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The other side of that sign has a megaphone surrounded by a circle with a slash through it.


"Beyond this point is a free speech free zone"


Oh don't worry, you have "freedom" of "speech", I mean that's in the constitution so we really have to... kinda work around that, unfortunately... but it's all yours! All you have to do is fill out some forms, and pay the ATFS (Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Speech) a $200 tax stamp, then wait 8-12 months for background checks and approval for a permit. After all, ideas can't be killed and they've been indirectly responsible for millions and millions of deaths even before firearms existed... they're incredibly dangerous, and the general public can't be trusted out in public running around with ideas in their head. I mean think about it, we don't just let people drive willy nilly, they have to take courses and pass a test to get their license and have insurance so we know they're responsible enough to handle that sort of responsibility.


Besides, who wants to walk into a store next to someone with their own ideas and opinions, and the ability to communicate them to me or my young children without going through the proper hoops? I'm just there to pick up some groceries!


Anyway, as long as we don't have any red flags from you like stuff that disagrees with what we say, then you're free to speak your mind!




Edited by Burncycle360
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The NYTimes semi-regularly publishes commentary by Jochen Bittner about German issues. This one about freedom of speech is sort of interesting, although it's a little "can't we all just get along" trite -- also, I'm surprised that the editors didn't make Bittner at least cite some examples/links or something, which is what most US editorial writers do. (I'm posting most of it, it's a bit long):


Actually on second thought, it actually reads like something Bittner pulled out of his ass after getting a deadline scare. :)



HAMBURG, Germany — Germany doesn’t have a problem with free speech. It has two — or rather, it is caught between two very different conceptions of free speech, each of which has significant shortcomings and each of which is rooted in our inability to close the chasm that remains between eastern and western Germany, 30 years after reunification.
Simply put, the division pits one part of the country that believes freedom of speech is on the decline against another that believes freedom of speech is going way too far. These aren’t just different concepts, rooted in two different formative national experiences — the Nazi era and the East German Communist regime. They are also at fundamental odds with each other, meaning that the day in, day out debate over what counts as acceptable speech is driving Germans further apart.
Let’s start with the Germans who believe that freedom of speech is endangered. Concentrated in eastern Germany, many of them experienced communism and its “better say nothing” atmosphere firsthand, only to be freed with the fall of the Berlin Wall.
For many eastern Germans, the revolution of 1989 held the promise that in a free country you would be able to utter any opinion, without suffering consequences. Instead, they complain, when they express conservative views on hot topics like immigration or multiculturalism, they are quickly labeled Nazis.
We know what it feels like to live in a society where certain opinions are unacceptable, they say, and increasingly, we’re feeling that same pressure.
The second group, rooted in western Germany, has a different concern, and a different historical reference point. They believe they see social norms around tolerance and diversity eroding, and fear a replay of the 1930s.
From 1933 onward, the incremental acceptance of hatred, racism and dehumanization paved the way to the Holocaust. This group, which includes high-profile journalists and celebrities, believes that hatred should not be covered by the freedom of speech. That in itself is not a new view in Germany, but recently those who hold it have ceased to draw a distinction between the broad political right and right-wing extremism.
To them, “rechts” — right-wing — has become the new collective term for an immensely broad range of people, from conservative critics of Chancellor Angela Merkel to neo-Nazis. We have learned our lesson, this group says, and we will “never again” allow intolerance and inhumanity to enter legitimate discourse.
Both groups command support from broad sections of German society. And both fundamentally misunderstand what free speech means.
The promise of 1989, to start with, never included a guarantee that speech came without consequences. In fact, most opinions have and will always have a social price. Freedom of speech never meant freedom from ridicule. Part of the messy necessity of democratic civil society is sorting out good ideas from bad ones. Plus, in Communist East Germany, people who criticized the government were often tortured by the Stasi. We are far from this danger today.
What the other side gets wrong is that brute, malign and even hateful speech is, in fact, broadly covered by freedom of speech. Freedom of opinion includes the right to utter opinions against freedom.
The German constitutional court ruled in 2009 that “even the dissemination of National Socialist ideas as a radical challenge to the existing order” is principally covered by the right of the freedom speech. Why? Because there’s no better way to fight nonsense than a good counter argument.
Increasingly lost on the German left is exactly this confidence: that the freewheeling fight of opinions is the best insurance against a victory of inhumane ideologues. In Nazi Germany, this clash of ideas did not exist. Dissidents were shut in concentration camps or killed. We are far from this danger today as well.
The real danger Germany faces today is neither a creeping leftist regime nor a nascent far-right dictatorship. Rather, it is the irrational insinuation that people who hold views different from your own are themselves illegitimate. This suspicion leads to tribalism, and tribalism is what drives societies apart.
What protects us against this drift? A good start might be the realization that complaining about “the others” who allegedly impair one’s freedom of speech is often an excuse for one’s own lack of courage to speak out. Right after World War II, the German chancellor, Konrad Adenauer, had a good piece of advice for citizens who feared others’ anger: “It’s only after having made yourself unpopular that you will be taken seriously.”
In the age of Twitter, it is extremely easy to make yourself extremely unpopular. It is also easy as never before to gain a voice. That’s the new deal.


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Not a bad take, though I would say that on one hand that's just a specific German background feeding into the general "hate speech!" vs. "censorship!" debate going on throughout the West; and OTOH, the different conceptions of freedom between East and West Germans went a lot further. The former by and large wanted the Western type, but after 56 years of non-stop dictatorship were not necessarily prepared for the increased responsibility and tolerance that requires.


Bittner notes that free speech is a two-way street and has always carried a social price, and the same was true in the economic and wider cultural field - the freedom you have also applies to others, possibly at your own expense. Not that East and West Germans cannot be equally misunderstanding of that fact. In effect, as Bittner points out, both camps in this debate are all for free speech as long as people say the right things. Though as a society with a traditionally diverse, consensus-oriented political system, we're a long way from the polarization of those with the two-party type (even if fringe actors would like to get there because they would thrive on it).


I've also found that people who have lived under communist regimes tend to overapply their experience not just in Germany, putting down any policy and media reports which don't conform to their opinion as dictatorial and propaganda, claiming that others are blind to it. Of course in Germany, the reference to both the DDR and Nazis as a big club in debate is actually common to both camps, in both East and West.

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I'd like to add that many former DDR citizens have experienced not being listened to. No wonder by the sheer numbers. The DDR had about 16 to 17 millionb people in 1990, the BRD had about 60 million people. Then the media with a few exceptions has been steamrolled by media corps from the west which are blind to eastern issues. so they have the experience not only of not being able to speak up, but also of not being heard. They then just scream louder and more radical to be heard now.

Edited by Panzermann
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Holocaust denial not a human right, rules European court


STRASBOURG, France - Denial of the Holocaust is not a human right, a European court rules today, throwing out a complaint by a German neo-Nazi politician.


Udo Pastoers, who served in the local parliament of the northeastern region of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, was convicted in Germany in 2012 after giving a speech in 2010 in which he appeared to cast doubt on whether the Holocaust really happened.


Pastoers, a member of the extreme right National Democratic Party (NDP), lodged a complaint against the conviction with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in 2014.


He argued his freedom of expression was violated and his right to a fair trial infringed because the judge at his appeal could not have been impartial as he was the husband of a judge who had convicted him in a lower court.


The ECHR judges rule unanimously that Pastoers complaint that freedom of expression had been violated is manifestly ill-founded and had to be rejected.


The judges also rule by four votes to three that there had been no violation of the right to a fair trial.


It adds an independent court of appeal panel with no links to either married judge had ultimately decided on the bias claim and had rejected it.




Edited by BansheeOne
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NYT opinion piece says that free speech is klilling us.





some interesting contortions


What I always find more interesting is how there is no comments section--though I might be disgusted by what I read, TBH

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NYT opinion piece says that free speech is klilling us.





some interesting contortions


They're right; purge the entire media, and all non-elected gatekeepers who presume to lead the citizenry around by the nose. S/F....Ken M

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Back to that fuzzy line between free speech and supporting terrorism.


After Soleimani’s death, Instagram shuts down Iranian accounts


News agencies, human rights activists and influencers have had their accounts deactivated.


Text by Isobel Cockerel Illustration by Sofiya Voznaya 10 January, 2020

After a U.S. drone strike killed Iran’s General Qassem Soleimani, Iranians flocked to one of their favorite platforms, Instagram. But in the days following the general’s death, journalists, activists and ordinary Iranians have experienced shutdowns and censorship – not from Iran, but from Instagram.


At least fifteen Iranian journalists have reported having their accounts suspended, according to the International Federation of Journalists. Government-owned and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-affiliated media agencies such as Tasnim News Agency, the Iran Newspaper and Jamaran News all had their accounts, with a combined hundreds of thousands of followers, removed entirely by Instagram. “This poses an immediate threat to freedom of information in Iran,” the International Federation of Journalists said in a statement.


Iranian influencers, human rights advocates, and activists are also experiencing account shutdowns.


“It’s very widespread, it’s huge,” said Amir Rashidi, an Iran internet security and digital rights researcher based in New York, who watched on Instagram as account after account in Iran was shut down or had posts removed after users discussed the killing. “Every person I saw that posted about Soleimani on Instagram, almost all of their posts have been removed.”


While Facebook, Twitter and Telegram are all blocked by the government and can only be accessed through a virtual private network, Instagram is one of the few Western-built social media apps not yet banned by the government. The platform has an estimated 24 million active users in Iran and is an important communications tool – though reports say it’s about to be blocked by the government, too.


“The only platform where we could freely express ourselves was Instagram,” said Rashidi. “And now Instagram is censoring us.”


Instagram said that in removing posts in praise of Soleimani, it was complying with U.S. sanctions law. In April 2019, President Trump designated the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization. Shortly after Trump’s designation was announced, Instagram removed a number of Revolutionary Guards’ pages, including that of Soleimani himself and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s English-language page, which the company later reinstated.


Stephanie Otway, a Facebook company spokesperson, said: “We operate under U.S. sanctions laws, including those related to the U.S. government’s designation of the IRGC and its leadership.”


Instagram said any accounts maintained by or on behalf of the Revolutionary Guards, as well as content that supports it, are in violation of its community guidelines banning terrorist content.


“This is just a field of law that really hasn’t been written quite yet,” explained Eliza Campbell, associate director at the Cyber Program at the Middle East Institute in Washington, D.C, who said the existing laws had failed to keep up with online speech. “The terrorist designation system is an important tool, but it’s also a blunt instrument,” she said. “I think we’re walking down a dangerous path when we afford these platforms – which are private entities, have no oversight, and are not elected bodies – to essentially dictate policy, which is what’s happening right now.”


Prominent human rights advocate and investigative journalist Emadeddin Baghi, 57, who has nearly 40,000 Instagram followers, also had four of his Soleimani-related Instagram posts removed. Baghi, who has been imprisoned multiple times in Iran, is a well-known critic of the IRGC. “I shared a post that had two parts,” Baghi said. The general’s death, he wrote, had “saddened some, and made others happy,” but that the assassination “was an act which is contrary to the principles of international law.”


In the post, Baghi also reflected on how Iran reached this point in history, and how it could have been avoided. Baghi described the post as daring given the current emotional climate in Iran. “In fact,” he said, it was “a criticism of the government’s policies.” But Baghi is nonplussed as to why the post was deleted: “which of these words is really questionable on Instagram?” he said.





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Hang about? Is there a fuzzy line between free speech (of individuals) and the 'free speech' of government organs that are releasing what their ides of something is or releasing outright propaganda?

I clearly see the issues with Instagram killing individual accounts, but that's different than the IRGC's account(s).

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I was never a Trump fan, but I don't really pay attention to these statistics. They pretend to be impartial when they are partisan. The "lies" that I saw listed whenever I checked these lists were usually minor, and in any case nothing that other politicians wouldn't do all the time either, except that they would not be scrutinized on the same level as Trump. Yes, maybe Trump takes more liberties with facts than most other politicians, but there's what politicians say, and there's what they do. I rather pay attention to what people are doing.


These "guardians of the objective truth" have cried Wolf so many times, they have nobody to blame but themselves if fewer and fewer people listen to them, even if they might find something really serious.


That Trump takes credit for things he didn't do - shocking, I know, but all politicians do this, and it's as much a lie as is exaggerated marketing.

That Trump declares victory when, at best, he hasn't made things worse - I can live with that because it's effectively the same as above.

That Trump is imprecise in his wording to describe things as he sees them more succinctly - again, the left has comedians pretending to be news anchors doing more or less the same, and these comedians are being taken as serious political commentators. Oh noes, where's the world heading to?

Then there are some serious lies. Yes, he shouldn't do this. But I'm not sure if I would rather have a clumsy liar like Trump, or a glib one who can hide his lies better, like Obama. So, these are the thought processes behind my decision not to pay too much attention to this. It's a simple heuristic, and like other heuristics it may fail at times, but it's a necessary filter to concentrate on the important things in my life, and Trump isn't one at this point. Given the discrepancy between what all the media pundits reported from their crystal ball sessions even before he had his first day in office, Trump's presidency is remarkably serene. According to "the experts" he'd start a nuclear war with North Korea in no time, round up all homosexuals to put them into "camps" (death camps? reeducation camps? conversion camps?), start more wars than all the Bushes and Obama combined, be Putin's bitch/Manchurian candidate, have a trade war with China that would put the world into a recession on the level of the Great Depression, massacre Mexicans with automatic guns at the border. He's a clown, suffers from dementia, and yet an evil mastermind.

I know very well that predictions are a difficult task, especially those about the future, but the whole media machine about Trump is just pathetic.

It's 2020, and the Democrats still want to win 2016.

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One theme I hear very often from my friends on the left is how Trump has destroyed civility in politics. I like to remind my friends that Trump didn't appear from a vacuum, that he's simply a manifestation of the utter incivility that has been steadily growing since John Adams was called a hermaphroditical creature. Or since it was said that not all the whores in Philadelphia could hold all of Alexander Hamilton's secretions.


My friends on the left have no recollection whatsoever of how the left treated Bush (who actually tried to be civil to the press), McCain (who they loved until he ran against Obama), Romney (the most milktoast person to ever run for president). They were all worse than Hitler. Now they have Trump who has the temper of a vindictive 3-year old, who feels the compulsion to answer *every* *single* insult. There is something strangely satisfying to that and I know many people feel the same.

Edited by Mikel2
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Sorry, Milo, we've seen plenty of democrat lies for years in furtherance of policy. Remember that promise about keeping your doctor if you liked him?

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Most Republicans are quite aware that Trump is a blowhard and much of what he says is bullshit. They also note that in spite of that, he can be trusted to do things they like. This is preferable to them than politicians whose speech is carefully constructed to say nothing and cannot be trusted to act in the people's interest.

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All Republicans? Every party functionary? Or also every voter? Just the registered ones, all the past voters or all those of the future, too? Or is it that everybody whose opinion you don't like must be a Republican?

Did you fact check your claim? With what method?

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