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Should there any limits to free speech and if so what should they be? Is censorship ever justified?

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(@iconoclast)
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Joined: 1 year ago

Comments on DS news articles often raise this issue so here is a forum thread devoted to it.

The most common reason given in comments on DS news articles for a limit to free speech is if certain speech oral or written breaks the law. 

But that raises the question of laws which are bad laws restricting free speech - and a typical example is where laws are used to suppress views inconsistent with what a government or its officials say is true when it is not - information which government or its officials allege is misinformation which is not. 

Fake government statistics on so-called Covid deaths which were not is a typical example of Government misinformation as are the claims the Covid injections were safe and worked.

So should we allow censorship in some circumstances? Is cancellation ever justified?

There are arguments why abuse and harassing speech oral or written should not be allowed. That is not free speech because it is not about expressing views but about inhibiting and suppressing the views of the abused and harassed by deterring them from exercising their right to free speech.  

Your views are invited. I will try occasionally to post links to this discussion in comments on DS news articles.

It is a worthwhile discussion and I hope light is shed where currently darkness is de rigueur.

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(@julian)
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Joined: 4 years ago

I think a good starting point would be to look at a country such as the United States which has pretty broad protection for freedom of speech, and decide whether this general lack of restriction has led to terrible harms at a societal level:

United States free speech exceptions - Wikipedia

My default position would be that unless you can point to such harms, any proposal for more restrictions than they have in the US falls on it face, as the case for freedom of speech seems to me self-evident.

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(@rampage)
Joined: 10 months ago

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Posts: 2

@julian 

Really good point of comparison. I do wonder about the restriction of speech if proven harmful - speech can be hurtful but I can’t see any examples where speech is harmful. Would you or I be responsible for the actions of a third party when we don’t (and can’t and shouldn’t) control how they interpret speech?

To the question of the post “should there be any limits to free speech?” - if there are limits then the speech is not free. So in my view no there should not be. 

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Posts: 2
(@rampage)
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Joined: 10 months ago

The most common reason given in comments on DS news articles for a limit to free speech is if certain speech oral or written breaks the law. 

But that raises the question of laws which are bad laws restricting free speech

The common statements you observe presume the laws we set are moral and just. I find Frederic Bastiat’s book/essay The Law to be really useful in first defining law as the collective organization of
the individual right to defense.

So in your examples which I very much agree with we have a perversion of the law as it goes beyond the basic purpose.

As much as there is speech I find offensive, any limit to speech means it’s not free speech.

Happy to hear counter views

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