Free Speech & Political Correctness

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    Posted: 28 June 2001 08:53 AM #16

    This is a very interesting discussion so far.  I love the free speech advocates that have shown up especially.  HOM, your comments are outstanding, especially (pardon the frequent use of that word) the part of about not giving power to slurs, insults, etc.

    I have a lot of thoughts on this subject, but little time at this moment.

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  • Posted: 28 June 2001 12:15 PM #17

    Ricky,
    I feel much the same way you do. I started to write it earlier but deleted it because it sounded too harsh, rather than conveying how I really felt.  I have always been taught that a racial slur is something that you never use, for any reason, as the implications are just too hateful.

    That said, his use of the “n” word was on the lighter end of the scale as far as actually saying something bad.  As I said earlier, I think the firing was too strong a reaction, particularly since he didn’t talk to you about changing it first.

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    Moof!

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  • Posted: 28 June 2001 02:18 PM #18

    Hey all,

    The thing with banning language is that it removes the thing that the word represents. At least, that is what some authorities try to tell us. If I don’t know the word for having underage sexual congress with my daughter, that will stop me doing it ! - yeah right…

    What actually happens is that we lose the ability to articulate our thoughts on the subject…so we become opinionated and ignorant…all in the name of political correctness…you know that they banned Santa Claus from a school district (in Kansas I think) because it was an anagram of satan !

    Teachers have been taken to court because they discussed incest with their pupils - that is, the pupil comes to the teacher and says “Hey teach, you seem cool, and I have a problem”...the teacher says “What problem is that” and then all hell breaks loose…all because the Christian Coalition in the state took over and banned *discussion* of sexual matters with minors (ummm, what about DOING it though ?)...you have to wonder why the right is so concerned with propriety, don’t you

    We have to be able to say what we think, and be allowed to explain if there is a misunderstanding. Until then, the loudest voice wins…

    “Freedom of speech, just watch what you say…”

    Elias.
    You only have the rights you defend in others

         
  • Posted: 28 June 2001 04:45 PM #19

    I am an unashamed conservative in virtually every regard and I am a Christian, but having said that I don’t believe that I am considered extreme by my peers.  I strongly believe that most social programs are best handled by communities, not governments.  I also strongly believe that the government has no business deciding what I can or can’t think or say.  It’s up to those around me to tell me that I’m a insensitive, intolerant, arrogant jerk, and I expect them to do so if it’s true.  I also expect those around me to let me know when I’m engaged in self-destructive behavior.  I’ll do the same in return.

    Does that mean I believe that virtually anything goes?  Of course not.  There are things that are anti-social at their very core.  Murder, rape, and theft are some obvious examples.  The only question here is where to draw the line and yet preserve as much of our blood-won freedoms as we can.  Spoken and written words, however distasteful or offensive they may be, are clearly protected in the United States.  Hatred, provided it doesn’t manifest itself in anti-social behaviors like those I already mentioned, is not illegal, no matter how respulsive!

    The problem is not that you or I think this or that is offensive.  I can deal with that myself, and without being anti-social.

    It’s not that society considers some words “bad” and other words “acceptable”.  Society can handle that just fine, and to a large degree it does.

    Unfortunately, some people try to legislate these things—these protected words, thoughts, and ideas—hence the phrase “political correctness”.  They do it in the name of being sensitive.  They do it because we can’t protect ourselves from (other) insensitive, intolerant, arrogant jerks.  They do it to “protect” us from ourselvesThat, friends, is the real problem.

    —scott

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    —scott

         
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    Posted: 28 June 2001 05:01 PM #20

    Well said, Scott!

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  • Posted: 28 June 2001 07:50 PM #21

    Moore’s is not a bad article, although it’s too short to really sink its teeth into the issue.  There is one thing he says, however, that I don’t agree with:

    I think that Mr. Soylinka is correct in his suggestion that it is still only a loudmouth minority of nincompoops who subscribe wholeheartedly to the political correctness religion. As he notes, “The hallowed community of thought and creativity on that occasion appeared to be divided mainly in two: a minority of notional sophisticates who espoused the now ‘politically correct’ view on Salman Rushdie with nothing short of religious fervour, and—two—the rest, who had been cowed, literally bludgeoned into submission.

    The real problem is that political correctness is not the only enemy here.  There are several movements which spring from different social agendas and which, unfortunately, all seek to compromise freedom of speech.

    There are, of course, the “politically correct,” the academics, who have succeeded in creating an orthodoxy of stale Leninism, seasoned with the bitter railings of reactionary Europeans against the Enlightenment.  They are obsessed with their own convoluted semantic inventions, and intolerant of anyone who does not accept them uncritically.  As my mother has written in one of her essays , “the more tortuous our locutions, the more blood in our streets.” But try telling them that…

    Then there are those social conservatives bent on repressing anything that flaunts conventions like decorum, decency, blasphemy and “traditional values.”

    There is also business, which has little (and increasingly, less) regard for anything it can’t exploit.  Businesses tend not to want “their” ideas discussed freely, or even known, and they only want their contributions to enter the public discourse if they can find a way to control that discourse, and/or translate it into money.  Marketing people obsess about trademarks and “corporate image,” which frowns upon parodies and criticism - two of the pillars of free speech - as well as anything else which is outside the company’s control; and they “encourage” editors to publish articles that identify problems, so that the company can publish a solution or an expression of concern alongside it.  Software EULAs now try to tell people that they can’t write and publish independent reviews of the products they’re buying.  Fair use is being obliterated under the guise of a war on piracy.

    Our president commented, after unsuccessfully trying to shut down a page parodying his campaign, that “there should be limits” to freedom of speech.  This is, of course, exactly why freedom of speech protects parody: The people who most need to be on the receiving end (those in power, not just Bush in particular) tend not to like being on the receiving end.  So we have to watch for the politicians as well.

    And so here we are.  Freedom of speech is under assault from all sides, because by its nature it refuses to be bent to the interests of any one side, and because it puts the general weal above any individual, corporate or governmental interest.  The upside of this is that I’ve found resistance springing up on all sides, as well.  For example, Charles Moore’s political beliefs are, in general, utterly different from mine, but we can agree that the attempts to chip away at our most important right are monstrous.

     

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    James

    Dystopia, n: A utopia, in practice.

         
  • Posted: 28 June 2001 09:17 PM #22

    I don’t wanna be a poet
    cuz I don’t wanna blow it.
    I don’t care to win awards.

    All I wanna do is dance,
    and play music, sex romance.
    Try my best to never get bored.

    Prince, “Dance, Music, Sex, Romance”

    Wow.

    I don’t know what to say. Other than “thanks” to every body. I can’t remembereveryone’s names, but I will say this in attempt:

    To David Nelson and Ricky: I apologize if parts of my writing offends you. I have a lot that I want to say, and sometimes, the best way to say it is with “offensive” words. Sure, part of it is to get attention. The other part is because I don’t want you to ignore what I’m saying. “Offensive”-speak, to me, is a verbal way of grabbing you by the collar.

    To Tim Robertson: hey, if Bryan doesn’t print it (I sent it to him yesterday), I’ll give it to you.

    To LowEndDan: Dan, like I told Redhawk on the phone the other night, I respect you, Bryan, and Tim. You are the few Mac web people I know who have honor. I should count John H. Farr in there, but he is just insane You and Tim have stood by me when the rest of the Mac web world pooped on me (can I say “poop”? Okay.). I am indebted to you.

    My goal isn’t to say everything laced with cuss words. My goal is to stretch this Mac thing beyond and above, to show that there are lots of universal… uh, things that can relate to: race, sex, political correctness, psychology, love, boogers…

    Cognac41: I don’t want your ISP to dump you

    One parting shot: I believe that the market should decide the fate of articles like mine that was axed. If an article (or a writer) generates ZERO hits and catalyzes no discussion on topic(s) addressed therein, then the article and/or the writer should be cut.

    Unfortunately, this dot com downturn and a few vocal readers are creating a fear of anything that is even remotely offensive. When it comes to free speech, it seems that the tail will always be wagging the proverbial dog. What ever happened to “Think Different”?

    Furthermore, maybe my writings (or all writings, for that matter) should carry some type of rating, like movies. Or articles of sensitive nature should carry some prefatory comment, like, “Editor’s note: this article/column, due to the nature of the language and ideas expressed herein, may be offensive to some readers. We recommend that you do not read any further if you are easily offended. The Mac Observer believes in freedom of expression, within limits. Therefore, we believe that the following article has merit and conveys ideas that should be allowed expression. If you are offended after reading further, please do not write us in complaint, since you have just been warned explicitly.”

    I don’t know. Jes’ ramblin’ here…

    Finally: what we need are more web sites that are more serious versions of The Onion

    As Jack Nicholson said in “Batman,” “this town needs an enema!”

    Rodney O. Lain,
    in the public eye… and irritating it!

     

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    <font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: iBrotha on 2001-06-29 02:17 ]</font>

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  • Posted: 28 June 2001 09:41 PM #23

    iBrotha wrote:

    Furthermore, maybe my writings (or all writings, for that matter) should carry some type of rating, like movies.

    There’s already a net ratings system out there.  I’m not sure of the name off-hand, but you submit the URL, they look at the content and spit back a rating that you add to the page.

    It appeared during the great panic after Congress said “regulate yourselves or be regulated” to the net.companies and it seems to have lost a lot of its urgency after Congress moved on to other things.

    Anyway, sorry to hear that you got sacked from AppleLinks.  I’d thought better of them, considering that they offer a senior position to a (wonderfully) loose cannon like Farr, but people can surprise.

    I’d offer to let you write for my site, but I don’t have one.

     

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    James

    Dystopia, n: A utopia, in practice.

         
  • Posted: 29 June 2001 01:11 AM #24

    iBrotha,
    I am not personally offended by your language, but I would assert that your feelings could still be effectively articulated while avoiding words that people will find objectionable. 

    Thanks for your replies.

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    Moof!

    <font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: David Nelson on 2001-06-29 04:13 ]</font>

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    Posted: 29 June 2001 01:15 AM #25

    I think Rodney makes his point very eloquently.  It may be in part that I don’t give labels too much power (as we discussed above), but I think that Rodney is able to effectively paint an entire vista with his use of just one or two words.  There are some who might attempt to use the same language as the iBrotha, but for Rodney it just works.

    Kind of like the Mac… 

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    The Mac Observer

    Microsoft’s tyranny lies not in their success, but in the way they achieved and maintain that success.

    <font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Bryan on 2001-06-29 04:16 ]</font>

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    Editor - The Mac Observer

    Favorite (but less relevant than it used to be) Quote: Microsoft’s tyranny lies not in its success, but in the way it achieved and maintains that success.

         
  • Posted: 29 June 2001 08:16 AM #26

    What offends me with political correctness is that you can’t say things the way they are - with pure honesty - anymore. If you dare to say the truth, you’re likely to pay for it. Go against what’s accepted as politically correct and speech-policing people will want to censor you or ostracize you.

    When people want to sanitize the world by eradicating the truth or simply words, they’re trying to create their little perfect world where nobody gets to do or say anything that’s not totally under their control. I HATE that. Hate it.


    Munger

         
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    Posted: 29 June 2001 08:20 AM #27

    To deny reality is irrational.

    Many of the politically correct seem to feel that their desires and wishes will somehow cause something to be, and that too is irrational.

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    Editor - The Mac Observer

    Favorite (but less relevant than it used to be) Quote: Microsoft’s tyranny lies not in its success, but in the way it achieved and maintains that success.

         
  • Posted: 29 June 2001 09:04 AM #28

    This entire discusion reminds me of the story a few months ago when a person in one of the executive agencies used “niggardly” in one of his speeches. Instantly there was a call for him to be fired even though the word has NOTHING to do with race at all.

    As for “free speech”, you and I do not have a right to free speech, but rather the government has no right to limit speech. “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech…” That is what the first amendments says. The entire Bill of Rights is not a list of things that we can do, but what the government cannot do. Unfortunatly most people don’t know or care about this. Alexander Hamilton in Federalist 84 argued that this would happen. Speech is not free, it is expensive. The question is are we willing to pay the price?

         
  • Posted: 29 June 2001 01:41 PM #29

    On 2001-06-29 12:04, HOM wrote:
    er Hamilton in Federalist 84 argued that this would happen. Speech is not free, it is expensive. The question is are we willing to pay the price?

    I am. In spades.

    Thank you, sir. May I have another?

     

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  • Posted: 30 June 2001 01:28 PM #30

    Well, at my school all the black guys call each other “nigger” anyways, so I guess it can’t be THAT offensive. But I believe we should be able to say what we want, whether it is insulting another race, another sex, gays, baptists, jews or anyone else. I also believe the same of segragation and hiring practices. I probably wouldn’t go to a restaurant that banned a certain group from eating anyways, and no one else would either. I am not saying we should ban people from eating at our restaurant or run around screaming vulgar language about certain groups, but we should have the right to do it.