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Unread 08-30-2017, 06:15 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by Leboman
I understand that. My point is that the government is the one who periodically adds things to the list. Where is the line in your opinion? It seems they leave a LOT of room for exceptions especially under "Fighting Words and Offensive Speech".
Unfortunately, I have to give you a lawyery answer here and say "it depends." It's a huge challenge to figure out where these lines have to be drawn. It depends on the exact circumstances of statements, the context things were said in, changing cultural norms over time, and a lot more. There are thousands of cases where intelligent judges and lawyers and juries have carved this up, sometimes drawing really fine lines. It honestly does take a whole book to really answer this question in any thorough or useful way.

There's simply no easy way to draw a line on "this is good speech and this is bad speech," especially not in a short message board post. If there was, I'd be out of a job.

I know that's not a particularly satisfying answer, but it's the best I've got.

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Unread 08-30-2017, 06:19 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by mtlmouth View Post
Unfortunately, I have to give you a lawyery answer here and say "it depends." It's a huge challenge to figure out where these lines have to be drawn. It depends on the exact circumstances of statements, the context things were said in, changing cultural norms over time, and a lot more. There are thousands of cases where intelligent judges and lawyers and juries have carved this up, sometimes drawing really fine lines. It honestly does take a whole book to really answer this question in any thorough or useful way.

There's simply no easy way to draw a line on "this is good speech and this is bad speech," especially not in a short message board post. If there was, I'd be out of a job.

I know that's not a particularly satisfying answer, but it's the best I've got.
Just curious. FWIW, I am not defending any of the protesters. This can of worms got opened and I just happen to think it's an interesting topic.

As one who could possibly be accused of "hate" speech for sharing what I believe to be biblical truth, I am sincerely interested in the conversation.
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Unread 08-30-2017, 08:23 PM   #33
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@mtlmouth

As an aside.....is your user name short hand for metal mouth as in you had braces? Probably been a few years.

As to your last post. It was well said. I have a few questions: You were very specific in your verbiage concerning the "US Government". How about institutions like colleges? Does it make a difference if they're 100% private or partially government funded? There have been numerous incidents of conservative voices being silenced on college campuses. What are your thoughts here?

How about the media? It's mostly privately funded, but do they have an obligation to honor free speech?

How about NPR? They're partially government funded and there have been specific incidents where they have been on the wrong side of this issue.
Yes, that is the origin of my username! I joined the site just a couple weeks after getting braces put on, and the two years of treatment ahead seemed endless, and I figured I'd be long gone from here before the braces came off. Those two years passed, and then eleven more, and I guess I forgot to leave.

All the cases you've mentioned here are definitely tricky ones, and unsurprisingly, that means they get a lot of legal challenges.

The issue for universities is one that's particularly sensitive for me right now, as a UC Berkeley alum who still lives in Berkeley and respects the campus' historical commitment to the free speech movement, but knows that they have a really serious challenge with violent reactions to speech lately. Public universities are definitely considered to be a government forum, and that severely limits their ability to restrict speech based on content. They can make other reasonable, content neutral restrictions, though - these often get referred to as time, place, and manner restrictions. So a university can usually put restrictions on speech, as long as it's not based on the content of the speech, it's not any more restrictive than necessary, there's a significant government interest in the restriction, and lots of other channels for communication are left open. To continue using Berkeley as an example, it's probably fine for them to say "this is the only building you can use for your right-wing speaking event, because it's the only one big enough for the crowd you're expecting and that we can adequately barricade and set up police due to its location on campus." They could also probably say "you can't have your event on Saturday night when there's five other major events on campus that we need to have resources available for," but probably can't say "your only option is Tuesday at 4am," because that would be excessive. These strike me as reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions, because there's a significant government interest: right-wing demonstrations at Berkeley attract some violent right-wing extremists, prompt very large crowds of peaceful left-wing protestors to show up and cause crowd control issues, and also attract antifas, who can cause property damage and sometimes act violently toward others.

(I realize terms like "significant government interest" may sound kind of wiggly and undefined. They're definitely open to interpretation. This is the part of the practice of law that is either infuriating or fascinating to people, depending on perspective.)

"The media" (I assume you mean newspapers and television stations) as well as NPR have some similar concerns:
- Freedom of the press is a separate part of the 1st Amendment from freedom of speech, and it comes with its own protections and regulations.
- Television broadcasts and radio broadcasts are regulated by the government because the narrow band of the airwaves that works for over-the-air TV and radio are pretty scarce commodities. They're obviously subjected to additional restrictions, like obscenity rules.
- I'm not entirely sure what you mean by whether the media needs to "honor" free speech. As a free press, they can kind of report on whatever they want, and they're constitutionally protected in doing so. (We can all insert our own least-favorite media outlet here as an example, I guess.)
- I'd also need a little more clarification on what you mean by NPR being on the wrong side of this issue. Are you talking about just the accusations that NPR is biased? (For what it's worth, NPR also doesn't get much of their funding from the government anymore.)
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Unread 08-30-2017, 08:35 PM   #34
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Thanks for your response mtlmouth -- even and measured.

My only comment is that the "time, place, and manner" clause is such a slippery slope in that there is only a select few in power that get to determine this based on their opinions. So a small group of faculty at, for example, Berkeley could say "we recognize your right to freedom of speech, but we feel that this is not the time or place for that manner of speech.
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Unread 08-30-2017, 08:44 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by Leboman View Post
Just curious. FWIW, I am not defending any of the protesters. This can of worms got opened and I just happen to think it's an interesting topic.

As one who could possibly be accused of "hate" speech for sharing what I believe to be biblical truth, I am sincerely interested in the conversation.
I mean, hate speech is still protected under the 1st Amendment. It would be really hard, after decades of decisions saying it's protected, to create an exception out of thin air and say that it's suddenly somehow not protected. You really have to go above and beyond and start advocating for violence towards a group before you run into issues and cross over into "fighting words." I'm gonna grit my teeth and quote Justice Scalia here, because he was right on this:

“The reason why fighting words are categorically excluded from the protection of the First Amendment is not that their content communicates any particular idea, but that their content embodies a particularly intolerable (and socially unnecessary) mode of expressing whatever idea the speaker wishes to convey”.
R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul, 505 U.S. 377 (1992)

So it's more about the way you express yourself than the actual content of what you say.

Keep in mind: Westboro Baptist gets to keep doing their thing, despite the fact that I think many of their signs probably do qualify as "hate speech" (again, not a legal term) against LGBT people.
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Unread 08-30-2017, 08:46 PM   #36
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Thanks for your response mtlmouth -- even and measured.

My only comment is that the "time, place, and manner" clause is such a slippery slope in that there is only a select few in power that get to determine this based on their opinions. So a small group of faculty at, for example, Berkeley could say "we recognize your right to freedom of speech, but we feel that this is not the time or place for that manner of speech.
It's definitely a challenge! I don't envy the UC faculty who have to make those calls right now, because it's really important to stand up for freedom of speech for a lot of reasons, but tensions are so high right now. Honestly, it wouldn't surprise me at all if they (or some other similar campus) make the wrong call on this in the next couple of years, and we get a big lawsuit over it that ends up going to the Supreme Court eventually. We might be about to see some interesting 1st Amendment precedent get made in the next few years.
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Unread 08-30-2017, 08:49 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by mtlmouth View Post
Keep in mind: Westboro Baptist gets to keep doing their thing, despite the fact that I think many of their signs probably do qualify as "hate speech" (again, not a legal term) against LGBT people.
Those assclownhats make it difficult to defend free speech sometimes.
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Unread 08-30-2017, 09:00 PM   #38
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