Tobold's Blog
Friday, October 26, 2012
Freedom of speech

Freedom of speech is a hot subject recently, with the Reddit vs. Gawker meltdown. Rowan Blaze wrote a very good post about the subject in view of MMO blog moderation. I very much liked the part where he pointed out the discrepancy of Reddit claiming that freedom of speech should cover borderline child porn, but not give freedom to "dox" (give the real name) the poster of said child porn.

Freedom of speech is *not* absolute. Even in America there are laws against free speech in certain conditions, for example if that free speech causes a "public nuisance". If you think you can parade in front of your neighbors house with a megaphone and tell the world what an asshole your neighbor is, the law will quickly teach you the limits of your free speech.

That matter is somewhat complicated on the internet by the factor of anonymity. On the one side anonymity should be a fundamental right on the internet as long as it serves only to protect privacy. There is no reason why your boss should have a right to see what you do during your weekend. There is no reason why everybody playing WoW should be able to see the real names of everybody else playing that game. But there need to be mechanisms which allow law enforcement to get past that public anonymity. Crimes permitted via the internet, be it money laundering, cyber bullying, child porn, or theft of intellectual property should not be less punishable than the same crimes committed by other forms of communication.

But as Rowan said, moderation of game forums or blogs are not only about freedom of speech. They are also about the right to associate with like-minded people. If you are of the opinion that I suck, you have the freedom of speech to express that opinion on your own blog. Your "you suck" comment on my blog does not enjoy protection from being deleted. "You suck" is not a valid contribution to a discussion, and can be deleted without taking away from that discussion. Blocking people makes the world a better place. The rights of the community on a forum or blog or social network to discuss an issue beats the right of somebody who wants to derail or disturb that discussion.

Actually you could probably hang out in front of your neighbors house with a megaphone in America, especially if you thought he was an asshole because of his political beliefs. There's a reason why the Westboro Church bozos get to protest even though 99.99% of the country thinks they are total assholes.

That said, revealing the real name of a person doing things you don't like is just fair play.
After generations of talk about free speech when it really didn't exist, the internet has provided us with anonymity and globalization. Free speech is a reality now which has upset the status quo, which of course makes plenty of folks in establishment upset.

What I find funny is the offense so many take from the vile 5% of humanity that have always existed, but now have a voice. Personally, I want to hear the voices of everyone, no matter how shocking or upsetting those voices may be. We can only begin to understand humanity once it is being participated in by every one of us.

Most cities in the US have noise laws. They might be aloud to do it during the middle of the day but would have to stop 10pm to 8am or something similar.

There can also be neighborhood associations with their own noise rules that prevent such a thing entirely.

These laws pretty much only apply to residential areas though, so that church would be able to protest near businesses and rural areas. For example, downtown city streets or just outside someone's private farm property.
"..."You suck" is not a valid contribution to a discussion, and can be deleted without taking away from that discussion...."

Who gets to decide this? Where is the line between what speech can be squelched and what cannot? Those with the power to determine this can effectively direct the narrative of the conversation if it ventures into areas that are not in their favor.

I say let it all out there and let people sort it out. How can one's opinion be swayed if they are not allowed to be part of the discussion to begin with?
@Degrin That's part of my point in my post. If you want to let whoever say whatever on your blog, go ahead. The administrator of the online venue is who gets to decide what is pertinent to the discussion, not the guests, who in turn are free to leave and post elswhere. There's no legal body requiring or denying anyone's freedom of speech.

And thank you, Tobold. I take back all those things I said about you. ;)
No one's claiming that freedom of speech should not cover doxxing. It's just that doxxing is scumbaggery, and as such Reddit is protesting against it.
"I say let it all out there and let people sort it out."
A more accurate phrasing would be:
"Let it all out there and force people to sort through all manner of useless noise and lies to get to the truth buried somewhere in there."
Actually no - no one will punish you if you tell truths about your neighbor loud in public space. He may sue you for defamation, but chances are he will lose. If you are on a private property its not that clear.

If the law enforcement can use something, they will abuse said something. Check the gradual erosion of the 4th amendment in the US.

But hey - every freedom is worth sacrificing so middle age white republicans can be protected from the bogyman of the day.

I am from eastern europe - i know what happens when we had laws like that you desire. It was not fun.
no one will punish you if you tell truths about your neighbor loud in public space

They will if you cause a "public nuisance". Check the law before making false statements.
"If the law enforcement can use something, they will abuse said something."
Which is exactly why I've always said that we should get rid of laws and law enforcement. Then no one will ever do anything bad because as we all know, laws don't and shouldn't protect us from anything.
Freedom of Speech is a tricky and much misunderstood concept. Freedom of Speech has nothing to do with interaction with other private entities(individuals or corporations); First Amendment rights are all about impingement from the government, and then only restrictive on content. As evidenced by noise ordinances(to borrow your example, try that at midnight and see how fast the police ask you to cease violating said ordinance), the government is allowed to place *reasonable* limits on the manner and place and time in which you exercise your rights, to insure that you are not impinging on the rights of another.

So, to sum up, if you, Tobold, censor a comment, that's not impinging freedom of speech. It's your blog, you can do whatever the hell you want. But if I go and legally post a sign in my yard, or buy billboard space, or an ad on TV giving my opinion? Game on, and the government, by and large, can't say squat about it.
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