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Free speech

 
 
Reply Mon 26 Nov, 2007 06:13 am
is in the news

I think fascists should be heard. What do you think?

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/11/26/noxford126.xml
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Type: Discussion • Score: 0 • Views: 1,314 • Replies: 21
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fresco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Nov, 2007 11:12 am
The problem here is that venue "matters".

The place for fascist "free speech" is on a soap box at Speakers Corner...not as an "act" at one of the world's foremost centres of intellect.
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McTag
 
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Reply Mon 26 Nov, 2007 11:22 am
I agree with fresco.

These people are not being denied free speech at the moment, but the Oxford Union in its wisdom has decided to give them a platform, and thereby publicity which they could not dream of buying.

This strikes me as a stupid mistake.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Nov, 2007 11:23 am
Fascists, or anyone else, ought to have the right of free speech up to, but never beyond the point of soliciting to criminal acts. To that extent, the venue does not matter. If an institution of "higher education" does in fact provide its devotees a sufficiently broad view of the world and humanity to make well-informed judgments of the value of someone's speech, it will suffer no harm from suffering fools and villains.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Nov, 2007 11:27 am
This gentleman makes my point:

Quote:
Luke Tryl, the union's president, insisted his aim was not to attract publicity but to defeat fascism with "liberal, informed debate". "I believe their own publicity will destroy them - they will implode."
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McTag
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Nov, 2007 11:34 am
Well...the irritating thing about these people is that most of what they would like to say (according to their websites, literature and previous pronouncements) is illegal in this country so they deliver a sanitized version in public.

Secret filming in a BNP meeting shows their true colours. They are violent racist scum, and they give a focus and a voice to others among our citizenry who may be similarly inclined.

I wouldn't invite them into MY home, nor debating society. It is obviously important not to make martyrs of them by banning them, and insofar as they obey the law, they are tolerated. But I don't think the Oxford Union has distinguished itself over this.
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Steve 41oo
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Nov, 2007 11:58 am
Well of course the motion (the exact wording of which I dont know) is not about "fascism" or extreme views as such, but whether people with extreme views should be allowed to air them.

At the same time no one is advocating absolute free speech. You cant shout fire in a crowded theatre just for the hell of it. And there are laws against using words which incite criminal behaviour or hatred towards a racial or ethnic group. (quite right too imo).

But within those constraints, if we cant tolerate someone expressing a sincerely held view which we actually find abhorent, what value is there in words like democracy or freedom of expression?
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fresco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Nov, 2007 12:16 pm
Respondents might note that if they Google "Luke Tryl" they will come up with a lot of background information regarding pro- and anti-zionist sub-texts with respect to previous cancelled debates. This situation needs to be assessed in the wider context.
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McTag
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Nov, 2007 01:48 pm
Steve 41oo wrote:
Well of course the motion (the exact wording of which I dont know) is not about "fascism" or extreme views as such, but whether people with extreme views should be allowed to air them.

At the same time no one is advocating absolute free speech. You cant shout fire in a crowded theatre just for the hell of it. And there are laws against using words which incite criminal behaviour or hatred towards a racial or ethnic group. (quite right too imo).

But within those constraints, if we cant tolerate someone expressing a sincerely held view which we actually find abhorent, what value is there in words like democracy or freedom of expression?



That man has a right to pee down my leg so that I can engage him in a debate, and explain to him why it is not right for him to pee down my leg.

Then he will accept the rightness and reasonableness of my position.
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Steve 41oo
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Nov, 2007 02:02 pm
but he doesnt have the right to piss down your leg. That would be assault.

nor does he have the right to incite others to piss on McLeg. That would be incitement.

freedom of expression is not absolute.
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McTag
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Nov, 2007 02:16 pm
Steve 41oo wrote:
but he doesnt have the right to piss down your leg. That would be assault.

nor does he have the right to incite others to piss on McLeg. That would be incitement.

freedom of expression is not absolute.


Yes it was a McAttempt at irony. I don't think we disagree about any of this.

I agree with the opinions expressed on the meeja tonight in opposing this, that the Union has used the "freedom of speech" argument cynically to create a volatile situation and gain publicity, to show what a tolerant liberal the Union President is.

They know what opinions these guys have. They are discredited morally in respect of their violent and racist views, and factually in respect of their Holocaust denial. What then is the purpose of the debate?

Who will pay for the policing? If heads are broken, who will take the blame?
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Chumly
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Nov, 2007 02:20 pm
1) At what point does the venue for the expression become germane?

2) If we limit the circumstances to the verbal, and we exclude the "clear and present danger" rule then where does that leave us?

TV commercials?
Newspapers?
Websites?
Public speaking?
Political Parties?
Door to door canvasing?
Public mailings?

3) Given man's history how likely is "informed debate" to succeed over prejudice and ignorance?

4) All we need is an economic down-turn or scarcity of a pivotal resource, what then of "informed debate" ?
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McTag
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Nov, 2007 04:11 pm
So. They didn't get to hold the debate, because of mass anti-fascist protests.

So now these scum are "martyrs" being denied free speech. It's a lose-lose situation which could have been predicted. No credit to the Union committee.
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Chumly
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Nov, 2007 04:46 pm
If they are "martyrs" being denied free speech shouldn't the power of "informed debate" succeed over prejudice and ignorance given time?

How can it be a "lose-lose situation" if the power of "informed debate" supersedes prejudice and ignorance given time?

Shirley "informed debate" is not the sole province of this Union committee, and thus any consequential effects of this Union committee's decision as to denying them, must be taken in an overall context.
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tinygiraffe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Nov, 2007 05:47 pm
this could have all been avoided by giving them the two minutes and thirty seconds they deserved.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Nov, 2007 06:23 pm
fresco wrote:
Respondents might note that if they Google "Luke Tryl" they will come up with a lot of background information regarding pro- and anti-zionist sub-texts with respect to previous cancelled debates. This situation needs to be assessed in the wider context.


I bow to your more detailed knowledge in that particular circumstance. That does not alter my assertion that if the institution in question is functioning as intended, allowing such crackpots to expose themselves publicly does no one a disservice, except possibly the idiots in question.
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fresco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Nov, 2007 01:24 am
Setanta,

There is a difference between "allowing" and "inviting".

The anticipated argument was that conviction for the offense of "inciting hatred" constitutes a denial of "free speech". The Oxford Union debased itself by entertaining ( :wink: ) such a simplistic argument.
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McTag
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Nov, 2007 03:25 am
Yes, the Oxford Union invited the two most controversial figures in British political life (who each have different agendas, btw) to address the union and participate in a debate, both on the same evening.

It looks more like a publicity stunt than anything, done to get the union officers on the front page of the national newspapers.
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Steve 41oo
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Nov, 2007 04:44 am
McTag wrote:
Steve 41oo wrote:
but he doesnt have the right to piss down your leg. That would be assault.

nor does he have the right to incite others to piss on McLeg. That would be incitement.

freedom of expression is not absolute.


Yes it was a McAttempt at irony.
Sorry temporary McIrony lapse on my behalf.

I bin thunking about this.

First thunk was that it was all pretty simple. You can say what you like within the law. Second thunk was that the boundary of legality must lie at incitement to criminal behaviour. Third thunk was that although I might find what they say ludicrous or factually incorrect or just objectionable, what if I'm the only one in the crowd who does so? Haven't I been a little over generous in allowing them a platform, if, without breaking the law, they win over masses of people to their ridiculous wrong-headed ideas?
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McTag
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Nov, 2007 07:06 am
I don't know about that, but the point whch matters to me is that they will not show their true colours. They only put up spokespeople who will keep within the law. Ther true agenda you can glean from their literature and rabble-rousing tactics at football matches etc.
(Talking about the BNP here, not David Irving. He's already served time for his views)

A genteel invitation to a debate at an old university only serves to help them clean up or enhance their image. But they should not have been invited there. The leopard does not change his spots, and you can't polish a turd.

Actually they managed to have a fragmented debate last night after all, in two venues, and so it's a lose-lose-lose situation for the would-be liberal plonkers who issued the invitations.
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