March 28, 2011

"If John Stuart Mill were around today, he would likely ask, 'When did Bob Wright and the left turn against free speech?'"

Wrote Meade in the thread about the dispute between me and Bob Wright, in which Bob Wright wanted to limit the concept of "free speech" to rights the individual holds against the government. Meade quoted John Stuart Mill, who wrote:
"Society can and does execute its own mandates: and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself.”
Penetrating much more deeply... enslaving the soul itself!

Wright also argued against the evolution of the meaning of words, but what if strict usage had checked the evolution of the meaning of the word "liberal"? Wright would need to resist calling himself a liberal.

104 comments:

Trooper York said...

Bob Wright would have to begin calling himself the Walking Wedgie.

BT said...

What about the word gay?

David said...

The left turned against free speech quite a while ago. It went mainstream with campus "civility codes" and became a major political force with McCain Feingold and other restrictions on political speech. Lefties have been shouting down uncongenial opinions for decades.

Trooper York said...

Bob is not happy enough to be called gay.

Generally they are not that dour.

Alex said...

The left has always been a tyrannical rather then freedom oriented movement.

Trooper York said...

I think the proper description for him would be constipatedly contemptuous of real Americans.

Alex said...

But remember times were worse. Remember the late 70s, early 80s when the left was on the verge of getting an Equal Rights Amendment? Those were dark times.

Trooper York said...

You do of course get constipated by too many wedgies in your youth.
Just sayn'

Peter said...

Ann: "Wright also argued against the evolution of the meaning of words."

I think that we all know this isn't true (including you). Unless you are trying to have the meaning of "argued against" evolve into something new.

He said that when you are using a term in a way that directly and expectedly deviates from your listeners' use of the term, it is often proper to acknowledge that deviation -- especially when the meaning of that word is the subject of your debate!

traditionalguy said...

That is true. JSM would not have seen a mere separation line between Laws and the ruling class's customs forbidding some speech in England to be real protection for speech. But Bob Wright goes along with a New Aristocracy's customs that can restrain bad speech...after all hillbillies and mere High School Graduates will never be admitted into the Aristocracy of Lord Wright and King Obama's realm.

Trooper York said...

Bob Wright thinks John Stuart Mill was the old guy in "Ryan's Daughter."

DADvocate said...

I love the evolution of words. Re-reading "The War of the Worlds" a couple of years ago, I came upon this sentence in Chapter 14 (pun intended): "His landlady came to the door, loosely wrapped in dressing gown and shawl; her husband followed ejaculating."

The image it brought forth in my mind was quite comical. One of the currently little used meanings of ejaculate is "to utter suddenly and briefly; exclaim." Maybe it was used more in that sense several decades ago.

BT - the main business street in downtown Knoxville is Gay Street. Since 1970 or so, that has allowed for a lot of jokes as many businesses on that street have "Gay" in their name, i.e. Gay Jewelers. A building supply company that used to be a half block of of Gay Street was named S&M Supply. And, then there's the House of a Million Screws.

wv - audefool, a new moniker for Bob Wright.

Chip Ahoy said...

Ha ha ha.

CachorroQuente said...

If Wright were to condemn publication of rape victims' identities and encourage publishers to refrain, would he be taking an anti-free speech position?

Meade Watch said...

Meade is a potato-eating thug. Oh, and an idiot.

Henry said...

CachorroQuente wrote "If Wright were to condemn publication of rape victims' identities..."

Why look, the weird fallacy hypothetical has arrived.

PaulV said...

Like a good reactionary, Wright tries to refudiate the evolution in the meaning of words.

Trooper York said...

Bob Wright thinks John Stuart Mill was a General who invented breakfast cereal.

MadisonMan said...

Why is the tag John Stewart Mill?

Trooper York said...

Bob Wright thinks the Jon Stewart Mill is where you find the liberal grist everyday.

Jason said...

Scratch a liberal, and you'll find an authoritarian and a fascist.

Meade said...

Of course the rhetorical answer to the rhetorical question - “When did Bob Wright and the left turn against free speech?” - is: They never did turn against free speech. They couldn't keep up with free speech so now they just have to keep asking free speech to hey! slow down and wait up for us!

But free speech waits for no man.

MisterBuddwing said...

"If mankind minus one were of one opinion, then mankind is no more justified in silencing the one than the one - if he had the power - would be justified in silencing mankind." _ John Stuart Mill.

WV: iriturse.

A "Shotgun" Gold said...

John Stewart Mill? That guy who's on right before Colbert? Yeah, he's a pretty funny.

John Stewart Mill was a follower of Jeremy Bentham-- a man who really had a good head on his shoulders-- at the time -- but not any longer.

Saying that the left "turned against free speech" implies that it was once in favor of it free speech. That is a load of Bolshevik.

blake said...

Dadvocate--

Yes, there was a lot of ejaculating in the '20s and '30s.

Trooper York said...

Bob Wright believes in the writings of John Stuart Milli Vanilli.

Alex said...

Why do we care what Bob Wright thinks anyways? He's a nothing.

Matthew said...

This administration and its groupies are enemies of freedom of expression.

traditionalguy said...

One point to make is that JSM was enslaved to the use of words. He was totally a creature of thought and the analysis of theory. But he sure could talk well. You will love reading him...but watch out or you will start talking like him.

Michael said...

Map makers "copyright" their maps by putting in sly, phony, landmarks, streets or other features which instantly reveals a map as their own. An old San Francisco map, it is said, had a "Gay Lane" situated in the Castro. There was no such street or lane but the local shopkeepers were constantly being bugged for the explanation as to why there was not a street where Rand said there was a street.

Windbag said...

Society...practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression

Sharia law and retaining membership in the Westboro Baptist Church reinforce this notion.

Just Lurking said...

If Wright were to condemn publication of rape victims' identities and encourage publishers to refrain, would he be taking an anti-free speech position?

IMO: If he merely condemns doing so, and encourages others not to, then no. However if he actually wants the publication of rape victim identities to be banned, and encourages that banning, then yes he is anti-free speech. There is a difference between condemning speech and encouraging others to not listen, and wanting speech banned to prevent others from listening. It's a distinction some seem to have difficulty with.

Put another way: Unrestricted free speech is a shouting match. Which is why we allow individuals and groups to set up rules for speech in their establishments. If you want others to change their free-speech rules because you don't like the speech they are allowing, and you want to prevent others from hearing it, you are anti-free speech. If you condemn the speech they are allowing but merely encourage others not to listen to it, you are not anti-free speech.

It comes down to whether you truly agree with, "I may not like what you say but I will defend your right to say it".

reader_iam said...

Serious question, Althouse:

Under your definition, is there a point at which the right to free speech merges with a right to be listened to (and/or heard)? If so, where? If not, where and how do you draw that line?

Trooper York said...

"I may not like what you say but I will demand that you get fired because I don't want anyone else to hear it."

Trooper York said...

I think Bob Wright has lost his mojo ever since he left New Directions and went to the Warblers.

Alex said...

Under your definition, is there a point at which the right to free speech merges with a right to be listened to (and/or heard)? If so, where? If not, where and how do you draw that line?

Supporting all speech as a principle has nothing to do with the practicalities of setting up conditions that allow all parties to speak. Surely you can walk and chew gum?

reader_iam said...

There is a difference between condemning speech and encouraging others to not listen, and wanting speech banned to prevent others from listening.

It seems to me that's the distinction Wright's trying to make (it's the classic one, the one Wright is saying most people make, definitionally), and the one that Althouse is questioning.

reader_iam said...

I'm not calling out Althouse on her definition--I'm finding her and Wright's discussion interesting--I'm asking if she'll keep going a little bit with her public exploration of the concept and potentially related ones.

Both the acts of walking and chewing gum, either separately or simultaneously strike me as irrelevant, but what the hell? Feel free to expand the parameters however you like.

; )

Windbag said...

a right to be listened to

No such thing exists. When the audience wanders away to listen to something of interest, you still have the right to stand there and blather on to an empty room. The audience owes you nothing.

Alex said...

It's not that anyone has a right to be listened to, but they do have a right not to be shouted down? Can we agree that shouting someone down is oppression and should not be legal in a public space? Private property is simple as we have trespassing laws so you can kick anyone out who is disturbing you from your home or business.

Just Lurking said...

@reader_iam

I admit I didn't listen to the whole blogging head conversation, so I may be wrong, but I got the impression Althouse was criticizing Wright for the/his(?) idea that people need to be protected from certain speech, ie: Beck. That's what I got from quickly reading through the email exchange, (I'm too lazy to go read it again) so I may be misinterpreting either or both of them. In which case I apologize in advance.

reader_iam said...

That's the classical understanding. One could argue that society (as opposed to government), in discouraging certain speech through the use of shunning, shaming, boycotting or what-have-you, is essentially doing just that. Society cannot, after all, literally, physically leave the room.

Don't mistake my asking questions as advocating a particular answer. I'm interested in what Althouse has to say because I'm interested in the topic.

Trooper York said...

The worse kind of censorship is when someone keeps deleting their blog posts.

What's up with that?

reader_iam said...

Can we agree that shouting someone down is oppression and should not be legal in a public space?

If I were to agree with that in its practical applications, I would have to have condemned Tea Party members and others who shouted down elected officials at public meetings during the months leading up the vote on health care [sic] reform, and I would have to say that I think that should be illegal.

But I didn't, and I wouldn't, and I don't think any such thing.

So no, I can't agree with that Alex, (but then, I expect you already knew that and that you don't agree with that yourself).

reader_iam said...

That doesn't mean I LIKED that approach, but I sure don't think it should be illegal, by any stretch.

reader_iam said...

Trooper: Since when do you not believe in each individual's right and freedom to determine his or her own destiny?

: |>

reader_iam said...

Just lurking: You're not incorrect. I think he was arguing that, and on that point I most strenuously disagree with him.

I'm responding more to the e-mail exchange and, even more specifically, to what Althouse has written in the blogposts.

Revenant said...

What does "a right not to be shouted down" mean, exactly?

Say you have a person who plans to give a one-hour speech. In the audience are a hundred people who vehemently disagree with that person.

Allowing everybody an equal chance at expressing their opinion would take over four days of continuous talking, and that's assuming nobody else in the audience has anything to say. It is obvious that that isn't going to happen; certainly nobody's going to stick around for all of that. So what to do? Well, either you force most of the people to shut up, or you exclude them from the venue, or you let them talk and risk them shouting the person down. A scenario where everyone politely listens to everybody who wants to talk is physically possible only when the vast majority of people have nothing they want to say.

madawaskan said...

If free speech is your Grandma,-

Bob Wright wants to be her girdle.

****

madawaskan said...

Or make that Bob wants to be your
lederhosen.

This is the unfortunate result of the Wiemar Wedgie.

(wv:waxest)

Just Lurking said...

That's the classical understanding. One could argue that society (as opposed to government), in discouraging certain speech through the use of shunning, shaming, boycotting or what-have-you, is essentially doing just that. Society cannot, after all, literally, physically leave the room.

Indeed. But individually we can do just that. Change the channel, turn off the radio, not buy from certain sponsors, write op-ed pieces and letters to the editor. If those individual acts collectively make a difference in getting a show cancelled or someone fired, I would still not call those individuals anti-free speech.

However, when people decide it is not enough to just individually criticize, shun or shame those they disagree with, but feel it is necessary to band together as a way to prevent those they disagree with from being heard, possibly using legal intimidation tactics, I feel comfortable saying those individuals are anti-free speech. (BTW I'm not claiming this is Althouse's point, just mine.)

Don't mistake my asking questions as advocating a particular answer.

Would never do that. I respect you as an intellectually curious individual. And this is a topic that holds a lot of interest to me as well.

DADvocate said...

Say you have a person who plans to give a one-hour speech. In the audience are a hundred people who vehemently disagree with that person.

Nice false dilemma.

What we do get though is someone invited to speak somewhere for an event or what have you. People will show up with no other intention than disrupt the person's speech. Therefore, denying freedom of speech by that person and denying those who want to hear the speech to be able to hear it.

If you want to rebut someones speech, schedule an even to do so. Schedule it at the same time if you wish. Write an op ed, blog, make a radio broadcast. But don't kid yourself that you have the right to then and there speak at equal length or at all as the person scheduled to speak. You voluntarily limit your right to speak at that time by showing up.

Alex said...

What we do get though is someone invited to speak somewhere for an event or what have you. People will show up with no other intention than disrupt the person's speech.

Which is what happens to conservatives when they come to speak at universities. Or Israelis. The Islamofacist/lefty brigades always come out to shout down the speaker, sometimes threatening violence.

Alex said...

You know what really gets me is the stunning hypocrisy of the left. They reserve the RIGHT for themselves to shout down anyone they wish. But when the GOP Congressman(god bless him) said "you lie" during an Obama SOTU, the left was apoplectic with rage.

Scratch a leftists and you get a fascist.

DADvocate said...

Scratch a leftists and you get a fascist.

You don't even have to scratch.

Alex said...

Here it is:

The left in apoplectic RAGE over Rep. Wilson yelling out "YOU LIE" during Obama speech

Yes Obama is our god and we have to show him deference at all times. Fuck that. Once the left disrespected Reagan all bets were off. They unleashed this hell!

Just Lurking said...

I respect you as an intellectually curious individual.

LOL! To clarify, I should have said I respect you for being or as being an intellectually curious individual, or something like that.

The way I worded it might be misinterprested to mean that I respect you because I am an intellectually curious person. (This writing thing is difficult. Which is I prefer to lurk!)

Mark said...

Wow, that was a slog.

But yes, once you start deciding that Glen Beck should be denied a platform because he might make the idiots think/do Bad Things, then you've adopted the mindset of Puritans and Zealots throughout history.

I always flip it into a question about whether a society that suppressed publication of information about birth control and human sexuality could be considered "liberal" if the vast majority approved of said societal suppression?

blake said...

Mark,

Sure! See Romania in the '80s. Or the former USSR.

If the state decides there must be more babies, other viewpoints must be quashed.

You do have to start with the funhouse definitnion of the word "liberal", but that seems to be the common one today.

wv: glinsu

(Knives recommended by the Beck program.)

Revenant said...

Nice false dilemma.

It isn't a false dilemma.

What we do get though is someone invited to speak somewhere for an event or what have you. People will show up with no other intention than disrupt the person's speech. Therefore, denying freedom of speech by that person and denying those who want to hear the speech to be able to hear it.

They aren't denying the person his freedom of speech; they're just talking at the same time he is.

Like I pointed out above -- as you'd have noticed, had you been more interested in understanding my point than in rehashing your own -- the solution to this is to exclude such people from the venue or otherwise prevent them from airing their opinion in the audience's presence.

The scenario Ann advocates, where everybody gets their chance to speak to and convince others -- is not physically possible. There isn't enough time for it to happen.

Fen said...

So, if you're a radio host and I jam your AM signal, am I denying your freedom of speech?

What about a bomb threat designed to clear out the Dem Convention just when their candidate is about to accept the nom?

Fen said...

Or I simply turn off your microphone?

CachorroQuente said...

Blogger Mark said...
But yes, once you start deciding that Glen Beck should be denied a platform because he might make the idiots think/do Bad Things, then you've adopted the mindset of Puritans and Zealots throughout history.


But that's not what Wright is suggesting, is it? What Wright has suggested, is that Ailes should be ashamed of himself for continuing to put Beck on the air and that he should exercise his discretion and fire Beck because it is irresponsible for Ailes to continue to allow Beck to use the platform that Ailes provides.

Everybody agrees, including Althouse, that it is within the spirit of free speech to allow publishers to exercise discretion over what they publish. So, MSNBC, when they fired Olberman (and I assume that he was fired) were not in opposition to free speech. And Althouse does not violate free speech principles when she blocks comments that might appear to be insulting of her religion (which she has done).

Now we have Wright who has not called for Beck to be silenced but has, as I understand it, suggested that it is irresponsible for a main-stream news publisher like Fox to give Beck a platform and has suggested that Roger Ailes should exercise his discretion and fire Beck. He is suggesting that Ailes do what everyone appears to agree is within the spirit of free speech principles.

I don't find Wright's suggestion at all violative of free speech principles (and I doubt that Althouse does either). It's not obvious to me that Beck's rantings are dangerous, but Wright is certainly within his rights to believe so and he is within his rights to suggest that Ailes shouldn't publish Beck's rants (assuming that Ailes pretends to run a responsible and trustworthy news organization). Wright is not calling for Ailes and Fox to be prevented from airing Beck's show.

DADvocate said...

It isn't a false dilemma.

Perhaps you're right. Because in the minds of lefties the behavior you describe (denying freedom of speech) is entirely acceptable.

They aren't denying the person his freedom of speech; they're just talking at the same time he is.

And this is the warped logic you use to justify it. OH, NO!! WE'RE NOT DENYING FREEDOM OF SPEECH!! WE'RE JUST PRACTICING OUR OWN!!! Despite the obvious disrespect of the rights of others. And, you fascist lefties will do it where ever you can and not get your asses kicked.

The scenario Ann advocates, where everybody gets their chance to speak to and convince others -- is not physically possible.

Wrong. Step outside of your childish representation of "reality." Not everyone gets to speak at the same place at the same time. Duh. We all have the same amount of time to speak, write, etc.

madawaskan said...

Why should Robert Wright be taken seriously when he spouts of this "hypothetical":

Bob said:
OK, so now I’m pretty convinced of the truth of something I suggested earlier in this exchange: If Roger Ailes ran a show whose host was devoted to encouraging people to kill every black person they see, you (a) would not condemn Roger Ailes and (b) would consider me anti-free speech if I did condemn Roger Ailes.


Contemptible because his prejudices shine right through.

It's immediately transparent to most why he use *black* person, especially when dealing with Althouse of Whiteville.

Add to that Robert Wright the self proclaimed foreign policy, national security expert can't even come up with the name *Benghazi* in that same diavlog until the 20 minute mark.

It's not as if Althouse didn't tell him Libya would be on the quiz.

Actually what both Althouse and Wright said about Libya and the American Air Force is ignorant-but Wright's ignorance and disregard is all the more so because he presents himself as an expert.

It's no wonder they would rather focus on this aspect of their discussion-the depths to be plunged.

CachorroQuente said...

Consider Wright's suggestion in the context of this which actually discusses real live free speech issues.

Trooper York said...

Bob Wright continues to insist that John Stuart Mill is one of the Mills brothers.

madawaskan said...

Actually to be fair most of the American public is ignorant of the efforts the American Air Force makes.

Maybe that should be the case.

The AF is highly specialized.

madawaskan said...

Does anyone else know why Robert Wright who describes himself thusly-

AREAS OF EXPERTISE

Civil Liberties, Europe, Foreign Policy, National Security, Religion, Telecom & Technology, Terrorism, Trade & Globalization.


Couldn't come up with the name Benghazi till the 20 minute mark?

*******

Was anyone else impressed with it's all good because the UN says so and because Libya is a desert?

IOW his argument was-if it's a jungle out there-massacre away!

No one saw that as a cheap cop out?

btw-The Sudan is not a jungle.

And the Sudan was using aerial attacks on civilians.

This is from April 5, 2010:

The Sudanese army is carrying out since yesterday an air attack in North and West Darfur states. The Antonov and Mig warplanes bombed our positions in Furawiyah area in North Darfur and Abu Gamrah as well as Jebel Moon in west Darfur," said JEM official spokesperson Ahmed Hussein Adam, who was talking from Doha.

Link

Trooper York said...

We were sitting around the lunch table one day and one of the accountants mentioned that he had been born in the Sudan.

My secretary said "You were born in a car?"

That about sums up what Americans know about the Sudan.

JohnG said...

Am I mistaken or was Wright's opinion also a criticism by the left of Robert Bork during his confirmation hearings - that Judge Bork's idea of limiting absolute 1st Amendment rights only to political speech was a horrid perversion of civil rights?

madawaskan said...

Trooper....

LOL!

Man I was gonna come in here ranting about something else he said but....

Thanks I needed that or somethin'...

Gawd he's a jerky little piss ant.

reader_iam said...

They aren't denying the person his freedom of speech; they're just talking at the same time he is.

So he gets to speak, but not necessarily the chance to be heard?

madawaskan said...

I gotta go get drunk before Obama in Chief comes to us via the "Defense University".

Trooper York said...

I was watching a cheesy little soap opera the other night called Army Wives. It is the wife's favorite program.

Anyway, one of the characters gets killed in action in Afghanistan. It is only a TV show but it was deeply affecting in the way it brought home the scarf ice of the brave men and women who put their lives on the line every day for us. I know I am not worthy of their sacrifice and I pray for them every chance I get. That they can stay safe and get home to their families.

The devotion to duty, honor and courage that the lowliest private exhibits every day in defense of our freedoms such as freedom of speech should shame the likes of Bob Wright and all of his misbegotten yuppie scum hipster dofous ilk.

It is fun to mock douchenozzles like Wright but ultimately they disgust me.

Revenant said...

So, if you're a radio host and I jam your AM signal, am I denying your freedom of speech?

You're actually violating the property rights of the current owner of the radio frequency in question.

What about a bomb threat designed to clear out the Dem Convention just when their candidate is about to accept the nom?

That seems like it would fall under the generally accepted restrictions on free speech rights, e.g. falsely yelling "fire" in a crowded theater.

Belkys said...

It happens at the end of xix century. herbert Spencer explained it in "The individual against the state". By then liberals in the UK and the USA became enemies of freedom while conservatives ( for a while) became defenders of freedom. In continental Europe a liberal remains what you call a libertarian. Mises also explained it but he put the shift around the first War when liberal left the field to labor party. And he noticed the use , sparse to say the true, of liberalism in the Anglo-Saxon way

Revenant said...

Couldn't come up with the name Benghazi till the 20 minute mark?

Why would he have the name of Libya's second-largest city memorized? It doesn't seem relevant to any of his claimed areas of expertise.

Revenant said...

So he gets to speak, but not necessarily the chance to be heard?

Yes. Giving people the chance to be heard is why venues overtly act to limit the freedom of speech of the audience.

Althouse is, it seems to me, arguing that it is wrong for the group to decide who does and doesn't get to talk. My point is that effective speech and totally free speech are incompatible. There isn't enough time for everyone to have a turn speaking, and if people don't take turns then nobody gets heard at all.

So private citizens who control forums for speech HAVE to decide who they want to be heard -- who gets to be on TV, who gets to be on the radio, who gets to speak before the audience. And who has to STFU and listen.

Meade said...

Couldn't come up with the name Benghazi till the 20 minute mark?

That happens to me all the time.

What I want to know is whether or not Bob has learned to spell Libya yet? Last time I looked, he was still spelling it "Lybia."

Maybe he reads too much Robert Farley. For a guy with 4 advanced degrees, that guy Farley is damn near illiterate.

Synova said...

Blogger Mark said...
But yes, once you start deciding that Glen Beck should be denied a platform because he might make the idiots think/do Bad Things, then you've adopted the mindset of Puritans and Zealots throughout history.

"But that's not what Wright is suggesting, is it? What Wright has suggested, is that Ailes should be ashamed of himself for continuing to put Beck on the air and that he should exercise his discretion and fire Beck because it is irresponsible for Ailes to continue to allow Beck to use the platform that Ailes provides."

It is exactly what Wright was suggesting. Wright was suggesting that Beck be denied a platform to speak because people need to be protected from Beck's bad words.

He was just quibbling over the method of forcing Ailes to comply.

Alex said...

We're not going to have to worry to much about Fox News & Roger Ailes. Now that Media Matters is promising to use "any and all methods" to destroy Fox News, Bob Wright can sleep easier.

Writ Small said...

I interpret this posting by Meade and Ann as a kind of admission of defeat in their argument with Bob.

Ann was arguing for an expansive definition of free speech. That is, merely suggesting that a private organization control what it's representatives say is "anti-free speech."

Bob was arguing that people these days have a narrower definition of "anti-free speech." When people in 2011 talk about being anti-free speech, the normally mean when people advocate for governmental control of what can and cannot be said.

While Bob is wrong on the substance of Mr. Beck, on his narrow point of the common, modern understanding of what it means to oppose free speech, Bob is right.

Quoting something from the 1800's, no matter how eloquent, does not help your argument for how people use the concept today. In fact, it weakens the very case.

Ann is free to push for her idea of a more expansive definition of free speech. As an academic, her reverence for this value is both natural and honorable. She has some great intellectual backup in the form of J.S. Mills. That doesn't change the fact that, on this definitional point, she is wrong and Bob is right.

Synova said...

I think that the hypothetical of a speech in an auditorium is a bit off. Property rights apply, don't they? Someone is invited to speak and the owner of the venue has the right to remove disruptive people... and the invited speaker has the right to insist that disruptive people will be excluded as a condition of their appearance. The owner of the venue has the right to pick and chose who will be invited.

True enough that the right of the Westborro Baptists to speak doesn't prevent the bikers from drowning them out. It does, however, prevent the bikers from assaulting them, forcing them off the sidewalk, or destroying their stuff, or following them home. And their right to speech doesn't require anyone at all to allow them inside any of the "events" they are picketing or allow them to block access to others.

What we tend to see in those "shouting down" instances we hear of on campuses is one group reserving the venue for their event, inviting a speaker, most likely paid for it, and then others arrive to stop them from peacefully assembling and from speaking. Or they behave in a threatening way until "security" requires the event be canceled. Not because someone wasn't letting them express themselves, or forcing them to listen to something they found abhorrent, but because they intend to prevent anyone who wanted to from hearing what they don't like.

Or they get physical and, oh, run the military recruiters off like at that college job fair in Santa Cruz or where ever it was.

No one was the least bit interested in stopping anyone from *speaking* about their disapproval of the military but that wasn't enough. It was necessary to make it impossible for anyone else to talk to them either.

It's forcing choices on other people and finding a way to call it virtue by using the magic word "speech".

I can chose not to listen, but just as soon as someone else thinks they have the right to decide for me that I must not listen, it doesn't matter if they're carefully not using the government to enforce their will. It's still force.

Alex said...

The thing is Bob Wright wouldn't allow us to hear all voices, he is for censorship.

Synova said...

"So private citizens who control forums for speech HAVE to decide who they want to be heard -- who gets to be on TV, who gets to be on the radio, who gets to speak before the audience. And who has to STFU and listen."

Private citizens HAVE to make those choices.

Other private citizens don't HAVE to try to find coercive ways to force others to make the choices they prefer be made.

Revenant said...

Other private citizens don't HAVE to try to find coercive ways to force others to make the choices they prefer be made.

Of course not, but in a public forum that's what will happen. If the Althouse comments were real-time voice instead of sequential text, nobody would be able to hear anybody through all the people talking over one another.

Alex said...

When you think about a conference call, aren't there always ground rules and basic standards of politeness? The thing is when it comes to competing ideologies all decency gets thrown out the window. Which is understandable. If my ideology completely NEGATES your way of life, why should you be nice to me?

roesch-voltaire said...

To refuse a hearing to an opinion, because they are sure that it is false, is to assume that their certainty is the same thing as absolute certainty. All silencing of discussion is an assumption of infallibility." I like this quote from JSM

ken in sc said...

When I was growing up, we were taught to never call anyone the N-word. It was impolite and low class. Even though they called themselves that word. We were not to use it if it related to persons. However, Brazil nuts were called N---- toes and labeled that in grocery stores. Certain fireworks were openly labeled N-----Chasers. Now days you can't say the word at all. Are we better off for that?

bagoh20 said...

I've seen "Shut up or I'll punch out your teeth." work very well with little protest or disagreement. Of course it depends on the "quality" of the speaker.

DADvocate said...

My point is that effective speech and totally free speech are incompatible.

There is no right to effective speech, nor, I believe, is AA arguing that. But, we all have the same 24 hours in a day to practice our freedom of speech and to choose whom we listen to.

You restrict your hypothetical to absurdly small possibilities that you do create a false dilemma. With a little creativity there are near infinite ways to get your message out, radio, TV, newspapers, fliers, billboards, signage of all sorts, numerous ways on the web, smoke signals, street theater, etc, etc. Effectiveness? Maybe, maybe not.

"Totally free speech" is a childish concept. Yelling "Fire!" in the theater has already been pointed out. Libel is a civil offense if damage can be proven.

Try dealing with the concept in a realistic approach.

reader_iam said...

It's forcing choices on other people and finding a way to call it virtue by using the magic word "speech".

I can chose not to listen, but just as soon as someone else thinks they have the right to decide for me that I must not listen, it doesn't matter if they're carefully not using the government to enforce their will. It's still force.


Again, in the spirit of wanting to understand your thinking, what if it's not just a public forum (that is, an event open to the public) but a public *public* forum (as in an event held in a publicly owned place by an elected-by-the public official). One example would be a town hall sponsored by an elected official official. Does this change the equation in any way? Should it? Ought it?

Thanks in advance, Synova (and also any other who join in) who are helping me to think this through the evolving, additional aspects of this issue, in light of these current times and a greater number of POVs seeing the light of day.

Seriously. : )

reader_iam said...

I've seen "Shut up or I'll punch out your teeth." work very well with little protest or disagreement. Of course it depends on the "quality" of the speaker. [emphasis added]

But not also on the "quality" of the puncher?

If not, why not?

Again, a serious question, not intended as snark in any way.

Revenant said...

All silencing of discussion is an assumption of infallibility." I like this quote from JSM

Much as I like JSM (he's one of the only philosophers I have any use for), he's mistaken on that point.

Refusing to discuss a matter doesn't mean you think you can't be wrong. Listening to another person has a cost, even if it is only in the time you spend listening. Refusing to listen to someone can simply mean that you figure the cost of listening to him outweighs the likely benefit of doing so.

Synova said...

Does "all silencing of discussion" mean the same as "deciding not to listen?"

Those people over there talking about something I have no interest in discussing doesn't steal time from me.

reader_iam said...

Does "all silencing of discussion" mean the same as "deciding not to listen?"

No.

reader_iam said...

Speaking only for myself, of course. :/

Lyle said...

Bob Wright had me banned from bloggingheads because he simply didn't like my words.

Pussy, is the actual word that saw me band... not even used pejoratively. His minion called it pornographic. Go figure.

CachorroQuente said...

However, Brazil nuts were called N---- toes and labeled that in grocery stores. Certain fireworks were openly labeled N-----Chasers. Now days you can't say the word at all. Are we better off for that?

There were a lot of colloquial expressions when we were kids that included the N word. I think we're better of without them. I think we're much better off with Brazil nuts and licorice babies. When we were kids, it likely never occurred to any of us that using the terms N__Toe and N__Baby were hurtful or anything but descriptive. Even if that were true then, the use of those terms today cannot be, I believe, without the baggage of the N word itself.

reader_iam said...

When we were kids, it likely never occurred to any of us that using the terms N__Toe and N__Baby were hurtful or anything but descriptive.

I'm 50, and it certainly occurred to me, no doubt because it occurred to my family (among a then-smallish circle of others among those with whom we were regularly involved). And yet I heard all sorts of the like in the small-town Indiana and in small Illinois in which my childhood was bred--and similar, though less explicit, and because of that perhaps even worse (due to its hidden-ness)--out East into my teens and even into the '80s. That was my experience. Yours might have been different, and to that I say, "Fortunate you!" But what I just spoke of was mine, what I observed and experienced, and saw experienced, in my own, real life.

I hate the pretending and posturing of those who try to rewrite history to say otherwise *for all.* I mean, it's great if you lived in such a different world at the time. It doesn't qualify you to be spokesperson for all. As I'm not for you, of course.

reader_iam said...

Missed this one:

When you think about a conference call, aren't there always ground rules and basic standards of politeness?

Yes, indeed, there are. The conference calls I think of are on business. I've been paid to know how properly to participate in them; I've been paid to participate in them, period.

You want free? Other than being a member of my close family or being a closest friend, there is only one way. Treat me with some basic respect: Lose the ungrounded (not to mention unfounded) assumptions, the knee-jerk challenges, the stupid labeling, and the ad hominem.

Easy peasy, innit?

reader_iam said...

Otherwise, all bets are off: I'll play by your ground rules, instead.

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