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The freedom to be destroyed by freedom


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as an artist who believes in "l'art pour l'art" and the purity of amorality in artistic expression i still find myself wondering about the affect of the free speech movement on american culture. i understand that people love to preach and whine and so are distrustful of restraint but how often does anyone question that which they like as far as its affect on others and humanity at large? is it possible that in the 'noble' pursuit of allowing people to express themselves that a kind of social deterioration is occuring? in other words, what if the availibility of unrestrained information is causing more problems than solutions? i recently had a short discussion with a friend concerning freedom of speech and neo-nazi propaganda. my question was what legal rights should certain people or groups have when concerning aggressivly hateful and pro-violent attitudes (socially speaking). the klu lux klan can march and be supported by the aclu but one cannot publish a book about how one is going to kill a specific black man. is this a balance of individual rights and respect of the ambiguity of influence? i can publish works that epouse rape and murder (though anyone can critique and protest them) but i cannot write a book about how i am going to kill the president. i realize that there is a difference here but it still seems absurd to me. is freedom of speech dangerous? is it sacred? is it both? what are the limitations and why are they there? personally i disagree with oscar wilde that the best government for an artist is no government and i disagree with many in the entertainment industry that see no social responsibility in what they produce. restrictions can foster great works even in the lazy minded and there is a difference between art made and art sold and publicly exposed. anarchist that i am emotionally i find it hard to pour myself into the liberal stream when it comes to this issue. thoughts?

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I think that one's rights end where another's begin. Thus, for someone to claim that rape and murder are good, does not violate anybodies rights. However, to claim that rape and murder of a specific individual is good violates that individual's right to feel safe. I think that freedom of expression is necessary for a civilization to advance, and while I think that sometimes it goes too far, I would rather live in a society with too much freedom of speech than too little.

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i recently had a short discussion with a friend concerning freedom of speech and neo-nazi propaganda. my question was what legal rights should certain people or groups have when concerning aggressivly hateful and pro-violent attitudes (socially speaking).

 

I personally believe that groups which attack basic democratic values (right extremists) should, by definition, be excluded from the democratic process. You can't have it both ways. :)

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i understand that people love to preach and whine and so are distrustful of restraint but how often does anyone question that which they like as far as its affect on others and humanity at large? is it possible that in the 'noble' pursuit of allowing people to express themselves that a kind of social deterioration is occuring?
Interesting question. This might me true, but it looks like there are many periods in US history where the propriety of public discourse has been questioned on its merits. I read Scandalmonger by William Safire, a fictional account of a political writer who was a contemporary of Thomas Jefferson. It does appear that the political discourse was as polar and skewed in 1800 as it is today.

 

The issues of violence, mysogeny and anti-religion are, I thnk also long-lived, but the real-time nature of the press now promotes so much more prurient attention. I was oddly disgusted and bored by the OJ trial. Then the Scott Petersen trial. Now the Michael Jackson trial. These trials really nave no national import: they are just sad examples of specific people. It looks like the people's interest in violence runs deep, because it does get ratings. This is not a lot different than the Roman colliseum.

 

Government does tend to monitor violent groups, and I think they should. They should be allowed to communicate, but not incite. The delinieation is tough, but is a public value. I usually think the governmental balance in this monitoring function is acceptable. I frankly have no problem with the often-maligned elements of the Patriot act, because the instances of abuse are rare to non-existent, and the public faces real risks.

 

The anti-religion flavor of the press (and occasionally art) now is odd. I do understand the discomfort with federal funding of anti-religious art that is starkly against the sense of propriety of the nation (Piss Christ by Andres Serrano comes to mind), but I am a little surprised by the politization of religion. I am not surpised that people of faith vote, but the attention given to the "religious right" versus the religious left is probably unwarranted. It does look like the mainstream media is biased ot the left, but this is now balanced by the other media avenues that tilt right.

 

Summing up, I don't think too much has changed in the last 200 years, except that the real-time nature of the media has driven public information toward the sensational, and the fraction of sensationaliism has drifted up in recent years. The various jurisdictions are pretty good at suppressing violent behavior, and they tend to monitor violent speech closely to preclude eruption into said behavior.

 

And people are still intrigued by violence, and marketers have figured it out.

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I personally believe that groups which attack basic democratic values (right extremists) should, by definition, be excluded from the democratic process. You can't have it both ways. :)

 

 

That's the price of the ride. Free-speach is just that; free. It should not be regulated unless it is incitefull of specific harm. To say that the gov't sucks is not only one's right it is one's duty to have a voice. You have the right to disagree. (or at least did until the re-issue of the Alien-Sedition Acts of 1798 so wonderfully packaged in a new and shiney box called the Patriot Act).

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___MotherEngine said, "in other words, what if the availibility of unrestrained information is causing more problems than solutions?"

___The Tao Te Ching takes the position that this statement is true & recommends keeping the general population ignorant & with few posessions. I think all this means is that people naturally say whatever they want & those with power over others try to limit what is said in order to remain in power.

___We humans are social creatures & so engage in social behaviors like conversation as naturally as any other & as we only know our own mind it is not surprising that disagreements arise. Law or no law, people will be people. :)

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  • 2 weeks later...
...again, i am anti-government by nature .... but i just see too few people questioning things that they believe in....
But ME is making a different point, and is is a tougher one to address. It does appear that most folks really don't think much most of the time. It does seem to be a lot of work to do so. How do you suppose we engage more folks to think about the world they live in?
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