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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Freedom of Speech Gone Wild:

Here's another issue I heartily dislike. Freedom of speech.

Freedom of speech shouldn't mean the right to harass others. You don't have the right to shout insults in someone's ear because you have 'freedom of speech.' And yet plenty of people would claim they do. Freedom of speech is a mutual right. What it means is that if one person wants to say something, and another person wants to hear it, no third party can get in-between these two and break that conversation up. It is meant to protect political dissidents from the government, and avoid a Soviet style system where people can't discuss issues of importance between each other without fear of torture and imprisonment.

Freedom of speech, like the freedom to have sex, can only exist between two consenting adults. ((In the case of children, adults get to filter what speech children are exposed to in the hopes of building character.)) Westboro Baptist Church members should not have the freedom to picket funerals and say 'Thank God your son is dead' to grieving family members. That's an abomination. The funeral goers do not wish to hear that speech, therefore they have the right to not be harassed by it. Just as it's sexual harassment to grope a girl without consent, it's verbal harassment to talk to a person about things they don't want to hear. For the same reason, stuffing people's mailboxes with advertisements or calling them on their phones should also be banned -- this is harassment, because the 'free speech' was not mutually consented to -- it was purely one-sided.

Common sense restrictions on free speech would be a wonderful boon to society. For instance, putting a banner on a bus that people can't help but see while going about their daily lives is not consensual speech, and therefore it cannot be considered free speech. If anyone objects to the content of the advertisement on the bus, billboard, or other public space where people can't help but see it, even if they don't want to see it, the message should be taken down. This is the same reasoning as to why public indecency laws exist. The only way someone should be allowed to walk around nude in public is if everyone who sees that nude person consents to it, and doesn't find it objectionable. If a single person is distressed by the sight, the other person should be arrested. This is because it's impossible to walk around with your eyes shut, people need eyes to see where they're going and where things are -- they MUST look around them -- so it is on the onus of people to avoid offending others, not on the onus of onlookers to avoid 'seeing' things that offend them. Perhaps, if mankind was naturally blind, people could look however they pleased, with as many offensive messages on their clothing or tatoos as they liked -- but we live in a world where people rely on their sense of sight to navigate, and therefore they are a captive audience -- not a consenting audience, to your forceful methods of communication.

Trapping someone into seeing your body (flashing), or an offensive message (curse words, racial slurs), or just something gross (piercings, tatoos, body mutilation), is not free speech. It's harassment. The other party didn't consent to the exchange of information and therefore it isn't a free speech issue, it's a rape issue. Rape of the mind.

We want a polite, nice, inoffensive public sphere where everyone can go about their lives without being hurt by others. This requires dress codes, lawn codes, speech codes, even building codes and paint codes. It also requires that people can't just spuriously put up their own graffitti that the entire rest of the community has to see, against their will, having never consented to it -- it also applies to litter or anything else that pollutes the viewing space of others. You do not have the right to hurt others! Period! If your community does not consent to you painting your house neon orange, you do not have the right to paint it neon orange anyway, because it's 'your property.' Yes, but everyone has to see the house, just by existing nearby, they can't not see it no matter how much they try, because they need their eyes to see what's in front of them and what's going on. It's no longer private when it's in public view, therefore it cannot be 'private property.' It is communal property that must be regulated with respect to the wishes of the community.

Advertising should only exist in agreed-upon locations, where just by entering the activity or area, you've consented to being advertised to. Advertisements and solicitors should be banned from any door-to-door sales knocking, telephone calling, email spams, or any other harassing activities where people want to be left alone and never agreed to be advertised to. This is not freedom of speech, it is merely the freedom to harass and trespass. People's homes should be their castles, no one and nothing should be allowed to disturb their peace without consent.

It's absolute nonsense that people can be attending a festival, or a tourist attraction, and suddenly they have to watch a gay pride parade, or a bunch of haters shouting hateful, disrespectful slogans towards said tourists or vacationers. Public spaces that are designed for one specific task should not be hijacked for another. For instance, if you are attending a ski lodge, people go there expecting talk about skiing, a random parade of pro-animal-rightsers is not acceptable -- it disrupts the experience the public came there to see. And if you go to a cultural fair, you do not expect a bunch of racists to storm the grounds shouting about the evils of your particular culture and ethnicity, all the while claiming free speech. Free Speech doesn't include the right to disrupt planned public gatherings whose consenting audience would obviously be offended by said speech. If a group of racists, like American Renaissance, want to get together and talk about how great whites are compared to blacks, it isn't right for a bunch of sign-carrying anti-racists to shout slogans at them either. Every group has the right to organize its own public experiences, whether that's Disneyland or at a hotel, and not be bothered by anyone else who thinks otherwise. If you want to talk about anti-racism, you can gather your own public fair of anti-racism and invite all your consenting, anti-racist friends to the event. What you can't do is spoil the fun of the racist group that is hoping for a positive, consensual speech experience between each other. This should be blindingly obvious.

Freedom of speech doesn't include the freedom to heckle public speakers. The crowd gathered to listen to the speech giver, not to you. They never consented to hearing you speak, therefore you don't have the freedom to hijack the event and make everyone listen to you, against their will. If the President has come to deliver a speech to a willing crowd of listeners, you don't have the right to jump in with your own opinions, as though the crowd gathered to listen to a debate between the two of you. If you hate Ann Coulter, but she's been invited to talk at a college, you can't disrupt her speech by heckling her, banging pots and pans, or slamming her with a pie. It isn't two people equally engaging in freedom of speech. In one case, the people gathered consensually to listen to Ann Coulter, but in the other case, they never consented to the hecklers and protestors who disrupted her speech. Freedom of speech is the right of two consenting adults to exchange information -- obviously hecklers and protestors are a third party who interfere with that freedom of speech, by making it impossible for the two consenting parties to be heard and make any useful exchanges with each other. Hecklers are the ones violating freedom of speech, they aren't the ones whose rights are being violated by having their speech stopped. They are the culprits, not the victims.

Every single one of these issues, people have attempted to hide behind a torturous distortion of freedom of speech, and many times they have succeeded. But I think the worst abuse of freedom of speech is the freedom to lie. When people are saying known lies just to get their way, they are not engaging in consenting information exchange between two parties -- unless the other side wants to be lied to. A magician on a stage, for instance, or a fictional novel, the audience has given their consent to be fooled. However, no one has the right to lie to someone who wants to know the truth -- this is a clear violation of freedom of speech. You only have the right to talk to someone if they consent to hearing you, no one in their right mind consents to being lied to, therefore you shouldn't have the right to tell others lies.

Anyone caught in a counter-factual statement should go to jail, or just be shot in the back of the head and be done with it. If you say something that isn't supported by wikipedia, the penalty should be death. I am so tired of hearing people say absolute lies, like "IQ tests are unreliable," when millions of scientists over hundreds of years have verified their validity, and no scientist anywhere disputes the claim. Saying such a statement should just result in your instant death. Another lie that should result in instant execution is anyone who says 'poverty is the cause of crime and terrorism.' This is blithering nonsense, it is just a lie used to protect the guilty and shift responsibility over to the innocent. There are billions of people poorer than black Americans and none of them have as high a crime rate. The crime rate of millionaire NBA and NFL stars is well above the average white or Asian crime rate. The most common terrorists come from upper or middle class backgrounds, not impoverished backgrounds, and they clearly state their motivations for their deeds -- religion and politics. They never once say "I'm blowing myself up because I'm poor." Or "I'm taking down the World Trade Center because I'm poor." Anyone who claims poverty, therefore, is the cause of crime or terrorism should be executed on the spot. They are willful deceivers. They are not protected by freedom of speech because no one would willfully consent to being deceived if they knew it was a lie in the first place.

Libel laws need to be equally draconian. If you say a clear falsehood about someone else, you should be dragged outside and shot in the back of the head without trial and without mercy. Why should you be allowed to freely assault the reputations of others, doing clear injury to their ability to make a living, their ability to influence the world, and their ability to be loved? The right to spread malicious falsehoods about others is the same as the right to rape and assault others. I can't tell them apart in any way. But our libel laws are so loose that there is practically no penalty for the most heinous of rumor-mongering. In reference to my previous post, for instance, it should be an immediate death penalty for anyone who calls Dr. Watson, winner of the Nobel Prize in biology for discovering the double helix structure of DNA, 'stupid.' This is clearly libel. It's clearly a false, malicious lie simply meant to undermine Watson's reputation. Therefore, the penalty should just be death.

The same would be true if an honest woman, by all accounts, was called a 'whore,' without any basis or evidence. The libeler should just be dragged out of his home and shot in the back of the head. There is no excuse for this kind of malicious lying.

Most of life is speech, not actions. We live and die by our communications with one another. This is the tapestry of relationships, which is the source of our collective strength and communal happiness. If speech is completely unregulated, then we're neglecting the largest portion of our interactions, and thus our abuses. Laws deal with regulating interactions between people -- it's obvious that there need to be as many or more laws governing people's communications with one another as there are regarding their actions towards one another. Leaving speech a 'wild west' just because we want the freedom to disagree with our government is insane. Frankly, a tyranny is always better than an anarchy. If I couldn't say anything bad about my government, but I was at least protected from libelers, liars, advertisers, hecklers and flashers, I would be ahead of the present situation. But there is no need to make such a choice. We can all have freedom of speech -- between two consenting adults, so long as it is honest -- which is the only freedom we should ever want or need, to take down the government, or do any other righteous activity. We can also restrict all speech, all communication, which does not serve any of these ends, just like we restrict sexual harassment without banning courtship and marriage.

Freedom of Speech is not some sort of arcane labyrinth. It's pretty clear when the person you're talking to is consenting, and when they aren't. A website that people have to actively seek out to find is protected by freedom of speech, because it doesn't impose on anyone who didn't want to read it. A billboard in the middle of a busy street is not protected by freedom of speech, because people who didn't seek it out have to see it anyway. Therefore what can be said on the website and what can be said on the billboard are obviously different. In one case, you can say things that others might find offensive, if they aren't your intended audience -- in the other, you can't.

Schools are an interesting freedom of speech case. In the case of education, children like usual have no rights, it is the parents who decide to give or withhold consent to listen to what is being taught. The government should not be allowed to teach children things parents do not want their children to know, this would also be verbal harassment and infringement on privacy/private property. Offensive classes, like the glories of Islam or sex ed, should not be taught in a school where any parent objects to it. Parents should be allowed to choose the curriculum of their children and teachers, principals, or governments simply have no say in the matter. Obviously, if a school is teaching lies to their students, that crime is even graver and the simple expedient of mass executions is in order. However, parents should not lose the right to raise their children according to their own values just because they want the benefits of communal schooling. Parents should decide what their children learn about, while also allowing their children to be in a school full of friends, field trips, clubs, girlfriends, and so on. Parents should have the right to raise their children and the right to go to work during the day. It should not be an either/or. School Choice means parents have the choice about what kind of school, teaching what kind of materials, their child goes to. It should not just be the choice to home school or not. We must break the public school monopoly, and the public curriculum monopoly, and use tax money to pay for vouchers which can fund private schools of the parent's choice. Then parents can give consent to what their children are hearing, and there is no verbal child molestation going on in our schools, which today is a 24/7/365 business.

Another freedom of speech issue that must be quashed is all the nonsense talk between lovers. A boy, or a girl, should not be allowed to say "I love you," and then get away with it by acting in a non-loving manner. They should be dragged outside and shot in the back of the head if they are caught cheating, if they abandon the person they 'love,' and so on. Love also includes, in its meaning, a feeling of commitment, loyalty, and trustworthiness. It implies that you'll also love them in the future. It's meaningless to say, "I currently love you, until tomorrow at least." Love is eternal, like diamonds. Therefore telling someone you love them, without any actual commitment, is fraud. It is a way to extort feelings, words, and actions from the other party that you don't actually deserve. It's theft. You're literally stealing people's hearts, turning them into love slaves, like a succubus. You promise one thing but deliver another, reaping their earnest feelings and actions as a benefit the whole time while laughing behind your hand at their gullibility.

If you marry someone, you should not be allowed to divorce them. The words of a marriage contract are 'until death do us part.' They have a clear, literal meaning. They aren't a poem and they don't mean, "until I stop feeling like it." Therefore anyone who files for divorce should be dragged outside and shot in the back of the head. They lied and, using that lie, destroyed another person's love life who was depending on them for their emotional wellbeing and genetic continuation. They were told they COULD depend on you, and then you knocked the stilts out from under them and watch them plummet to the rocks below. You are just like a house builder who promises someone a safe, durable building and then builds it not to specifications, with cheap and worthless materials and techniques, that collapses the first time there's a storm, killing everyone inside. Just as the house builder promised and must deliver his product, so too must a lover, or a spouse, on pain of death.

This would not result in rivers of blood, though if it did it would be no loss -- who cares about liars and cheaters? -- because people would instantly shape up and stop doing all the immoral acts I'm talking about. Criminalizing immorality doesn't make everyone a criminal, it makes everyone moral. People respond to punishments, and change their behavior. So do animals, for that matter. Even monkeys and rats understand that they'd better behave if there is someone policing their behavior and punishing them when they get out of line. We have shown how easy it was to stop crime simply by serving serious sentences/penalties to criminals starting in the 1990's and proceeding into the 00's. Any city that wanted could instantly reduce crime to around 10% its previous levels just by enforcing the law. The same is true if we enforced new laws governing speech. People wouldn't continue doing the same thing, and then get punished. They would stop doing the punishable deed post-haste, and then there would be no evil-doers and no painful punishments, either, because they would never be necessary. The threat, and a few well-publicized examples, would suffice. So in exchange for killing a few diehards who simply will not learn their lesson that they can't say whatever they want anymore, we get a civilized society that doesn't libel each other, doesn't harass each other, doesn't pollute public environments with ugly graffiti, doesn't trick people into devastating bad relationships, gives parents a free hand in educating their children, and doesn't spread known falsehoods that go in the face of all known facts which are ruinous to our future political and cultural health. The only people who would object to this overhaul of freedom of speech are the evildoers who want to keep profiting from the status quo. Innocent people would have nothing to fear. Only the guilty flee where morality pursuith.

Most people are hurt by words -- offensive words and deceitful words. The world has long since moved on from marauding Vikings and kidnapping Saracens who rely on battle-axes and scimitars. However, our law code still lives in the Dark Ages, protecting everyone from non-existent physical threats while completely ignoring the poisonous influence of harmful and deceitful words. Like Obama said, it's time for Change. We must overhaul our law code to address the present venoms infecting and destroying the world, not past ones we've dealt with long ago. The venom in our world is overly-flapping tongues. The anti-toxin is redefining freedom of speech into reasonable, sane, moral boundaries. The sooner this happens the better.

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