Friday, March 13, 2009

Discussion on Freedom of Speech and other Rights

Carolyn Ann has taken up an offer I made over at Questioning Transphobia to discuss Freedom of Speech and it's interactions with other freedoms etc here to help keep the discussion there on topic.

So this should have some interesting discussions through the comments :) By all means if anyone else wants to chime in be my guest.

So I guess I'll kick it off.

The initial discussion concerned Carolyn's concerns that moderation on a blog regarding certain forms of comments was contrary to freedom of speech.

Lets start with the pro for that.

It means that the commentators responses in that discussion in its immediate context are limited. At the very least this does appear to be against the spirit and substance of freedom of speech.

Con. The commentator still has the capacity to have their own blog and hence express their views. They are no longer in the initial context of the initial discussion however so that suggests moderation still goes against the spirit of free speech even if the substance is not hindered.

However comments on a blog are published in effect by the blogger, as such are they not falling within the bloggers free speech? Is the moderation by the blogger, so long as the comentator can blog themselves elsewhere, of their own blog not in fact an excercise of their own freedom of speech? Do the comments publication then exist as purely the comentators free speech or are they also part of the bloggers free speech?

In general a blog is considered to be an edited publication like a magazine or newspaper. Where the editor decides what will and will not be part of the publication.

Is this fair and valid is the question?

I previously suggested an analogy I like about street-speech VS lawn speech.


In the street if you offend someone they have every right to walk away and
ignore you. On their own private lawn however they have every right to ask you
to leave their property or to define by what rules you must abide to remain
there.Well a blog is like a front lawn, accessible from the public street where
you can be invited to sit on the porch or verandah and chat, or asked to leave
and threatened with having the hose turned on you or the police called if you
continue to be rude.


I think it's a good analogy and can show how personal space extends into public spheres. Like a t-shirt slogan or the way one dresses free expression exiss in public space with few valid limitations. However a persons home, or lawn, is owned. It is personal space in which activity is to a large degree conditional. It exists by consent, consent which may be withdrawn.

So someone may object to what someone is wearing or saying while they are in their front yard and may validly withdraw consent for them to be there on that account but they cannot do so if the person is merely walking down the street, a public space, so long as their appearance and speech in no way overrides others rights.

The error of many who object to the words or appearance of others in public space that upsets them is that they are failing to recognise that they are extending their personals space over the other persons. One may have fair control over ones front yard as an extension of personal space but not over the shopping mall.

And might I add thats so even if one owns the shopping mall! A business is more than personal space, it provides a neccessary public service and as such is partially public space and partially personal space and as such cannot discriminate in the way that the business owner may with their own front lawn. The same is true of a rented property. To enter into business is to engage in a social contract, the individuals obligations to the rights of others are more pronounced in a way that control over ones front lawn does not interfere with. If someone cannot have access to your lawn to talk t you there rights are not harmed. If they cannot enter your shopping mall to buy bread and milk their access to goods neccessary for life are limited, so their rights are indeed harmed.

So Carolyn and anyone else interested, agree? Disagree? Have anything you wish to add? This need only be the launching point so any rights/liberty based related issue is welcome, it need not be a narrowly focussed discussion.

23 comments:

Carolyn Ann said...

Hey there!

You're confusing the issue. And neglecting to address one important point .

You seem to conflate two set of rights, and then assume one set of rights subsumes the other - but only in certain circumstances.

I'll start with your shopping mall analogy. A shopping mall is private property; the owner can determine who gains access, and can impose a dress code. It can be a simple one, or a complex one. Business success is not relevant at any point in this, by the way. If the mall owner wants to cut off the supply of customers, that is entirely within their power, contracts with the stores notwithstanding. I will ignore now potential, false, refutation.

The US Supreme Court decided that a mall can ban someone for wearing a T-shirt with a logo the owners find offensive. You can ban someone from your front yard for saying things you find offensive. I have ordered people to leave my front porch for simply trying to spread their religion. Have I curtailed their free speech rights? Most assuredly - but my right to hear what I want on my own property supersedes their right to say whatever they want, on my property. If they stand on the street, they can say whatever they want. I have no willingness to stop them, there. If the Reverend Phelps wanted to set up a protest outside my house, as long as he didn't infringe upon my right to come and go as I please - he's more than welcome. But if he wants to protest on my back deck, I am perfectly at liberty to say "no". In this case, the rights of the property owner supersede the right to free expression.

Please note, I am not saying that they cannot hold those views while on my property. The mall owner can say "I don't care if that bloke wears a dress on the high street, I don't like it and am in my rights to ban him." He is. Another point: we don't have to like the results of a right, but we do have to sustain them if we are to be consistent.

The blog in question, Questioning Transphobia, has a ban on certain inferences. Does their ban impinge my right to express myself freely, in that forum? Yes. Can they do that? Sure. Am I obliged to adhere to that ban? No. Can they ban (or moderate) me as a result? Yes. Can they decline to publish a comment I have made? Yes. Is that denying me the right to free expression? It is, but their property rights exceed my rights to free expression in that private forum.

The owners, and others who protested about my assertion on that point, didn't think they were denying my right to free expression. They equated their property rights with free expression.

This is where your magazine analogy has interest. A magazine, especially one that covers current affairs and/or controversial issues, will get a lot of letters. The editors are not obliged to print every single one; commercially, that would be a waste of money, and from the stand point of free speech - it's not necessary. Again, the property owner, can determine which letter gets published, and which doesn't. They have a process that allows them to make those decisions, and they also reserve the right to alter the letter they publish - including shortening it. (Lengthening a letter implies adding things not said, and as such it becomes lying.) If someone writes to the magazine, and their spelling is atrocious, but their point is valid - the editors can change the spelling. And so on. The right to send a letter to the magazine implies no right to demand the letter be published. Posting a blog comment is a little different, but only a little.

To deal with the simplistic: blog owners generally have no recourse to correct spelling or grammar. The mechanism that places comments on a blog usually defaults to ubiquitous, and immediate, publication. Pre-screening messages can happen if the appropriate means and system are put in place, but in general the control the owner of a magazine has over the content is not available to the typical blog owner. Also, the commercial interests of the two mediums are different. A free online publication run by someone out of interest is necessarily different to a magazine you purchase at the news stand. Publication lead times and so on are different; this is not immediately relevant to our discussion, but it does provide some worthwhile background. (I am not assuming anyone is aware of the difference, hence my explanation.)

If a blog comment policy exists, and is easily found (that's actually an important point), that certain statements and/or inferences are not allowed - the owners of the blog can say "don't say that". Indeed, they can arbitrarily say "I don't want such statements uttered here!", even if no policy exists. They own the blog, and as such are entitled to impose any restrictions they want. (I think I made that point, already... :-) )

Where that whole comment trail became hypocritical was when a blog owner (the article author) asserted that there was no infringement of my right to say what was on my mind. The owners of the QT blog state they support free speech - but at the same time, they impose a restriction on what can be said. Their claim to fully support free expression is not credible, because of that. (Indeed, it was stated by the article author, Helen, that "And no, I'm not attempting to curtail your freedom of speech, and no, I'm not attempting to ban you or put your frankly outrageous comments in moderation." Whereas, as I have demonstrated - their very policy bans freedom of speech they find offensive. But they can do that - it is their forum. What they cannot claim is to fully support the right to free speech on their blog.

Whether my statements were outrageous or not is irrelevant. The fact that the blog owners found them offensive, and have a policy against such statements shows a less than honest commitment to freedom of expression and complete debate.

They can, and do, make the statement that all comments adhere to a policy on what can and cannot be said. But when they do that - they are imposing a restriction on what can be said. Ergo: they are not fully supportive of freedom of expression. But it is within their rights to curtail what I can say on their forum. But they cannot claim to have not curtailed my right to say what is on my mind - because they just have!

The fact I have a blog, and can (and do) express myself freely on it is neither here nor there. It's irrelevant to the point I think you're trying to make. If the owners of QT had simply said "yes, we curtail your right to say what you want, and here is the policy explaining it", I wouldn't be as annoyed. I know my rights as a property owner, and I know what freedom of expression is. Where I got cross was in the hypocritical statement that there was no curtailing of my right, even as those rights were curtailed. There was also a separate point about the rights of prisoners, especially insane prisoners, and the rights of society (the taxpayer, specifically) and also the rights of the victims, but those are not relevant to this discussion.

Where your argument gets confused is when you assert the right to free expression, even in a private forum you do not own - but then simultaneously demand and deny the right to free expression on a private forum. You demand the right to wear whatever you want in a public place that is privately owned, but also don't want someone making inferences (in that same forum) that you don't like. The two principles contradict each other. Someone can demand the right to wear a dress as part of their personal identity - but that doesn't mean the owner of a private forum has to allow them in! It only gets hypocritical when the owner then says they are not curtailing the right to free expression - because they are, on their property.

Essentially, you are confusing the right to identity with the demand that others accept your statement of identity as valid. They might, they might not. When you assert that the shopping mall must honor your right to entry, you are denying them the right as property owners to deny you that entry on the grounds that they find you or your attire unacceptable. You can't have it both ways: either the right of the property owner exists and always supersedes your right to express yourself on their property, or your right to freely express yourself supersedes it in all cases.

I hope that explains the intersection of free expression and the rights of the private property owner to deny those very same rights on their property.

Carolyn Ann

Carolyn Ann said...

So much for my proofreading...

3rd para "I will ignore now potential, false, refutation." Should read: I will now ignore this potential and false concern.

I think something got screwed up in the copy/paste process.

I think that was it. If anyone finds any other egregious errors like that, please let me know. (Errors in logic can and should be debated, however.)

Carolyn Ann

Carolyn Ann said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carolyn Ann said...

Short version:
You can say "I am curtailing your right to some assertion (for some/this reason) in this forum. It is impossible, in this society, for me to curtail your rights elsewhere, however."

You cannot say:
"On this forum, I am not curtailing your right to say what you want, except you can't say this list of things" and still claim you're not curtailing my right to say something - on that forum!

Carolyn Ann

Battybattybats said...

All rights interact, no right exists in isolation, I assert that I am not conflating any but merely understanding how they do.

When it comes to bussiness I expect you are American, and thus exist in a culture that generally fails to recognise or properly understand the broader range of rights.

This was why Eleanor Roosevelt at one point joined the argument to split the UN decleration on Human Rights into two, one on civil and political rights and the other on social and economic ones.

The USA has largely been the one to conflate individual rights with economic ones.

But a business is not an individual. It does not have the rights of an individual. Even if a bussiness owner is the sole owner they cannot do whatever they wish with their bussiness. It too must like their own liberties be constrained by the rights of others. And as this includes a right to access food etc this does restrict the powers a bussiness owner has over their customers in a different way to the powers a home owner may have over their guests.

Consider for example the Ethical Obligations of the police officer as I recently mentioned over at Zoe's blog:

""Anti-discrimination laws regarding private employers and other individuals acting privately do infringe upon the right of freedom of association."

Freedom of association is a right of individuals in their private life, not their public role.

Businesses are not individuals. They are not private life. They are not free of obligations to the rights of others.

A person who works with someone must accept their obligation to work with them. They may choose to or not to associate with them outside of work. But while working they are obliged by their professional ethics to work alongside them whoever they are.

Employing or serving someone is a service, not a private act. Human Rights apply that overide freedom of association within that role.

Who they do or don't talk to in their own time is up to them. The duty of profession however overides personal private choices.

A doctor must treat all (paying where appropriate) patients, a lawyer must too, a policeman cant pick and choose who they arrest or let go based on who they like or dislike. Their duty comes first.

In fact we call it CORRUPTION when a policeman imposes thier personal views over the obligations of their job.

Well just like a doctor or surgeon or policeman a shopkeeper has the same duty, the same obligations.

It's identical. There is no exception. There is no conflict with freedom of association.

Unless you think we should apply that freedom of association rule to the police and the ER surgeons? Especially if they don't like christians!

... no? Wouldn't like that?

I didn't think so!"

A bussiness, whether selling bread or lawnmowers is providing a service for profit. So is a lawyer or a doctor. As such they are bound to respect the rights of others in this endeavor. The bussiness does not have the rights the private individual who owns the bussiness has in their private life.

The bussiness owners capacity to exert their rights through their bussiness is so limited.

Exactly the same way that a police officers duty limits their freedom to apply personal bias when dealing with their customers! Same with a judge, a doctor, a lawyer, a greegrocer!

You cite the US Supreme Court, it is operating however under the archaic and flawed definitions of rights from the USA's founding. It is not the first and last authority on Human Rights by a very large margin!

A Jehovah's Witness Doctor may choose to themselves refuse a blood transfusion for religious reasosns. That is their clear human right! On several rights grounds. Bodily autonomy being a significant one of them.

However the same doctor cannot refuse to allow a non-Jehovahs Witness to get a blood transfusion because of the Doctors religious beliefs! They have what is called an OBLIGATION OF DUTY.

One where their power in a society requires of them different obligations in carrying out that role seperate from their personal private life.

This applies to all public office and commercial service. From doctors, police, soldiers, greengrocers.

So it is far closer to the street than to the front lawn. All people must eat, all people must be able to engage in work and commercial activity, those too are human rights. As such they differ in their interactions with other rights.

A lawn of your residence is part of personal property, an extension of your rights over your own body, your personal autonomy.

A place of bussiness however requires people to be able to enter it, it is partially shared space (as a lawn is when the power man needs to read the meter!) and as such the power of the bussiness owner is not so absolute (and the lawn owner does have exceptions based on obligations to services that need to access their property in order to provide them that service!)

As you get to property rights and free expression... they are connected in that case as in essence as they are the owner/editor/publishers of the material that you submit then your expression is in fact a part of theirs when on that forum. Their editorial control is part of their freedom of expression and your is coupled with and through theirs on their blog.

Their choice who and what to publish is in itself an excercise of their free expression. Their right to control and direct the messages conveyed on their site.

Clearly that is contrary to a totally free exchange of ideas. And yet when there are trolls and troublemakers such things are often neccessary to maintain and allow free expression to some extent.

For example, I am allowing full unedited exchange between you and I.

But if I were to be spammed with an advertisement for erection problem treatments in the middle of this conversation I would not hesitate to curtail the intruding advertisement especially if it were to fill the comments section copiously.

Oh, and while i recall, the other thing that makes the supreme courts decision moronic when it comes to banning an 'offensive' shirt is that as there is no clear objective definition of offensive what it has decided is that there is no free speech at all within business premises.

Moreover that implies that any and all human rights may be suspended within businesses. Considering the abuses that would allow in hospitals that should strike terror into the heart of every citizen right there! So much for inalienable!

Your claim of hypocracy depends on definition of free speech, ther are several. As well as definition of the boundary between one persons speech and anothers.

Now the way we regulate free expression on blogs, much like traffic on roads (where the right to mobility and free action very much goes hand in hand with the responsibility and obligation to recognition and defence of the rights of others to life!) and other things where we create formal rules or conventions to maximise our rights and minimise the impact on others rights in a situation that shall always require compromise.

For these to be valid they must operate in such a way as to maximise equality and fairness. They must not unduly burden any group in particular nor infringe any right unneccessarily. There must be recourse for review, such as a citizens right to try and have a law changed.

Now should we consider that a newspaper editor as well as a blog owner has an obligation of duty to ensure their rules are as much as possible consistent with such principles? Indeed I do believe that such an argument could be made.

But what is the line? At what point does having a blog shift from personal medium of personal expression and asserting of ones right to civil and political speech ad become a service?

Clearly a company that hosts multiple blogs is a service. As such they must logically be bound by the obligation to equality etc.

When a blog is run by a single person then is it not reasonable to consider that comments exist by their whim?

Ah but at what point does it cross? No financial transaction is taking place, no essential service is provided by an individual blogger (unlike a blog hosting company).

This I think is where the line logically sits.

Let me deal directy with one of you paragraphs.

"Essentially, you are confusing the right to identity with the demand that others accept your statement of identity as valid."

But people have a right to self-determine their identity! This is an internationally recognised Human Right! It is considered so in the Right to Cultural Identity such as the Rights of Indiginous Peoples, Religious Identity and even Gender Identity http://www.yogyakartaprinciples.org/principles_en_principles.htm#_Toc161634695

"States shall:
b) Take all necessary legislative, administrative and other measures to fully respect and legally recognise each person’s self-defined gender identity;"

So in fact, that 'demand' is a right!

"They might, they might not."

But people have a right to self determination. Now an individual may feel that person is wrong. They even retain ONLY IN PRIVATE CAPACITY the right to express that contrary view. But that does not grant them a way out if their actions in the public sphere abuse the persons right to self-determination!

"When you assert that the shopping mall must honor your right to entry, you are denying them the right as property owners to deny you that entry on the grounds that they find you or your attire unacceptable."

Yes. The property owners cannot excercise such a power without violating my rights! My personal civil rights overide their rights to free action because a bussiness is not in the personal sphere! It is not a home nor an individuals free expression. As such what they may do with it is constrained.

"You can't have it both ways: either the right of the property owner exists and always supersedes your right to express yourself on their property, or your right to freely express yourself supersedes it in all cases."

Not so! Businesses are an essential part of the community. Many rights utterlydepend on it. One canot assert ones right to life if nowehere will sell one food or allow one to work or rent one a property.

As such comercial activity like government operated services like police are bound by obligations to the rights of others. In employment, in who may be served or under what circumstances service may be refused and so on.

A bussiness is not a private home nor an individual and has not those liberties that extend over homes and individuals! It provides a service in exchange for other goods and services in a manner that is essential for the existence of the community. As such bussiness properties and the functioning rules of the bussiness are bound to respect the civil and social and economic rights of all citizens as equal.

It is an essential benchmark of protecting equality and individual personal equal liberty that this be so.

The border of liberties is the recognition of others equal liberties. The right to punch is bordered by the right to deny consent to be punched for example. The right to control over a property is bordered by obligation to others service whether as a customer, allowing the power company onto your property as part of the neccessary exchange getting their electricty, or in respecting all customers equally as having access to your business property as part of the broader obligation to the entire community and the role bussiness plays within it.

Carolyn Ann said...

Okay, I have to make a couple of points, here.

Can you run your responses through a spell checker? I'm not being snarky, I am being clear: your points get lost while I try to work through your spelling.

I would ask you to use active sentences, but I'll work with your words as is. (I, too, use dangerously passive sentences. Not often, but often enough.)

The other point I'd really like to make is that if you're having an abstract discussion, can you do me the favor of introducing a new concept prior to using it?

I really am not being snarky. I hope I am being helpful!

Carolyn Ann

Carolyn Ann said...

I'm British, I just happen to live in America. I love the place, and it is founded on the ideals I hold dear. I will thank you to not insult the nation, the ideals and the people of this great nation. You don't have to like America or Americans, but you do not have to insult them in what is supposed to be a reasoned discussion.

You haven't proven anything regarding Eleanor Roosevelt; she suggested splitting the definition of rights, but your argument about why is not sustainable.

The US has capitalism as a guiding tenet. Please do not get into an argument about capitalism - we're supposed to be debating freedom of expression. That is a different concept. Capitalism doesn't exist without it, granted - but freedom of expression can be had without capitalism. In theory. In practice, it just never works out.

Who's Zoe? And why is she important to this point?

I agree: a business not an individual. As the sole owner of a business, I can assure you: I can do whatever the heck I like with it. I can make a loss, I can make a profit. I have certain obligations, mostly to the taxman. If I want to hire someone, I get to pick and choose with whom I work. Once my enterprise gets big enough, equal opportunity laws kick in - and I'm a big supporter of those. Even if they contradict my more libertarian ethos.

I am not sure where freedom of association comes into this. Neither of us has mentioned it until now. It is enshrined in the 1st Amendment, but aside of that, I'm really not sure why you brought it in.

There's been a few times when I've told my boss: no way am I working that ****. I have no obligation to work with anyone. If you work in a large corporation, I would agree: you can't pick and choose who you work with. I've worked in enough to know plenty of people who would rather not work with me. When ever I've work with someone, I care about one thing: competence. That's it. I've worked with plenty of incompetent people, and I'm quite sure there are plenty who saw me as incompetent. Considering the number of complaints I've received over the years: I'd say it's a fair split. I'm not clear why who I am working with is an important issue, though.

You haven't explained where human rights come in; you simply introduced it, and left it there.

I don't get the Christian bit. I'm not a Christian - I'm an atheist. If someone decides to not treat me based on anything but the fact that treating me would be a waste of time, I'd be upset. Humanity exceeds all - it's not a right, it's a statement. (I am a trained emergency worker, by the way. Not that has much to do with anything, just thought I'd mention it. If I see someone in need, I am obligated, legally and morally, to provide assistance. I do not stop to ask which god they hold dear, nor do I ask which President they voted for. I merely provide assistance. How many times is a matter between me and those I have assisted.)

You would not have any freedom of expression without the US Constitution - and especially the Bill of Rights. See: America ain't so bad.

I don't understand your lawn service example.

The owners of the blog have a right to prohibit statements and people as they see fit. I've said that, in agreement with you.

A company that hosts blogs has no obligation to anything. They can say they want only Christian blogs, only Muslim blogs, only homophobic blogs. You conflate commercial demands, personal prejudice and blog hosting. Google is better than most, but that's simply because they're trying to not do evil. You contradict yourself with this example.

If a restaurant declines to serve you, because the owner has decided to host only one type of customer - are they infringing on your rights? Or is your demand that you be seated and served infringing upon theirs?

In closing, America is not a backward nation when it comes to freedom of expression. I take it you have not asked many Americans about this concept? You are not American, and clearly have not studied the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. You have not taken the time to understand what America is. And yet you feel free to insult it? You insult my wife, my adopted nation and me. I don't give a hoot if you insult me, but my wife? Oh, that I do care about. She's American, you see.

I have never, and I mean never, said that a person cannot identify any way they see fit. A person can identify as a grapefruit, for all I care! However, being people, their motives can be questioned. Such inquiry does not preclude their identification - it's simply being human. If someone wants to say "I am a woman", I'm perfectly happy with that. I might, and do, bring up the point about what a woman is, but aside of that: I really do not care. Ayn Rand would be proud!

I thought we were going to have a reasoned discussion about freedom of expression - I extended an invitation to Lisa, over on Questioning Transphobia to join in this discussion. (From the response, I'm guessing she declined.) Your arguments, frankly, need to be corralled. And you need to dwell less on the insult to America. I criticize Britain because I am British. I criticize Australia because I can. I do not insult either nation, or their peoples, or the principles they live under.

America, I will have you know, has the most advanced understanding of free expression in the world. It has it that since 1783. If you want a discussion, fine - but I will not respond to insults against my adopted nation. Please note, however, I do not say you cannot make them.

Let us restrict ourselves to freedom of expression, shall we?

Carolyn Ann

Battybattybats said...

Carloyn,
It's not insulting to say that legislatively Americas bill of rights are now archaic. When they were first codified they were state of the art, just as Magna Carta was when it was.

But since then a lot of understanding has been built on the notions of Enlightenment Egaliatarianism upon which modern democracy and human rights were founded.

I have no bias issues with America, I have cousins who are American and I hang out with Americans who currently work in Australia every week.

Zoe's blog is here http://aebrain.blogspot.com/ but I simply found it useful to quote myself from a comment on it as the point about police and doctors worked for this discussion too.

Where human rights come in? What is freedom of speech? What is a bill of rights? What was Magna Carta about? Early stages in our evolving understanding of human rights, which all descend as logical inevitabilities of concluding that people should be equal and free.

As for the us constitution giving me freedom of expression.. I got some news for you.

1. your bill of rights evolved from arguments of philosophers mostly from France and Scotland. Everyones rights descend from them.

2. The US constitution was but one of several key moments, the french revolution and the UK civil war were others.

3. i currently DON'T HAVE freedom of speech except a weak claim to free political speech at most. Cause my country is currently trying to get a bill of rights even though the contribution of my country was an important part of the drafting of the UN decleration!

Actually blog companies and individual bloggers do have obligations, ethical ones regardless of whether they are legal ones.

These obligations come hand in hand with rights. There is a mutual obligation to recognise and to defend the rights of others and for they to defend yours. This is neccessary to make ones own rights valid. And that extends to companies organisations and states.

"In closing, America is not a backward nation when it comes to freedom of expression."

It is falling further and further behind in a panoply of human rights issues.

"I take it you have not asked many Americans about this concept?"

Plenty actually.

"You are not American,"

True.

"and clearly have not studied the Constitution and the Bill of Rights."

Incorrect. I have studied it and in comparison to those of other nations and I've studied the PHILOSOPHY from which it stems! The latter is the most important.

"You have not taken the time to understand what America is."

You assume that based on what? I have a cousin in the FBI who joined it after being in the Texas Rangers. I had a closer cousin in the World Trade Centre (he lived but we didn't learn that for some time after, everyone he worked with died). Every week I hang out with friends who grew up in america who have joint citizenship.

"And yet you feel free to insult it?"

What insult? My country is no longer an international leader in human rights either! No country has a blightless record! The recent UN decleration against oppression of GLBT people? Neither of our countries jumped on board quickly but prevaricated till the end while other braver nations signed up.

Much of Europe has embarassed both our nations. If we don't like that (i know I don't) then the answer is not to complain about the fact5 but to try and get our nations off their fat posteriors and back into gear!

If anything claiming that our countries cannot validly be criticised for their horrifically slipping human rights record while other countries race ahead of us to legalise same sex marriage, ban sexuality and transgender discrimination etc etc etc, that is the greatest insult.. to our own intelligences!

My country was second to give women the vote, and yet it suspended it's racial equality legislation to take away indiginous peoples autonomy over their own lands to try and fix the horrific health crisis our own govenrments ineptitude created.

Yours legalised a form of torture that it prosecuted the Japanese for using on your own forces in WW2! And suspended Habeus Corpus which was part of the very foundation of the evolution of rights!

Nope, both our nations are definately backwards! We have to get our countries to catch up and retake the lead! Thats not an insult, our countries human rights abuses are the insult!

"You insult my wife, my adopted nation and me."

Nope. You and your wife are not your nation. And a truth is not an insult but a truth. Your country has slid far back when it comes to human rights. Fact. So has mine. Fact.

"Ayn Rand would be proud!"
Based on what? I've not bothered to read much of Ayn's writing.

"America, I will have you know, has the most advanced understanding of free expression in the world. It has it that since 1783."

It did in 1783. And for a long time afterwards. But what do you base your claim that it still remains the leader in human rights?

"If you want a discussion, fine - but I will not respond to insults against my adopted nation."

To be an insult you must show that it is untrue rather than what it is intended as, a statement of fact as far as I am aware.

My point was that the understanding of human rights, more than just free expression because rights relating to economic and social and work rights interact with that as the mall case you mention shows, in the USA is quite behind the highest understanding of human rights. The UN decleration is 60 years old, understanding of human rights has continued further than it on matters like the rights of women, of children, of indiginous peoples and sexuality and gender.

Yet much of the world, your and my nations both, are still vastly behind even this 60 year old set of universal fundamental human rights principles that both our nations were substantially the authors of!

The USA and Australia too cannot rest on it's laurels. nor can we claim to be at the forefront of rights when we are being overtaken by New Zealand, by a huge portion of Europe etc etc.

As for spellling blah blah blah... take a read around at some of the other posts I have here, like this one http://caveofrationality.blogspot.com/2009/01/chronic-ablism-pervaisive-throughout.html . I'm disabled and my disability effects my IQ and language skills and typing depending on the daily and even hourly variation of my symptoms.

Carolyn Ann said...

My apologies. I was not aware of your disabilities. I am glad your cousin made it out of the towers; that was quite a dreadful day.

At this point I am wondering if this exercise is worth either of our time?

I do not concede your point re America and sophisticated understandings of free speech. I refute it. I do not confuse the actions of an Administration with the principles of the 1st Amendment, and the debate that the American political system fosters, and indeed forces. The English civil war was not about freedom of expression; indeed, Cromwell proved that when he imposed a draconian, miserable, Puritan-ism on the rest of the nation. The French Revolution sort of had the rights to expression in there, but it mostly about a starving populace and an ignorant monarchy. After the revolution, dissenters were executed in their thousands in the Reign of Terror. Getting your head chopped off because you disagreed with Robespierre is not exactly encouraging freedom of expression! :-)

Ayn Rand is a favorite of libertarians, the world over. Her views are the polar opposite of contemporary thinkers such as Noam Chomsky. While I have a hard time reading her work, I do think she has something important to say about the rights and obligations of free men [etc].

Your views on the obligations within free speech seem to reflect Noam Chomsky's: he's the one who argued that a Confederate Flag should not be displayed by a student, because some might be offended by such a display. My views are more in a line with the Founding Fathers, the 1st Amendment and Ayn Rand. If the student can put the flag up, in their private quarters: then they can do so. Irregardless of the offense and even distress such a display might cause. I find the flag offensive, but I am not about to tell my neighbors to not display their flag. If the State puts the flag up, they can be stopped: the meaning of the flag is enough to prevent its publicly sponsored display. But private property rights ensure that no such prevention can be done for the individual.

Blogs have no obligations to anything. Except in places like China, there's no impediment to the blogger spouting anything at all. It's quite a bazaar, with the attendant cacophony. If you agree that a blog host must support a blog, then you *must* agree that QT must support my comments. The difference between demanding blog be hosted, and that a comment be given its due is merely one of scale.

Your position seems to be that offense cannot be given, because it is offensive. For instance, you seem to consider that it is okay for the QT silence my protest on their forum, and still be able to claim to support free speech - because my words are deemed offensive. There is no difference between that and the recent demand (in that same declaration of human rights you refer to) that Islam be respected as a religion. Apostasy is now against human rights. Which means... No one can criticize religion! I'm an atheist - I can, will and do criticize religion. The Christian right in America, and elsewhere, wants to silence gays, transsexuals, lesbians, bisexuals. They find the existence of these individuals offensive. It does no good to insist that they acknowledge your personal identity - they don't even acknowledge debates about gender! I find their opinions and words quite offensive - but I am not about to suggest that they be silenced because they are offensive! You don't fight prejudice by banning its expression: you fight prejudice with reason, and a great deal of hope. (The actual mechanical process is too complex to go into here; but protests, op-eds, influencing public opinion and so on all count.) Those Christians have as much right to their opinion as I do to my opinion that their dogma is prejudicial nonsense. We find each equally offensive - and as result neither can silence the other!

The right of free speech includes no obligation, no responsibility and certainly no restriction beyond the practical. (Shouting "fire" in a crowded theater to see the reaction, for example.) It does not contain any obligation to avoid giving offense; indeed, it is the right to cause offense that is among the many jewels of free speech!

We would not have the Suffragettes, racial equality, LGB equality (we've still got a long way to go on T equality) without the ability to cause offense.

Attempts to restrict free expression by imposing or conflating it with other rights are exactly that: restrictions. As such, they are antithetical to the very concept of free speech. I do not have to like what someone says, but I do have to support their right to say it. Because intrinsic to their right to offend, is my right to offend them. If you remove that right for them, by saying "you can't criticize this", you also remove from yourself the very same right. As Thomas Paine said: "He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from opposition; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach himself."

If you can't support that, then we are an at impasse, and will continue to go around in circles. If you support freedom of expression - you must support Paine's observation. You do not get free expression without it. In short: you have to support Paine's observation if you want to protest the way transgendered people are generally treated! You can't pick and choose when you'll support the right to say offensive things.

Who defines what is offensive, anyway? Do you want that responsibility? Do you want to impose some burden on whether anyone can find others offensive, for whatever reason? Do you, in short, demand the right to impose your will and/or opinion upon others? If you say yes - this discussion really can't go anywhere. If you say "in some circumstances", you are get into a dangerous spiral of censorship, and this discussion can't go anywhere. If you say no, you must support the any precedent that will reach to your own words, opinions and thoughts. You must support free expression without repressive demands on what can be uttered. Because someone, somewhere is all too willing to ensure you are silenced!

Carolyn Ann

PS I am leaving a discussion re the history of the Bill of Rights and The Constitution of the United States to another time. I hope this is acceptable?

Battybattybats said...

Apology accepted :)

The English Civil War was substantially about rights though, about the rejection of royal birthright and assertion of the rights of (some) men. The French Revolution degenerated through it's time of blood but rights were a major factor in the intial revolution. The reaction against Hobbes Leviathan, the works of Hume and Locke and Voltaire all had their impact beyond the nations where they were written.

It is the philosophy that is the key. The publications on the notions of the rights of man. These occurred accross many countries, some revolutions did better than others, America indeed lead the way in enshrining the rights of man into law at that time, but it did not come to those ideas in isolation but from philosophy argued around the world.

Ayn Rand appears to missunderstand Egalitarianism, to missunderstand the social contract. Enlightened self interest as an argument for charity makes some rational sense but her attempt to remodel the mutual benefits of participation in society and civilisation not as a right all citizens have access to the benefits of but instead as the mooching of the feeble selfish masses on the glorious achievements of uber menche is less rational.

It's nothing more than the same apology for the wealthy that Deepak Chopra and the like bandy, that because someone can accrue wealth that those who are unable to are to blame for that state.

"Your views on the obligations within free speech seem to reflect Noam Chomsky's: he's the one who argued that a Confederate Flag should not be displayed by a student, because some might be offended by such a display."

I know Chomsky more as a linguist than his politics. However how do you determine I'd agree with him? I certainly DISagree that in public space one group being merely offended is no reason to deny free speech.

Now if it were some sort of clear threat, say a banner or piece of grafitti saying 'kill all blacks' then that is a threat, an attempt to instill terror in a group of people. That is much closer to my line of where speech may possibly validly be acted upon. The knowing spreading of a lie about someone or something with the intent to cause harm to people.. thats the 'yelling fire in a crowded theatre' or 'libel' stuff, that too might be arguable as to be validly preventable.

But i have no idea where you get the idea that I'd support for a moment blocking free speech just because it upsets someone! After all anyone might be upset by anything. And as a Goth as well as Transgender I'm sure my daily appearance offends plenty.

You also seem to missunderstand my point about blogs. I was saying that a blog host has a duty to it's customers and so could not impose unfair restrictions on the speech of bloggers because it provides a commercial service (even most free ones are being paid for in advertising interactions etc and so is commercial).

The obligations of individual bloggers exist though as all individuals have obligations to respect the equal rights of all others in order to validly claim a right to their own. Without such then the validity of their own claim to free speech is nullified (perhaps it is more accurately the people who make use of their liberty without respecting the liberty of others who should be considered the moochers?).

And we could easilly argue that individual bloggers are bound by the tenants of Journalistic Ethics even if they are ignorant of those principles.

"Your position seems to be that offense cannot be given, because it is offensive. For instance, you seem to consider that it is okay for the QT silence my protest on their forum, and still be able to claim to support free speech - because my words are deemed offensive."

HUH? Not so! If they define free speech, as they have stated, as the right of individuals to not be censored by the state and to have their own accesss to media for that purpose then so long as the state does not censor you nor they support the state doing so and so long as you have the capacity to a blog of your own then their not supporting you making certain comments on their lawn, their patch of media is not interfering with your ability to express your views on your own.

Thats a matter of different definitions of free speech.

I don't see where your bringing the 'offensive' in. You mentioned a case where your court irratioanlly decided a business could interfere with the free speech of it's customers when it is ofensive and I called that nonsense, partly because 'offensive' is a purely subjective notion devoid of any objective measurable standard!

I'll quote what I said: "Oh, and while i recall, the other thing that makes the supreme courts decision moronic when it comes to banning an 'offensive' shirt is that as there is no clear objective definition of offensive"

"There is no difference between that and the recent demand (in that same declaration of human rights you refer to) that Islam be respected as a religion. Apostasy is now against human rights. Which means... No one can criticize religion! I'm an atheist - I can, will and do criticize religion. The Christian right in America, and elsewhere, wants to silence gays, transsexuals, lesbians, bisexuals."

That resolution by the UN was merely an abuse of democratic power. It is contrary to previously established human rights. It confers the rights that belong to an individual instead to an ideology. It is not a part of the 60 year old UN decleration nor the yogyakarta principles etc but a recent pile of nonsense.

Human Rights come from philosophical principles, UN votes merely attempt to place them into law. It is not the law which creates the rights. This vote was utterly (and obviously) contrary to Human Rights.

"The right of free speech includes no obligation, no responsibility and certainly no restriction beyond the practical. (Shouting "fire" in a crowded theater to see the reaction, for example.) It does not contain any obligation to avoid giving offense; indeed, it is the right to cause offense that is among the many jewels of free speech! "

All rights are bordered by other rights. Free speech is one of the least bordered however. As long as someone can look away, choose not to listen, walk away etc then it is hard to argue there is anything wrong about the speech, cornering someone so they cant escape and shouting at them with a megaphone is wrong as a form of assault removing a persons capacity to not consent to the experience not because of the free speech involved.

"We would not have the Suffragettes, racial equality, LGB equality (we've still got a long way to go on T equality) without the ability to cause offense."

I agree.. and it goes further! The violence of these and the revolutions that established rights and democracy means that it must always be considered valid that beyond civil disobediance but even violence causing death is an acceptable act when it is to assert equality when there are no other ways of ensuring that equality!

I don't reccomend it, but clearly law or other rights including even the right to life are not valid barriers to the unequal asserting their rights to equality!

"As Thomas Paine said: "He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from opposition; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach himself."

Indeed. It's one of the most vital of the responsibilities that are inevitable consequences of human rights. Hence why freedom of religion requires defence of the rights of Atheists and requires Secular government unbiased against any religion or in favour of any. It's a pity more people don't understand this principle.

Clearly you missread or missunderstood what I was saying when it comes to offense. Obligations too. Paine's definition of the obligation to defend the rights of even ones enemies backs my argument that bloggers are obliged to the rights of others as are all people, organisations and the state.

Carolyn Ann said...

I got the impression of your opinion from your writing. Your words in previous comments led me to believe that you held those views. I disagree with your hypothesis re Ayn Rand; but that is a discussion for another time.

I cannot support your argument that even violence is justified when it comes to gaining equality. I'm not a peacenik, but I am not an supporter of violent protest.

It would seem, ultimately we agree on many aspects of free speech. Except one... :-)

You state that as long as I have somewhere else to go, to voice my opinion - my right to state what is on my mind has not been infringed. I strongly disagree.

If the only option available for stating an opinion is to leave the discussion, then the parties in that discussion have forced me to quieten my opinion within their forum. It's that simple. Whether it is in their rights to do so is a different matter; we've already discussed that. It is hypocritical to claim that my right to freely express myself has not been infringed when I have been expressly ordered to not explore some important point. Demanding I seek another venue to express the banned opinion does infringe upon my immediate right to say what is on my mind.

It is an important point!

Here is my summary of how we got here: A blog known for posting and exploring controversial subjects, in an occasionally aggressive manner, posted a story about a violent, insane rapist who claimed to be a woman. The blog has a rule that claims of identity cannot be challenged. This rule is, apparently, even more absolute now than it was prior to my comments. Anyway, I was told, in a roundabout manner and then a manner more befitting a squabble among children, that I could not posit about the motives of this individual - because to do so would have led to an immediate question about that persons' personal identity. (It was my intention to raise the question about the felon's claim of identity.) It is revealed that this felon is a pathological liar, and a psychopath. Both of these must make you wonder if this person is not simply trying to manipulate a system in order to further his obvious hatred against women; remember: this is someone who has been locked up as insane for years! Rational thought is not something we can rely upon for his motivations. The fact that he is a violent two-times rapist, has been described as a psychopath, and is known to be a pathological liar should give pause, but they didn't.) But this cannot be raised as something of interest, because to do so would raise into the question the motivation and identity of the violent rapist. Which is not allowed, because the owners of the blog have a strict rule that claimed gender identity cannot be questioned.

Now - I raised this point. The blog in question is known, as I say, for posting about controversial subjects. I am not exactly a wilting daffodil when it comes to controversial subjects. I raise a perfectly valid point (if you don't think the point is valid, we should stop now) - and am told that in that forum I am not allowed to raise this point. This has the affect of rendering the entire discussion inane; it also removes any actual controversy, or discussion of what is an extremely controversial point, out of the way. And it prevents me from raising a valid question. But that is the choice of the blog owners.

The argument is that I have access to my own blog to make my point, and therefore my right to raise this point was not infringed.

That is, frankly, a particularly obnoxious strawman.

I am forced to exit the discussion to make my point? Doesn't that remove me from the audience that I want to raise this point with? It is infringing upon my right to raise that point if such action is barred by official decree. I am being instructed to not question something I think needs questioning. Am I being silenced, in that forum? Yes. Do I have another forum to go to? Sure. Does that make the silencing justifiable?

Now think of the people who live in nations that ban criticism of Islam. Sure, that person can criticize Islam - if they go to another country. The audience they might want discuss some aspect of Islam with are "protected" from their apostasy. They can be stoned or something for criticizing Islam. If someone wants to criticize Islam, they cannot - because it is barred within various forums.

So while my efforts were easier, and much less dangerous, the central point remains: within the QT forum, apostasy is defined as calling into question someone's claimed identity - regardless of credibility! The side affect of the absolute ban, in this case, is to make the blog owners look foolish, but the practical affect is to silence what is, in this case, a perfectly valid question. When discussing other people, it might not be a valid question. It might be, it might not be. I have explored a little of that topic, with fairly predictable invective in the comments. When it comes to people, absolute rules will end up making you look foolish. But in that one case, the absolute nature of the ban precluded meaningful discussion of an important point, within that forum. It was demanded that I not utter a particular apostasy. The owners of QT are perfectly within their rights to set such rules - but it is hypocritical to claim that my right to freely express myself was not infringed because I had somewhere else to voice my concerns!

The readers and commenters of QT lose out because the rule bans an entire arena of discussion - one that has value in this particular case. But to then claim, because I have another forum, and am forced to use that forum, that my immediate rights within the QT forum were not infringed? That is ludicrous, and it is the very definition of hypocrisy! The exit argument cannot be used to justify the loss of a right.

Whenever we ban some utterance, we restrict what can be said. Whether we are within our rights to do that is a different topic. But by no stretch of the imagination can someone ban an argument from being made, and then claim that no rights have been infringed!

I trust you can appreciate my point?

Carolyn Ann

Carolyn Ann said...

Well?

Battybattybats said...

All rights are restricted or restrained or made complex by other rights.

If I had a desire to murder my right to free action is bordered by the intended victims right to total somatic soveregnty and right to life etc.

In other words I cannot use my right to murder without the victims total free uncoerced informed sane consent, at which if such is possible it is not murder but assisted suicide.

So when your ability to speak with total freedom is curtailed in someones owned space it has merely met a natural border of rights. The right itself has not been infringed any more than a persons right to have sex is curtailed by others right to say no.

If your right to speech in a purely public space were curtailed that would be different. It would be a violation of your right.

But in a private space, even a publicly accessible one like a lawn or blog your speech/presence/participation exists by consent only which may be negotiated or bargained or restricted or withdrawn for any reason at all just like a sexual act.

Your right to speech is no more curtailed than your right to have sex is by the capacity of who you intend to have sex with saying no.

On a blog you have crossed spheres and are in anothers personal space, your speech exists via theirs.

Now as I said, the moderation does fly against the spirit of unrestrained speech but your right is not curtailed because your right to any speech on that forum in particular is only via consent which may validly be conditional.

Just like your right to act how you please is bordered by anothers right to consent to how you may interact with their body which may be restricted or conditional in any way they see fit. Just as yours are also.

It is in the understanding of the natural borders of interacting rights that the core of this issue appears to rest.

Battybattybats said...

"Well?"

Sigh, Carolyn, you asked for patience from me when it came to busy life. Please redress your double-standard.

I am disabled. I have to limit my computer activity as part of my symptom management or my condition will deteriorate rather than improve (notice how infrequently this blog gets posts?).

But even were that not the case you asked for patience from me for your capacity to devote time to this discussion.

You may wish to try some self-examination to search for and face such hypacracy and double-standards. They are near universal flaws, I have them too, but we are all logically duty-bound to attempt to minimise them as much as possible.

Carolyn Ann said...

"Now as I said, the moderation does fly against the spirit of unrestrained speech..."

YES! :-) You do understand what I am saying! The rest of your statement is a qualifier that we have already agreed to.

But my speech is not via, not through, them - not in any forum. It might be via someone if I used a spokesperson. But the owner of the space is not demanding that I speak via them - they are simply demanding that I restrict what I say.

You keep introducing analogies that have nothing to do with the central point. I suspect you're trying to make a point via example, but I have to advise you it doesn't do that - it simply distracts. I often do the same thing, and then I hone in on my central point.

I am versed in the assisted suicide arguments, but have no intention of engaging in a discussion about them.

Re the "Well?" - you annoyed me, greatly, with some words about cultural bias. I don't mean "I found your words mildly annoying". I mean "I found your words deeply offensive". I mean "your words had me seeing red!" The sentiment you expressed got me angry.

I have no idea of the extent of your disabilities, and am not about to pry. I wrote that plea for patience because I thought this would be a rapid-fire, not quite real-time debate. I am not, by the way, complaining about the pace of the discussion. I am simply describing what I initially thought. I am used to the pace on forums such as "mhb" (My Husband Betty), and another, private, forum I used to attend; these tend to be very fast, with much discussion between many individuals.

I am sure your words about cultural bias were not intended in the way they came across. But you should know that if you tell someone they have cultural bias, and that they can overcome it, you are effectively telling them a lot about yourself. Not exactly flattering things, either. But, mostly, you tell the accused that they are incapable of thinking for themselves, and that the culture they value is worthless; the implication being that your ideas about culture are superior. They might value their own culture very deeply; and the bias you say I could overcome? Isn't that merely being replaced by a different set of biases? That might or might not be "better", depending on how you define better?

Also, in my experience - especially with transgendered individuals - when an argument starts to go against them, they don't continue it, but simply stop. As in, their communications cease, totally. Not just within the discussion, but totally. This has happened to me quite a few times. Forgive me if I retained that suspicion with you; I'm sure it wasn't warranted, and I apologize.

Carolyn Ann

Battybattybats said...

"But my speech is not via, not through, them - not in any forum. It might be via someone if I used a spokesperson. But the owner of the space is not demanding that I speak via them - they are simply demanding that I restrict what I say."

Your speech is published via their media, hence it is via them.
They are placing a condition on continued agreement to publish your speech on their personal media which they have a right to do. You don't have a right to publish via their media without their consent conditional or otherwise.

"I am sure your words about cultural bias were not intended in the way they came across. But you should know that if you tell someone they have cultural bias, and that they can overcome it, you are effectively telling them a lot about yourself. Not exactly flattering things, either."

Huh? It says "I am not totally ignorant of anthropology and a host of other fields which all recognise that all people have cultural bias!"

"But, mostly, you tell the accused that they are incapable of thinking for themselves, and that the culture they value is worthless; the implication being that your ideas about culture are superior. They might value their own culture very deeply; "

Nope. All people develop cultural bias. All culture has value. We have a human right to culture and it's practices (and protection from being forced to undergo them too if we do not wish to!).

You seem to react to things you expect that I am saying but which I am not actually saying. I expect because of previous conversations. However this predictive ssumptions about what I mean when I say something is making you jump at shadows and get upset over perfectly reasonable and unoffensive things because of the baggage your assuming goes with what I said that is not in fact there.

Everyone has cultural biases and everyone can and is obliged to minimise the effect of said on rational thought.

"and the bias you say I could overcome? Isn't that merely being replaced by a different set of biases? That might or might not be "better", depending on how you define better?"

Rational thought, logic... they are not cultural biases. Despite many Asian and Islamic commentators recently trying to claim they are they are found a plenty in the works of ancient asian philosophers (I always enjoyed Lou Tzu) and the works of Plato Aristotle and Socrates have been a part of Islamic culture for century upon century.

"Also, in my experience - especially with transgendered individuals - when an argument starts to go against them, they don't continue it, but simply stop. As in, their communications cease, totally. Not just within the discussion, but totally. This has happened to me quite a few times. Forgive me if I retained that suspicion with you; I'm sure it wasn't warranted, and I apologize. "

Yeah I get that with lots of people too. Especially some of the most anti-transgender HBS advocates and the most anti-transsexual and anti-bi/anti-gay of the crossdressing community too.

I will be infrequent. You may hear nothing from me for days or even more at a time even (usually when I'm shopping or so unwell as to be unable to leave bed for more than food or bathroom). But Im one of those rare individuals that concede points or continue to contemplate and discuss rather than run away when my view is challenged.

Right now i have a Human Rights report that i had made submissions to and been involved in the community consultation on that I need to read and it's 66 pages long :)

Carolyn Ann said...

"general cultural biases related to the subject that indeed you appear to be holding, that's something I'm sure you can overcome"

From a comment you left on my blog. That's what I was referring to.

If all people have cultural bias (I agree on that), then even "rational thought" must have cultural bias. What is rational to a communist may be totally irrational to a capitalist. The distribution of wealth, for instance: a communist think equitable distribution is rational, logical and correct. A capitalist, such as myself, sees that as irrational, punishing and totally inequitable.

Basically, when I make it big, I do not want my rewards going to someone else. I perceive a need for a welfare state, but it's a matter of degree how much of my (potential) income is a fair contribution. (Having been in the position of earning a considerable sum, once upon a time, I have a sense that my opinion of what is a fair percentage differs from what many others might think it should be. I'm being rational, the people that want to steal my money aren't being. :-)

QT don't own the medium of their blog. They own the content. Google, and the various Internet transport facilities own the actual medium. It's an important point, but a pedantic one, too. :-)

Gotta go. Dinner time.

Carolyn Ann

Battybattybats said...

"If all people have cultural bias (I agree on that), then even "rational thought" must have cultural bias. What is rational to a communist may be totally irrational to a capitalist. The distribution of wealth, for instance: a communist think equitable distribution is rational, logical and correct. A capitalist, such as myself, sees that as irrational, punishing and totally inequitable."

Ah the old nonsense of ideology. Adherance to a strict ideology is irrational. It assumes something is true and then uses that notion as a filter through which to examine all other things. All such viewpoints need to be regularly reassessed. Doubt and rexamination is an intellectual virtue.

Any viewpoint needs to be tested constantly against contrary viewpoints and evidence and logic based not accepted by how well they sit with our feellings, personality or what we'd prefer to be the case.

Are you familiar with Rawls Veil Of Ignorance? You might find it usefull in reassessing your views.

"QT don't own the medium of their blog. They own the content. Google, and the various Internet transport facilities own the actual medium. It's an important point, but a pedantic one, too. :-)"

QT is the customer, like a renter of a property etc, while you are the guest. So nonetheless the rights demarcation does not seem to shift.

Carolyn Ann said...

Well it was nice debating with you, Battybattybats. You conceded my main point, and so the debate has ended. Thank you for the debate! :-)

I'm just not prepared to go on debating when continually assume I am incapable of thinking for myself, because my views don't match yours. Let me assure you - I am perfectly able to think for myself.

Sorry.

Carolyn Ann

Battybattybats said...

Now what point did I concede?
That your right to Free Speech was infringed? Nope because I have explained how it was not as it existed in this case under the border of anothers rights!

So no, your point was not conceded. And not it is YOU who is leaving the discussion? That is amusing.

And I never said you couldn't think for yourself. Nor did I assume it!

I simply KNOW, as for example someone who has studied 3 Unit HSC Mathematics KNOWS that someone who displays their KNOWLEDGE of a subject is at only a year-7 level KNOWS LESS THAN THEY DO!

Now that does not mean I am incapable of being wrong and you right on this subject (I and a friend once had to explain a simple piece of maths to our 5th grade teacher, she literally stated that 8 X 0 = 8! It took 30 minutes for us to convince her that 8 X 0 = 0 !!!)

So I can indeed be wrong. But you must be able to show WHY i am wrong not merely repeatedly assert it!

It does mean that there are large parts of the subject, arguments pro and con etc, that you don't know!

So if you need to retreat please go and read up on Rawls Veil of Ignorance regarding both ideology and social issues.

Please read up on the arguments that lead to the 60 years old recognition of Social and Economic Rights and others that are included in and have remained in the UN decleration on Universal Human Rights.

Put down the Ayn Rand for a few hours and read some Geoffrey Robinson!

And the Yogyakarta Principles!

Because there is a great deal of thought, of legal findings in the European Human Rights Courts etc that you have not considered in your exploration of the topic!

And when you have read them perhaps you will be able to tell me WHY I am wrong if I am wrong! Rather than jumping at straw-man shadows of what you incorrectly have assumed I have meant multiple times.

You have not shown why you have free speech rights WITHIN the QT comments! Only within your PUBLIC and YOUR private life. The QT comments section has been argued to not cover EITHER!

That is the crux of this whole issue! The argument is where the boundary between your rights and theirs sits!

I have argued via analogy (lawns) and via Human Rights Principle (other areas of boundaries including Somatic Sovereignty) that the vetting and conditional publication of comments on their blog is fully within THEIR sphere of rights and NOT yours.

You need to show that the boundary line sits elsewhere! Otherwise your rights have NOT been infringed, they merely have reached a point beyond which they naturally CANNOT EXTEND so long as Rights are based on Equality!

And I'm afarid that if you cannot show that my placement of that boundary is incorrect then it's QED and not I'm afraid in your favour!

Carolyn Ann said...

Hang on a tick!

I don't have to show anything. All I had to do was get you to concede one point: which you did in a statement I highlighted.

My point was simple, yours was, is and remains, complicated. Occam's Razor - I could stay to one line of thinking, you were all over the place! And now you're introducing something else I have to prove? Sorry - I'm not playing, anymore.

You promised to sway me - you have failed to do that. I thought it would be a good debate, and I thought I could persuade you. I did - you wrote down the point I was making as if it were your own. Which kind of proves that you acknowledge the point. Even if you later run away from it. (I am under no obligation to continuously prove anything.)

Not everything is complicated; indeed, I think the simpler something is, the better. I have no use for complex reasoning - it gets in the way of simply living. The older I get, the simpler I prefer things, to be frank.

I don't need to read anything; what I need to do is enjoy my life. That includes reading those books I find interesting.

Discussing free expression, with you, has been fun. But the discussion must come to an end - I have proven my point (whether you agree or not), you couldn't prove yours because it was too complex. (That's merely an observation.) Any further discussion is likely to go in circles; you trying to prove the unprovable, me asserting you'd already acquiesced the main point. (You did, you know!)

Anyway, it's nearly dinner time, here. It was nice "chatting" with you; I wish you well, and hope we maintain some sort of aether based connection; I'll leave you blog on my blogroll thingy. Because while I do no agree with a lot of your opinions, I do like your writing - and I find that staying within boundaries so limiting! No matter how expansive the boundary, eventually you come up to it. That's perhaps why I like simple explorations and explanations: fewer boundaries. I'm quite a simple person, at the end of the day. As I get older, I get simpler. I find it works for me! :-)

Carolyn Ann

Battybattybats said...

"All I had to do was get you to concede one point: which you did in a statement I highlighted."

WHICH statement? Highlighted where exactly? And how do you determine that concession is all thats needed to prove not just a single point but an entire argument to the point of it being irrefutable?

"My point was simple, yours was, is and remains, complicated. Occam's Razor"

ROFLMAO! You cannot seriously be that ignorant of philosophy! Your trying to bring Occams Razor into an argument on philosophy are you? I am literally laughing!

Seriously! Have you even looked at how complicated ANY attempt to prove there is even an objective shared reality is that does not rely on our recognisably flawed experience of a shared reality? Or attempts to prove we are genuinly coscious?
You think that a tool of naturalistic methodology that often fails in many fields of science whenever a complex system is being explored becuase not all mechanisms involved have been identified to be taken into account is going to win you an argument on philosophy?

Considered Cosmology much? The simplistic version of the Occams Razor argument makes all sorts of trouble when arguments whether there is heaps of Dark Matter and Dark Energy we only know about because of gaps in the maths exist or whether there are other unknowns that explain why things don't add up have to be considered!

The trouble with Occams Razor is its usually missunderstood.

It states that the simplest of two theories is most often the correct one PROVIDED that each adequetly explains the phenomens TAKING INTO ACCOUNT all known particulars variables and associated phenomena laws rules and principles already knowingly associated with the phenomena attempting to be explained!

Your trying to say that your argument is right because it is shorter even though it ignores KNOWN PARTICULARS. Thats like trying to argue for an advanced theory of the mechanism of Gravity that ignores all of Quantum Physics!

It's as great an EPIC FAIL as the argument that putting ones hand in sunlight doesn't imediatly hurt then sunlight doesn't cause any harm ever! Cold comfort to those dying of Prolonged Exposure Ultraviolet Caused Melenomas is it? Cause by your version of Occams Razor IT CANT BE CAUSED BY SUN EXPOSURE CAUSE ITS TOO COMPLICATED TO TAKE INTO ACCOUNT ULTRAVIOLET PARTS OF THE SPECTRUM AND ITS PROPENSITY TO DAMAGE DNA IN SKIN CELLS OR TH NOTION OF BRINGING LONG-TERM EXPOSURE INTO THINGS CAUSE THATS ALL SO INTRODUCING SOMETHING ELSE AND MAKING THINGS TOO COMPLICATED SO YOUR SIMPLE 'IT DOESNT HURT SO IT DOESNT DO DAMGE' ARGUMENT MUST BE TRUE MUSTN'T IT?

Wow! That really is embarassing for you... but it looks like your intent to dig deeper...

"I could stay to one line of thinking, you were all over the place!"

I'm taking into account known associated and connected parts of the subject. You know INTERRELATED things. It's like discussing evolution with someone who argues that as cats and dogs dont produce viable offspring there can't be common ancestors and any mention of the word Genes is somehow 'all over the place'! Your argument really is that bad!

"And now you're introducing something else I have to prove?"

No, I'm merely explaining something better on a clear-headed day. It's not introducing anything cause in fact it's been mentioned before (the whole lawn analogy and discussion of who has rights where refined to a simpler purer explanation. Get it now?)

"Sorry - I'm not playing, anymore."

Thats all you are doing, playing at an intellectual conversation. Dabbling and trying to assert yourself ina field you know next to nothing about and then storming off in a huff with pretense of victory!

And the worst proof of this is coming...

"You promised to sway me - you have failed to do that."

If you could even follow half the disscussion let alone enter into honest discussion you might have. Unfortunately you argue from ignorance, for ignorance in the best tradition of religious dogmatism.

"I thought it would be a good debate, and I thought I could persuade you. I did - you wrote down the point I was making as if it were your own."

It was my own. You seem incapable of understanding that there is a difference between the spirit of free discussion and the right to freedom of speech. One is to engage in a particular kind of free speech (to act in the spirit of free discussion) and the other is one of a set of mutualy interdependant liberties with concurrent responsibilities based on an assumption of equality of liberty.

One can use ones RIGHT to free speech to engage in speech THAT IS CONTRARY to the SPIRIT of free discourse.

But I guess thats all too complicated for you huh?

"Which kind of proves that you acknowledge the point. Even if you later run away from it."

Nope. It shows that that not only do I understand the reasoning that lead you to such an erroneous conclusion as you hold but I see where it is wrong and why. Going further, understanding more, seeing how the truth may be counter-intuitive but inescapable when you have a greater level of understanding is not 'running away'. You are the one running away! Running away from knowing enough, from understanding enough, from rocking your own little boat.

"(I am under no obligation to continuously prove anything.)"

Oh you didn't just say that did you? $#!^ I had no idea you were so ignorant of logic, of reasoning, of cogent intellectual argument let alone debate!

Sheesh girl I was laughing and mocking my opponents for that canard of logic in PRIMARY SCHOOL debates and arguments! IF you are to prove you are right THEN logicly you can and must be able to refute my argument BY showing that the boundary I describe does NOT sit there OR does not exist. IF you CANNOT, THEN my point and argument STANDS and IF you WILL NOT, THEN it suggests you CANNOT and you look stupid.

Any other argument, including your abuse of Occams Razor is merely one or another of the classical logical fallacies.

"Not everything is complicated; indeed, I think the simpler something is, the better. I have no use for complex reasoning - it gets in the way of simply living. The older I get, the simpler I prefer things, to be frank."

You know, I got that argument from a Catholic Monk once :) Maybe you should take up religion because your arguments have the same illogic and esperate claims or the value of ignorance in them.

"I don't need to read anything; what I need to do is enjoy my life. That includes reading those books I find interesting."

OH. MY. GOTH. You just argued not just for igniring reality that is complex but you actually went THERE! You just argued In FAVOUR Of IGNORANCE!

You just gave the "I don't have to read it to know it's an evil book that should be burned'" argument! You gave the "I don't need to read Darwin to know God made us as Adam and Eve and not monkeys" argument!

That is soooo embarrassing for you! I'm feelling embarassed on your behalf even! Heck! I can't believe you are arguing that you can form any kind of intelligent rational and valid argument or opinion when arguing not from just ordianry ignorance but WILLFULL ignorance!

You remind me of the guy who claimed powered flight was impossible AFTER the Wright brothers had flown. Or the guy who, commenting on claims of the existence of meteorites said (quoting from memory) "Rocks cannot fall out of the sky because there are no rocks in the sky"

"Discussing free expression, with you, has been fun. But the discussion must come to an end - I have proven my point (whether you agree or not),"

ROFLMAO! You clearly don't even know what a PROOF in argument IS! You proved nothing and then have gone on to destroy any credibility any opinion of yours can have with arguments for not just extreme over-simplification ignoring all sense and reason but actually ARGUING FOR WILLFULL IGNORANCE!

If anything you've proved how desperately your education system has failed you!

"you couldn't prove yours because it was too complex."

Yeah, sooo complex. Complex like the most basic interaction of the Laws of Thermodynamics. Complex like considering Kin Selection in evolutionary biology (try explaining the evolution of Ants Bees and Termites without it!).

Just cause an argument may be too complex for you to easilly grasp (Wow studying Kant or Satre might make your head literally explode like the Frog that lived in the well when he saw the ocean in the Tibetan parable!) doesn't mean its not proven, just that you are having difficulty understanding the proof. I doubt your incapable of understanding it (though developing senility or having an undiagnosed cognitive disability is always possible) but it seems your unwilling to go to the effort of understanding my argument.

Relativity, Quantum Physics, Molecular Chemistry, Black Holes, Nuclear Fusion, Immunology, Aerodynamics especially the way bumblebees wings generate lift... wow if you discard as proven every proof that is complex you end up in a luddite world of pure idiocy.

"(That's merely an observation.)"

No, it's an embarassment on you. What's next from you girl, an argument for Creationism?

"Any further discussion is likely to go in circles; you trying to prove the unprovable, me asserting you'd already acquiesced the main point. (You did, you know!)"

Nope. You missunderstand what I actually said, like so many things you have missunderstood in our discussion.

The argument wont go anywhere because you dont appear willing to actually handle any sort of intellectual riguer or to be able to cope with new ideas or information! You are being dogmatic. You yourself are going against the spirit of free discourse by choosing to ignore an argument because its 'too complex' or read anything because having to temper your opinion by considering new ideas migh upset your 'enjoyment'.

"Anyway, it's nearly dinner time, here. It was nice "chatting" with you; I wish you well, and hope we maintain some sort of aether based connection; I'll leave you blog on my blogroll thingy."

By all means drop by again. :) I'm sure at some point we'll be looking back on this conversation and laughing embarassed and you won't be able to believe you ever said what you have. It won't be the first time friends of mine have done that.

"Because while I do no agree with a lot of your opinions, I do like your writing"

Thanks.

" - and I find that staying within boundaries so limiting! No matter how expansive the boundary, eventually you come up to it."

True.

"That's perhaps why I like simple explorations and explanations: fewer boundaries."

Thing is that all levels of life are complex ystems built from simple mechanisms. The astounding and brain-aching complexity of an ecosystem comes from very simple evolutionary mechanisms.

When you really grasp iy my argument about the interaction of rights works from a simple mechanism, it's consequences are complex but the initial mechanism is simple.

"I'm quite a simple person, at the end of the day. As I get older, I get simpler. I find it works for me! :-)"

But truly understanding reality requires grasping its complexity. And our responsibilities in decision making, to ourselves and to others, doesn't grant us the luxury of imposing false simplicity over everything.. not if we give a damn about Ethics at any rate. Or about holding valid opinions.

Remember just because everyone is entitled to hold their own opinion it doesn't make every opinion equally true.

Carolyn Ann said...

Shrug.

Have a nice life.

Carolyn Ann