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"absolute free speech"

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  • "absolute free speech"

    I have recently had a very brief exchange on another board concerning the concept of "absolute free speech" and its potential consequences.

    My example was Julius Streicher whom some of you may know was the the founder and editor of the Nazi anti-Semitic weekly newspaper Der Stürmer. The crude anti-Jewish invective regularly published in that newspaper provided a means by which Hitler's persecutory racial policies could be disseminated to a wider audience and helped in initiating the Nürnberg Laws of 1935.

    In 1940, following scandals concerning his finances and private life, Streicher was eventually disgraced and stripped of his party posts. He was confined to his estate in Bavaria and its environs for the rest of the war but continued to serve as the editor of the newspaper because of the personal protection he received from Hitler.

    At Nürnberg following the war Streicher was convicted of crimes against humanity because of the part his paper had played in fomenting and encouraging the anti-Semitism that ultimately led to the Holocaust. He was hanged in 1946.

    My question therefore was did Streicher deserve to die merely for employing his "right" to "absolute free speech"?

    One correspondent disagreed with the Allies' verdict and considers that Streicher should not have been executed. That same correspondent also held to the view that newspapers like Der Stürmer should be freely available to purchase in today's America, albeit with perhaps a cautionary warning.

    The wider reaching ethical question therefore surrounds the notion of "absolute free speech" and its potential consequences.

    To place the issue in a contemporary setting, should a vlogger/blogger who uses the internet or cable channel to repeatedly express hatred, promulgate lies, and employs violent imagery and language against a specific group of people, be completely exonerated if members of his/her audience take it upon themselves to put his/her comments into effect?

    Or should that individual bear the responsibility for actively encouraging attitudes that led to those actions?



    "It ain't necessarily so
    The things that you're liable
    To read in the Bible
    It ain't necessarily so
    ."

    Sportin' Life
    Porgy & Bess, DuBose Heyward, George & Ira Gershwin

  • #2
    The devil is in the details. I don't know of a single jurisdiction that allows 'incitement to violence,' so it is all a matter of defining incitement.

    I'm not familiar enough with Streicher to know if his writings were incitement. If he wrote "Rise up and kill these people," then that would qualify. If he wrote "These people are inferior and shouldn't be tolerated," then that would not.

    Comment


    • #3
      Can you define what you mean by "absolute" and "free" and "speech?"

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Sparko View Post
        Can you define what you mean by "absolute" and "free" and "speech?"

        Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbnueb2OI4o&t=3s

        Comment


        • #5
          Ronson highlights an interesting point----What is the purpose of "free" speech? If we can determine that, then we can determine if intent falls into those parameters or not? ---and with that, the degree of rights/responsibility a "speech" is to be judged....?....

          Is the purpose of free speech to benefit society/humanity? or to harm it? ---the Ethics of free speech must begin with this?

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by siam View Post
            Ronson highlights an interesting point----What is the purpose of "free" speech? If we can determine that, then we can determine if intent falls into those parameters or not? ---and with that, the degree of rights/responsibility a "speech" is to be judged....?....

            Is the purpose of free speech to benefit society/humanity? or to harm it? ---the Ethics of free speech must begin with this?
            The purpose of free speech has to do with allowing individuals or groups the right to express their opinion, not with whether or not it is a "benefit" (now there's a nebulous word in this context) society/humanity.

            I'm always still in trouble again

            "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
            "Overall I would rate the withdrawal from Afghanistan as by far the best thing Biden's done" --Starlight
            "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Ronson View Post
              The devil is in the details. I don't know of a single jurisdiction that allows 'incitement to violence,' so it is all a matter of defining incitement.
              That is certainly correct when dealing with legislation. However, there is also an ethical dimension. Can a person write or say what they like without recognising there may be consequences?

              Originally posted by Ronson View Post
              I'm not familiar enough with Streicher to know if his writings were incitement. If he wrote "Rise up and kill these people," then that would qualify. If he wrote "These people are inferior and shouldn't be tolerated," then that would not.
              As you have noted, where is the line to be drawn defining incitement?

              Streicher’s weekly newspaper had been entirely devoted to rousing racial hatred and during the Nazi era became one of the most widely circulated in Germany. His trial was because of his virulent anti-Semitism and it was argued that while he played no part in the Holocaust [others did that] he had greatly assisted in preparing the ground.
              "It ain't necessarily so
              The things that you're liable
              To read in the Bible
              It ain't necessarily so
              ."

              Sportin' Life
              Porgy & Bess, DuBose Heyward, George & Ira Gershwin

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by siam View Post
                Ronson highlights an interesting point----What is the purpose of "free" speech? If we can determine that, then we can determine if intent falls into those parameters or not? ---and with that, the degree of rights/responsibility a "speech" is to be judged....?....

                Is the purpose of free speech to benefit society/humanity? or to harm it? ---the Ethics of free speech must begin with this?
                I entirely agree that there is an ethical dimension when considering the right to "absolute free speech".
                "It ain't necessarily so
                The things that you're liable
                To read in the Bible
                It ain't necessarily so
                ."

                Sportin' Life
                Porgy & Bess, DuBose Heyward, George & Ira Gershwin

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by rogue06 View Post
                  The purpose of free speech has to do with allowing individuals or groups the right to express their opinion, not with whether or not it is a "benefit" (now there's a nebulous word in this context) society/humanity.
                  You would defend Julius Streicher and Nazi propaganda then?
                  "It ain't necessarily so
                  The things that you're liable
                  To read in the Bible
                  It ain't necessarily so
                  ."

                  Sportin' Life
                  Porgy & Bess, DuBose Heyward, George & Ira Gershwin

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Hypatia_Alexandria View Post

                    You would defend Julius Streicher and Nazi propaganda then?
                    If someone tells others to go out and murder someone that is no more protected than a mob boss instructing his underlings to go out and kill someone.

                    I'm always still in trouble again

                    "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
                    "Overall I would rate the withdrawal from Afghanistan as by far the best thing Biden's done" --Starlight
                    "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I would defend the right of radical pro-vax people to say that vax-hesitant people like me don't deserve to live. I do not believe they should face any consequences for that sort of speech.

                      If a radical pro-vax person directly participated in making actual plans to kill me or persons like me, I view that differently.
                      Geislerminian Antinomian Kenotic Charispneumaticostal Gender Mutualist-Egalitarian.

                      Beige Nationalist.

                      "Everybody is somebody's heretic."

                      Social Justice is usually the opposite of actual justice.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by NorrinRadd View Post
                        I would defend the right of radical pro-vax people to say that vax-hesitant people like me don't deserve to live. I do not believe they should face any consequences for that sort of speech.

                        If a radical pro-vax person directly participated in making actual plans to kill me or persons like me, I view that differently.
                        How far would you be prepared to take your anti-vaccination stance?

                        Assuming a licensed vaccine had been developed, would you refuse it if the Marburg virus appeared in your country? Or would you take let nature take its course?
                        "It ain't necessarily so
                        The things that you're liable
                        To read in the Bible
                        It ain't necessarily so
                        ."

                        Sportin' Life
                        Porgy & Bess, DuBose Heyward, George & Ira Gershwin

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Hypatia_Alexandria View Post

                          You would defend Julius Streicher and Nazi propaganda then?
                          Yep, and that is exactly what we did here in the US. As long as you are not inciting to violence.

                          In its full review of the case, the Illinois Supreme Court focused on the First Amendment implications of the display of the swastika. Skokie attorneys argued that for Holocaust survivors, seeing the swastika was like being physically attacked. The state Supreme Court rejected that argument, ruling that display of the swastika is a symbolic form of free speech entitled to First Amendment protections and determined that the swastika itself did not constitute "fighting words". Its ruling allowed the National Socialist Party of America to march.

                          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nation...0law%20classes.
                          Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

                          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbnueb2OI4o&t=3s

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by rogue06 View Post
                            If someone tells others to go out and murder someone that is no more protected than a mob boss instructing his underlings to go out and kill someone.
                            The Nazi propaganda never categorically endorsed the murder of Jews and nor did Streicher.

                            All they employed were words and images, which according to you is the purpose of free speech "The purpose of free speech has to do with allowing individuals or groups the right to express their opinion, not with whether or not it is a "benefit" (now there's a nebulous word in this context) society/humanity."
                            "It ain't necessarily so
                            The things that you're liable
                            To read in the Bible
                            It ain't necessarily so
                            ."

                            Sportin' Life
                            Porgy & Bess, DuBose Heyward, George & Ira Gershwin

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Hypatia_Alexandria View Post

                              How far would you be prepared to take your anti-vaccination stance?

                              Assuming a licensed vaccine had been developed, would you refuse it if the Marburg virus appeared in your country? Or would you take let nature take its course?
                              For the sarcastically impaired the following is said in jest

                              The people of Marburg aren't a disease! Calling it that is nothing but racism!!
                              smiley hair-fire.gif


                              I'm always still in trouble again

                              "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
                              "Overall I would rate the withdrawal from Afghanistan as by far the best thing Biden's done" --Starlight
                              "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

                              Comment

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