so without consequence.

jdzappa wrote:

IMHO though local and state government needs to be far less tolerant of when fascists cross the line. For example, if a fascist rally veers off their designated marching route or even one of them gets in a fistfight, close the whole thing down with water hoses and tear gas. Use the electronic tools we have (and let's be honest most of the time that's just looking up somebody's Facebook account) to seriously prosecute online threats. Throw felony hate crime charges at fascists who so much as push someone or break a window- a tactic that was used against some of the Occupy Wall Street protesters to great effect. TL;DR let's start with enforcing the laws we have on the books instead of throwing out the First Amendment.

Which laws get enforced, when and against who are largely out of our control as citizens. You're advocating trusting the state to groups that have already lost faith in the state.

In my experience, police protect or even assist those advocating or doing harm to minorities. That's even putting aside the still growing list of POC police have killed with little justification and no repercussions.

EDIT: There's a reason there's ongoing controversy within the LGBT community about allowing cops to march in our Pride parades as officers. Most of us don't have the greatest history when dealing with cops, especially those in the community that aren't white and cis.

Why did we fight this whole WWII thing when all we had to do was convince Hitler his ideas were wrong?

I'm not talking about fighting the current fascists, so much as the stuff ten years ago. Liberals have been using the courts to advance their agenda, mostly, instead of Congress. Their argument has been "well, minority X has these rights and they need to have them now, there's no ability to wait for them, it's unjust to do so." And I'm entirely sympathetic to that idea. But, at the same time, it means that about 40% of the country has been unconvinced by the arguments, that these social changes have been imposed by a few judges, rather than by a broader movement in society proper. Conservatives, whether rightly or wrongly, have been getting more and more marginalized, and feeling like the system is being used explicitly against them, that their freedoms are being removed more or less by ju-jitsu. They're not being convinced, they're being forced to comply, and there is a huge difference there.

Well, they can play that game, too. And they're much, much better at it, and much more comfortable with doing so. No matter how just your cause, you have to win the war, and all you've won is a few minor skirmishes. The war is really beginning now, and I don't like the chances for the liberal side of the argument.

You didn't lose now, you lost ten or fifteen years ago, when you stopped using Congress to make social change happen. ("But they wouldn't go along with us, so we had to work around them") will be the reflexive reply, and that's exactly the fundamental problem.

This is really the issue: both sides are authoritarian, and no longer believe they can co-exist. It doesn't matter how justified the arguments are. It's the underlying truth that both sides want to force the other to live by their program that's driving the conflict. I suspect that violence on an enormous scale is the likely consequence.

I don't really think it's a coincidence that you're referring back to WW2.

Malor wrote:

Conservatives, whether rightly or wrongly, have been getting more and more marginalized, and feeling like the system is being used explicitly against them, that their freedoms are being removed more or less by ju-jitsu.

What freedoms?

I am also curious about which freedoms American Conservatives have lost over the years. Freedom to own slaves, I suppose? But I don't know of more than that.

strangederby wrote:
Malor wrote:

Conservatives, whether rightly or wrongly, have been getting more and more marginalized, and feeling like the system is being used explicitly against them, that their freedoms are being removed more or less by ju-jitsu.

What freedoms?

Freedom to discriminate and treat others as sub-human.

Malor, you've made that argument before. I wasn't aware we were offered a choice 15 years ago which branch of government would grant and defend our constitutional rights.

A little over 15 years ago, I was hunting for a job because I'd been fired for the sin of being gay. That is still legal. Since trying to challenge that in the courts isn't an approved avenue of resistance in your book, what do you propose we do? Should we just be waiting and pushing for ENDA like we have been for decades? I'm really tired of hearing these arguments from folks that have never had their ability to exist challenged by the state.

I'm really tired of hearing these arguments from folks that have never had their ability to exist challenged by the state.

Everyone keeps posting about how justified they are in their absolute intolerance of the other side.

No matter how good your arguments are, each time you do this, you support the original point, you don't detract from it in any way. Maybe the two sides really can't co-exist, and if that's the case, Civil War 2.0 seems the only possible outcome. If that happens, I do not think liberals will win, as they've spent several generations designing and building the weapons that will be turned against them.

For what it's worth, I agree with you. I am thoroughly on your side. You can't convince me of the fundamental rightness of what you're asking for any more than I already have been.

But, nonetheless, the method by which those gains have been made has a cost, and that cost may be much higher than the gains.

I think the argument that the system is hopelessly corrupt is worth having elsewhere, but if we can't trust the system then what do you guys propose? How far do you take it? Go watch the Act of Killing documentary about how Indonesia paramilitary and vigilante groups effectively shut down the opposition. HInt - it involves far more than punching people on camera.

Malor wrote:

You didn't lose now, you lost ten or fifteen years ago, when you stopped using Congress to make social change happen. ("But they wouldn't go along with us, so we had to work around them") will be the reflexive reply, and that's exactly the fundamental problem.

Two things are wrong with the historical facts here. First, decisions like Roe v. Wade and Brown v. Board of Ed. were a lot longer than fifteen years ago. Let's not do things like write Thurgood Marshall (and Earl Warren, for that matter) out of the history books.

Second, one of the biggest work arounds in American history was using Congress to pass civil rights legislation. Just because you can get something passed in Congress doesn't mean everyone is convinced by the arguments. The reaction to the civil rights legislation of the 60s is proof of that. Heck, it's maybe the most important part of the story of how we got to where we are now.

There's maybe an argument to be made about the pragmatic difference between your opponent being convinced vs. being forced to comply, but that argument shouldn't start with a premise pulled from a fake history that conservatives have been pushing on us.

Malor. What's the alternative you are suggesting? If people hadn't been willing to stand up to right wing fascism in the past what sort of a present do you think we'd be living in now?

Malor wrote:

For what it's worth, I agree with you. I am thoroughly on your side. You can't convince me of the fundamental rightness of what you're asking for any more than I already have been.

But, nonetheless, the method by which those gains have been made has a cost, and that cost may be much higher than the gains.

Sorry, but you're not on my side. Your response is that the meager gains that have been made shouldn't have been with no answer to the quotation I asked.

You folks act like we're not aware of the risks. The problem is that we already have had the state turned on us for existing. Without the push back in the forms it has taken, no progress would have been made. That fight is never going to be over as long as our existence is open to debate. As long as folks are free to stir up violent sentiment as long as they don't personally cross the line, there will be people that follow them that will cross the line for them.

There is no way to avoid escalation. We either fight back however we're able, or we surrender to the violence directed at us. That violence doesn't cease to exist if we back down.

Here's the problem, in a nutshell, Strangederby. I've been informed for years by multiple conservatives that liberals are the ones who want to shut down freedoms. This is backed up by the easily findable conspiracy theories about FEMA camps, disarming of gun-owners, Sharia law and other things that "liberals" want for America. That means that, for you, the following must also be true:
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The goals of a liberal involve suppressing, interning, forcing into camps and ultmately killing whole groups of people who are different from them.

Does it make sense to stand back and allow a liberal to gain power and eventually to brutily suppress the freedom of a minority because you don't want to suppress the speech of the liberal?

Why do the liberals freedoms matter more than other people's?
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So either you open the door for both sides to be violent, or you suppress one that comprises about a quarter of American voters, unjustly in their eyes. That's a problem.

Your prescription has no way of distinguishing between sincerely held beliefs, even if one is true (fascists seek to oppress dissenters) and the other is bugfcuk crazy (American liberals are pursuing a fascist agenda). Unless you sort that out, the problem you will have is that you are favoring one *political party* (or agenda, I guess) over another, and that will just push them more towards violence to defend their views.

You need a way to get people to admit that certain forms of speech are, actually, dangerous, and should not be tolerated by *anyone*. That is a framework that will ultimately succeed. But you can't do that by saying "I think your political views are dangerous, so I will beat you up", because by definition, few followers see their own views as extremist or dangerous. (Leaders, heh, that's another beast entirely.)

But even that is fraught. What if we decide to outlaw speech that would, overall, decrease people's safety? That would work with Nazis and racists calling people to action. Jail them. But what about people who want small government? Or, conversely, large government? Each side feels the other would endanger society. So do we shut them down too? Anti-vaxxers? State's Rights advocates? Federalists?

What's the actual system you're proposing? How would you avoid the problems given here?

Please note - I've stated many times that I favor the bat in dealing with Nazis and racists when they decide to abuse or intimidate or threaten others. I'm talking here about possible *legal* or *government* policies, and the problems associated with restricting speech across the population in the legal ways implied in the OP.

If we as a global society want to deal with this sort of thing it'll take two things: education and exposure. Education to instil societal values from a formative age and exposure to either remove tribal boundaries or widen them to the point that they are no longer relevant.

Unfortunately both of these elements require a huge amount of financial capital and political and cultural will to implement at the scale required to truly be effective over the half-dozen generations required to truly be effective, so I'm not sure we'll ever clear that hurdle as a species.

I think this is where fundamental conservatism has entirely outlived it's function; in order to survive at the rate we are evolving as a global, social species, change needs to be the default state until we reach cultural equilibrium at the 'global village' scale.

liquid wrote:

I think it's ok to shut down X. - said the fascist.

If everything was literally equal at all times and all things are of equal worth, this statement makes sense. Too bad it's not!

I mean, we can faff ourselves all day about who gets to draw the line, where it's drawn, and who's the villain now, Flaaash, but let's get past this extremely paper thin strawman early in this thread, shall we?

Bloo Driver wrote:
liquid wrote:

I think it's ok to shut down X. - said the fascist.

If everything was literally equal at all times and all things are of equal worth, this statement makes sense. Too bad it's not!

I mean, we can faff ourselves all day about who gets to draw the line, where it's drawn, and who's the villain now, Flaaash, but let's get past this extremely paper thin strawman early in this thread, shall we?

The issue will be that whatever rules you create will not be enforced by the people on your side, whichever side that may be. They will not be used only for noble purposes. Every rule created will be enforced by the worst, sh*ttiest, wannabe despot.

Bruce wrote:
Bloo Driver wrote:
liquid wrote:

I think it's ok to shut down X. - said the fascist.

If everything was literally equal at all times and all things are of equal worth, this statement makes sense. Too bad it's not!

I mean, we can faff ourselves all day about who gets to draw the line, where it's drawn, and who's the villain now, Flaaash, but let's get past this extremely paper thin strawman early in this thread, shall we?

The issue will be that whatever rules you create will not be enforced by the people on your side, whichever side that may be. They will not be used only for noble purposes. Every rule created will be enforced by the worst, sh*ttiest, wannabe despot.

Sure. "I think it's okay to shut down murder" is something we can just attribute to fascists.

It's just such a silly absolutist statement that has no real bearing except so people can nod thoughtfully about how deeply they truly understand moral relativism (while not actually discussing it at all). This'll go nowhere.

I'm fairly sure we aren't all deluded into thinking we can create a utopia.. nobody here is saying that.. but rather that it sure would be nice if everyone had equal rights to everything and women and poc werent generally sh*t upon on a daily basis by our government, corporations, and religious institutions.

Offer something substantive or move on. - Certis

Quick reminder on what "Debate" threads are for:

Debate

Debate threads are rarely-needed places to strenuously and formally argue your position, to convince others to consider or accept your point of view. If you are arguing in a debate thread, you are expected to argue your position with integrity and use sources to back up your claims. You are also expected to treat other posters with respect, even while arguing against their positions.

If the current tenor continues I'll have to reclassify this as a Discussion thread given there's a lot of opinion and not much in the way of sources. If you're leaning on hypotheticals or absolutes the odds are you're not engaging in a 'debate' as we're going for here.

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