Talk:Essay: Freedom of speech

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A few thoughts

Hm, an interesting and thought-provoking essay, I'll give you that. However, I frowned a few times while reading it, and I genuinely hope that you can blow my concerns out of the water:


So, in my opinion, freedom of speech...

...gives one the right to argue that some people are inferior to others (such as racism), but does not give them to right to treat or speak of others as inferior

Could you maybe explain how you can argue that some races are inferior without speaking of them as inferior? I don't get this one. If anything, this sounds like a very fine semantic difference, and I'm really not sure that I'm comfortable with that.


  • ...gives one the right to argue that swearing is acceptable, but does not give them the right to swear.
  • ...gives one the right to argue that offensive works of art are acceptable, but does not give artists the right to produce or display offensive art.

And who decides what is acceptable or offensive? What counts as swearing (this sounds silly, but depending on who you ask, you get radically different replies)? You're opening the floodgates for people like the nutcases who wanted to ban Harry Potter books.

I can see where you're coming from, but maybe you didn't think this one through all the way. Or maybe I didn't - if you can point out where I'm missing something, please do so! It's likely that you put more thought into this than I did, after all.


But the point is that the freedom-of-speech principle is the right to express (or argue) a view on something, whether that "something" is related to speech (e.g. swearing) or not.

Doesn't this completely negate the entire "offensive art (which usually is an expression of a view) is not covered by freedom-of-speech" thing? I think you're using "express(ion)" a bit too loosely because you now use it both for "expression of a view" (covered) and "artistic expression" (not always covered). --DirkB 20:42, 6 September 2008 (EDT)

I admit that I struggled a bit with the wording of this, and that might go part way to explaining the problems you had with it.
As far as the racism bit is concerned, what I had in mind is that if someone wants to argue, for instance, that "black" people are intellectually inferior to "white" people, such as by producing the results of research into this, they should have the freedom to do so. But they should not (a) treat such people as inferior by discriminating against them, nor (b) talk about them as though it is accepted that they are inferior (e.g. "Niggers wouldn't know how to add two and two"). I'm not sure if that makes it much clearer, but if not, perhaps you could explain how you would differentiate. Would you argue that anybody can say what they like about groups they might think to be inferior, or at the other extreme, would you argue that a researcher who claims to have evidence that Negroes are inferior to non-Negroes is not even allowed to argue his case?
I think that the question of who decides what is acceptable or offensive is a separate question. Societies have been deciding such things for a very long time, and there are various ways that they can be decided.
On your last point, I'm not sure that I'm clear on your concern, but part of the answer may be what I said about struggling with the wording, and in particular my use of the word "express" (and variations). It's really the same point as saying that it's okay to argue that swearing is okay, but not not okay to swear. Artwork is not an argument (putting a case).
I'm open to suggestions on how I can word the essay more clearly.
Philip J. Rayment 01:29, 7 September 2008 (EDT)
It's an interesting essay Philip. I think the first section can be summed up this way - freedom of speech has two important accepted, historical restrictions. First, the nature of certain speech must be truthful when the consequence of falsehood can cause harm (libel, slander, falsely yelling "fire" when there is none). Second, in a society based on laws, it is acceptable to discuss or even advocate actions that are illegal to promote change, but that does not make illegal acts legal, and inciting others to commit illegal acts can't be allowed either.
Conservapedia can be thought of as an open wiki, but it's essentially a private organization with a low barrier to entry, and its leadership reserves the right to limit any speech that depends on using its resources. I can go to Wikipedia or a street corner and say that CP is wrong about "X", but I can't expect to put that up as a post here and not be judged, blocked or even banned for it. Speech here is only as free as the leadership condones it, and that is the essence of a private organization. --DinsdaleP 21:50, 6 September 2008 (EDT)

Conservapedian "Free" Speech

Conservapedia is not a society, nor is it a home. Conservapedia has the right to restrict freedom of speech to exclude any discussion on any topic it chooses, and will likely exercise that right for non-family-friendly topics. However, beyond that, Conservapedia should not (and generally does not) restrict one from expressing a view and arguing a case on any topic, but will restrict someone from acting on that view, such as swearing, name-calling, etc.

I have a funny feeling that my complaining about my recent block inspired you, perhaps, to write this essay. (And by all means, correct me if I'm wrong.) Since Conservapedia can, and does, restrict free speech not only in regards to vulgarity and obscenity, wouldn't it be helpful for the editors to make a list of the verboten topics? Disparaging police is obviously high on the list, I know this from personal experience, in fact I received a second block for daring to report my first block as abuse. (I felt a bit like Doremus Jessup in Sinclair Lewis' It Can't Happen Here, but I don't think I'm going to join the "New Underground", yet.)

Now, my asking for a list may sound snide and dismissive, I assure you that while part of me is cynical about this rule, (and many others,) I'm still utterly confused (not to mention angered) by the unilateral and arbitrary blocking that happens here. It seems that many of the blocks are simply for having dissenting opinions. DLerner 20:58, 9 September 2008 (EDT)

Your recent complaint did prompt me to write this, but it's an articulation of thoughts that I've had for a long time, and was not written specifically in response to you.
Any list of banned topics would be incomplete. As far as I'm concerned (i.e. this is personal opinion; other administrators may see things differently), about the only topics that are unacceptable are ones that are not family-friendly.
As far as disparaging police is concerned, I've explained my position on that on the abuse page. And again speaking for myself, I won't block anyone just for having a dissenting opinion.
Philip J. Rayment 06:02, 10 September 2008 (EDT)
Don't you think it's unfair that I (or anyone else,) should be blocked without warning for stating an unpopular opinion that irks a overzealous editor with block powers (I think you know who...)? If so, then I had every right to complain about it on the abuse page, it was entirely without warning! (And the fact that I received another for complaining about a previous block is just obscene.) And if not, then you and I have nothing more to discuss. DLerner 09:04, 10 September 2008 (EDT)
I have told the administrator concerned that I would not have blocked you, but that I believe that in maligning the police force you did do something wrong, so you are not innocent, and that I could not argue that a one-day block was excessive. I'm sure that you are capable of contributing constructively here, so I would ask you to please drop this and get on with editing. If you insist on pursuing it, please send me an e-mail. Philip J. Rayment 09:52, 10 September 2008 (EDT)