View Thread : Free Speech?


Ryan
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=529&ncid=529&e=3&u=/ap/20040526/ap_en_ot/people_doctorow_booed_6

Doctorow turns a graduation commencement into an anti-Bush spiel. And quite a few students were unhappy about it. So they booed him into silence. Now he's whining about being unable to speak freely.

Why is it that liberals feel it is okay to criticize anything and everything they feel like, but when someone counters them with criticism, it's "supressing free speech"?

I suppose 'free speech' is now a label that applies only to liberal viewpoints.

Or, more accurately, will liberals ever realize that free speech is only protection from government retaliation, and that when you say something stupid, as Doctorow spent twenty minutes doing, there are bound to be negative consequences?

A Black Falcon
Free speech means you can say what you want, under some restrictions (like threatening to kill people isn't okay). It means all forms of speech are protected, no matter how much you like them or not... neo-nazis do have a right to free speech too, you know... say you disagree at an appropriate time, sure, but booing and interrupting it? Isn't that blocking free speech? You say 'free speech', but then you condone people trying to block free speech, Weltall... there are appropriate times to counter a point, but while they are making a speech is definitely not one of those. Like, I wouldn't have supported people doing that to Cheney when he made that harsh anti-Kerry speech at a university commencement a few weeks ago...

Ryan
Neither would I, but only because I agree with him. Those kids were hecklers, but they were exercising THEIR free speech.

However, I would be quite angry at Cheney if he were drowned out and then complained about his 'free speech' being denied him.

The point is, his right to free speech was not denied him. He came up there and said what he wanted to say, and no one imprisoned or harmed him. But, what he said was unpopular to his audience, and they exercised their free speech in response.

Of course, when liberal colleges censure conservative student groups and censor their literature, or slander and alienate conservative professors, much more serious and grievous attacks against free speech than heckling a speaker, no one complains about free speech being denied.

A double standard for modern time.

A Black Falcon
As I already said, that's absurd and not true at all... interrupting someone and blocking their right to speak isn't blocking their right to speak? Huh?

Ryan
The Constitution does not say other people can't drown you out. It merely states that you are immune from government retaliation.

Take this example.

Let's say hypthetically that I got so fed up with your opinions that I started deleting your posts, or I banned you. Would I be repressing your free speech? Yes, but this board is mine and I have the right to do so, and nothing in the Constitution of the United States denies me that right. However, there would be nothing to stop you from making a website of your own and preaching your views at large. There is nothing I could do about that.

That is how free speech works.

A Black Falcon
But extending that, this guy is the speaker so it's his floor, not anyone else's, like your website...

geoboy
Can't booing be considered as free speech? And if it is a vast majority of people that are booing, then wouldn't you say the vast majority has the right to deny a person their right to speak? That's a very democratic process if you ask me.

The bill of rights is mostly there to protect you from the government. No one will be jailed or be fined for speaking against the president or for booing Doctorow. He had the right to say what he did, and the students had the right to boo him. If you're gutsy or dumb enough to have an anti-Bush rally at an inappropriate time or place, it's your own damn fault if people don't like it. Bite the fucking bullet and stop whining, Doctorow you fucking pussy. :disgust:

Great Rumbler
They were exercising their free speech to boo someone who was saying things they didn't like, if Doctorow wanted to keep going he could have they weren't denying him the right to do that.

Dark Jaguar
That's what I was thinking here. He HAD the right to say whatever he wanted. HOWEVER, you don't have the right to an audience. You have the challenge of GETTING an audience. You can't FORCE anyone to listen to you. Say all you want, you are free to, but when you are drowned out by booing it's only as represive to free speech as people just walking out the door and covering their ears. Either way, the words he said wouldn't have been heard, even though he wanted to listen to them. People don't have a responsibility to sit down and listen to any conversation aimed at them ya know. Also keep in mind that there's nothing about free speech that says, even when someone has agreed to hear you out, that they can't just go ahead and change their mind later and stop listening.

Now, if they actually went as far as to SILENCE him, by restraining him or trying to shut down HIS OWN sources of expression, like a web site or a TV show, THEN it's repressing free speech.

A Black Falcon
But isn't being so loud that the person cannot be heard a form of that? Oh, not nearly as bad, for sure, but it is that...

Now, I know that all sides do this -- liberals certainly often interrupt conservative speakers and stuff. But while I may think that the Intelligent Design speaker coming to campus is an idiot, I'll just react by not going, not by going and doing anything... okay, this is different.

Actually, the Cheney case is a decent comparison. They had Cheney come to do the commencement (some college in Michigan I think). He gave a very partisan speech, which the college hadn't been expecting. So what did they do? They invited someone from the Kerry camp to come and give a speech too, several days later. That's a appropriate reaction.

Ryan
We're not talking about appropriate behavior and proper etiquitte. We're talking about denial of the right to free speech. He was not denied that right.

A Black Falcon
If it was a conservative being drowned out, I wonder if you'd still be saying the same thing... I don't know...

Ryan
I believe I made my thoughts on that clear already.

A Black Falcon
But of course the one that sets this off is one where your position is being 'threatened'...

Dark Jaguar
That's a form you say? No it's not, it's no more a form of "denying free speech" than walking out of the room is, because the result is the same, the person actively doing something to avoid hearing what the person had to say. It's only prohibiting free speech when the person is threatened to shut up or is physically detained to prevent them from talking. Neither thing happened here. Look, you start saying that other people just finding ways to IGNORE what people say is somehow prohibiting free speech, you end up with a world where EVERY time someone opens their mouth, every single person in the world is required by law to memorize exactly what that person said. Infeasible or not, that's where it leads. People should have the RIGHT to be complete obnoxious brats. Yes, it WAS rude, but it's not violating free speech. The SECOND someone threatened him with violence or some law suit or something like that, THEN it's violating free speech, not just drowning the person out in sound. He CAN still say what he wants, he's just being ignored. It's the classic silent treatment, in reverse. They could have been much more tactful and polite, but people have the RIGHT to completely ignore what someone has to say.

A Black Falcon
Do people have the right to interrupt others during speeches? The fact that people who seriously disrupt such events often get kicked out says that it's not absolute...

Ryan
Yes they do.

But like I said, exercising free speech has consequences. Getting thrown out of somewhere could well be one of them. It depends on the venue and who is in charge of it.

The Constitution guarantees that you have the right to free speech. It does not guarantee the right to make anyone listen to you. It also does not guarantee that you have the right to free speech in private venues. ALL that it guarantees is that the government itself will not harm you for speaking.

And even that's not absolute. Say, you stand in the street and start yelling out classified information. You don't have the right to do that, and if you were to try, you WOULD be punished harshly by the government, completely within the boundaries of the Constitution. No freedom is absolute.

Dark Jaguar
Yes, but even ignoring little obvious things like that, let's go back to this example here. Yes, people DO have the right to interupt someone's speech. The law makes NO seperation and does not indicate any difference between a "speech" or a normal conversation. What a speech is is something we as a society decide, but the law honestly doesn't give jack about the difference between a speech and normal talking.

You can say whatever you want, but expect others to do the same thing. If you are on private property, or even in a government building and the boss or whatever there decides you are disrupting things, expect to be kicked out. They can't shut you up, or deport you, but they can remove you from the property. You have free speech but there are consequences. Oh, there are exceptions. You CAN be held in contempt for speaking out of turn in a court room, which could end in jail time. That's about the only place where free speech could be considered "stiffled", though even there once you get your TURN, you can say whatever you want within the context of that trial.

Yes, I'm ALSO talking about the people who booed here. They had the right to drown the guy out, but could have easily been kicked out because of doing that. Being kicked out is not saying "that's illegal". There are MANY rules that exist outside the law and are completely unsupported by the law in private places. Just because someone breaks one of those rules doesn't mean the law in ANY way supports that. If someone kicks someone out of a store or whatever for breaking one of those rules, and they call the police to get them off the property, the police will NOT care what rule was broken. All they care about is if the owner or someone given that same power as the owner decided that the one person is trespassing. The reasons are irrelevent. Just see examples where some guy says "but I didn't do such and such" and the police just don't care, all they care about is the guy is now trespassing, not the personal reasons the person who owns the place decided the person was trespassing. ONE exception, it can't be for race.

alien space marine
When the opposition side is denied the right to voice their opinion you dont have a democracy, Vladimir Putin being the former head of the KGB during the soviet union and now president out of poor habait could not tolerate any critism of himself , He had all the major national tv stations bought out by his party and he would not allow them too show anything from any of the rival political parties , He made sure any opposition party conferences were quickly drowned out by his puppeteerd media which would put a rerun of a Putin speech ahead of any of his Rivals live speeches .All flyers on the streets would even be riped off and the post would be spatterd with thousands of his, He had a Russian clone Saturday night live show removed off the air because they said some jokes about Putin that he didnt find very funny.

Alot of republican supporters from hearing their comments would loved to follow in Putins example and ban anything neagotive about Bush from being aired.I am amazed at how easily any newspapper or tv show is labeled liberal trash the momment it says anything neagotive about Bush.

In canada even though I personally dislike the conservative leader Harper for being a douche bag making fun of aboriginal canadians and calling canada a second rate socialist shindig, I am not gonna demand that he be removed from the air or that his voice is silence since he is the only conservative alternative and without him it would be Libs vs Libs.

Alot of magazines like Time or newsweek have Con and Lib writers saying different things about the same subject , So its not a Liberal rag because of the cover nore is it a con rag for the same reason,Its a balanced news report everyone represents both sides equally .





Even if you dont like what you hear , If your a true democratic statemen you put up with it , You even clap at your rivals speeches out of respect even if you dont agree with everything he said .Unless he is Adolf Hitler or a Commie who opposes freedom and democracy you have to show respect.

Dark Jaguar
Up until that last part, I was agreeing with you. Most of what you said is pretty much my point. Fortunatly, the media can't be controlled by the government around here, so that won't happen. Yes, it is rather stupid that the second any news source starts getting all one sided, and this goes to ALL of them, the other side immediatly labels it as evil and censorship. More like censor$#!7! Allowing everyone to say what they will is exactly my point here. LET the guy get drowned out by boos. It's RUDE yes, but it's hardly preventing free speech. The guy could just find another audience, or say what he wants somewhere ELSE. And if he CAN'T find anyone that will listen to him, oh well. He's not being told to be quiet or else or anything, just the one thing we have the right to do, give the person the cold shoulder. And no, I will NOT clap after someone's speech if I disagree. That's just stupid.

alien space marine
Why did you pull a fuss when poor fat Ted kennedy quietly shaked his head in disaproval of Bush state of the union speech?If people are expected to clap for Bush regardless of their party or views,Why dont you do the same in common respect for everyone else? Otherwise get up and leave no one is forcing you too listen too it.If you do stay and you dont want too clap then atleast show respect and shut up.

Its like booing a rival team the momment they get on the ice or How About booing the national anthem of another country?Just because you dont agree with their views.

But the guy was not talking about liberal propaganda, He was telling factual things and he didnt agree with the way Bush was running things , Whoop !
Its not like he said lets gas some Niggahs or jews!

If the guy giving the speech is telling lies and crap fine dont clap , Just walk out.

Its just the same with tv, Dont like it! turn the channel! Dont ruin it for other people who do care.

A Black Falcon
What last part, DJ? That it's bad for people to be considerate at the speeches of people they disagree with, and that maintaining civility is a good thing? What, you'd prefer it the way the US is now, with everything so incredibly polarized? I don't think that that's the better way for things to be... can't be helped at this point, but what other countries do (with much more frendliness between parties) is much better.

And it may not be illegal (though I don't know, there probably should be some kind of punishment if it really gets bad... but determining that is hard and a law doing that that's too vague could be used badly, so it'd have to be very well defined...) to boo the person, but your defense of it is pitiful. He can go elsewhere or something? Come ON! He's there to speak. He is the guest. THEY can leave if they don't like it. He should NOT have to. That is absurd. Like political conventions. They don't have to let the protesters in. They give them a space somewhere outside. It's ridiculous for you people to defend people for having done something like this... and yes, I do feel the same the other way around. As I said before, I may utterly disagree with the white supremacists, but if they rent a room I'll recognize their right to meet...

Great Rumbler
We're not talking about what's the right or wrong thing to do, we're talking about whether they were violating Doctorow's right to freedom of speech. I don't think they were, because they weren't threatening him or physically forcing him to stop speaking, they were only voicing their disaproval of what he was saying. Maybe they didn't like his views are maybe they didn't like the fact that he was using the graduation commencement as a political platform, either way they were exericising their freedom of speach to show this dissaproval and he should just accept that they didn't want to hear what he had to say.

A Black Falcon
And would you really say exactly the same thing if it was a conservative speaker? I have strong doubts...

Ryan
I think both ABF and ASM have trouble seperating repression of free speech from counter-free speech.

Again, everyone has a right to speak. No one has the right to be heard.

To clarify on the partisanship of the topic, if there are penalties against the students for their outburst, they deserve the punishment they get. They could have definitely found more polite ways of showing their displeasure with the liberal. But that is not the point at hand. Doctorow wasn't complaining about the students being rude to him, he claimed they were denying his right to free speech.

That is the topic of this thread, and it is the point I focused on: Whether or not his right to speak freely was denied. And, obviously, it was not.

A Black Falcon
But the line between those things is in some cases closer than you admit... like, Russia clearly goes over the line -- people get arrested for speaking (like Yukos -- he might well be guilty, but lots of people are of that and he was only arrested because of his anti-Putin views...). But some still can talk. But no one can hear them because no national media covers it... sure, that's a much more extreme case than this. And the speaker there could make his points elsewhere and also get seen by some. But not that audience... and it's just very rude and inappropriate to do what they did. You shouldn't be condoning such behavior.

And anyway, the way you phrased it originally you sounded like you thought he deserved it for making a left-wing political speech at a university commencement. So it's bad for him to do that but not really that bad if it's a conservative doing the same thing?

alien space marine
I think both ABF and ASM have trouble seperating repression of free speech from counter-free speech.

Again, everyone has a right to speak. No one has the right to be heard.

To clarify on the partisanship of the topic, if there are penalties against the students for their outburst, they deserve the punishment they get. They could have definitely found more polite ways of showing their displeasure with the liberal. But that is not the point at hand. Doctorow wasn't complaining about the students being rude to him, he claimed they were denying his right to free speech.

That is the topic of this thread, and it is the point I focused on: Whether or not his right to speak freely was denied. And, obviously, it was not.

I thought that when it came too politics ,Like I already said everyone who is a politician or spokemen of a official party has the right too be heard otherwise its undemocractic like Putin.

It would not be right for Dems/reps to go to a rep/dem convention with the sole intention of disrupting it and screwing it up.That would not be civilized moraly right.

Sure its not ilegal to be disruptive , Though you can get a detention at school for it, If I remeber when a guest speaker came too our school we were told be respectful and silent or we would get a detention.If the speaker disturbed us on a moral level we were permited too leave the auditorium and go for the libary but only with a teachers permission.What our teachers did after word is ask what we thought about the persons speech and if we didnt agree with him or objected too him we could voice it once we went back to class.

How would you like giving a speech to a audience and just after you got the nerves to speak but You were boo and taunted I think you would be upset and felt in some way that your rights were violated.

Doctorow if he was a politician or a spokemen for the party, Then yah his right of having a fare voice too the public would be broken if supporters of his oppenent were so disruptive that his opinion couldnt be heard.How would congress be if everytime Bush spoke you would hear loud boo's and taunts that you couldnt hear him speak and it was always a flame war and not a healthy debate about the benifit of the country(many ways it is), You say "fuck" you will probaily be tossed out or asked to apologize imediately just like PM Trudeau had to when he said Fuck you to his opponent and disrupted his speech.Disrespect even too a person you dont agree with isnt tolerated in goverment.

But he isnt a politician and it waisnt a official debate or convention,While it was certainly rude for Doctorow to be treated that way I wouldnt say his rights were walked on since he is not a candidate.I am pretty sure those students were told off by their teachers maybe even handed detentions because counter free speech isnt a right that has to be heard either.

But it doesnt make what happen to Doctorow right in anyway.

Ryan
But the line between those things is in some cases closer than you admit... like, Russia clearly goes over the line -- people get arrested for speaking (like Yukos -- he might well be guilty, but lots of people are of that and he was only arrested because of his anti-Putin views...). But some still can talk. But no one can hear them because no national media covers it... sure, that's a much more extreme case than this. And the speaker there could make his points elsewhere and also get seen by some. But not that audience... and it's just very rude and inappropriate to do what they did. You shouldn't be condoning such behavior.
I'm not condoning it. Did you not read what I posted above?

And anyway, the way you phrased it originally you sounded like you thought he deserved it for making a left-wing political speech at a university commencement. So it's bad for him to do that but not really that bad if it's a conservative doing the same thing?
Well, the ideological side of me is thrilled he got drowned out, of course. He's wrong. He spoke the wrong stuff to the wrong audience and got what he deserved. That's life. As I said, no one is guaranteed the right to be heard. You said before that you disagree with white supremacists but respect their right to speak. What if they decided to speak at a black church? What about filibustering? It's the same damn thing. Rude, crude, but it's a part of free speech.

Besides, I also stated above that conservatives, especially at predominantly liberal universities and colleges, are the targets of repression worse than this. No one really seems to care about it, though.

How would you like giving a speech to a audience and just after you got the nerves to speak but You were boo and taunted I think you would be upset and felt in some way that your rights were violated.
I would definitely be upset, but I am intelligent enough to know that my rights were not violated, and I would not be stupid enough to make that claim.

Now, you both keep getting into whether interrupting the liberal was right or wrong. That, I repeat again, is not the point. It was wrong for them to interrupt him, however, they had the right to do it. The only question is, was free speech violated?

Can I get a straight answer?

A Black Falcon
I'm not condoning it. Did you not read what I posted above?

You don't? Sure sounds like it, with what you were saying... how stupid he is and how they shouldn't have to listen to it sounds to me a lot like saying they were not really doing something wrong... it wasn't right but it was right? Kind of sounds like what you are saying.

Well, the ideological side of me is thrilled he got drowned out, of course. He's wrong. He spoke the wrong stuff to the wrong audience and got what he deserved. That's life. As I said, no one is guaranteed the right to be heard. You said before that you disagree with white supremacists but respect their right to speak. What if they decided to speak at a black church? What about filibustering? It's the same damn thing. Rude, crude, but it's a part of free speech.

Besides, I also stated above that conservatives, especially at predominantly liberal universities and colleges, are the targets of repression worse than this. No one really seems to care about it, though.

Filibustering is different, it's not just blocking speech it's stopping a law you don't like from being passed. Different category.

Oh, and I doubt that any black church would give speaking time to a white supremacist, so I doubt that that situation turns up very often. :)

Dark Jaguar
Listen, I also made it clear that these people WERE being rude, and WERE in fact doing something wrong. However, not violating his rights, just being rude. Things CAN be wrong without being illegal, and there are things that are wrong that laws should NOT be made to prevent! In this case, society is in charge of dealing with this, not the government. Should the kids have been punished somehow? I suppose so, that's for the school to decide, but the government doesn't have anything to do with it. They were certainly being in the wrong, but not violating anyone's legal rights in the process.

He could very well complain about how rude those people were being to him, that's fine. He could voice all he wants about that too, that's fine. To say his rights to free speech were violated though, that's just plain wrong. He has the right to say that too mind you, but he's wrong. For example, if you don't want someone pestering you, you just ask them to stop. You aren't repressing their RIGHT to, it's a social thing. Society and government are seperate in some ways. It only steps into the legal realm when something ACTUALLY happens that's not just social.

Regarding the news media thing in Russia, I don't know the details there. If the media is free, and it would seem it's not, but if it IS, and they are all just deciding of their OWN accord not to air this guy's viewpoint, it's not suppressing free speech. The guy just needs to find a way to get it voiced. He's not being silenced, he's just at a severe disadvantage because now he has to go spread the word the old fasioned way. HOWEVER, if it's the government telling the media not to air it, THEN it's different. From there, he might even be prevented from trying to open up his own TV station (low level funding and all), or open up a web page, or just hold speeches in variuos event centers. Companies, acting on their own, can and should be able to decide to simply not air stuff. It's not supressing free speech. It's certainly VERY partisan, but it's not suppression. The guy just has a harder time of it, and likely it'll end in him not winning, but that's the fault of the populace and one of their major deciding factors in the election being "who was on the air the most?". It's a terrible way to decide it, but the guy wasn't literally forced out. Now, on the other hand, that's just on the assumption the media isn't actually being told by the government what not to air.

Keep that in mind, we are only saying a very literal and OBVIOUS violation of these freedoms is the ONLY real kind. The rest are just silly little twists of logic that go nowhere and are thought up by drugged out hippies.

A Black Falcon
Russia... if you don't know, don't say anything. Read something about it. :)

Putin is an elected leader. See, he doesn't have to block elections! When he controls all of the national media networks, why do something like that? You already have the elections in the bag...

For instance, last year or so he put (Michael?) Yukos, billionaire and one of the richest men in Russia, in jail. Why? For breaking the law during the lawless early '90s. Now, he's probably guilty. However, a LOT of people did bad stuff like then with no punishment. So why is he charged now? Simple. He was a major player in one of the last truly independant media networks in Russia. Guess whose side that network is on now?

We don't have that there. But I'm pretty sure that a lot of hardline conservatives really, really wish that we could be... all I need to do to get proof of that is to look at people like Ashcroft or Cheney. They do so much to try to hide their actions from public scrutiny, to make their views the law of the land without the effort of actually seeing if the people want that, weakening government oversight, immediately denouncing anyone who dares to question their actions as unpatriotic... of saying that questioning anything the president does during war is unamerican... yes, I think that people like that greatly envy Putin.

Geno
It was indeed stupid of Doctorow to start bashing Bush like that. (He should've seen the boos coming.) However, it is his right to freedom of speech so long as he doesn't say something rash, like that he's going to kill Bush. I do believe, however, that it's freedom of speech for a bunch of people to boo him. I wouldn't have done it, but I also wouldn't have done what Doctorow did.

And a lot of liberals and conservatives act like this from what I've seen; complaining about freedom of speech being suppressed only when it's their own party being interrupted. This is one of those things I can't hold against a particular party.

Dark Jaguar
No of course not, both sides do this sort of thing, and they also do it for a LOT of other complaints.