What do you consider freedom of speech?


KenHall on the net says that in the UK speech promoting Osama Bin Laden is illegal. He considers this to be an unjust law. I disagree. Here is my rebuttal:


What are your thoughts on limits to the first amendment?

There are already limits, by the way, and if you don't know this, then don't post a comment. Get educated, then talk to me.

You cannot perjure, slander, or sell government secrets, or look at child porn, the list goes on but there's a sample.

What is the limit? No limit cannot possibly be a just law (or lack of one)... therefore, what is the proper limit to freedom of speech?

I say the natural law dictates "you should not make aggression on one another, lie, or trespass" should indicate where to set the limit.

Do any of you disagree, if so, why?

Do any of you agree, if so, why?


The child porn thing is part of "making aggression" (using power and influence to corrupt a small child) and a "trespass" (you have no right to touch little children like that, let alone have sex with them) therefore even pornography can fall under the category of the natural law I described.

Update 2:


You completely avoided the fact that not all speech can be free. You forgot slander, perjury, government secrets, and the fact that owning child porn makes you a criminal as much as owning an illegal unliscenced weapon does.

Possession is 9/10ths of the law, so they say. But the fact is, you completely ignored the problem by pretending it doesn't exist, and then stating your view that nothing a person says, prints, or exhanges with others should be illegal.

Update 3:

Feel free to debate the point, my friend. I welcome criticism. But you dodged it.

Update 4:

Icetender- you would not be barred from slander but you would be sued? For what?

If slander is not illegal according to you, there is no case! You're engaging in doublespeak. You can't have it both ways. It either is legal or it is illegal.

6 Answers

  • Favorite Answer

    Freedom of Speech should only go as far as both morality and justice can go with it.

    And to every liberal/socialist out there... Freedom of Speech is not Freedom to RIOT. There is a difference. If the KKK or a group of Nazis claims free speech during a march or demonstration because "no one is getting hurt", that is not freedom of speech. That is freedom to riot, due to the fact that there message is full of hate, bigotry, and stereotypical lies, and that is a right that does not exist.

    Slander, libel, and perjury are also unacceptable because the statements are completely untrue. If one wishes to write or give a speech about someone or something, they should accept the facts of that subject. You should not be able to lie or cheat to "boost" your way up the journalism or political ladder. It is morally wrong.

    But wait, I know some of you reading this post are saying "morality has nothing to do with freedom of speech". Once again, you're wrong. Morality has EVERYTHING to do with freedom of speech. Morality is the reason freedom of speech was created. But also, morality should be allowed to keep freedom of speech in check. When you go to a soldiers funeral to burn a flag and smash their religion, etc., in the name of protest because freedom of speech allows you this right, this is not freedom of speech, this is freedom to RIOT, which again, does not apply to anybody. How would you feel if someone went to your funeral to smash the ideology that you believed in.

    Also, these "victimless" crimes like kiddie porn and such are completely outside of freedom of speech. It is completely immoral and unjustified. I don't care if you're a peder*a*s*s and you get off to kiddie porn. You are sick, are no benefit to society and are a disease to society.

    Ladies and Gentlemen, in conclusion, freedom of speech is not a freedom to riot. Please remember the golden rule, Do unto others as you would want done upon yourself. When I see freedom of speech, I don't see protesting military funerals, burning flags or being a pedephile in your freedom of speech. I see PEACEFULLY protesting a government's decision. I see a civil liberty not only governed by the people and the government, but also governed by morality and justice.

  • 1 decade ago

    Freedom of speech is intended to be the freedom to publicly (PUBLICLY mind you, no law is supposed to govern private speech) express political opinions of any stripe. The Constitution guarantees under the First Amendment the right to speak out against the government. That's what it's all about. Just as the Second Amendment is about the right to maintain arms against any oppressor, whether foreign invader or court-appointed bushies.

    Your "natural law" is complete idiocy - which is explained by the apparent source. And the setting of any limits on political speech is unconstitutional.

    I agree that one may not commit a crime under the guise of "free speech" - heck, I live in a state where "fighting words" is still a legitimate excuse for whopping the tar out of someone - but incitement to crime (and riot is a crime) is not protected and should not be.

    Thus, I am completely within my rights to say "The President is a moron and a criminal and should be impeached" and yet I should be prosecuted were I to encourage my sometime business associate to circumvent the FTC regulations governing the stock market (even if it is to finance a political campaign).

    So there need be NO limits on the First Amendment. Only limits on the slimeball lawyers who attempt to extend its protections to criminal activities.


  • 1 decade ago

    I don't think limiting freedom of speech is the answer. Making people accountable for the consequences of what they say is better. For example, you would not be barred from slandering someone but your right to speak would not protect you from being sued.

    For child porn, having the pictures could be protected, but the fact that it promotes the illegal exploitation of children.

    The freedom to speak should never free you from societal responsibility. Speech should be fee.

    Just because you have the right to say something should not remove you from the responcibility to pay the consequences. Slander, purgery etc. can be dealt with without taking away the right to speak.

  • 1 decade ago

    You posted the following on your blog:

    "Lies, slander, and racism, and especially support for murderers and Nazis should be illegal. Those things always, always, always do harm to society. There is no reason why speech which is unethical, immoral, factually inaccurate, and actually promoting lethal action against innocent people or invading the privacy of their lives should be legal, any more than it should be legal for me to enter your house, break your things, steal your money, rape your family, and kill your dog."

    How does speech become immoral and unethical? You state that support for Nazis and murderers should be illegal because they "always, always, always do harm to society."

    Let me first examine the argument for why speech in support of murderers should be illegal. To do this, we must first determine the nature of the support. Does the person (let's call him "Bob") advocate in favor of murdering people? Any other form of advocacy would seem to pertain to the rights of the accused, prisoner's rights, etc. To avoid unpacking the luggage of hate crimes, let's restrict this discussion to an individual who favors murdering people, and thus speaks on behalf of one who has.

    Your rationale for this stance rests upon the idea that the speech does harm to society. Society may certainly be offended when Bob writes an editorial stating that he supports murder. Such an opinion flies in the face of what we value in the US. But, what harm does society incur?

    Let's suppose that a young child reads the editorial without his parents' knowledge (shame!). The child, 10 years old, approaches his friends with his new ideas. His friends reject the ideas, simply stating that "it's wrong to kill people." The child then approaches his parents, who tell him the same thing. In this case, the child's opinions become tested and refined. This, we can argue, is good, because the child has reinforced his opinion of murder.

    Let's examine the effect Bob's editorial has on a teenager. The teenager is picked on and bullied every day by his classmates. He has previously considered executing a Columbine-type incident. The teen identifies with several points in the editorial and goes on to commit a heinous shooting at his school, leaving a note behind that cites the editorial. Has the speech thus done harm to society? Facially, we can answer in the affirmative. At first gloss, we can assume that Bob's reasoning had a powerful effect on an already impressionable young man. But, by contributing fault to Bob, we will need to understand the consequences society incurs by doing so.

    If Bob's editorial is left to blame for the teen's crimes, then who else may be? Perhaps the music to which the teen listens? The shows and movies he watches? Perhaps other books he's read? The list is too expansive, and it leads us to the perilous "slippery slope." While it may be true that Bob's editorial pushed the young teen over the edge, how close to the edge was he? Would he have been pushed regardless?

    On the other hand, if we fault Bob, we must also remove fame from people who have been inspired by speech. Many of today's leaders have gained motivation and inspiration from the words of yesterday's leaders. If we conclude that Bob's ill words controlled the teen's destiny, should we do likewise for everyone?

    At what point does society make one be responsible for one's actions? Passing the buck has been dutifully performed by government for several decades. Do we allow it to happen to everyone now?

    Let's also evaulate the "harm" that Bob's speech has on the general public. What would be the scale of this harm? Promoting an activity such as murder is surely awful, but where does the harm lie? Is it the influence it might have?

    Your example with bin Laden may be more effective than my situation with the teen. But, in order for a knowledgeable public, as Jefferson so wanted, to be achieved in practice, all sides must participate in a debate. This may again offend society, but, see Cohen v California. If people have the right to hold an opinion, they also must have the right to express it.

    I would like to now make distinctions between your examples and my argument. Perjury is the act of lying under a government-administered oath. The goal of an oath is to coerce a person into telling the truth. (The alternative is jail time... so it can fairly be called coercion.) Because it is government-administered, by not telling the truth, one can be seen as interfering with the government's search for justice. An advocate of bin Laden does not interfere with the government's search for justice.

    Slander is a malicious act of intentional defamation. The definition itself distinguishes it from the example with bin Laden.

    Your final statement is that natural law dictates that people should not make aggression on one another, lie or trespass. By advocating bin Laden's actions, one is certainly not making aggression on another (though in some communities, it may be considered "fighting words" in the constitutional law context). Lying is equivalent to slander/libel. Stating or printing anything in favor of bin Laden cannot be lying, because a bin Laden would have no cause of action were it in his favor (assuming he would mete out such injustices with the US legal system). However, it is difficult to fit the square trespass piece into the round speech hole. Trespass at common law was an intentional act which required no damage to prove. Thus, it has no place in this discussion.

    See Texas v. Johnson and Tinker v Des Moines for further exploration of this topic.

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  • 1 decade ago

    You can't yell "FIRE!" in a crowded movie house. You CAN yell "MOVIE!" in a crowded firehouse. seriously, i believe freedom of speech is something that doesn't cause a problem for someone else. Slander, libel, and lies are a no-no! False accusations, the same thing. Freedom of speech shouldn't be FREEDUMB of speech. Use common sense.

  • iswd1
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    Freedom of speech should only go so far. So many people argue that it should be all encompasing, but then they would have children listening to all sorts of crap on the radio, television would be a 24 hour porn channel...

    Not that I disagree with peoples right to listen to whatever they want, or watch what they want, there's no reason that I can see that our children should be subjected to it.

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