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2.08.2006

Censorship in the USA

A few forms of speech restrictions in the America that I'm aware of:

Fighting words
Libel
T shirts criticizing the president in proximity to the president

There's presumably more. In regards to certain rotten cartoons in Denmark, I'm hearing a lot of "if we aren't allowed to call the savages savage, we no longer have civilization," which inspires me to throw out a few ideas:

1. Few of us would smoke hookah and denigrate Mohammed in Basra right now, no? Should we add that to the bet? Does it add several generations worth of time to pass?

2. Are Americans really free if they can't hand out pamphlets titled "The Hells Angels are a homosexual cabal" on East 3rd st between 1st and 2nd Avenue?

3. What's the generally accepted standard for fighting words? Examples 1 and 2 are only offensive to some; is there any requirement on the speaker to know ahead of time that common-sense statements like "we know now that there were no weapons of mass destruction over there," are seriously offensive in certain contexts and avoid saying it if it's likely to start a fight?

2 Comments:

At 8:27 PM, Blogger joŇ°ko said...

If Mohammed were alive today, he could probably sue the Danish papers for slander and win.

 
At 10:48 AM, Blogger Ivan said...

1) There are plenty of places in the world where people will hurt you for saying the wrong thing. I'm not sure that'll change anytime soon. I think the vast majority of people don't need to worry about how they act in a liberal democracy, because common decency dictates that you don't find the need to insult others often.

2) Again, violence for doing something stupid doesn't mean you aren't free.

3) Anyone is free to say anything. Even if they are in the right, if violence starts, perhaps they should defend themselves better. People who start violence won't be free for long.

 

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