Saturday, August 12, 2017

Shetterly's Free Speech FAQ

NOTE: This FAQ is about the principle of free speech. There's a little about the law, but if you want to research the legal limits of speech in the US, try the ACLU's Defending First Amendment Rights.

1. How old is the idea of free speech?

At least 2500 years old. In 399 BC, Socrates said, "If you offered to let me off this time on condition I am not any longer to speak my mind... I should say to you, "Men of Athens, I shall obey the Gods rather than you.""

2. Isn't censorship something that only a government can do?

No. From What Is Censorship? | American Civil Liberties Union:
Censorship, the suppression of words, images, or ideas that are "offensive," happens whenever some people succeed in imposing their personal political or moral values on others. Censorship can be carried out by the government as well as private pressure groups. Censorship by the government is unconstitutional.
3. Does free speech give you a right to lie, slander, or engage in false advertising?

No. Free speech gives you the right to say what you believe. It does not give you the right to say what you do not believe. Lying cannot be defended as free speech.

4. Does free speech give you a right to harass or threaten people?

No. Free speech does not give you the right to make anyone listen to you, and it does not give you a right to hurt anyone. Credible threats of danger are grounds to have people arrested, not for speaking, but for promising to do harm.

5. What about illegal forms of pornography?

Free speech gives you the right to try to change laws, but it does not give you the right to break them.

While art is a form of speech, and pornography is a form of art, when we talk about illegal pornography, we’re talking about recordings that are evidence of crimes. Keeping those forms of pornography illegal is not about speech—it's about targeting the market that promotes the crime. The principle is no different than targeting people who pay for prostitutes, drugs, or contract killings.

If you don’t like those laws, use your free speech to try to change them. If the subject of illegal pornography becomes legal, the pornography will become legal too.

6. What about firing people for saying things that do not directly affect their job?

People should be fired because of their job performance. If companies need to address something an employee has said off the job, they only need to say, “The opinions of our employees are their own.”

7. What about protesters speaking out to silence speakers and intimidating venues into canceling their events?

If you don't want to hear people speak, don't go to their speeches. Preventing people from speaking is the opposite of free speech.

8. What about protesting speakers in ways that don't silence them?

Yes! Protest outside events, but don't block passage to them. Go to events wearing armbands or T-shirts that show you reject a speaker's message. When speakers take questions, point out the problems with their beliefs.

9. Does free speech mean we have to let everyone speak wherever they want?

No. Groups have a right to invite the speakers they want to hear. They have no obligation to invite people they don’t want to hear.

10. Doesn't free speech let us cancel a speaker's invitation to speak?

No. When Clark University invited Norman Finkelstein to speak, then canceled the speech in response to protesters, Sarah Wunsch of the ACLU wrote:
...the cancellation of his speech violates the basic principles of freedom of speech and academic freedom which are so fundamental to an institute of higher learning. The existence of an opportunity to speak at another time or in another location does not remedy the wrong of censorship. 
11. What about copyright?

Free speech does not give you a right to claim someone else's expression as your own or to use their expression as you please. Copyright laws vary from country to country—in order to be true to free speech, copyright laws must allow for Fair Use.

12. Isn't free speech used by the powerful to abuse the powerless?

Free speech lets the powerless speak. Without it, the weak will be silenced by the rich and powerful.

13. What about silencing people who oppose free speech?

Free speech belongs to everyone, including people who oppose it.


XKCD doesn't understand free speech—or the difference between legal and moral rights

Actually, what XKCD doesn't understand is that money is not speech (XKCD doesn't understand free speech, take 2):

Explaining free speech to XKCD, a cartoon

Frederick Douglass and Henry Louis Gates on free speech and hate speech

Socialist quotes for free speech

Two examples of the unexpected consequences of banning (pornography and swastika)

On responding to speech with violence, or why a coward in a mask is nothing like Captain America

Friday, August 11, 2017

Google memo outrage reveals the dream and flaw of left-identitarianism

One of the better pieces about Damore's memo, Sabine Hossenfelder's Backreaction: Outraged about the Google diversity memo? I want you to think about it. notes:
The bigger mistake in Damore’s memo is one I see frequently: Assuming that job skills and performance can be deduced from differences among demographic groups. This just isn’t so. I believe for example if it wasn’t for biases and unequal opportunities, then the higher ranks in science and politics would be dominated by women. Hence, aiming at a 50-50 representation gives men an unfair advantage. I challenge you to provide any evidence to the contrary.
This idea that every job will someday have 50-50 gender representation is part of the identitarian dream. Whether it'll come true, I haven't a clue. Because nature gives the sexes different physical strengths and weaknesses, we'll either have to modify human bodies or use advanced tech to realize that dream.

But if there are subtle mental differences between men and women, those differences will always manifest themselves in some of the things people do. There may always be more men than women doing work like The 10 most dangerous jobs for men.

In a fair world, the requirements for doing a job are about ability, not gender. Whether that results in some jobs being disproportionately male or female should be irrelevant, so long as every individual can compete fairly.

The problem is our only way to test whether people have equality of opportunity is to look for equality of outcome. People will always be right to wonder about the reasons for disproportionate results.

Hossenfelder suggests,
One way to deal with the situation is to wait until the world catches up. Educate people about bias, work to remove obstacles to education, change societal gender images. This works – but it works very slowly.
Belief in change through education is another part of the left-identitarian dream, but education doesn't work slowly: It doesn't work at all. As noted at Wealth inequality is even worse than income inequality
If we equalized education levels between black and white Americans, we'd barely dent the racial wealth gap.
What does work? Sharing the wealth. 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Some political whimsy from Twitter today

I tweeted this quote by an unknown writer: "Socialist jokes are only funny if everyone gets them."

Which inspired these responses:

"I'd tell you the joke about capitalism but I doubt you'd buy it." —@jaymiejmoore

"I'd tell you the joke about socialism but I doubt you'd share it." —@WillShetterly

"i'd tell you the joke about communism, but it's never really been tried" —@chaosprime

"I'd tell you the joke about anarchy, but it never really comes together." —@jaymiejmoore

"don't worry if you don't get the joke about anarcho-transhumanism, it won't be long before it gets you" —@chaosprime

"if you don't get the joke about accelerationism, i'll tell you worse and worse jokes until we find one that you get" —@chaosprime

'Anybody can tell a joke about nihilism. There's nothing to it." —@CPetersen_CS

"there are exactly ninety-six jokes about syndicalism, all of them equal" —@chaosprime

"I'd tell you a joke about philosophy but you'd all just argue about the answer & whether it was funny long after the rest of us went home." —@jamesmsix