I agree completely. But this might allow people with really objectionable views to keep to the platform by going to the edge of what’s permissible and no farther. And that’s really my point: there’s a certain tradeoff to having a functional communications platform and a certain amount of objectionable speech will have to be tolerated for consistent moderation to have a chance.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Stalinist here. But I can’t imagine one would persist for terribly long. Either way, I just want to clarify myself that I don’t think codes of conduct are inherently impossible, just that they are naturally slippery and it behooves their builders to put railings.
That’s always going to happen, but on a platform like this it’s a really tiny number – less than eight at any one time. And in my experience here even they usually get banned because someone who constantly goes to the edge eventually trips up, so there’s turnover.
For example, there was one notoriously toxic troll here who kept that up for years in service to an ugly white nationalist agenda (a definite touch of “wehraboo” in that one – one of those collector types, if you get my drift). Clever and slimy and superficially polite, never quite coming out and saying it, but obvious to anyone who’s had experience with that kind of “respectable and reasonable” racist sleazeball.
But when he slipped up (as bigots always do) he got banned quickly. He’s back under another name, circumventing his ban (presumably using an IP proxy), but he has to be a lot more circumspect and stretch his BS to the point of absurdity in a way he wasn’t before in order to stay away from the edge – so much so that he can’t effectively push his agenda anymore.
I got into it here a long time ago (pre-Discourse) here with a supporter of International ANSWER, but they’re rare for a reason. One of those reasons is that there are railing and surface traction here. A code of conduct has to be supported by trained and committed moderators and well-designed technology features. If you have all three (as we have here) that slope isn’t very slippery; if you don’t (e.g. Facebook, Twitter) then slippery slopes are the least of your problems.
Free speech is a multi-trillion dollar industry. Both free speech absolutism and moderation and censorship are all controlled by the elite. It doesn’t make rational sense to say that one is superior to another because it means the elites don’t control it.
Dunno about ‘the elites.’ It’s too loaded a term nowadays to really use.
But while the powerful, being powerful, have an outsized influence on all of life’s spheres because that’s what power is, I contend that certain patterns of society facilitate the powerless reclaiming some of their birthright and others preclude it. Freedoms of speech, association, and the like are of the former type and censorship is of the latter. Or such is my contention, at any rate.
Except you don’t have any measured proof to your claim, you just feel it is right. At the same time you are saying this we all know that the powerful funded fascists in Italy and Nazis in Germany to use populist outcry against the powerful to ally with them - only for the fascists and Nazis to eventually overthrough the powerful and take that seat.
You are right there is no sphere where the powerful don’t rule - especially as inequality grows in industrialized nations. But there’s no reason whatsoever to say that allowing all speech gives more power to the people.
If speech is restricted, that speech which is pleasing to the powerful will be heard. If speech is unrestricted all messages will be heard. It might be spoken over, it might have to dwell in the margins, but we live in a time where technology can amplify individual voices far beyond anything possible before.
These voices aren’t necessarily ones you agree with or voices for good because being powerless is no guarantee of virtue, but that’s a different sort of problem. The wilderness of ideas is a dangerous place but it makes a better future possible. A manicured, safe garden of pure ideology is a guarantee of stasis.
You say that the fascists ill-used the confidence of the people and were tools of the powerful. And you are not wrong. But was not the movement for an eight-hour day not populist? For union? For universal suffrage? The civil rights movement? Were these not populist movements that made full use of what free speech they had? Was not socialism and anti-war sentiment in America gutted by denying the right to free speech to Eugene V. Debs?
And my position was never all speech. My position is not unlike that of @gracchus: minimally restricted, maximally transparent, maximally consistent. Clear boundaries, known to all ahead of time, enforced with impartiality.
UDHR, ICESCR, and ICCPR define standards.
Basic human rights are non-negotiable and self-evident. If you want to change that, on a platform, said platform should show you the door. And if you don’t leave by yourself after that door is shown, you need a shove.
You are arguing on an general basis about specific cases. The thing is, there is a standard for general cases. The specific cases are more complicated. But that is where due process comes in.
I’m not critiquing your plan. I think that a rule of “Must not advocate human rights being taken away from any group.” is a pretty fine rule. I’m just trying to point out that this leaves a lot of people with objectionable opinions on the right side of such a filter and that that’s something we have to live with.
Because you can’t reasonably expect to be granted a right where you’ll get to decide what gets censored. The best you can hope for is to get the right for highly limited, transparent censorship. You want this, I suggest, even though it may give aid and comfort to assholes because it will also protect your right to activism and allow you a chance, a slim chance to change the world.
Let’s stick to the term you suggested and speak of a standard. Basic human rights are this standard. You can have one ore many opinions about that. You can also voice those opinions. As soon your voice argues that basic human rights are not for everyone, everywhere, at any time, it attacks the basic fundamentals of humanity.
This cannot be tolerated and thus I can kick you out of my platform.
Also, society can devise laws based on basic human rights and base law which forbids voicing specific opinions in public. Those laws can be challenging, but more importantly can be challenged (cf. side remark “due process”). Society has to re-establish the basis of those laws over and over again.
I don’t want to upset you, but I read your text above as a “what about the difficulties, they are so difficult that we’ll better not touch those”.
There are standards. We have to fight for these. And this includes that some opinions (in the public sphere) are not just your opinion, but a crime.
You misunderstand me, badly. This wasn’t an argument against your standard as too difficult. It was an argument… well not against so much as about your standard as possibly construed as too lenient. As in, a lot of people might see it as not enough.
There’s, for instance, lots of varieties of racism that don’t threaten anyone’s rights in any visible way. What do you do about those?
As for your idea of criminalizing speech broadly, I am against it. I have yet to see a state I’d trust with this kind of power. Things which lead to immediate harm and which can be defined in a completely unambiguous manner only. Anything with any space for leeway will be abused. Hell, sometimes the lack of any leeway is no obstacle, as in the case of Debs.
From the context of the comment, which discusses paths to fascism and Nazism, I read @emo_pinata as specifically referencing right-wing populism*. Given that this form of populism inevitably involves one or more forms of discriminatory “Othering” based on immutable characteristics (e.g. xenophobia, ultra-nationalism, racism, anti-Semitism, “traditional-values” sexism, etc.) there really is no place for its advocacy on reputable platforms. In contrast to left-wing populism (such as that of Debs), historically such movements lead to a very limited number of outcomes for society, all of them bad and all which end up depriving the people (as a whole) of power – including freedom of speech.
Credit where credit is due: what I was describing was essentially BB BBS’s position on the matter in both doctrine and practise.
The varieties of racism being discussed are those that are part of a political programme or ideology; as such they by definition threaten some group’s rights in an explicit way. What you do about that speech is de-platform it and “show it the door” (same goes for the supposedly innocuous varieties of racism, whatever they are).
Some countries take it a step further and criminalise it as “hate speech”. In terms of outcomes of that policy, it seems to have worked: Germany, despite the recent resurgence of right-wing populism there as elsewhere in the West, is generally regarded as a last bastion of liberal democracy; the U.S., despite a more liberal approach to free speech, not so much.
[* populism, unqualified by a descriptor, is more a methodology than an ideology]
I wasn’t making a statement about populism at all, it’s about how the powerful leverage enforcement that all ideas are equal combined with astroturfing to amplify fringe right-wing movements (who lie in order to draw in disenfranchised crowds that are drawn to left-wing populist movements) that then become allies of the waning political and corporate power. That isn’t saying populism is flawed, that’s saying that treating any assholes’ bigotry as something to be protected provides a direct line for the powerful to further attack the people.
I wasn’t going to reply since we were at the stage of repeating the same unsubstantiated ideals as objectively the right thing while then attributing the ideal of freedom of speech protecting several important populist movements - which is extremely arguable since the SCOTUS rules against each of those movements at various times and it required constitutional amendments for sufferage and the civil rights act to stand.
Not only that, organizations that have taken the stance that they will protect all speech as taking a step back after the policies have not exactly worked out and there isn’t an internal consensus. To just brush all that aside by maintaining that there is only one clear choice in the matter is absurd.