1. Al Dente says

    You didn’t give the alt-text:

    I can’t remember where I heard this, but someone once said that defending a position by citing free speech is sort of the ultimate concession; you’re saying that the most compelling thing you can say for your position is that it’s not literally illegal to express.

  2. Blanche Quizno says

    The comic only covers a portion of reality.

    For example, on a forum specifically designed for “Religion, Philosophy, and Spirituality”, there was collusion among faithists to report free-thought posts en masse to the moderators, resulting in the free-thinkers’ posts being deleted and, in some cases, the free-thinkers themselves being banned. This same approach was also used by a group of collaborators to harrass and bully posters they didn’t like.

    It wasn’t a “Let’s all praise Christianity” forum. It was about all aspects of RPS. Which includes criticism.

    But some, particularly cult members, won’t allow criticism – they simply want to freely proselytize in an environment free of challenge and criticism. There are fora where that happens, designed for the expression of mutual delight in Christianity. But when the proselytizers join forces to get challengers banned on public fora, that is not the spirit the comic is expressing. That is something else entirely from the comic’s pretense, where the presumption is that the only person getting banned is the asshole.

    On a reddit where someone was asking questions about a cult called SGI, some posters were providing information from SGI’s own publications that clearly showed how cultish it was. One cultie in particular stalked every post with “Liar” “Smear campaign” “Temple member” (that’s the SGI’s bête noire) and “Mentally ill – I feel so sorry for this poor pathetic person”. Despite being repeatedly invited to present the evidence that showed these sources or these excerpts were not factual, this person never once presented evidence. He, a reddit mod on other boards, even succeeded in getting one of these whistleblowers banned! Just because he couldn’t face the truth about his cult. And remember, this was on a thread asking whether SGI is a cult or not and why people say it is a cult – the information being presented that SGI was, indeed, a cult was absolutely relevant and factual, linked to the original sources so anyone could check the context etc.

    Sure, there are plenty of trolls around. But sometimes it’s the trolls who succeed in getting the actual participants booted out the door. Sometimes it’s the assholes who refuse to allow access to what is supposed to be a public forum.

  3. exi5tentialist says

    It’s a bit of a narrow premise to assert that free speech is merely “that the government can’t arrest you for what you say.” Where I live, government agencies can very much arrest you what for what you say. And I don’t even live in the oligarchy that is the US.

    Every community has to make a decision about where it sets the boundaries of free speech. Set them too far out and you risk conversations being stopped by malicious contributors who just want to freeze the conversation. Set them too narrow and you risk being seen as a narrow club that’s not open to challenges from people with independent minds.

    There’s actually no easy line or easy stick-character cartoon that makes that judgement an easy one. In every case, you need to take into account how confident you feel and how you think you will be perceived. There is plenty of room for misjudging it and ending up being too vulnerable to the scheming antics of the malicious and the bad. Similarly there’s plenty of room for misjudging it, silencing independent voices and then just looking arrogant.

  4. Blanche Quizno says

    For as long as I can remember, the government could arrest you for making bomb jokes in airports. For even longer, yelling “Fire” in a theater was likewise arrestible. There are all sorts of things a person can say that can get him/her arrested, and yet we still have “free speech”. These rules, and the boundaries that established them, are in an almost constant state of being negotiated.

  5. Silentbob says

    The 1st amendment doesn’t shield you from criticism or consequences. If you’re yelled at…
    It’s just that the people listening think you’re an asshole,

    Unfortunately, this reasoning is very often invoked to justify cyber-bullying.

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