[Vision2020] Freedom of expression

Joe Campbell philosopher.joe at gmail.com
Mon Dec 13 07:00:23 PST 2010

Thoughtful discussion like this about the slavery book could only
happen here and practically nowhere else in the country. You take that
book to a street corner in almost any city and try to give the
explanation you are giving below. Do it. I am serious. You won't but
if you did, someone would literally beat the crap out of you. It would
quite literally incite violence. Go to any city with a diverse
population and try this experiment and see what happens. You won't do
it and you know it. That should tell you something about your own
attitude toward your own argument. You can only give it in the
sheltered confines of V2020 in Moscow, Idaho. Bad argument!

Again, hate speech is in part a legal term and as I defined it the
other day it is speech that "may incite violence or prejudicial action
against or by a protected individual or group, or because it
disparages or intimidates a protected individual or group." Say what
you will but the slavery book classifies as hate speech by this and
any reasonable definition. And the thought experiment noted above, as
well as your unwillingness to try to provide the justification below
in pretty much ANY context other than this one, shows I'm correct. And
I never said the NSA website was "hate speech." It is "violent
rhetoric" and like hate speech it is an example of OFFENSIVE speech.
Offensive speech is political. Not religious but political. You seem
blind to that truth.

Let me explain something to you. I did not grow up in Idaho. I did not
grow up in a place where folks could get away with saying the kind of
crap that NSA, No Weatherman, etc. have gotten away with saying. So my
experience of all of this and of watching otherwise decent folks like
yourself defending that crap is a bit jarring. It is unlike anything I
could have ever imagined. In the town I grew up in there were butchers
with numbers tattooed on their forearms. The grandparents of some of
my friends grew up in concentration camps, as well. Nazi Germany was
not something I just read about in history books or heard about in
films. I actually heard some of the stories from actual survivors of
concentration camps. I saw and interacted with these people often. I
was told on a regular basis by people who suffered to never forget and
I won't.

I go back east a few times each year since my family and my best
friends still live there. Years ago I talked about the slavery book
and the regular criticisms of gays and Muslims. One of the parents of
my friend said: "This is how it started in Nazi Germany. They started
with the gays and with the less populated groups and then moved on
from there." Years ago intolerance against Mormons would have been
unthinkable but this year we actually had a man run for political
office whose pastor had insulting comments about Mormons posted on his
website. Want to read more local hate speech about Mormons? Look here:

I find it hard to shake the thought that maybe the parent of my friend
was correct. I go back to New Jersey a few times a year and I run into
these folks and they ask me how it's going. So I can't ever give up
the fight to try to shake some sense into this town. It is just not
possible. Maybe I'm wrong but I'd rather err on the side of insulting
some idiot who thinks that slavery was a cakewalk than make the
mistake of allowing another Nazi Germany. That is an easy choice for

And again, I'm not asking you to agree with me. Nor am I trying to
convince you of anything. Nor am I trying to silence Christ Church or
NSA. I'm just asking you and others to stay the hell out of my way and
let me say what I wish. You want to allow hateful, offensive speech on
regular basis? Fine. I am the natural consequence of your generous
nature, so you better allow my speech too.

On Dec 12, 2010, at 11:34 PM, Paul Rumelhart <godshatter at yahoo.com> wrote:

> Are you saying that descriptions of this supposed paradise in which slaves were treated well and had a harmonious relationship with their masters is hate speech?  You may disagree with it, lots of people whose ancestors had a considerably worse experience that he describes might disagree with it, but that doesn't make it hate speech.  I think that he truly believes this, because he knows that many of the men that owned slaves at that time professed to be Christian, and the Bible apparently talks about slavery as an everyday occurrence, so it must be something that God would approve of.  So he selectively reads history and picks out what he thinks supports this ideal and glosses over what doesn't.  A very easy trap to fall into.  That doesn't make his book hate speech.  It more than likely makes him wrong (I'm not a historian), but it doesn't make it hate speech.
> And I fully support his right to express his opinions on the matter.
> Paul
> Joe Campbell wrote:
>> "Compare this with the supposedly harmful statements on the NSA website.  If our bar is so low that that website can trigger cries of "hate speech", then a veteran debater can argue that almost any website is offensive to somebody."
>> Is this the only example of hate speech from this crowd? For crying out loud, Wilson wrote a BOOK denying the evils of slavery. They were noted by a NATIONAL organization, one that helped remove neo-Nazis up north. Did I make that up too?
>> Again, come back east with me just once and try telling your story to my friends. I no longer wonder how the Nazis took over Germany, I'll tell you that. Well meaning "liberals" like yourself had much to do with it.
>> On Dec 12, 2010, at 8:47 PM, Paul Rumelhart <godshatter at yahoo.com <mailto:godshatter at yahoo.com>> wrote:
>>> Ted Moffett wrote:
>>>> Two separate responses in body of text below.  This fourth post today
>>>> is over the limit for me... so "Good Night," as Ringo Starr sang it:
>>>> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cIKugx1sToY
>>>> On 12/12/10, Paul Rumelhart <godshatter at yahoo.com <mailto:godshatter at yahoo.com>> wrote:
>>>>> Ted Moffett wrote:
>>>>>> Paul Rumelhart godshatter at yahoo.com <http://yahoo.com> wrote:
>>>>>> http://mailman.fsr.com/pipermail/vision2020/2010-December/073155.html
>>>>>> "According to my views on freedom of expression, political correctness is
>>>>>> a disease that should be purged from the world."
>>>>>> and earlier:
>>>>>> http://mailman.fsr.com/pipermail/vision2020/2010-December/073150.html
>>>>>> "Just point, laugh, roll your eyes, and move on to fight something that
>>>>>> isn't just hyperbole."
>>>>>> So after the above advice to "...point, laugh, roll your eyes, and
>>>>>> move on..." regarding the New Saint Andrews' website discussion on
>>>>>> Vision2020, you later state you want to purge the world of the disease
>>>>>> political correctness?  Why not just "...point, laugh, roll your eyes,
>>>>>> and move on..." when someone makes a politically correct statement?
>>>>>> Are politically correct statements more harmful to the world than
>>>>>> statements suggesting violence and hate, as some have interpreted the
>>>>>> statements on the NSA website to imply?
>>>>> I see the point you're making.  I wasn't suggesting that people point,
>>>>> laugh, and move on to be politically correct, I was suggesting doing
>>>>> that to avoid feeding the trolls.  Which is, really, what they are.
>>>> It appears the slippage of language strikes again...
>>>> I was not saying anyone should "move on to be politically correct."  I
>>>> was asking, why object so strenuously to those who make politically
>>>> correct statements, if this is what you think some on Vision2020 are
>>>> doing, regarding New Saint Andrews' website?  What is the major harm
>>>> in someone making a politically correct statement on Vision2020, if
>>>> this is truly what is occuring (I am not saying it is...)?
>>>> Are these statements more harmful than statements that suggest
>>>> violence and hate, as some found the statements on the NSA website?  I
>>>> understand you do not think there is any real threat implied by the
>>>> NSA website, but others perhaps disagree.  What is the major problem
>>>> with expressing differing opinions regarding the NSA website?  Maybe
>>>> there are more important topics, but Vision2020 often focuses on what
>>>> I think are not very important issues.
>>> I think that the societal self-censorship of certain topics under the
>>> guise of political correctness has a negative effect in the long run.  It stops the average Joe Public from speaking his mind freely about what
>>> he perceives to be negative traits of a certain race, creed, or whatever
>>> and it keeps people from being offended, but Joe has not changed his
>>> mind - he's just learned to keep his thoughts to himself.  He may harbor
>>> a hatred of people of a specific type, and may have no simple way of
>>> blowing off steam.  So he has a run-in with one someday, and gets
>>> violent.  Or he learns to not promote anyone in his company of that type
>>> of person, because it's one way of getting back at them.  You get the
>>> idea.  If there were no societal prohibitions about talking about it, he
>>> might learn that other people like people of that type just fine, and
>>> that they are actually really nice, usually.  He might even get in a
>>> discussion with one that turns into a friendship, after the first bit of
>>> arguing and name-calling dies down.
>>> Compare this with the supposedly harmful statements on the NSA website.  If our bar is so low that that website can trigger cries of "hate
>>> speech", then a veteran debater can argue that almost any website is
>>> offensive to somebody.  I'd rather save the phrase to describe things
>>> that are undeniably hate speech.  What's the harm in having some
>>> language like that on their website?  People might get a bad impression
>>> of Moscow is one reason I've heard.  Tough.  We can only control what we
>>> do ourselves.  We don't have the right to try to censor others.
>>> If people think that there is a real threat on the website, call the
>>> police.  Making threats is against the law.  Just be aware that they
>>> have a definition of "threat" that the website may fail to meet.
>>> I don't have a problem with people expressing their views.  It's just my
>>> opinion that if they really valued freedom of expression then they
>>> wouldn't be talking about this subject so much.  I do value freedom of
>>> expression, which is why I'm talking about what my concept of it is here.
>>>> Your response suggests you think the NSA website should not be a focus
>>>> of discussion to "avoid feeding the trolls."  But in responding on
>>>> Vision2020 to what you have implied, it seems, is politically correct
>>>> criticism regarding NSA, are you feeding those politically correct
>>>> "trolls?  You are certainly helping to keep the focus on the NSA
>>>> website discussion in this thread, by referencing it in your first
>>>> post.
>>> I think the person that wrote that blurb on that website was hoping for
>>> this kind of reaction.  They were trolling the people that watch them,
>>> and a few of them took the bait.  If you don't want trolls to continue
>>> trolling, then your best bet is to simply ignore them.  Point, laugh,
>>> roll your eyes, and move on.  If that's all the reaction they get,
>>> they'll find someone else to bait.  That's the method I've learned that
>>> works best after 20+ years of interacting in Internet forums.  It didn't
>>> have anything to do with trying to suppress the actual point they were
>>> trying to make.
>>>> Again, why not just "...point, laugh, roll your eyes..." at the
>>>> criticisms of NSA, rather than make more of an issue of it, as you
>>>> advised regarding the NSA website?  You think, if I have understood
>>>> you correctly, that these criticisms are somehow creating ill will
>>>> between NSA and those of differing ideologies.  So I suppose you think
>>>> that less criticism of NSA will encourage them to express more
>>>> tolerance of "secularists?"  I doubt it.  When an insititution of
>>>> higher learning, NSA, frames its mission aggressively against others
>>>> who do not share their ideology, to argue this approach should only
>>>> arouse a "...point, laugh, roll your eyes..." response, appears to be
>>>> an attempt to silence public discussion on substantive issues that
>>>> effect many people, which it also appears you cannot be advocating,
>>>> given your emphasis on freedom of expression.
>>> For one, I don't care if they ever learn to have a better opinion of
>>> secularists.  Their education on religion is none of my concern.  They
>>> can go to the grave believing that secularists are out to hunt them down
>>> and convert them.  I don't really care.  I don't feel the need to make
>>> sure that everyone agrees with what I say or think like I do.  In fact,
>>> I'd hate a world like that.  My stance is simple.  Everyone has the
>>> right to think whatever they want, believe whatever they want, and have
>>> whatever view of whatever topic they want.  I don't care how horrendous
>>> their beliefs or views are to others.  I also believe that they have the
>>> right to express those views however they want, keeping in mind that
>>> they don't have the right to force others to listen to them, and they
>>> don't have the right to harm others.  If they want to put on the website
>>> that they think that secularists probably eat children for breakfast, so
>>> what?  If someone goes out and beats up a secularist because of it, then
>>> the responsibility for that action falls on the shoulders of the person
>>> that committed that action.  There are very few cases where I would
>>> advocate for censoring their website.  The text they have on it now
>>> doesn't even come close.
>>>> Also, to claim the debate regarding fundamentalist Christianity and
>>>> secularism, and the political tactics involved, is not worth public
>>>> discussion, is on the face of it, not credible, given the power that
>>>> fundamentalist Christianity has over the political system.  Consider
>>>> that Idaho is one of the Super DOMA states
>>>> ( http://www.danpinello.com/SuperDOMAs.htm ).  There is no doubt that
>>>> this law is in part the result of a religious view that NSA shares
>>>> with other fundamentalist Christians in Idaho.  And they vote.  As
>>>> they did regarding the ridiculous topless ordinance the Moscow City
>>>> Council passed.
>>> It's not my stance that people shouldn't talk about fundamentalist
>>> Christianity and the ills they imagine are there.  I just think that
>>> people that I've been assuming all along are for freedom of expression
>>> shouldn't get so bent out of shape when something somebody says offends
>>> them.  I'm not trying to force them to shut up, I really don't care.  What did provoke me to write my little diatribe were indications that
>>> some sort of attempt to silence the NSA people might be coming up.  I
>>> misinterpreted what Nick said about the Chamber of Commerce, but at the
>>> time I thought they were advocating for taking the site down.  I also
>>> saw references to "hate speech", which is a sensitive button of mine.  I'd hate for a statement that more or less says "we fight secularism as
>>> an ideal" to lead to someone being convicted of some sort of "hate
>>> crime".  Stranger things have happened.
>>> All I'm doing is advocating for true freedom of expression.  Let people
>>> say what they like.  It's better for all of us in the end.
>>>> To state you are not afraid of being physically attacked by anyone
>>>> from NSA, nor where you offended, given the rhetoric on their website,
>>>> does not address the real influence based on behavior that such
>>>> rhetoric has on the local, state and national level, regarding at
>>>> least four very important issues (I'll skip the alleged association
>>>> with racist groups and the debate regarding Wilson's book "Southern
>>>> Slavery As It Was"): gay and women's rights, religious tolerance and
>>>> understanding between those of all religions, spiritual worldviews, or
>>>> those of no particular persuasion on these matters, and the US pursuit
>>>> of the so called "war on terror," which as everyone knows is tainted
>>>> with religious prejudice and misunderstandings here in the US and
>>>> internationally, by those of differing religions:
>>>> http://atheism.about.com/od/sarahpalinreligion/tp/SarahPalinReligionScience.htm
>>>>> From website above:
>>>> In a speech to high school kids at her church, Sarah Palin said:
>>>> "Pray...that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending [our
>>>> military men and women] out on a task that is from God. That's what we
>>>> have to make sure that we are praying for, that there is a plan and
>>>> that that plan is God's plan."
>>> I'm all for people discussing these issues.  I'm not for any attempt to
>>> get the NSA to change their website other than simple pleas that they  do so.  What people are discussing is not the implications of their
>>> viewpoints on secularism, they are discussing whether or not their text
>>> is violent and whether or not something should be done about it.  Prejudice about religion or lack of religion can be a problem, it's
>>> true.  As long as no one is censoring anyone, then I hope that debate
>>> rages along nicely.  I just haven't seen much of it on here with regards
>>> to this topic.  I admit, though, that I haven't been following it all
>>> that close.  I just thought I'd go ahead and elucidate my thoughts on
>>> the subject of freedom of expression, and hopefully others would put
>>> this in perspective.
>>> Paul
>>>>>> "Political correctness" could be defined to suit whatever I want to
>>>>>> purge from society.  Advocating purging a point of view is alarming
>>>>>> language.  Perhaps you were making a joke of some sort in this
>>>>>> comment, and I am missing the joke by taking you literally?
>>>>>> But consider this example:  I define publicly exposing undercover CIA
>>>>>> government assassins as a "politically correct" agenda, that must be
>>>>>> "purged" to protect the necessary for national security assassinations
>>>>>> carried out in secret by the CIA..  Thus in purging political
>>>>>> correctness in this example, I am supporting government secrecy
>>>>>> regarding CIA assassinations.  It might be justifed to purge somone
>>>>>> planning to expose undercover CIA assassins, to protect national
>>>>>> security.
>>>>>> Some examples of what might be reasonably defined as "politically
>>>>>> correct" can be viewed as idealistic ethically laudable behaviors, the
>>>>>> sort of behaviors it seems you would aprove given your support for
>>>>>> Wikileaks.
>>>>> I think you are taking me too literally.  It's not politically correct
>>>>> statements, which is basically any statement not involving race,
>>>>> religion, gender, or sexual orientation in a negative light, that I
>>>>> object to.  It's people feeling like they cannot make politically
>>>>> incorrect statements because of some sort of societal pressure that I
>>>>> think is a problem.  When I said that I think "political correctness" is
>>>>> a problem, I was referring to the very idea that there are things that
>>>>> we cannot talk about because they might offend somebody, which is an
>>>>> idea I object to.  Not talking about any one of these areas as a society
>>>>> helps only in the short term.  Real discussion is what heals wounds,
>>>>> societal pressure towards silence only makes them fester.
>>>>> You're example above referring to political assassination isn't the sort
>>>>> of political correctness I was referring to, but while we are on the
>>>>> subject, I would say that keeping information about the whereabouts and
>>>>> covers for assassins should be kept secret.  However, the fact that the
>>>>> US government is sanctioning assassinations should be out in the open so
>>>>> that the American people can let their congressmen know whether or not
>>>>> they think the US should be engaging in such behavior.
>>>>> Paul
>>>> I agree that political correctness can be used to censor, of course,
>>>> can create a climate of fear that blocks freedom of expression, and
>>>> can impede Democracy and the power of the Fourth Estate.  Look at what
>>>> happened to Bill Maher, or the US media coverage of the build up to
>>>> the invasion of Iraq, especially, a shameful and frightening example
>>>> of media seized by a form of patriotic political correctness that kept
>>>> the US public woefully misinformed.  The example of the firing of Imus
>>>> for the "nappy-headed hos" comment some argue is an example of the
>>>> abuse of political correctness.  I wonder if you think Imus should
>>>> have been fired for what some claim was an explictly racist comment?
>>>> I recall Imus meeting the women basketball players he referred to in
>>>> this manner, where he apologized, and they asserted they were deeply
>>>> offended by his statement.
>>>> I knew that you were not referring to the sort of political
>>>> correctness I used as an example, regarding CIA assassins.  I was
>>>> simply saying that advocating purging something from society, like
>>>> political correctness, is alarming language, that can be twisted to
>>>> suit nefarious agendas.  I was making no statement on the
>>>> appropriateness of exposing CIA assassins, only using this as an
>>>> example.  My example was probably not a good one to make my point.
>>>> But given you stated I was taking you too literally, I'll not
>>>> construct a better example.
>>>>>> ------------------------------------------
>>>>>> Vision2020 Post: Ted Moffett
>>>>>> On 12/12/10, Paul Rumelhart <godshatter at yahoo.com <mailto:godshatter at yahoo.com>> wrote:
>>>>>>> I just thought I'd weigh in here with a little diatribe of my own.
>>>>>>> I think the freedom of an individual or group of individuals to express
>>>>>>> themselves is sacrosanct.  The freedom to express your opinion should be
>>>>>>> held dearly by everyone, if they want to live in a free society.
>>>>>>> There are very few limits that should be placed on speech, in my humble
>>>>>>> opinion, most having to do with statements of facts and not opinions.  I
>>>>>>> agree with libel laws, for example.  On the other hand, I disagree with
>>>>>>> obscenity laws probably universally.  If groups want to get together and
>>>>>>> form islands of information in which certain ideas are suppressed, I'm
>>>>>>> for that, too, as long as other options exist.  For example, if someone
>>>>>>> wanted to create a separate internet targeted at children that enforced
>>>>>>> it's own censorship, I would be OK with that.  If parents were OK with
>>>>>>> their kids surfing unrestrained on the Big Bad Internet, then they
>>>>>>> should be allowed to do so without repercussions if their child ends up
>>>>>>> on a porn site or a site about Islam or whatever your favorite boogey
>>>>>>> man is.
>>>>>>> As an aside, this is why I support Wikileaks.  Our government works *for
>>>>>>> us*.  They should only have secrets in very narrowly defined areas for
>>>>>>> very specific reasons.  And no, "they shouldn't see it because it will
>>>>>>> make our leaders look like hypocrites" does not qualify.  The people
>>>>>>> behind Wikileaks are exposing secrets that shouldn't be secrets in a
>>>>>>> reasonable world.
>>>>>>> According to my views on freedom of expression, political correctness is
>>>>>>> a disease that should be purged from the  world.  Instead of helping, it
>>>>>>> just sweeps the problem under the rug.  If a person hates blacks because
>>>>>>> of an incident when they were younger, or because they just don't like
>>>>>>> people who are "different", then they should be free to express that
>>>>>>> opinion.  Others will likely disagree, and a dialogue will probably
>>>>>>> ensue, but this is healthy.  This tendency by people to shun these sorts
>>>>>>> of debates is unhealthy for society (in my opinion, anyway).
>>>>>>> In an effort to totally ostracize myself from the community, I might as
>>>>>>> well go ahead and add that I also disagree with some of the child
>>>>>>> pornography laws as they exist on the books, as they relate to freedom
>>>>>>> of expression.  These laws have been expanded so much under the guise of
>>>>>>> "save the children" that they are insane.  In Australia, one man was
>>>>>>> arrested for having downloaded a drawing of Bart Simpson engaged in
>>>>>>> having sex, and was convicted under that countries child pornography
>>>>>>> laws.  In Iowa, another man was arrested for possessing manga comics
>>>>>>> from Japan that contained drawings of children having sex.  Was Bart
>>>>>>> Simpson actually hurt by this?  Or the fictional Japanese schoolgirl?  I
>>>>>>> can understand the prohibition against possession of real child porn
>>>>>>> (because it creates a market for such things) though I don't agree with
>>>>>>> it completely.  I think it should be a prohibition against
>>>>>>> *distribution* of child pornography, not simply "possession", if for no
>>>>>>> other reason than people might be likely to hand it over to law
>>>>>>> enforcement without the fear of going to jail themselves.  Prohibition
>>>>>>> against "virtual porn" is crazy and needs to be fought.
>>>>>>> So what does this mean to us?  It means that if something offends you,
>>>>>>> you should suck it up and learn to live with it.  Grow some thicker skin
>>>>>>> and see if you can find a sense of humor on sale somewhere.  Freedom of
>>>>>>> expression, if that's a concept you agree with, has to trump "freedom
>>>>>>> from being offended".  The minute you allow the idea that some things
>>>>>>> are just too horrible to be read or viewed, then you've just thrown the
>>>>>>> concept of freedom of expression out the window.  Now you'll have a
>>>>>>> slippery slope where the definition of "too horrible" tends to match the
>>>>>>> ideals of the people who are in power at any given moment.
>>>>>>> The odd irony for people who really believe in freedom of expression is
>>>>>>> that they most often end up defending things that they might vehemently
>>>>>>> disagree with.  They defend the speech of people they simply don't like
>>>>>>> or don't agree with, and they defend speech they are personally offended
>>>>>>> by because the speech that everyone agrees with is not threatened.
>>>>>>> Very little offends me, but even if I was offended by the NSA website,
>>>>>>> which I wasn't, then I would still be fighting for their right to be as
>>>>>>> inane with their metaphors as they wish.  I applaud them, really, for
>>>>>>> not rushing to change the page in an orgy of political correctness.
>>>>>>> Paul
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