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Hate Speech: a crime in Europe

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Good point. You would have to make a distinction between companies that facilitate communication (ie the Post Office, Google, AT&T) etc, and companies that do not facilitate communication.

Every company with a website facilitates communication. That's the whole point of the Internet: communication.

That's the only thing you can censor: communication. Not factories and coal mines.

Edited by Nicky

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Every company with a website facilitates communication. That's the whole point of the Internet: communication.

That's the only thing you can censor: communication. Not factories and coal mines.

I would make a distinction between communication amongst individuals and communication by companies. The kind of pressure I think we should all put on companies and individuals to not be racist or offensive is boycotting their company, dissociating from them etc. So if a factory owner decides to put "No gays allowed" on a job advertisement, then we should all protest against this. I would also argue that their is a role for government to stop this. If the same factory owner tweets an equally offensive message on his non-company twitter account then this should also be protested against. But no government action should ensue either to him or to the social network.

What are the principles behind these decisions? Well, equality of opportunity. If you believe in equality of opportunity it is easy to see why the government should help stop insulting discrimination by employers. However, a problem with government enforcing equality in general is that individuals can suffer separate injustices as a result of the enforcement. In this case however, I can't see any separate injustices occurring from preventing an employer from posting an insulting job advertisement.

The result of the government getting involved is that we don't have to put up with homophobic job adverts and that the homophobe gets a free lesson on how not to be rude. Being rude is not a problem in itself, but in the case of homophobia unchecked rudeness can have dire consequences.

Edited by Kate87

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I would make a distinction between communication amongst individuals and communication by companies. The kind of pressure I think we should all put on companies and individuals to not be racist or offensive is boycotting their company, dissociating from them etc. So if a factory owner decides to put "No gays allowed" on a job advertisement, then we should all protest against this. I would also argue that their is a role for government to stop this. If the same factory owner tweets an equally offensive message on his non-company twitter account then this should also be protested against. But no government action should ensue either to him or to the social network.

What are the principles behind these decisions? Well, equality of opportunity. If you believe in equality of opportunity it is easy to see why the government should help stop insulting discrimination by employers. However, a problem with government enforcing equality in general is that individuals can suffer separate injustices as a result of the enforcement. In this case however, I can't see any separate injustices occurring from preventing an employer from posting an insulting job advertisement.

The result of the government getting involved is that we don't have to put up with homophobic job adverts and that the homophobe gets a free lesson on how not to be rude. Being rude is not a problem in itself, but in the case of homophobia unchecked rudeness can have dire consequences.

Like I said: I find it curious that you're fine with using the government to stop people from being rude, but if someone wants to use it to prevent what they believe to be the murder of the innocent, you think that's the biggest evil in the Universe.

Edited by FeatherFall
Removed passage that violated forum rules

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I would make a distinction between communication amongst individuals and communication by companies. The kind of pressure I think we should all put on companies and individuals to not be racist or offensive is boycotting their company, dissociating from them etc. So if a factory owner decides to put "No gays allowed" on a job advertisement, then we should all protest against this. I would also argue that their is a role for government to stop this. If the same factory owner tweets an equally offensive message on his non-company twitter account then this should also be protested against. But no government action should ensue either to him or to the social network.

What are the principles behind these decisions? Well, equality of opportunity. If you believe in equality of opportunity it is easy to see why the government should help stop insulting discrimination by employers. However, a problem with government enforcing equality in general is that individuals can suffer separate injustices as a result of the enforcement. In this case however, I can't see any separate injustices occurring from preventing an employer from posting an insulting job advertisement.

The result of the government getting involved is that we don't have to put up with homophobic job adverts and that the homophobe gets a free lesson on how not to be rude. Being rude is not a problem in itself, but in the case of homophobia unchecked rudeness can have dire consequences.

The reason an employer is allowed to create a job is not to provide opportunity to the collective, it is because he has a right to the pursuit of happiness. The role of government is not to ensure equality of opportunity, which is just as corrupt as any other form of egaltaranism, it is to protect individual rights. Equal opportunity still demands the violation of rights in order to force people into distributing the opportunity they create equally and in order to bring down anybody with above average opportunity. It still requires bashing the brains of any genius child in order to equalize his opportunity with any moron child. Gay people, or any other individual or group of people have no claim on the opportunities created by another human being. Those opportunities are his to distribute however he chooses, regardless of whether he happens to make unjust and immoral choices because it's his pusuit of happiness, not the government dictated path to happiness. If you are allowed to violate his rights, you're not just forcing him into not putting up homophobic adverts and forcing him into not being rude, you're also blasting the entire concept of individual rights, which, in fact, are the very source of all opportunity.

Maybe you're right that unchecked rudeness can have dire consequences. The point at which an objective government would put a check on it is when the rudeness turns to force.

Edited by oso

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Like I said: I find it curious that you're fine with using the government to stop people from being rude, but if someone wants to use it to prevent what they believe to be the murder of the innocent, you think that's the biggest evil in the Universe.

Maybe you're right that unchecked rudeness can have dire consequences. The point at which an objective government would put a check on it is when the rudeness turns to force.

Does it not make the gay person's life intolerable long before force becomes involved? If he is denied jobs, suffers constant heckling, has to pay higher prices? Long before the Nazi's came to power and instituted government racist policies that used force, German society was anti-semetic and Jews suffered from all sorts of injustices. Why risk things like this when there are no consequences to an anti-discrimination law?

You're a self centered, self absorbed, spoiled child.

You're the one who wants to end the Civil Rights Act! I cannot for the life of me see any negative consequences of this Act.

Edited by Kate87

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You're the one who wants to end the Civil Rights Act! I cannot for the life of me see any negative consequences of this Act.

And I don't see any negative consequences to banning women from voting. If we did, Republicans would've won the election and my taxes wouldn't be going up. All good things. Sure, we might be banning abortions, but turns out I don't even have a uterus. So still no negative consequences for me.

See any problem with my reasoning? Can you think of anything to say that might convince me to reconsider? And, please, stick to things that affect me. At this point, I really don't care about your so called "rights". You don't seem to know about them, so why should I care.

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And I don't see any negative consequences to banning women from voting.

You are equating the disfranchisement of women with the removal of the right to act like a racist. (Note under the Civil RIghts Act it is not illegal to BE a racist.) I would suggest to you that these two removals of rights are not morally equivalent.

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Why risk things like this when there are no consequences to an anti-discrimination law?

Because you are incorrect and there ARE consequences.

Consequence 1) frivolous lawsuits- they happen all the time in America. Someone of a "minority" group decides they got discriminated against whether or not that is why they didn't get hired. Then they sue. Then, contrary to the way our legal system is *supposed* to work the employer must prove their innnocence- and it is impossible to prove intentions.

Consequence 2) the employer loses their right to free voluntary association. Someone should not lose their right to consort or not to consort with who they wish.

There are more but lets start here.

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Because you are incorrect and there ARE consequences.

Consequence 1) frivolous lawsuits- they happen all the time in America. Someone of a "minority" group decides they got discriminated against whether or not that is why they didn't get hired. Then they sue. Then, contrary to the way our legal system is *supposed* to work the employer must prove their innnocence- and it is impossible to prove intentions.

Consequence 2) the employer loses their right to free voluntary association. Someone should not lose their right to consort or not to consort with who they wish.

There are more but lets start here.

So the worst consequence is that racist morons are forced to confront their irrationality. I'd call that free therapy.

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Kate, you're right that disenfranchisement and anti-discrimination laws are not morally equivalent. But Nicky has a point. I think now would be a good time to examine the principles at play, then work our way back to that point. Objectivism holds that government activity is only legitimate when it is directed to eliminate or retaliate against human-to-human force.

Human beings are pretty pathetic animals, physically speaking. We lack sharp teeth and powerful jaws. We have no claws and little strength. We're slow (except across long distances). We're squishy; little natural armor, no thick hide. Our thumbs are kind of neat, but without a brain they are useless. Our primary means of survival is our ability to understand and reshape reality via concepts and communication. Especially in modern societies, the only way to render us helpless is to stop us from thinking (or acting on the consequences of our thought). So the social principle that protects our unique means of survival is the one that bans other people from negating our brainpower; the principle of individual rights. It bans the force that outright stops us from acting, and it bans the threats and fraud that prevent us from making informed decisions about our activities. We are justified in using force to uphold this principle; the government is our agency in this regard. But the government, just like every other person or group, does not have special license to negate our brainpower.

A government is only legitimate to the extent that it ensures human relationships are consensual. This means that a government necessarily must have the consent of the governed; while how to achieve this is kind of a difficult question, it is clear that if a government has democratic processes they must involve clear, objective voting criteria. One group of people voting to take away another group's right to vote would most certainly eliminate the possibility of a consensual relationship - it amounts to the first group using force on the other group in all aspects of civil life. This is one of the most heinous things I can imagine. On the other hand, one group of people forcing their way into an employer's payroll or into a trader's marketplace is also bad. It's a less total abrogation of the principle of individual rights, and therefore less heinous. But it still amounts to the first group negating the second group's means of survival.

Edited by FeatherFall
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So the worst consequence is that racist morons are forced to confront their irrationality. I'd call that free therapy.

Neither you, nor any government you might choose to elect have any business forcing people into therapy.

Let's take an example from my own life. I'm gay.

At a position I held about 12 years ago the owner found out I was gay (and by found out I mean that I am not "obvious" nor do I scream it from the mountaintops) and started behaving in a terrible manner towards me.

No need to go into details. It lasted about two weeks and I assume he was trying to get me to quit and evenetually would have fired me had I not walked out in the middle of one of his sessions of bullshit.

I chose not to file suit against him as I could have for harassment and hostile workplace because such should not be the domain of government.

It is irrelevent that not being wealthy I needed to always be employed. It is *my* responsibility to make myself a desirable enough employee that I am always hirable.

Obviously he was a jackass and should be shunned by decent people.

But end of the day, he was the victim, not I.

I was hired to save his failing business, and up until the day I walked out it was working.

He was unable to get anyone else of my skill level willing to work for what he was offering.

He was closed within 6 months, bankrupt and facing several lawsuits and an IRS investigation.

No government interference desired or required.

He was brought down by his own bigotry, whereas the project I began after walking out gained me even more notoriety in my field than I enjoyed before.

So you see, I have been the victim of so called "bigotry" and still I must call bullshit. He had every right as a "Christian" man to not want anything to do with me.

Frankly, it would have been better for all involved if he hadn't been too cowardly to just fire me.

Note to add- I purpose in telling this personal story Kate86 is that you seem to be taking an emotional approach to this issue, not an objective rational one. You are focusing on what you perceive to be the plight of victims. This story is merely to demonstrate in a very concrete way that assumptions of the results of victimhood aren't always accurate. What matters is the rights of individuals to associate voluntarily with whomever they please.

Edited by SapereAude

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You are equating the disfranchisement of women with the removal of the right to act like a racist. (Note under the Civil RIghts Act it is not illegal to BE a racist.) I would suggest to you that these two removals of rights are not morally equivalent.

Moral? Disfranchisement? I'm gonna listen to your thoughts on morality and rights once you start applying them consistently.

When calling for censorship and forced "politeness", you're not applying moral principles, and you're not considering anyone's rights. Your argument is entirely pragmatic (you don't see any negative consequences).

I replied that I don't see any negative consequences from ending women's suffrage. Now all of a sudden you found morality, and feel like talking rights? What happened?

Edited by Nicky

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SapereAude, if 90% of the population are homophobic in a free society you may well have found yourself in the above situation permanently without a job through no fault of your own. Doesn't this bother you?

Edited by Kate87

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SapereAude, if 90% of the population are homophobic in a free society you may well have found yourself in the above situation permanently without a job through no fault of your own. Doesn't this bother you?
And this 90% is going to vote that the law must force them not to act on their homophobic ideas?

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SapereAude, if 90% of the population are homophobic in a free society you may well have found yourself in the above situation permanently without a job through no fault of your own. Doesn't this bother you?

Two (very obvious, to me at least) points:

1. If 90% of the population was homophobic, he'd be in jail or dead, not jobless. The suggestion that an all-powerful, majority elected government will protect unpopular minorities is just bad math.

2. In the situation you described, his only hope would be to have a government limited to its proper functions. That would still leave him 10% of people to deal with. That's 30 million Americans, which is plenty to get a job. Any government that gets a say in who gets hired and who doesn't would do only one thing: enact the will of the other 90%, and ban the hiring of gay people.

The main problem gays and blacks faced, before the civil rights movement, wasn't discrimination by individuals, it was discrimination by an increasingly powerful, racist and homophobic government. And that government was put in place during the Great Depression, precisely by people who thought like you (and looked at the government as a solution to all their problems).

Edited by Nicky

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And this 90% is going to vote that the law must force them not to act on their homophobic ideas?

Two (very obvious, to me at least) points:

1. If 90% of the population was homophobic, he'd be in jail or dead, not jobless. The suggestion that an all-powerful, majority elected government will protect unpopular minorities is just bad math.

2. In the situation you described, his only hope would be to have a government limited to its proper functions. That would still leave him 10% of people to deal with. That's 30 million Americans, which is plenty to get a job. Any government that gets a say in who gets hired and who doesn't would do only one thing: enact the will of the other 90%, and ban the hiring of gay people.

The main problem gays and blacks faced, before the civil rights movement, wasn't discrimination by individuals, it was discrimination by an increasingly powerful, racist and homophobic government. And that government was put in place during the Great Depression, precisely by people who thought like you (and looked at the government as a solution to all their problems).

Under a constitutionally limited government, if 90% of the population was homophobic they would have enough power to amend the constitution. Just as they could vote down the anti-discrimination law in a democracy.

So what we have come to here is that rights are really protected by the number of people who agree that they should be protected. Acknowledging this truth means that one should place as many barriers (including a constitution) in the way of homophobes to stop them removing the right of gay people to live and work.

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Under a constitutionally limited government, if 90% of the population was homophobic they would have enough power to amend the constitution. Just as they could vote down the anti-discrimination law in a democracy.

So what we have come to here is that rights are really protected by the number of people who agree that they should be protected. Acknowledging this truth means that one should place as many barriers (including a constitution) in the way of homophobes to stop them removing the right of gay people to live and work.

No. You clearly don't understand what property rights are. Business owners have the right to choose how to use or dispose of their business because they earned it. Rights are a right to action. Gays (or any individual) don't have the right to a job. Think about what that sentence means - it means that an individual has a right to something they didn't earn: the product and hard work of a business owner. They have the right to go out and try to find a job through voluntary exchange and that is it. Their job exists at the discretion of the business owner.

You are neglecting the rights of the business owner.

Edited by thenelli01

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SapereAude, if 90% of the population are homophobic in a free society you may well have found yourself in the above situation permanently without a job through no fault of your own. Doesn't this bother you?

Does it bother you that a country of cowards would be conquered by foreign invaders without a draft or that a country of moochers would descend into anarchy without a mandatory tax?

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... means that one should place as many barriers (including a constitution) in the way of homophobes to stop them removing the right of gay people to live and work.
Written by and imposed by men from the moon?

Abstractly, here's what you are saying: if many citizens in a country are irrational about something, they ought to write a constitution or laws to force themselves to act rationally.

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Abstractly, here's what you are saying: if many citizens in a country are irrational about something, they ought to write a constitution or laws to force themselves to act rationally.

I'm saying that the rational ones should help write laws to slow down and help disable the irrational ones in the hope that society will change course. It would be nice to think that one day the laws could then be repealed because they were not needed, but this would be unlikely because there will always be irrational people amongst us.

This leads me to a criticism of Objectivism. It seems to be too idealistic, ie it only works if the majority of people are rational. It cannot deal with the reality of people who often do very irrational things. It seems to give up when confronted with them. An example of this would be in Atlas Shrugged - let the society burn and start over.

Does it bother you that a country of cowards would be conquered by foreign invaders without a draft or that a country of moochers would descend into anarchy without a mandatory tax?

This quote is a perfect example of what I mean. Yes it does bother me, because I don't give up on humanity so easily. A proper system of government takes people as they are (cowards, moochers, and homophobes too) and makes the best of them. If people are homophobic (which a sizeable minority are) then laws need to be in place to help stop them gaining power to usurp gay's rights.

Written by and imposed by men from the moon?

Written by the good guys, the non-homophobes. If the good guys are not numerous enough they should be campaigning and persuading people to join their course. Essentially what I am saying here is that we have a democracy and you're either fighting for good laws or bad laws. To say it would be better to have a constitutional republic is to ignore the reality that such a republic depends on the majority of people supporting it, so it is really a democracy. I also believe this about dictatorships - they are ultimately supported by the majority of their people - if they aren't they get toppled before long.

If you did manage to setup an Objectivist government, you would be so busy defending the rights of a minority of racists, cowards, homophobes etc, that these people would quickly gain power and change the system in their favour. So you might as well recognise this and pre-empt it. I am not saying to not recognise any of the rights of racists etc. I am simply saying that disallowing that person from putting his views into practise by barring certain races from working in his business, is a small price to pay considering the alternatives.

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If you did manage to setup an Objectivist government, you would be so busy defending the rights of a minority of racists, cowards, homophobes etc, that these people would quickly gain power and change the system in their favour.
Read what you wrote, and see if you still agree with yourself.

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Kate, in light of your last post, I think there are two things you should consider.

Firstly, an ideal government doesn't require all people to act rationally all of the time. It merely requires most people to understand rights and the government's role. The world will be immeasurably better if this were a reality. But this will never come to be if we give moral license for governments to force people into non-consensual relationships. People may still become drug addicts, homophobes and racists, etc. But the rest of us will be left free to live our lives, and it would be awesome.

Secondly, when the government gets involved in someone's business, that person has a bigger incentive to lobby government. Before the anti-trust cases against Microsoft, they didn't waste their money on lobbying. Now they spend millions. If I wanted racists to try to influence government and write laws, the first thing I would do is get the government to interfere with private acts of racism. Without anti-racism laws, the racists grow old, die alone, and have no ability to force anyone to do anything. With anti-racism laws, we are condemned to a perpetual battle over what individuals may or may not do in their own private lives as racism becomes a permanent political football.

Edit: I almost forgot to remind you that people don't even agree on what is and isn't racist. Would you like me to give a few examples of how contemporary and academic views of racism could lead to anti-racism laws that you might find abhorrent?

Edited by FeatherFall

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SapereAude, if 90% of the population are homophobic in a free society you may well have found yourself in the above situation permanently without a job through no fault of your own. Doesn't this bother you?

Would working for a homophobe really be worthwhile? I fail to see the use of anti-discrimination laws except to force nasty people to hire you. By working for a homophobe, you're only giving them a livelihood, which I'd say is absolutely unjust if you know about it. Worse, when it's illegal to say bigoted remarks or act bigoted, it's more difficult to see who is in fact bigoted anyway! If there are threats of violence, that's another story.

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Under a constitutionally limited government, if 90% of the population was homophobic they would have enough power to amend the constitution. Just as they could vote down the anti-discrimination law in a democracy.

First off, a Constitution limiting government to its proper functions would not give voters (or their representatives) the power to amend it. Creating a limit on government and then giving government the power to amend it at will defeats the purpose.

The reason for the power to amend in the US was that the Constitution was an imperfect compromise, and the better of the founders, ever the optimists, were hoping that with time Americans would get smarter not dumber. That could've been avoided if they had the will and power to dispense with slavery and religious demands, and enact the right Constitution from the start.

Second, voting down an anti-discrimination law is the automatic course of action for a homophobic person. It's a no lose option. Trying to get rid of a Constitution that limits government to law enforcement and national defense isn't. You can hate gays and love your own rights (or at least not want to risk the stability of your entire country) at the same time.

In fact, most people who have a problem with gays are like that: they don't want them getting married because Jesus, but they would never actually get rid of the Constitution just to stop gay marriage. Your ideology (not just the suggestion in this thread, buy your lack of principles in general) make it easy on anyone to harm their countrymen in their rights based on the same short sightedness. Nothing makes it impossible given enough determination and popular support, but implementing a principled way of thinking, at the center of which is the idea of inalienable individual rights, makes it much, much harder. In the case of a gay minority that minds its own business (as they do), it would make it prohibitively hard. It could never happen, unless people like you help make it happen by getting rid of the Constitution first, in the name of your ideology.

P.S. There's an example of the Constitution prevailing over majority opinion in the US right now: according to polls, 85% of people oppose the right of corporations to donate to political parties. However, because of the First Amendment, laws banning such donations have been ruled unconstitutional. If you ask those same people who want laws in place to ban corporate donations whether they are willing to amend the Constitution, and get rid of the First Amendment, the answer would be no (by a narrow margin - because a lot of people hate the First Amendment - but it would be no). So there's a real life, actual example of the Constitution accomplishing something despite majority opinion that's right up there near 90%.

Edited by Nicky

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I was in the middle of writing a reply to the different posts but then I reread this:

Firstly, an ideal government doesn't require all people to act rationally all of the time. It merely requires most people to understand rights and the government's role. The world will be immeasurably better if this were a reality. But this will never come to be if we give moral license for governments to force people into non-consensual relationships. People may still become drug addicts, homophobes and racists, etc. But the rest of us will be left free to live our lives, and it would be awesome.

I had written the following part reply.....

I find this to be too idealistic. The rest of us would not be free to live our lives since racists would try to change the laws in their favour. People will always try to gain power to change laws to make their ideal society. That is what any political movement, including Objectivism, is designed to do. Your argument amounts to: “If everyone agrees with Objectivism, then an Objectivism government will work.”

... but then I just thought of something:

A racist couldn’t say “If everybody agrees with racism, then a racist government will work for everyone”. They can’t say this because a racist government clearly wouldn’t work for racial minorities. Whereas an Objectivist could say: “If everyone agrees with Objectivism, then an Objectivism government will work for everyone.”

This kind of reasoning was used by Kant:

Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law without contradiction.

Is this kind of justification valid from an Objectivist perspective?

Edited by Kate87

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