Freeze Peach 🍑 (USA)


Unfortunately, sometimes words are all we have to make things better/enact social change, and as people have proven throughout history, sometimes words are all you need.


I would really like to hear examples of this where protection of free speech was an important factor. I’m not asking to be argumentative, I won’t try to pick the examples apart or argue with them. I just want to know what convinced you that laws protecting free speech have accomplished so much.

In case it matters, I’m already convinced that governments should only make laws if they have a good reason to believe the burden of those laws is outweighed by the good done by those laws, what I’m not convinced of is that freedom of speech deserves special recognition beyond that general principle.


I want to know what convinced you they haven’t.


It’s never just words, though, it’s also actions, often violent actions, that help make change.


I usually believe in causal relationships only if I see evidence of them, rather than assuming they exist unless I see evidence that they don’t.

I’m being genuine, but at the same time I obviously haven’t done my homework. I will re-read the entire thread to see if there are specific examples where someone talks about good that was accomplished because of free speech laws (as opposed to because of speech, which happens both with and without free speech laws).

ETA: Not a single example in the thread, I’m not retreading old ground.


For a modern day equivalent, compare Richard Spencer at University of Florida to Anita Sarkeesian a few years ago at Utah State. Because of a Supreme Court ruling on the “heckler’s veto” Florida spent $600k to provide security so one Nazi could talk to a handful of people (because they were afraid if they didn’t the Nazis would end up suing them and using up even more of their money since this is an intentional strategy of Nazis to harm public institutions). Utah could not provide adequate security to Sarkeesian so the “hecklers” got their veto in that case.

Despite the many claims that the first amendment doesn’t give you the right to a platform, it just gave a Nazi a right to have a half million dollars dropped to give him a platform (and when it comes to what the amendment means, the supreme court’s opinion is the only opinion that counts). Of course if you are a woman says unsupportive things about popular videogames then it doesn’t mean you get a platform.



As long as you realize it.

This is of course an entirely subjective opinion. As pure anecdote, I’ve seen people convinced of different opinions by the words, written or spoken, of others. You are of course welcome to believe that the ideas of people are fixed in stone and unchangeable, but history does in fact show otherwise. A rather obvious example being that it was once assumed to be true that humans owning other humans was perfectly fine.

Not sure if you mean this to sound like schadenfreude or not.

Thats a bit hard to unpack. Could you clarify so I don’t sassume your meaning?


I asked @M_dub in particular (but really, I’m asking anyone) what convinced them that freedom of speech laws were powerful tools for good. I was asked what convinced me they were not. I think that question makes a strange assumption about where the burden of proof is. I’m not going to assume without evidence that a law is doing good and hold that view until someone can show me proof it isn’t.

I realize that this sounds like I’m being argumentative or trying to set some kind of rhetorical trap. That’s why I specifically said I was not asking to argue with the examples (and if someone gives examples, I actually will not argue with any of them or nitpick any of them). But there’s nothing I can do to actually make someone on the other end of the internet think I’m interested because I’m genuinely curious. I’m not even sure if you believe that there are intelligent people in the world who genuinely don’t think free speech laws accomplish the things that they are assumed to accomplish (there are obviously authoritarians who don’t like what free speech laws are assumed to accomplish, that’s a different thing).

The reason I want examples is because I’ve never heard any. I know of plenty of examples where I believe protest has made a difference, but in all cases I can think of that protest was actively opposed by the government and protesters protested at risk of being brutalized or imprisoned. This was done over and over in places where there was no protection for free speech (everywhere, most of human history) and also in places where free speech law existed but discrimination or deference to authority meant it wasn’t applied.

Also, I responded as I did because I didn’t want to repeat my very lengthy post, just a few posts above, in it’s entirety. The one that apparently was completely dismissed because it had one line that rubbed them the wrong way. (To be fair, if it was dismissed because it was entirely unconvincing, that’s fine. If someone responds to a post saying, “There’s nothing in that post that is convincing to me at all.” that’s their fair assessment of what I said. Maybe that’s precisely what @M_dub was doing, which is why I proceeded to try to engage rather than to shut down.)

I get that if someone read something they find condescending they may become emotionally triggered and shut down to actually listening to the point. I get that if someone reads something they find condescending they may take that as an excuse to not have to engage with the rest of the point. I personally find the “If we make laws against speech we don’t like then they will make laws against speech we do like” argument to be condescending. As if I’d be here arguing the point I’m arguing without already being aware of that argument - basically the argument that anyone I’ve ever expressed this view to would have made?

But no one takes the time to instead say, “You obviously don’t think defending free speech is a high priority, how do you answer the commonly held belief that by creating a law outlawing some form of speech you will be opening the door to create laws outlawing other forms of speech?” Phrasing it like that would not be assuming I was arguing from ignorance and it would also allow the proposition to be engaged with, whereas saying, “Okay, so outlaw speech you don’t like” focuses on people’s emotional responses and tries to shut down the conversation.

But people raising that argument don’t necessarily mean to be condescending, it’s just that in their minds people arguing the other side must be unaware of incredibly common and basic arguments. Maybe they find the arguments emotionally powerful to them so they think of the arguments as “important” rather than “common”. I didn’t mean to condescend by bringing up Dr. Phil, it was a dig at myself. But I realize I can’t indulge in being myself because it’s my responsibility to manage everyone’s emotions. And if that sounded condescending or sarcastic that just shows the massive gulf in how I am approaching this conversation and how you are.

Arguing for the status quo means you have no skin in the game, you don’t have to do any work because if the argument devolves into a pointless shouting match (or the protest devolves into violence) you prevail. So I don’t expect anyone who believes in current free speech laws to put any genuine effort in. Just like I didn’t expect anyone in the gamergate days to answer my genuine questions about what they wants out of the effort. But I ask because there’s a chance, and because I’d actually like to walk away from the conversation having learned something.

I don’t mean by that that I haven’t learned anything by reading this thread. If someone asked me if they should read this thread, I’d recommend the entire discussion (I believe instigated by you) about whether hate speech laws do any good.


When I was much younger, I honestly had no idea that there could be such things as lesse majesty laws in existence in the 20th century. Lo and behold, here we are in the 21st century ad not only do they still exist on the books in a number of countries but they are actively used.

As a youth growing up in the US, I simply assumed it was in fact self evident that freedom of speech is in fact naturally understood as a good and reasonable thing. As a child I didnt understand the connection between freedom of speech and freedom of religion. As I’ve made clear in this thread, as an adult I do in fact value that connection. Similarly whenever the topic of atheism comes up I’ve made clear my support for those anywhere in the world wish to express their disbelief. Note that expression of those words in some states is against the law. I also had no idea that such laws existed when I was a youth.

Freedom of the press is generally understood as connected to freedom of speech as well. Learning of the value of the writings of Thomas Paine (who did after all persuade many people to change their minds on important things) seems to also support the idea that freedom of speech matters. Woodward & Goldstein for that matter as well. Same for Marcus Garvey, Theodore Hertzl, etc.

Essentially I went from assuming such as natural on all counts to understanding the value simply by looking and learning of the world as is and as was.

I believe I addressed the first part above, but switching the burden of proof, that is to say since you seemed to write at length that you did not find freedom of speech to be all that important, its not so strange at all to wonder why you expressed such.

You need proof that laws against murder, theft, rape, etc. is doing good?

This seems odd to me.

Regarding most of human history, here we are addressing an idea that has enjoyed legal protection for less than 300 years. A drop in the bucket of human history. Furthermore the idea being at the constitutional or equivalent (such as Basic Law) rather than being protected at a lower legal level is in fact rare amongst the nations now in 2017. Discounting such as you seem to do here does what exactly?

Were it to come from someone not known to be a reasonable and clear thinking user or one of the more commonly known America hating users, I might have assumed it to be trolling in the classical sense. In your case it just came as a surprise but, no it did not convince me despite reading it twice.

In the following paragraph you bring up something entirely new compared to before. Before you weren’t addressing the “some kids of speech are OK but not others” point. Since you didnt seem to be talking about that in the previous long post, it seems not at all unusual that no one would bring that up as a reply.

I don’t think I agree, at least in the sense where I recently find myself as Jew arguing for the rights of neo-Nazis to speak in public and so on where the status quo is freedom of speech.



A self-proclaimed Jewish person arguing for the “rights” of nazis (there’s nothing neo about them, it’s the same ideology). The people of Skokie would be proud of you, I’m sure. You support the defense of the murder of your people, and yes, by supporting the “rights” of nazis, you have taken that step. Giving a platform to hatred is support of the platform.

Society functions by the will of the people. If the will of the people is to allow hatred to be perpetuated, even without explicit support, the support is still there. Allowing the existence of the disease instead of taking active steps to remove the disease is the same thing. We see this in the “debate” over removing statues celebrating the Confederacy that were put up decades after the fact by anti-civil rights activists; ignorant racists wish to continue to celebrate racist history, and gutless free speech advocates (with a hefty helping of outright white supremacists wrapping themselves in the Bill of Rights) supporting their continued placement in the public space.

Hate speech is violence. It is incitement to commit crimes, which is against the law of all societies. “Jews and blacks are not human” is no different than “we should all break into this car and steal it”. Even if the person who says it does not take part in the act, they are still complicit. Siding with hate speech versus denying its right to exist puts you on the same side. Arguing that hate speech is legal, with no other support, merely says it’s wrong, but it’s allowed, so it’s okay. Legality is the last refuge of a failed argument.


Self proclaimed to the point where it has been leveled against me here on the BBS that I talk too much about it and another Jew went as far here as to call me a kapo on this very topic. A self proclaimed Stiff Necked Red Sea Pedestrian, thats me.

And as for the rest of your post, your accusations and venom don’t shame me and don’t persuade me, especially since I can’t tell from your posting history that you have any skin in the game regarding hate speech yourself. You also don’t seem to have read my previous comments so why should I reply to your charges against me?


I could explain why I think we should have laws against murder, theft and rape. There are laws I would tell you I think are bad and others that I’d say that I don’t know one way or the other. But my default position for a law is “I don’t really know”.

But I can say why I’m concerned about the harms being done be free speech laws so I might as well. In the US I think that Citizens United is pure insanity that is very damaging to the country (though my argument against it has nothing to do with free speech, it’s still a consequence of what I see as excessive deference to free speech). Hobby Lobby was just stupid. Those are US decisions and I don’t live in the US, but Canadian culture is very influenced by US culture, and the way people talk about free speech here is impacted by the way people talk about it in the US, so I’m concerned about this in my own backyard.

Most recently, the University of Florida feeling it had to spend $600k to allow one Nazi to speak to a handful of people is just mind-boggling. Even defenders of free speech in this thread have repeatedly said it doesn’t gaurantee a platform. But it gauranteed Spender half a million dollars worth of platform on the public dime.

These kinds of events have lead me to ask myself, “Why do I think free speech laws are important?” And when I asked that, I realized it was because of a bunch of what I saw a flimsy arguments that didn’t stand up (such as “If we make laws against X, they’ll make laws against Y”).

Does it? You haven’t given me an example. No one else has either. Why does it seem odd that I never would have heard an example if no one will ever provide one?

Well that’s sort of my point. If freedom of speech laws are effective at creating some good outcome, we should have examples of it in action that we can effectively argue wouldn’t have happened in all of those other places an all of those other times. I don’t expect a rigourous scientific study, I’m just looking to understand.

I realize it’s a slippery thing to try to give an example of because constitutional rights to free speech don’t positively protect anything, they just prevent governments from creating laws that deny freedom. So in order to demonstrate that freedom of speech laws have accomplished good you’d have to get away from the level of individuals being able to speak (which they could do anyway) and instead go to what laws would exist if free speech protections didn’t exist. Having thought this through, I know how to find examples for myself, so I’ll do my own research.

In that paragraph I’m talking about the emotional responsibility placed on people regarding being condescending to other people. I’m not surprised that what i said didn’t convey what I wanted it to.

“No skin in the game” was a bad choice of words. The rest of the paragraph explains what I mean - that the status quo wins by default, so if a person arguing for the status quo wants to “win the argument” they just need it to devolve into a pointless shouting match. It’s a sideline to a the free speech conversation that really applies to any conversations on nearly any topic but that I brought up because I’d already been indirectly chastised for saying something that someone else took as belittling.


I like that honesty! Its refreshing round these parts!

Perhaps, but it wasn’t decided on First Amendment grounds:

A stunning cost for sure. It never seems to cost state universities that much to allow “river to the sea” ethnic cleansing advocates to speak.

Reading Freedom of Speech in Canada only gave me enough insight to realize the situation there is quite different legally from the US. Hard for me to understand the extent of how much debate w/in the US could apply there.

Not entirely sure if those arguments are flimsy in current culture where there seems to be no shortage of young and old Americans who seem to be in favor of banning certain kinds of speech. A bit OT but my favorite take on this was “A Taste of Freedom

I see it rather as a way for the public to genuinely debate the issues at hand. Unfortunately that often means yelling, punching or worse.

The examples are essentially defined by the counter examples such as lesse majesty laws. Or perhaps the UK style libel and defamation laws which are sometimes used as substitutes for stifling criticism of public leaders who are not formally royalty.

If things were as you say then constitutional or national laws protecting freedom of speech would not be uncommon now would they? The very fact that they are uncommon is part of why I feel they need protection and celebration where they exist.

As you say. It almost looks like you are asking for proof of a negative.

Sometimes we are lucky enough that things don’t go into shouting mode, like the conversation you and I are having right now for example.

As for skin in the game, it matters but it doesn’t define the issue.


From last year, when murderous Nazi street marches were still a slippery-slope hypothetical:


I am curious what you are implying here?


Theres no implication, its a clear statement. “River to the sea” is part of a Hamas slogan that has been popularized amongst student protest groups, professors and speakers at various state universities. Some things can be found here

I posted this link earlier in the thread with a qualifier. That still stands as do the facts of the matter.


Ok, just making sure it had nothing to do with the quoted part of what @Humbabella said.