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Authoritarian nations are turning the internet into a weapon (onezero.medium.com)
398 points by maxfan8 8 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 327 comments



>"But the extraordinary case draws attention to how dictatorships are increasingly using technology to crush online dissent."

Yes, authoritarian regimes control communication. That's been the case for over a century of radio and mass circulation dailies. It's nothing new.

What is new is that even democratic countries are controlling free speech via speech laws or often the private companies engaging in evaluating what's permissible speech and not above and beyond what laws require. To wit what comprises "hate speech". It's basically come to mean "point of view in disagreement with my group's current position which may change in the future"


To wit what comprises "hate speech"

That's a rather specious argument when you have the current example of a democracy (India) simply shutting down large parts of the internet for political reasons, not to mention the widespread deployment of surveillance tech in numerous developed countries.

This isn't to say that you don't have a point, but if you're saying it's a more pressing issue than those you might be suffering from a loss of perspective. After all, 'hate speech' is widely unpopular (as opposed to being a highly popular thing suppressed by authoritarian states, and much 'hate speech' treats of the desire to operate an authoritarian state that will restrict or outright terminate the freedoms/lives of the hated subjects.


I think you have had the good fortune not to be targeted by people in a position of power. The loss of perspective is the other way around: Until this has happened to you, you can't fully appreciate what it feels like.

"Hate speech" is a deceptive label. Even pg points out that it sounds like a phrase straight out of 1984.

Society at large seems to have become turbulent. Everywhere you look, you find people who are practically leaping for any small excuse to tear into someone, tear them down, label them various names, get them fired, and so on.

We are fortunate not to have to worry about authoritarian nations. But we still have to worry about authoritarians. They will often use excuses like "It's in the community's interest" to exact punishment that very few are inclined to disagree with.

One could argue that if few people disagree with a punishment, then by definition it's fair. I would argue that restriction of thought is a more serious matter. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21550422 was an insightful comment illustrating some of the modern decisions that one has to make.


>Everywhere you look, you find people who are practically leaping for any small excuse to tear into someone, tear them down, label them various names, get them fired, and so on.

I think it's you that lack perspective. There is more world beyond twitter outrage culture, and the vast majority of people do not engage in such behaviours.


There very well may be more to the world, than twitter outrage culture but once this comes for the average joe you are totally fucked and I actively fear that someone at work finds out I listen to Ben Shapiro's podcast because this could easily result in me loosing my job and being deported as a result.


This is a very real issue. I shared my screen during a conference call with a browser tab open to a conservative news site. I had to cover with showing how i was opening a link someone sent me in an email to see what they were talking about vs. going there voluntarily. Even then, there was still grumbling on the call and later in Slack I was "casually" asked about what left-leaning causes i support outside of work.


Thank you for saying. It's like we can't even mention these frustrations sometimes


Give me one example, one, where somebody in the US was persecuted for listening to a podcast, and didn't subsequently win a court case for wrongful dismissal. You'll struggle to find even one example of that happening at all, let alone one where that did happen and the courts didn't find it illegal.


There is clearly a world outside of "Twitter outrage culture", but depending on your industry, it is no less sharp and toxic, and not isolated from the Twittersphere.

Several otherwise decent people I've known over the years have had an awakening of vindictive bloodlust coinciding with an ascent into the HR establishment. Their words and actions in everyday life echo the sickness on Twitter.


I think you may have the causation backwards. The sickness on Twitter is an echo of their words and actions.


Just wanted to say thanks for voicing this better than I could have. I constantly see people downplaying the censorship happening in places like the USA because "This is different!" Meanwhile they cheer for society at large slowly adopting the same authoritarian tendancies they villify when present in other nations purely because in their view it's acceptable as long as it's not the government itself acting in an authoritarian fashion.


> We are fortunate not to have to worry about authoritarian nations. But we still have to worry about authoritarians.

It is a sad fact that, at the moment, we see someone with political power exhibiting authoritarian behavior (undermining a free press, undermining or disregarding rule of law, judges, etc, deliberately spreading false information, using the system to attack political enemies) — we see someone in office with authoritarian behavior _embracing_ hate speech, both explicitly and implicitly.

This is not to say your point is not also a concern or that we should ignore it.

Rather, that right now if you look around the world what you will see is the current crop of leaders with authoritarian tendencies (India, Hungary perhaps, Brazil, The Philippines, US) embrace hate speech as a tool to incite their base and sometimes to incite political violence (Brazil in particular).

As this is a sensitive subject because it touches on contemporary politics I want to emphasize that I am doing my best to be thoughtful, specific, factual, and nonjudgmental.

Factual support for all the statements I made here can be easily found. There have been many articles written about, for example, Bolsanaro in Brazil and Duarte in the Philippines.

Lastly I’d like to point out that the topic of the thread is inherently political and I’ve tried to stay on-topic.


The thread is very political. All the listed authoritarian behavior is also behavior that get associated with political behavior. Deliberately presenting ones own political views in the best light and presenting the opposite view in the worst light get sadly defined as just being politics, regardless of how false it is in an objective light. Undermining and disregarding rule of law is common everywhere, particular with laws that were put in place to restrict those in a position of power. A standard practice in politics is to also have a media policy that in ways favor the press that favors their side and limits the availability of everyone else.

It all comes down to what degree one finds the other sides behavior worse. In an objective perspective there is surely people that are worse than others, but we should not talk about it as if one side is above such behavior.


I’m not sure I understand — is there a different way you can say this?

I do think I get the gist of what you are saying; in short, I agree that unethical behavior knows no political party. My comment was more about authoritarian behavior exhibited by various world leaders currently in power, since, well, since those are the people currently in power.

I certainly do have my own views, and think it’s appropriate in a conversation about authoritarian behavior by governments (which is a political discussion by its very nature) to share my views, as long as I do so in a respectful manner and point to reasonably valid sources for my claims.

In this case there’s been so much written about the two leaders I mentioned (and the one I didn’t) that simply encouraging people to google is, I think, sufficient.

Any article by any major paper of repute about political violence in the Philippines or Brazil will function as a source, as will any fact-checking site (politifact) or fact-checked article about US politics in the past few years.


I can take examples but I fear the more specific we get the higher the risks becomes that people dig down at the preferred side.

As an example of undermining and disregarding rule of law, in the US no party has respected surveillance laws as far as 2001 and likely further back. As an example from here in Sweden, government officials regularly undermine and disregard the law in regard to how open contracts between government and companies. As a global example, we saw on Wikileaks how almost all countries classified information in order to hide political embarrassing facts from going public. All this is authoritarian behavior with varied degree of harm, and the laws they undermine or breaks are laws that got written in order to restrict authoritarian rule.

In terms of the free press, political alignment is the tool of authoritarian rule. If the political party in power own the press, get campaign money from the press, and have a captured audience through the press, then the press is not free. The political party will grant interviews, space, time and opportunity to those they favor, and denying the same to the opposing side. Studies from both the US show this pattern to be very real during elections, and popular media often demonstrate this pattern in movies and TV shows.

In regard to facts, sources help but its not a panacea. A relative new media trick by authoritarians when faced with investigative journalism is to do double recording of the interview, and then rush to be first to publish a editorialized version that favors ones own side with link to the full version. This way you get to capture the narrative, and the small minority that have time and energy to follow the several hours long interview are at minimum primed to your message.


> As an example of undermining and disregarding rule of law, in the US no party has respected surveillance laws as far as 2001 and likely further back. As an example from here in Sweden, government officials regularly undermine and disregard the law in regard to how open contracts between government and companies. As a global example, we saw on Wikileaks how almost all countries classified information in order to hide political embarrassing facts from going public. All this is authoritarian behavior with varied degree of harm, and the laws they undermine or breaks are laws that got written in order to restrict authoritarian rule.

This so succinctly sums up my frustrations with what I view as the erosion of democracy as we know it the world over. The controls established to limit the awesome power of the state are being subordinated by the state itself, and in secret. The asymmetry makes it hard for the citizenry to do anything about it, even when it happens in the open.

Thinking more about it, the power of the people is only able to be exercised collectively, that is we require coordination in order to effect change. On the other hand, actors in government have figured out how to wield their powers unilaterally (in the US at least). This makes it much harder for the collective to effect change that restricts the actions of the individual actors, as the change is hard to make (collective action is hard) and easily undone later on.


Thanks for your thoughtful response :)


Sometimes it's like politics was designed in a divide and conquer way. It definitely gets people hating each other over hardly anything


>we see someone in office with authoritarian behavior _embracing_ hate speech, both explicitly and implicitly.

Perhaps this should clue you in about how people feel about political correctness. Many of the leaders you mentioned likely got a whole bunch of votes because they didn't toe the political correctness line. This happened in many other countries too, because people generally don't like walking on eggshells.

>There have been many articles written about, for example, Bolsanaro in Brazil and Duarte in the Philippines.

Imagine this sentence, but instead of you misspelling their names, you misspelled their pronouns. Some people would label that as hate speech. Obviously not when used against the people you mentioned, because they are the enemy and we can't give ammunition to the enemy.


1. “Hate speech” in most countries is a legally defined term, and courts of law are able to determine if something qualifies as hate speech or not. This is what I’m referring to. That is different from “political correctness”, which has no legally defined meaning I’m aware of.

[EDIT] Hate speech is not legally defined in the United States. Not sure why I thought it was. My apologies. I would though argue that it’s still a more clearly defined term than “politically correct”, especially since it is legally defined in other countries.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hate_speech_in_the_United_St...

2. Thank you for the correction about my spelling.

3. Duterte vocally supports the extrajudicial killing of criminals - https://www.reuters.com/article/us-philippines-duterte-killi... - there are plenty of other sources as well.

The wikipedia article about Bolsonaro contains plenty of citations describing behavior of his which fits the definition of authoritarian. When you consider his previous association with and expressed nostalgia for the military dictatorship in Brazil (notorious for torturing its opponents, among other things), this makes his behavior especially disturbing.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jair_Bolsonaro

Call it whatever you want — authoritarian, fascist, populist, etc, but these guys certainly don’t exhibit the behavior of a of a leader who values small-d democratic government, the rule of law, or equality under the law regardless of religion, sex, skin color, political belief or sexual orientation.

Trump is not as extreme and most of all of what he says does not meet the legal definition of hate speech.

His habit of perpetually lying (also known as not telling the truth) is very well documented - https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veracity_of_statements_by_Do...

Discussion of whether he qualifies as a wannabe-authoritarian leader or not is more complex.

There are many verifiable instances where, as President, he has undermined the laws of the country he leads. One example is when he talked about wanting to end birthright citizenship (that you are automatically a citizen if born in the U.S.), which is guaranteed by the 14th amendment of the constitution.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/22/us/birthright-citizenship...

Please note that regardless of how distressing you may find the information I’m sharing to be, I’m not doing much more than presenting facts. Of course I have a point of view. But my goal here is to illustrate as dispassionately as I can, well-known and verifiable behavior of current world leaders which is along the lines of “demanding total obedience to those in positions of authority”,

https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/authorit...

There have been of course other leaders in the past from all sorts of political parties who have exhibited authoritarian behavior; but I’m talking about who is in power now.

There are of course plenty of other countries we could talk about as well. India, China, Russia, and Israel come to mind, in addition to the Philippines, Brazil, and the United States. And I don’t claim that list to be comprehensive.


I'm not arguing that those leaders are nor authoritarian. I'm saying that I think some people support them despite them being authoritarians because they speak out without political correctness.

My quip about the spelling of their name was to indicate the absurdity of some hate speech laws. Misgendering somebody can be considered hate speech and the difference between misgendering someone or not can simply be a typo.


Thanks for your thoughtful response. I missed part of your main point.

I guess I would say with regards to someone choosing to support an authoritarian candidate for office because they liked their rhetoric ... buy the ticket, take the ride. As in, they are making a choice.


There are people who have a fondness for some ex-communist societies and or their icons like Marx, the Che, and others knowing the ideology resulted in millions of deaths and other horrors, are they oblivious to the implications?

Talking about making changes to internal laws is not in and of itself subversive. It’s done all the time. Does talking about abolishing the electoral college imply those people are undermining the constitution?


I think the president of the united states has the responsibility to be particularly sensitive and thoughtful about how they themselves discuss modifying the constitution.


There have been so many checks and balances on the executive branch both in congress but even more so the judicial branch of the US system that most of these claims of authoritarianism, besides a few minor examples that look a whole lot like the behaviour of previous administrations when compared on paper, that this whole shift to authoritarianism that has been so thoroughly FUDly spread in the media is simply not true.

It’s most taking a single persons words on Twitter as policy which is not how things work in the real world. Despite efforts by Bush to massively expand the Executive branch’s power - mostly under the guise of counter terrorism, we really haven’t seen anything near comparable. And it practice that power is still significantly capped from any sort of extremism - by design.

Yet those in the past who actually made significant strides in allowing the president and his cabinet to bypass these safe guards is now being paraded around among the Democrats as one of the “good guys” and appearing in the media with the former First Lady.

The obvious disconnect here between what is said and insessently warned about and Sabre rattled over politically and what exists (in terms of what’s actually different) fuels a lot of the discontent which drives regular, entirely not “far right” or “alt right” people to the right.

Meanwhile the worst of the worst redneck supporters on the right, a tiny minority, get paraded around [1] like they are the new base representing the average person on the right... instead of the fringe rural racist nobodies who have always existed but the media largely ignored instead of promoting them line they are powerful. Which is simply not true fod for the average 48% who votes right and only further fuels discontent about mass misrepresentation and villanization (similar to the “despicables” bit that complete backfired) in the media and elsewhere.

It’s really not that bad and I’ve never seen a party so self destructive and consistently out of touch as the American democrat party. Most people paying attention on the left are well aware of that.

This sort of thing is what results in losing to a person who was probably the least qualified person ever to be president. And nearly every poll shows the average Republican dislikes what Trump writes on Twitter and wished he stopped.

Yet this same person who has 24/7 negative media coverage has a very good shot at winning again which will be the greatest embarrassment to the Democrats in modern history.

It’s not past due for the left to look themselves in the mirror and ask themselves who they are really fighting against [2]. I can assure you doubling down on identity politics, radical policies, and calling them all Nazis and white supremacist might work on Twitter but it is a terribly flawed strategy for winning this election. The people on the right have long ago seen through that nonsense and the media cherry picking of the baddest guys (aka political nobodies) they can find and presenting them as the typical republican is not working, it's having the opposite effect.

And I say this as someone who would be just as happy with Bernie as a sane but honest republican candidate. But both parties have proven they can only offer total mediocrity and blatant attempts for predetermined anointed winners, who are boring, old, and can barely form a coherent sentence.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/28/us/politics/trump-2020-tr...

[2] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/09/opinion/trump-rhetoric-pr...


I don’t disagree with a lot of what you said, and certainly not with your excellent point about past administrations expanding executive power.

I do think you underestimate the power of the presidential office as a “bully pulpit” and the concrete legislative and other steps the current administration has taken.


I think what frustrates me the most about all the anti-Trump rhetoric is that what Bush did is vastly more heinous than anything Trump is accused of, yet I've seen so many people call out Trump as being vastly worse than Bush.

I also find it interesting that the people who hate Trump now continue bashing Trump, but very often they do it in a roundabout way in an attempt to appear more balanced than they actually are. Trump has quite literally become he-who-shall-not-be-named on HN, and I find it hilarious. If there were ever an indication that the people on this site are as silly and melodramatic as the rest of the population, that's it right there.


There's an entire population of people on HN who can't talk about this stuff without getting hysterical.

Not saying "Trump" is learned behaviour on a site that promotes intellectual debate.

I personally much prefer saying executive branch or administration than saying Trump for that very reason. It helps avoid the emotions and political ideological stuff.

This article which I've posted here a million times here since 2007, and which used to be popular on HN, but somewhat forgotten with the hyper radicalization of Reddit/Twitter former moderates and the 10000x increase in the many people thinking that "resisting" by parroting the same talking head hyper partisan stuff on the Internet will save the world.... Instead of causing every person who is politically/intellectually mature enough to roll their eyes with "this again?".

https://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Politics_is_the_Mind-Killer


Thank you


> Everywhere you look, you find people who are practically leaping for any small excuse to tear into someone, tear them down, label them various names, get them fired, and so on.

They get their power from people like you paying far too much attention to what they say. Seriously - their opinions are about as significant as Bill O'Reilly's, and more importantly their influence lasts about as long. Stop looking, play the long game, trust that most others find them obnoxious as you do and they just fade away with no effort on your part.

Well, mostly. If you are unlucky enough to have a friend caught up in their net of hysteria, defend them. But even in that case, try to be the reverse of what your antagonists are - a calming, rational influence. Don't make the mistake Richard Stallman did. I admire the man hugely, and am very saddened by recent events, but his grasp of mob politics is ... poor.


I think you have had the good fortune not to be targeted by people in a position of power.

The exact opposite, actually.


Too right. And don't let the thought police shut you up


I think you have a very good point.

The overall metapoint that both you and the parent comment agree on is this: the internet isn't being "weaponized by authoritarian states" in some unique fashion specific to authoritarianism.

I'd just round it all up to say that: like most headlines about global trends in America, this headline reenforces the meme of "American Exceptionalism" and casts the situation in a "good versus evil" narrative format that's not really helpful for understanding what's happening or what to do about it. But that itself isn't anything particularly new in itself either (queue last three decades of American headlines).


Every Republican nominee and political organization has been compared to fascists and Hitler since the early 1950s.

It long ago lost its punch yet it's still the go-to for every leftwing political ideologue like it will be taken seriously.

I agree that this same stuff has been going on forever but I've noticed a significant decline in tolerance by the left of even engaging and debating those on the right. The positions of ivory tower righteous we-know-best reputation which the left has always been known for has gone into overdrive - mostly on social media but it's leaking into reputable papers like NYT and less reputable ones in terms of neutrality like WaPo. Plus the crazy radical stuff coming out of places like Teen Vogue are also quite new.

Crossing lines has always been a critical political necessity as so much of politics is built on compromise. But at least culturally the hysteria and FUD being stirred up online has completely destroyed any sense of understanding or breaching the other side. Which is turning modern politics into a form of trench warfare.

The right have certainly contributed to it by tolerating their crazies a little too frequently (even though they rarely win or have any power outside of useful headlines in the political media coverage) when in the past they'd stay the fringe and get zero news coverage or attention, which would otherwise increase their standing and help with recruitment to turn otherwise fringe crazies into groups the media presents with seriousness and legitimacy - because they find it useful to attach it to more mainstream and moderate voters. Which I think is a dangerous game to play and one we've already seen the consequences of.

It's far easier for the baddies to recruit and be real threads when the media and other influential people connect them to the real power players in Washington who've never heard of them and would want nothing to do with them.


"The right have certainly contributed to it by tolerating their crazies a little too frequently (even though they rarely win or have any power outside of useful headlines in the political media coverage) when in the past they'd stay the fringe and get zero news coverage or attention..."

I find that pretty funny considering who the current president is. I would go further to argue that was in part the reason he was elected. This is after all the man who started getting more and more attention for claiming that the former president was born in Kenya.


it goes in cycles, each side gains power, abuses it, then loses it.

When the left gain power, it becomes all about political correctness. When the right gain power, it becomes all about religious morality.

both try to suffocate each other, and both make being in the middle incredibly difficult because the middle gets attacked from both sides.


The difference is the right has never gain power in the media, academia, and based on a resent report showing a 75% left or far left leaning on Twitter, social media.

My concern is when the more hysterical stuff you’d find at protests (ie, Bush’s face overlaid on Hitler) starts leaking into more reputable sources and every person on the right is treated like a complete pariah... the right had always famously been the “silent majority”. The silent part is becoming a hard requirement these days which really concerns me.

All things should happen in the daylight and a complete intolerance, misrepresentation, and overreaction is what pushes them underground only worsens these radicalism and extremism which we should expunge from both sides by challenging it openly. Instead of one side having an unfiltered field day and monopoly on the media which treats them like villains non stop. Especially when the only option left is Fox News which is full of crazy bullshit (but compared to most traffic rates of major websites not really that popular among the average voter in the big picture).


>>"the right has never gain power in the media, academia"

Excluding, the Murdoch empire including Fox News, the entire RW media ecosystem,'access journalism' as practiced by such as the NYT, and the general false equivalence presumption of most large media outlets. Denying that there is any RW power in the media is a strawman argument at best.

In Academia? Seems to overlook the fact that when given sufficient thought, many RW concepts are justifications for policies that do not hold up to data-backed studies (e.g., benefits of treating drug use as a public health issue), are simply outright denial of science (climate change / AGW denialism), or are straight-up anti-intellectualism used to support popular movements. Combine these trends, and there is sound reason to consider that academia being more liberal is not some crass bias, but based on well-founded reasons.


> Excluding, the Murdoch empire including Fox News, the entire RW media ecosystem,'access journalism' as practiced by such as the NYT, and the general false equivalence presumption of most large media outlets. Denying that there is any RW power in the media is a strawman argument at best.

Those are the exceptions to the rule, and they're also blatant extremist outlets. The right has a handful of outlets that almost read as parodies of new outlets, and the left entails nearly everything else, including nearly all media outside of the news. The lack of news outlets is not something I would "blame" the left for though, it's more a failure of the right, but it is reality. Casual media, which drives culture in a huge way, is entirely dominated by the left.

> In Academia? Seems to overlook the fact that when given sufficient thought, many RW concepts are justifications for policies that do not hold up to data-backed studies..., are simply outright denial of science..., or are straight-up anti-intellectualism used to support popular movements. Combine these trends, and there is sound reason to consider that academia being more liberal is not some crass bias, but based on well-founded reasons.

The meme that "reality has a liberal bias" is one of the things the left should be laughed at for pushing. The left is just as anti-science and anti-intellectual when it comes to pushing their agenda as the right (which is hugely anti-science, not contesting that). You need to go no further than biology to find well founded facts the left just outright ignores. These narratives are equally used to push (often violent and anti-democratic) popular movements.

Neither side of the aisle holds the high ground when it comes to holding true to science and research when they come up against narratives and agendas. If you believe your side does it's probably because you are in an echo chamber.


> The meme that "reality has a liberal bias" is one of the things the left should be laughed at for pushing

This stuff hurts the democrat part which should be the party of the left behind middle class and poor.

Except the left keep pushing their party with a smug holier-than-attitude and wonder why the party that caught for labour and civil rights is not seem as the party of the elite and out of touch.

People glibly buy into the identity politics part as proof of dedication to the critical "unrepresented" working poor middle. They wanted someone to talk to them honestly about their problems, not get talked down to and pushing 1970s style labour "we're with you" campaigns to help fix the dying rust belt.

That was a lot cause but Hillary and her out of touch campaign completely failed to get these people.


Half the stuff on Brietbart is talking about what the left media is saying about themselves, it's their biggest selling points, the victimhood is the strategy (just to make a point, not support the site in any way). There's an endless supply of assaults, some justified, which creates feelings of an endless onslaught against the average right wing moderate voter. There really is no middle ground for them in the media, it's crazy extreme stuff on Fox news or constant assaults on every other channel, being treated like it's crazy to have even considered Trump.

Yet they still did and they might do it again. But no one seems to give a shit, they just obsess about identity politics and white nationalism, which only further pushes the sane ones away (rather than closer).

WSJ is the only place I've found that is still at least trying to be neutral, or at least take a centered take on the reporting instead of presented shamelessly with an obvious left-wing agenda like most NYT and WaPo articles turned into a few years back.

The fact is there was a significant enough amount of people who simply didn't like Hillary Clinton, which scared off a bunch of otherwise moderates, middle of the ground, people which are the critical bread-and-butter of battle ground states - which the democrats badly needed. Yet they remain ignored.

They were called despicable for even considering non-Hillary support. The DNC has completely missed the ball and is only further alienating these same important people.

Beyond that, the fact alone that Trump is polling anywhere near equal should be shocking and concerning to every democrat. This dude gets negative press 24/7 - globally, not just in the US. Even on comedy shows like SNL they have a non-stop field day with it. Yet he still polls.

There's obviously something serious missing that the democrats aren't getting here. This should be an easy landslide. I'm convinced the big mistake is the left's obsession with identity politics, and constant legitimacy that's being given to it, while simultaneously being disconnected from the average voters in rural and small town areas in battleground states. Maybe the damage has already been done and they don't need convincing (the scenario where minimal thought and rationality is assumed, lowest common denominator).


I can tell you as a moderate I didn't care which one of them got elected, they were both bad in their own way.

Personally, I think what people missed is that tech is doing really really well, and people in tech tend to be on the left. This means a lot of people on the left are doing well financially. To the point that they can afford to be offended by Trumps "punch em in the pussy" comment.

Do you know who can't afford to be offended by it? Those who are losing their jobs and have no way to support their family. And the left, in general, STILL doesn't understand this. Because I'm a moderate who didn't care which one got elected, I've had the opportunity to speak with many Trump supports (they were willing to open up about it). And do you know what every single one of them starts with? Every fucking single one of them?

"I don't agree with everything Trump says, but ...".

Trump straight up told some of these companies that if they move their manufacturing out of the US there will be consequences.

Think about it from their point of view. He said what they desperately wanted to hear. Of course they voted for him, the lefties would have too if the situation was reversed. It's not hard to understand why taking care of your family Trumps some jackass making sexist comments.

As far as I'm concerned, Trump getting elected was our system working as intended. You had huge swathes of the country that were being left behind and ignored. When Trump got elected, one of the first things Bernie Sanders did was start proposing laws to help that segment of the population. I bet you they're not ignored in the upcoming election.

And besides which, all signs point to the economy doing well, so all the FUD from the left about the sky falling with some of Trump's policies just help strengthen Trump's chances in the next election.


> The meme that "reality has a liberal bias" is one of the things the left should be laughed at for pushing. The left is just as anti-science and anti-intellectual when it comes to pushing their agenda as the right

This is a large part of why I pointed out what I did. That the right are just as bad when they're in power. It's just about agenda's.


You are totally right and your calm nature in talking about it is impressive. It drives me nuts so I put my head in the sand and try to pretend it doesn't exist


> The difference is the right has never gain power in the media

I think the koch brothers might disagree with that...

What's different is that tech has allowed a level of control never seen before, and the mob reigns supreme as a result.

It's a lot more difficult for a single entity like the koch brothers to affect the message because people now get their information from channels they can't possibly control.

But you know who can?

the tech giants. And those tech giants were founded by liberals because that's the nature of what liberals do (explore, vs conservatives who simply run things).

so what you have is tech now allows for unprecedented control and that tech was created by liberals, so you're seeing these astounding levels.

But when it sways back to the side of the conservatives, and it will, you'll watch them have the same level of control.


I'd like to add to what you're saying: the religious right of the 2000s and earlier is what some of the left wing looks like today. Instead of religion they have some form of social justice.


[flagged]


Very effective strategy you got there. It's been tried in every one of the last 6 decades of elections, I'm sure it will penetrate the minds of the voters so effectively and not highlight how out-of-touch and extreme certain quarters have become or remain.

Not even just republicans, plenty on the left would laugh off such banal and uninteresting of takes.


I agree that fascist / Nazi comparisons aren’t very useful.

I do think that the current administration exhibits behavior (verifiable, fact-checkable behavior) which legitimately meets the definition of “authoritarian” — “demanding total obedience to those in positions of authority” - https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/authorit... — in ways that are different from past administrations,


India is at the top of the list in terms of Internet bans, this yr alone they have banned the internet over 360 times.


I disagree this is nothing new, it's an unprecedented intrusion into private discourse but I understand why it doesn't seem to be so. After all, previously private forms of communication such as direct speech are still private and written letters are still roughly as hard to intercept en masse than they were. The only change is in access to new forms of communication.

I think that's enough of a change though to constitute a grave new threat even within already oppressive regimes. Public real time messaging systems like twitter and wechat are fundamentally reshaping public discourse. We can't just say that "oh well, just stick to the old ways of communication and you'll be fine". If the fundamental way people communicate changes, then the fact that this change enables unprecedented levels of centralised monitoring and intervention does change things a lot. Even beyond intervention is specific conversations or consequences for individuals, it gives such regimes an unprecedented insight into the opinions and attitudes of their population as a whole and various sub-groups within it and opportunities to shape and act on those.


>grave new threat

There are two sides to the story of course. Repressive governments can follow who's up to what on social media and the like but on the other hand encrypted global communications and ubiquitous video make it much easier to expose bad stuff happening. It's interesting to watch the very good movie Lives of Others to get a feel of what things were like as recently as 1984 when it's set https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lives_of_Others


"Hate speech" has specific functional meanings when it comes to legal jurisdictions in which it applies. The idea that it's a tool for arbitrary suppression of disagreement is approximately correct as the idea that any other limitation on free speech (libel, slander, fire in a crowded theater, verbal assault, time place manner, etc) can be used arbitrarily -- which is to say, generally incorrect, although interpretation and application of the law matters (libel or time place manner judgments have been used to mute speech).

Additionally, I have yet to encounter any example of reasonable discourse that's being legally suppressed by hate speech laws, but, you know, feel free to make a list of the important ideas that you feel are being SILENCED.

Private companies: not that different in the fundamentals, but there are additional issues that lean towards both the right of ownership to speak and restrict speech that comes through them. You likely wouldn't want anyone to force you to repeat ideas you believe are incorrect, or contrary to key personal interests even where narrowly correct, or even lead to effects you find personally undesirable. If freedom of speech means anything, it has to include some measure of judgment about what your personal faculties are used to express, and to some more moderated extent what/how your property is used. There may be balancing concerns in the latter case, but whether we're at that point is another issue. Again, I can think of very little in the realm of valuable discourse that's been walled off here; if there's anything at all, I suspect the relevant mechanism is essentially social values that are held widely enough that contrary expressions bring social consequences, and while you can create some spaces for robust contrary discussion ("safe spaces", if you like), you can't eliminate the kickback from broad social consequences without treading more heavily on other liberties of equal or greater importance to speech.

Honestly, if there's any issue at all here, it's that there has never been an EASIER time to express ideas -- even very unpopular ones -- quite widely, and it's the way that these ideas carry widely that's leading to a level of tension that people are still figuring out how to manage.

And really, this is the weaponization issues: 50 years ago, authoritarian countries didn't have the capabilities of broadcasting ideas or disinformation into your average household, much less an individual handheld device. A world-of-ends internet means that they do.


>"Additionally, I have yet to encounter any example of reasonable discourse that's being legally suppressed by hate speech laws, but, you know, feel free to make a list of the important ideas that you feel are being SILENCED."

The definition of "reasonable discourse" is the problem here. I'd reckon a good chunk of people don't see problems with "hate speech" censorship because they only see them applied to things that they don't seem to be reasonable discourse, so "why not". Then again, the general internet is a cesspool a lot of the time anyway and "reasonable discourse" is quite often very bad-sounding, nasty and personal.

The other side of it is that "hate speech" is not being applied legally at all. Platforms are using some sort of nebulous definition of it and a few other semi-related concepts in order to appease to offended people (from the perspective of the people it's being applied to). This is what a lot of the people are fighting back against, they're not fighting against "legal censorship for the legal definition of hate speech", which practically never happens anymore in the west.

On a side note now that I think about it, you could argue what's going on in the UK, Germany & South Africa among other places as being examples of reasonable criticism & discourse online being silenced under hate-speech laws. And some people even going to jail over some of it. See here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volksverhetzung

Yes, the laws are phrased in "feel-good" ways such that at the surface it looks like they're just there to prevent bad things like "inciting racial hatred/violence", etc. But the way they get applied is not exactly that because it's open to interpretation and attempts to legislate offense and feelings which are very grey-terms. Also, these laws get "cited" by various platforms in pro-active justifications for why they remove/de-platform individuals on them, without legal or criminal proceedings ever actually taking place.


>Additionally, I have yet to encounter any example of reasonable discourse that's being legally suppressed by hate speech laws, but, you know, feel free to make a list of the important ideas that you feel are being SILENCED.

Now that paraphilias have been removed from the DSM and are no longer considered a mental illness, the idea that they need an acceptance and support group (of course, acting on them in a way that harms someone is still unacceptable). This has been taken to be hate speech against sexual minorities that were removed from even earlier editions of the DSM.

There is also some evidence that having some level of social acceptance results in less anti-social behavior including hurting other people (I think Germany has begun to incorporate this in therapy programs).


Upvoted because I think you're the first response indicating an understanding of the challenge: the prospect of walling off discourse regarding support groups for a paraphilia may plausibly be a loss (vs, say, what might be lost if the freedom to train a dog to perform nazi signifiers is limited).

OTOH, it's an example I'm skeptical is functioning as a loss, because it's as easy to construct the idea of such groups as affinity gatherings as it is to construct them as remediation meetings. As far as I can tell from secondhand familiarity with, say, BDSM-involved folks (which I'd assume is a reasonable parallel for most paraphilias and maybe even an example of something DSM-demoted), there's never been a better time to find other similar people for communal discussion and exploration of what it means to live ethically and well in that way.

Are there concrete examples of related legal trouble for people? If so, are they from people incorrectly construing affinity gatherings as remediation meetings, or are they from people suggesting that remediation should be the primary purpose of gathering paraphilia'd people together?

If there are speech-related restrictions, I assume we're talking about a context outside the US. Here AFAICT it would be quite legal to discuss support groups as outright reform efforts (and in many jurisdictions actually run such support groups as ostensibly legitimate therapy).


In general I have not seen any legal trouble or even social consequences falling on people, but that is because I've never seen anyone even attempt such a discussion without the veil of anonymity (be it advocating for themselves or advocating for others).

As for laws, the US generally has few legal consequences but the social consequences are so assumed it is like finding people who can confirm jumping off a bridge hurts you. It is taken as such an absolute truth that most do not know someone who has tested the premise.

For other countries with far stricter laws on speech, I do not know of many examples but have rarely searched. I do remember there being a related case involving a claim concerning the prophet Muhammad. But at the same time, I want to acknowledge while I raise this issue for general discussion, I have personally seen many use similar arguments only as weapons against minority groups. Thus the challenge of someone using an argument as weapon against minorities vs. someone who uses an argument as a means to increase tolerance.


> Additionally, I have yet to encounter any example of reasonable discourse that's being legally suppressed by hate speech laws

What is "reasonable" discourse? The purpose of freedom of speech is that all discourse is allowed; "reasonable" or not.


What a great comment.

> "Hate speech" has specific functional meanings when it comes to legal jurisdictions in which it applies. The idea that it's a tool for arbitrary suppression of disagreement is approximately correct as the idea that any other limitation on free speech (libel, slander, fire in a crowded theater, verbal assault, time place manner, etc) can be used arbitrarily

As I understand it (could be wrong), hate crime/speech regulations only actually act as punishment modifiers for existing crimes. They don't criminalize otherwise legal acts or speech (in the US, at least).

For example, it's illegal to vandalize a synagogue with spray paint. Hate crime/speech laws generally might mean that a person who spray paints an immature, lewd picture/message on a synagogue, is treated differently that a person who spray paints a swastika. The latter would be treated more harshly - which seems reasonable to me.


I think only if there's a direct threat of violence. It could be argued that a swastika on a synagogue is a threat of violence but it'd be on a case by case basis for those edge cases. A kid doing it for giggles is different to a violent gang doing it


That would be hate crimes, not hate speech, which are different legally speaking (though in common parlance we use them interchangeably).

Hate speech from my own understanding legally is relatively narrowly defined (in the US) for direct calls of violence that can reasonably be interpreted to incite action. Eg "Kill Hitler!" isn't hate speech, but inducing someone to assassinate a particular person would be.

The issue is that platforms and some countries often use an expansive definition which is frequently weaponized against "the other side" (whomever that might be). The case which got JK Rowling on twitter's angry side, the Maya Forstater case, is an example of non-citing speech which had legal consequences.


> Additionally, I have yet to encounter any example of reasonable discourse that's being legally suppressed by hate speech laws

Citing your ignorance of events is not a compelling argument.

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/06/02/social_media_arrest...

Literally thousands of people have been arrested in recent years for things they've said on Twitter. That's just in the London.

Here's a man who was arrested and convicted of a hate crime. What did he do? Taught his girlfriend's dog to give a Nazi salute.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7785225/Supreme-Cou...

Now I would not exactly consider this an "important idea". But arresting and convicting someone for that is egregious and, dare I say, offensive.

At the same time, I could not possibly care less which ideas _you_ consider important or not. Or anyone for that matter. That's the whole point of free speech.


> Citing your ignorance of events is not a compelling argument.

If you're going to make a case that there are harms from imposition on speech, then you need to be able to point to harms. An absence of demonstrable harms does not necessarily constitute ignorance on my part (though demonstrable harms might, although the good news for me is that can be easily remedied).

> Now I would not exactly consider this an "important idea". But arresting and convicting someone for that is egregious and, dare I say, offensive.

Your objection here is apparently to either the fact that the law was enforced, or to the specific punishment. I assume it's not the former, or laws protecting speech don't matter either. There's legitimate room for discussion of the later, but all conversations about what constitutes a reasonable consequence for violating the law are distinct from whether it's reasonable to have a law regarding any specific activity in the first place. And it's worth pointing out that there are other forms of speech such as fraud and perjury that can result in prison time.

> I could not possibly care less which ideas _you_ consider important or not. Or anyone for that matter. That's the whole point of free speech.

Actually the whole point of free speech is that ideas matter. Broad allowances aren't the primary value; the search for value in discourse is. Where broad allowances exist they flow from that central point.

When you understand that, it's easier to see why even societies which hold free speech as a high value do not consider every form of expression equally valuable, and why exceptions to allowances exist both by informal social construction and in legal formalisms. Including those that distinguish even crude expressions like "The Prime Minister is an Asshole" from slurs, or the idea that freedom is for teaching animals to pass on Nazi signifiers.


> then you need to be able to point to harms

Right. That’s why I included articles on people being arrested. Being arrested is very much a harm.

Here’s a woman who was arrested for tweeting rap lyrics. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-merseyside-43816921

Do some research on how the law is being used for. On what people are being arrested for. I look forward to your report.

> Your objection here is apparently to either the fact that the law was enforced, or to the specific punishment.

My objection is to the existence of the law. Not only should there have been no punishment but there shouldn’t have been an arrest or even an investigation.


> Right. That’s why I included articles on people being arrested. Being arrested is very much a harm.

The mere existence of an arrest or the general fact of any legal consequence does not demonstrate that a law is harmful.

Presumably you don't believe that being arrested for theft is a demonstration about how property law harms people. Presumably you don't believe that punishments for perjury would demonstrates how some legal obligations to speak truthfully constitute harm.

This is a conversation about the value of free speech and the contention that hate speech laws have eroded that value. If there's a case for that, it has to be demonstrated with examples of meaningful discourse that has been barred or otherwise suffered.


How do you propose somebody demonstrate that something did not happen because of hate speech restrictions? It is very difficult to prove a negative. What we can do is reason over the situations that have cropped up. Do you think it's a net benefit to society that a teenager was arrested and had to wear an ankle bracelet for posting lyrics of a song on Instagram in remembrance of someone that was killed? Because I don't think that's good for society. I think that she's now much less likely to speak her mind on the future, because she has essentially already been punished for doing that in the past.

>Presumably you don't believe that being arrested for theft is a demonstration about how property law harms people.

Theft is demonstrably bad for society and it is generally easy to separate theft from non-theft. Therefore punishing theft is a net good for society, because we want to discourage theft.

I've not seen someone demonstrate that hate speech is bad for society. Furthermore, hate speech is not easy to separate from regular speech. This means that if you discourage hate speech you'll likely discourage some regular speech as well.


You haven't demonstrated why theft is bad for society though? If Robin Hood steals from the rich to give to the poor, is that bad for society simply by virtue of theft being seen as generally wrong?

You really can't see how hate speech is bad for society? You don't think calling minorities racial slurs affects society negatively? The difficulty of separating it from "regular speech" or satire really isn't important for there to be laws against it, that is why there are courts and judges and juries to settle cases and set precedents.

I also think you're highly overestimating how easy it is to separate theft from non-theft. Again, not that the complexity in separating a crime from a non-crime should in any way be a deciding factor in whether a law against said crime exists.


>If Robin Hood steals from the rich to give to the poor, is that bad for society simply by virtue of theft being seen as generally wrong?

It is. Theft causes harm to society because it deprives property from somebody that legally owns it. Humans can't survive without property in nature, which means that theft harms their survival. Furthermore, rampant theft in society means that individuals will spend a lot of effort on securing their property, effort that could've been used for better effect. Hate speech, on the other hand, is about being offended. Offense is taken, not given. Remember that speech that intimidates or harasses is already illegal and not part of hate speech laws.

>that is why there are courts and judges and juries to settle cases and set precedents.

This is still punishing. I imagine that most of us on this site agree that copyright law is not in a good spot right now, because justice is often only had when you spend a lot of money defending yourself. Courts, judges, and juries do not seem to make the process fair. And I believe many feel the same thing about hate speech laws in the UK, where a teenager was arrested and had to wear an ankle bracelet for quoting song lyrics on Instagram.


> Humans can't survive without property in nature

This is a loaded statement. Humans can absolutely survive without property, they did so for hundreds of thousands of years before the concept of property was defined.

What is speech that harasses covered under, if not hate speech? I would argue that the only reason why hate speech came into being was because so many harmful remarks didn't qualify as harassment in the same courts you question the fairness of.

Let me be clear and say that I don't doubt that any of these things are tough to define once you really start looking at possible edge cases. My problem with your statements are more about how you think things are black and white, but hate speech is all grey. If I sing lyrics of a very violent song directly at a passer-by in the street, is that not threatening? Do you think that action should fall under harassment?

> Courts, judges, and juries do not seem to make the process fair.

If you don't trust courts, judges and juries (and I'm not saying I do), then you really can't rely on them, nor politicians, either to define what is lawful and what is not, and that includes theft, murder or whatever other offenses.


There's no such thing as hate speech. You have the right to hate, and expressing it helps. It's often the things you hate that need to be talked about the most. You shouldn't be scared to say it, it should be encouraged, especially if you are wrong.


> There's no such thing as hate speech.

There most certainly is, you just don't like any of the definitions of it.

You're also confusing dealing with personal psychological problems and causing duress to another person based on your own fears and biases.


It's about the individual, not society. The individual comes first


I too am alarmed by these spooky disinformation campaigns.

I just googled "what party was abraham lincoln in" and a big box popped up at the top saying "National Union Party". I've never even heard of this party. I assume its a euphemism sinister people use like "Democratic People's Republic".


Wikipedia: Abraham Lincoln started out as a Whig Party leader in 1834. He left politics in 1849, and reentered it in 1854 as leader for the newly rename republican party created the same year.

In 1864 during the civil war both republicans and democrats had internal conflicts about leadership and the war. In order to create a majority, those republicans loyal to Lincoln decided to create a new party name in order to form a collation with pro-war democrats. The new party name got called the National Union Party.

Lincoln died the next tear in 1865. The next year after, in 1866, the new National Union Party leader failed to maintain the coalition and Republican members left, with the remaining democrats leaving short after.

"what party was abraham lincoln in" is thus a question about time. He was party leader under three different party names, president under two, and leader of one coalition that spanned between two parties. He spent 15 years as a Whig, 10 years under the republican name and 1 year under the coalition which is the point of his death.


He spent only 2 years as a Whig before exiting politics. He returned as a Republican until his assassination over a decade later. (Granted, by sleight of hand he did change the name of his Republican party for a year. Perhaps the trickery of his contemporary enemies here is payback for these tactics.)


Upon expanding the answer, this is the explanation I saw.

"The National Union Party was the temporary name used by the Republican Party for the national ticket in the 1864 presidential election that was held during the Civil War."

Since Lincoln's final election victory as President was under their ticket, it's not a crazy answer to give. It's not the answer one expects (I had never heard of it until now) but it seems to be technically correct.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Union_Party_(United_S...


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What makes it a lie? Even Lincoln's Wikipedia page notes that that was his party in his final election.

It was a separate party, as noted in the Wikipedia article for it:

"The National Union Party was created prior to the General Election of November 1864, when the Civil War was still in progress."

BTW as someone who enjoys history, especially American history, thanks for pointing this out. It's an interesting bit of trivia.


I once had sex with a married woman. When her husband found out she had met up with me, she assured him that she "didn't even kiss" me, which was true (I refused this particular intimacy but enjoyed many others). Was she lying to him? If not, why did he become so viciously angry when I told him what had happened plainly?


Is this sarcasm? Lincoln was in the National Union Party during the civil war since he wanted to keep the Union together. It was a temporary 'rebranding' of the Republican party for the Presidential Election to attract members who wouldn't take the Republican name but were sympathetic to the Union.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Union_Party_(United_S...


He was elected initially as a republican and was a republican for much longer than he was in the "National Union Party" - I think the result from google is clearly deceptive.


Are people honestly insinuating that Google's algorithm is hiding the party of Abe Lincoln as some sort of slight against modern Republicans? What in the world... how could anyone believe that?

Is that bizarre conspiracy theory more likely or that their search results scrape Wikipedia and return the most recent party a politician belonged to?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham_Lincoln

Lo and behold, it reports that Strom Thurmond was a Republican (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strom_Thurmond) and Jeff Van Drew is too (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_Van_Drew), even though both were Democrats for substantial periods in the past.


Is it a persecution complex when many of these kinds of "technical errors" seem to so often befall people from one political persuasion? Some of them clearly weren't errors and that has happened enough that people stop believing that it's just an error, because these companies have demonstrated in the past that they don't mind doing moves such as that.


Yes. The fact that the OP had never heard of the National Union Party and jumped immediately to the conclusion that is was a 'euphemism sinister people use' rather than spend 30 seconds confirming that this was in fact the name of the party he represented as President at the time of his death is ample evidence of a persecution complex. Propensity to assume one's own ignorance of facts is evidence of malfeasance on the part of one's opponents is pretty much the definition of persecution complex.


I was being facetious; it appears it is your theory of mind which is lacking. Of course, this is no grave fault of yours. Noticing these subtle tricks takes special acuity. After a few dozen more Google queries and even examination of several different platforms entirely, the picture becomes much clearer.


> search results scrape Wikipedia and return the most recent party a politician belonged to?

Google for: "what party was Andrew Jackson in"

For me this shows "Democratic-Republican Party" - this was the first party he was part of - he was elected president while a member of the Democratic party and remained such until his death: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Jackson

So your theory does not hold.

Here we have someone who was a Republican being portrayed as something else and someone who was a Democrat being portrayed as something else - and in both cases there is political benefit to Democratic party in the US.


Yes, I found it very deceptive as well. I have no idea why you're being downvoted.


[flagged]


all semantics drift


It's literally the same party. Policy has evolved for this dramatically different world, but its ideological foundations are still closer to its heritage than any real alternative.


Its now Republican Party


> Additionally, I have yet to encounter any example of reasonable discourse that's being legally suppressed by hate speech laws, but, you know, feel free to make a list of the important ideas that you feel are being SILENCED.

So you believe it’s fine for any expression that doesn’t fit in with whatever it is that you perceive to be “reasonable discourse” to be a criminal offence? A vast majority of the worlds population is religious, and most religious texts contain “hate speech”. Arresting and prosecuting people for expressing their religious beliefs has happened numerous times. There are also many political and moral issues where the views of one side are simply declared hate speech. Many people have been arrested and prosecuted for such views. A lot of the most ridiculous cases get thrown out, but not before somebody is arrested, potentially spends several days incarcerated, potentially loses their job, potentially loses future employment opportunities, and would have to pay thousands of dollars for lawyers.

Whatever it is that you, or I, or anybody else considers to be “reasonable discourse” should be completely irrelevant in the eyes of the law. You either believe that views you consider to be offensive, or vulgar, or obscene should be protected, or you believe that all views falling outside the political orthodoxy should be oppressed. Not only is this tyrannical, but it’s completely stupid. If your views happen to fall within the political orthodoxy today, that’s merely a coincidence, and you can guarantee that at some point in the future, they won’t.


> So you believe it’s fine for any expression that doesn’t fit in with whatever it is that you perceive to be “reasonable discourse” to be a criminal offence?

"Any expression?" Way to strawman.

There are broad areas of expression that should remain entirely open. There are perhaps some that are borderline but nevertheless deserve respect or at least spaces in which they can be examined. None of that keeps us from identifying categories of speech that are broadly recognizable as outside reasonable discourse, several of which beyond hate speech I identified in my comment above should you want to engage this topic thoughtfully.


I didn’t strawman you at all. Your stated rationalization is that such laws are fine because they do not impact whatever it is you perceive to be “reasonable discourse”. I’ve stated the very immediate dangers of criminalizing unreasonable discourse above. Unreasonable discourse has been instrumental in much of our progress as a society, I can’t imagine why anybody would have so much contempt for it.


[flagged]


>The invitation to provide concrete examples of valuable discourse that's criminalized by hate speech is only one of several avenues available for this.

The parent poster brought up a pretty important example:

>Unreasonable discourse has been instrumental in much of our progress as a society, I can’t imagine why anybody would have so much contempt for it.

If you need even more concrete, then how's this: the civil rights movement could've easily been classified as "hate speech" and legally squashed because it was unpopular when it started. Talk about gay marriage could've been legally squashed, because is was unpopular when the discussion started.

Do you really believe that we have the world so well figured out that there will never be anything controversial in the future that will be unpopular at first? Because if you don't, then hate speech laws are going to be used against those ideas.


If you need even more concrete, then how's this: the civil rights movement could've easily been classified as "hate speech" and legally squashed because it was unpopular when it started.

That is not a concrete example it is a hypothetical, furthermore civil rights activist were literally beaten in the streets for their speech and subject to extrajudicial punishment on many occassions - far worse than the current "hate speech" laws that are afforded due process.

Just give a concrete example, do it!


The point is that there would be additional ways to stop their speech through legal means.

>Just give a concrete example, do it!

As said elsewhere: you can't prove a negative. Asking for concrete examples on this topic is like asking for a concrete example about an epidemic that a food safety law prevented. You wouldn't claim that we don't need food safety laws just because you couldn't give us concrete examples of epidemics that were prevented due to that food safety law, would you?


It is not a question of proving a negative, punishment for hate speech is an affirmative thing that can happen.


Hate speech laws vary widely from country to country (from none to strict), but I thought the Wikipedia two-sentence summary sounded reasonable:

"The laws of some countries describe hate speech as speech, gestures, conduct, writing, or displays that incite violence or prejudicial actions against a group or individuals on the basis of their membership in the group, or which disparage or intimidate a group or individuals on the basis of their membership in the group. The law may identify a group based on certain characteristics."

I'd like to know what kinds of societal discourse is being held back when there are laws prohibiting disparagement or intimidation of people based on their membership in a group.

What are we missing out on, that hate speech laws as described are prohibiting?

I don't believe gay rights activism could in any way fall under that, or any other kinds of pro-civil rights activism, as has been mentioned elsewhere. None of those are focused on disparagement or intimidation, but the opposite: freedom from disparagement or intimidation.


> I'd like to know what kinds of societal discourse is being held back when there are laws prohibiting disparagement or intimidation of people based on their membership in a group

This depends highly on what is being included under the umbrella of "disparagement of intimidation". Some claimed that James Damore's memo was disparagement, and others say that advocating against men who identity as women competing in women's sporting events is disparagement. Others try to put advocating for enforcement of existing immigration laws as disparagement and intimidation.

Once you define a forbidden category, people will try to abuse it to their advantage.


What you're missing is that you're reading a generic summary of laws that are twisted and abused. Elsewhere in the thread an article was posted about a teenager that was arrested and had to wear an ankle bracelet because she quoted rap lyrics in remembrance of another dead teenager. I believe you'll agree that Snap Dogg's lyrics aren't really many to be focused on disparagement or intimidation either. Yet these hate speech laws were used to punish a teenager.[0]

Just look at how the "fake news" label has been abused in the past. You could read a summary on Wikipedia about what it is:

>Fake news is a form of news consisting of deliberate disinformation or hoaxes spread via traditional news media (print and broadcast) or online social media.

This description makes it sound like limiting fake news is a good thing, because it combats disinformation campaigns. Yet that same rhetoric was used by nazis to justify their censorship, which they used to cover to their atrocities.

[0] https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-merseyside-43816921


I do agree the Snoop Dogg lyrics case is a bad application of hate speech laws.

One could, however, find cases of all laws being abused, from eminent domain to property crime laws, drug laws, libel, qualified immunity, you name it. That does not mean that those laws are all categorically bad laws.

(Though I think qualified immunity has shown itself in practice to be categorically bad.)


None of the examples given relate to violence. Quashed for being unpopular, immoral, etc. yes. But well out of the definition of hate speech.

I think the definition of hate speech does a pretty good job at highlighting the core issue: no violence. Doesn't mean your message must be popular or in line with the popular views of society at the time.

I can't find a good reason to advocate violence against a group based on blanket criteria. Can you find one? Any of your examples were more about instigating violence against someone or about receiving more rights?


Hate speech is not about violence though. Plenty of countries have laws against incitement to violence without having hate speech laws. Take the United States as an example. Harassment and incitement to violence can still be illegal without hate speech laws. The Cambridge dictionary says this:

>public speech that expresses hate OR encourages violence towards a person or group based on something such as race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation

Notice the "or". Simply expressing hate is enough by this definition, which is clearly not violence.

>Doesn't mean your message must be popular or in line with the popular views of society at the time.

Religious people argued in the past that gay marriage is not okay because it goes against their religion. If they had had hate speech laws then they probably would've used them against advocates of gay marriage.

[0] https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/hate-...


> Simply expressing hate is enough by this definition

But was that definition ever applied as such? I see people arguing that it was but not a single valid example was provided. A case where courts punished someone for promoting hate but no violence whatsoever.


That's not an example; that's a vague hand-wave that something might have possibly happened, without providing an actual specific example.


Because giving a specific example is demanding to prove a negative. Such a request itself is borderline trolling.


How is it trolling to ask for evidence after being presented with a vague, unsupported claim?


I most certainly meant ‘rationalization’, believing that freedom of expression, the most fundamental building block of a free society, should be restricted to your own idea of reasonable is absolutely something that you need to internally rationalize.

> your apparent supposition here is that lines regarding reasonable discourse should be scare quoted, or are mere matters of entirely subjective speculation.

Reasonable is an entirely subjective quality, there is no objective framework for divining reasonableness.

> If you want to fix your thinking on the topic

The fact that you believe you have some position of authority to dictate to others how they should “fix their thinking”, so that their thoughts are somehow more correct, really says a lot about you.

> The invitation to provide concrete examples of valuable discourse that's criminalized by hate speech

Here you go, legitimate religious speech resulting in a conviction:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Hammond

Here’s another person receiving a wrongful arrest payout for exactly the same crime, to highlight exactly how absurd these laws are, even to the people enforcing them:

https://www.nwemail.co.uk/news/18098283.preacher-wins-payout...

Of course, please feel free to explain to me why none of that speech was reasonable in the first place. Perhaps you could enlighten me with some correct thinking.


I don't consider Hammond's sign to be legitimate religious speech. It's harmful hate speech with no redeeming qualities.

Regarding your second example, the article you linked didn't provide enough details for me to form an opinion.


> I don't consider Hammond's sign to be legitimate religious speech.

Agree with it or not, his sign contained a message that is part of the religious doctrine of well over half the worlds population. This comment just reinforces the fact that for for all of us who don’t live in a country with such draconian speech laws, we are lucky we don’t have to check with you first to find out whether our ideas are correct before we express them.


> Agree with it or not, his sign contained a message that is part of the religious doctrine of well over half the worlds population.

So just because half the world believes something hateful, that should make it ok?

Regardless, "Stop Homosexuality, Stop Lesbianism" is not actually a part of the religious doctrine of all of Christianity. Many denominations have come out as pro-LGBT.

> we are lucky we don’t have to check with you first to find out whether our ideas are correct before we express them

That's just unnecessary and disingenuous.


It's words...on a sign outside in public. People assaulted him with water and soil but didn't get arrested. What was on his sign was irrelevant.

The justification by the judge that convicted him essentially said he was responsible for peoples' reaction because they got offended by his sign. That is a complete reversal of logic, and means that you can wrap the definition of "hate speech" over anything that sufficiently large group of people find offensive/insulting.


> Reasonable is an entirely subjective quality

Is it?

Consider these two responses someone might make to this sentence:

(1) In discussion where clear examination and exchange of relevant ideas matters most, we make distinctions all the time between reasonable discourse and unreasonable discourse. Students of rhetoric distinguish between ethos, pathos, and logos. Practitioners of logic distinguish between sound and fallacious reasoning. And as I'm pointing out yet again here, the legal field already makes any number of distinctions regarding how speech functions that are related to the degree to which it is protected or not protected.

(2) Your clear failings in this discussion mark you as an irredeemable utter piece of shit, an overconfident idiot who is fit for nothing better than to be dragged out of your house, beaten on livestream to people laughing at you while those watching send in messages of proper encouragement those beating you, until finally someone finally extracts the only worthwhile thing that can come out of the pathetic gray matter inside your skull: marry it to the pavement like Jackson Pollock did with paint and canvas. And the world will be a better place in every way. In fact, the sooner we get rid of people like you, the better.

Which is more reasonable discourse? #1 or #2? I think it's pretty clear that it's #1. I certainly wouldn't consider #2 a contribution to reasonable discourse as anything other than a hyperbolic counterexample. HN guidelines would make that kind of distinction as well (and in fact, even though it should be clear that #2 is a hyperbolic counterexample, it may carry enough baggage that I may have run afoul of the guidelines anyway... but of course, as an ardent defender of absolute speech rights, presumably you're not one to appeal to such guidelines?).

Do you really think that's an entirely subjective distinction? I think consensus is broad enough that it could be said to be objective on a human scale.

Some forms of speech aren't discursive exchanges of ideas.

> The fact that you believe you have some position of authority to dictate to others how they should “fix their thinking”, so that their thoughts are somehow more correct

You know it's possible to be wrong about something, right? You can need your thinking fixed about whether you understand force vector diagrams sufficiently well to use them as tools to get accurate insights into relevant physics, or as most on this forum should know, you can need your mental model of a program corrected by a compiler (or a second pair of eyes). And one might even need their understanding of the values and dynamics involved in free speech issues corrected.

So while we're talking about character in this discussion, let's observe that you're the first person to invoke it with a general ad hominem, on top of this weird idea that your thinking can't be broken.

The idea that thinking can be broken is directly tied up with the main reason why free speech matters. If any idea is just as good as any other idea, if any attempt to bring them into a value framework is purely subjective, then no robust exchange of ideas matters.

> Of course, please feel free to explain to me why none of that speech was reasonable in the first place. Perhaps you could enlighten me with some correct thinking.

If you're looking for enlightenment regarding Hammond, you could start by reading the court case and/or proceedings behind relevant law. Believe it or not, reasoned examination of social philosophy and law is something that can happen in the courts and legislative bodies. If you don't believe that happened here, you could try engaging with the court's reasoning.

But we don't have to involve that much work to start addressing issues in play. If you're particularly dismayed by the prospect of some fundamental human activity like speech being policed or outright curtailed by the law (or even by the suggestion that that it should be) then it should be easy for you to see why Hammond's sign was immediately problematic. It enters a similar assertion regarding sexuality.

Now, you can say "well, the antidote if any for that is more speech" and maybe that's true in many cases. But context matters in at least two ways here: first, the history of legal restrictions and informal violence related to homosexual activity. "Stop homosexuality" takes on a particular character when we're still in living memory of cases like Alan Turing's.

And the other contextual point has to do with the question I entered this discussion with: what's been lost? What can you literally not talk about? Are there no venues in which one can elaborate on desirable vs undesirable dynamics related to homosexuality specifically or sexuality in general? Or even in which it can't be proposed that it might be legally restricted? I'm going to bet the answer is no. Situational curtailing of some forms discourse in some forums is distinct from an attack on diversity of thought.

But let's say it was. Does a society that can't talk about elimination of homosexuality lose anything in particular? Anything that isn't comparable to the loss of a social capacity to talk about the question of whether practice of Judaism (or Christianity, or Islam) should be "stopped" (since, presumably, you're concerned about the exercise of religious liberty)?

> Here’s another person receiving a wrongful arrest payout for exactly the same crime

The article doesn't seem to give enough information to determine whether or not the exact same crime was committed. Do you have other information?


> whatever it is you perceive to be “reasonable discourse”

Is there anything that you personally would consider to be a step too far? Anything that would make you say "this should really, really not be allowed"? Alternatively do you have an example of (subjectively) reasonable speech that was criminalized?

> Unreasonable discourse has been instrumental in much of our progress as a society

In the sense that society evolved with this as the example of "don't".


“Hate speech” laws are simply enforcing an orthodox morality. In my life I’ve seen many different groups attempt it. When I was a kid it was conservative Christians lobbying Congress to get Twisted Sister off MTV, and god forbid (literally) you wanted to promote some sort of alternative sexuality... Luckily for us, society rejected the enforced morality then, just as its doing now with all the backlash against this sort of toxic politics.


The Gores’s (PMRC) were also part of that but I’d not consider them religious conservatives. They just thought they were “protecting kids” or whatever.


I think it's important to be on the same page about what free speech and hate speech mean, the definitions, the limitations, otherwise we'll go nowhere. Hate speech is "public speech that expresses hate or encourages violence towards a person or group based on something such as race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation".

The example you gave (with the details provided) doesn't sound like hate speech on either side. And I don't think people were imprisoned for speech promoting or rejecting "alternative sexuality" over the past decades in any free country unless they were also promoting the hate and violence to go with their opinion. Being pro or against something is free speech. Promoting violence against someone is hate speech.

Can you help with an example of what you'd say is a step too far or is any speech free (never hate) speech? If a significant group of people would advocate violence against you and you felt your life is in peril every day would you want that (hate) speech to be limited in any way?


> Hate speech is "public speech that expresses hate or encourages violence towards a person or group based on something such as race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation".

Do you believe that this is somehow an objective definition? It’s not. It’s also not the definition that is actually applied by the law. To know whether somebody is expressing hate, you must know the contents of their mind. This is obviously impossible, so the law that is actually applied is based on whether anybody perceived hate. As anybody is free to interpret speech in anyway they please, this simply ends up criminalizing ideas.

Probably the most controversial way the law has been applied (actually been applied, in practice, with convictions) is people expressing their own moral objections to homosexuality. Now you could speak the phrase “I morally object to homosexuality”, and you could be expressing any number of non-hateful things. You could be expressing “I have a different view”, “I am promoting a different view”, “I disapprove of a different view”... But you could also read that statement and perceive it to be hateful. The criminality is not determined by the act, but by the audience, and the subjective views of law enforcement.

There is no such thing as objective hate speech, outside of the incredibly rare (in terms of enforcement) situations where somebody is explicitly expressing hate. The primary impact of such laws is to enforce a political orthodoxy, and to suppress speech that may challenge it. That not even to mention the fact that suppressing the expression of hateful ideas does nothing to suppress the ideas. It simply emboldens the people who hold those ideas, generates more support for them, and ensures they can’t be challenged by actual dialogue.


> Do you believe that this is somehow an objective definition? It’s not.

It's better than anything you've provided so far (vagaries completely devoid of concrete examples). That definition makes it pretty clear that encouraging violence towards a group based on the such mentioned criteria constitutes hate speech. It has nothing to do with "the content of their mind". Thought is not punished, action is. And if the action is calling for violence then it's called "hate speech". Whether you actually hate them or not makes no difference to the meaning of the term: call for violence against a group based on the defined criteria.

Why are you avoiding providing concrete examples instead of vague "could" and "probably"? If this is abused I'm sure there are thousands of examples of people being unreasonably silenced by calling their speech "hate speech". Are you afraid that there are no examples, or that you'll claim some extremist rant is "reasonable" thus attracting a lot of hate... I mean free speech towards you? Where do you draw the line for what's reasonable and what's not?

> (actually been applied, in practice, with convictions)

Which is why I'm sure you'll be more than happy to provide example of someone being convicted for saying "I don't support the idea of homosexuality and morally object it [period]", without actually calling for violence. Unless it's unsubstantiated BS.

> The criminality is not determined by the act, but by the audience, and the subjective views of law enforcement.

Stands to reason the concept of crime should not exist and anyone should be allowed to commit any act under the defense that "it's all subjective man".

I'm having a hard time taking the best interpretation of your comments and assuming good faith.

P.S. Take the (now flagged) comment below. It's obviously misinformed and wrong in so many ways, and there's a lot of impotence and frustration behind those words, possibly even hate. But the comment itself is not hate speech as it doesn't actually instigate violence. In the private space of HN though the comment was seen as garbage (much like every other comment the sock account has posted) and the ideas rejected still without violating anyone's rights.


Direct calls to violence is the borderline. Hate is just hate. Hatey hatey hate hate. It's only expressing hate and talking that helps things.


You can have your opinion about it but hopefully you don't have any power to enact your opinion


while voters are busy arguing online about their "free speech" , their leaders are busy controlling every other aspect of their lives. We live in a world of extensive transit control, capital flow controls, commodities control, banking control, monetary manipulation, visual-data-financial surveillance, data regulations, behavior regulations (i.e. drug/alcohol/vaping prohibitions) and punitive taxation.

We have accumulated too many powers in the hands of "our" democratic leaders, and the political parties are being used as weapons against the other party. The Ruler Worshippers have won. In many ways (economic, regulatory, even behavioral) the West is in freedom deficit compared to those oppressive countries. I think it's fair to say the world has stooped to their level.


>What is new is that even democratic countries are controlling free speech via speech laws or often the private companies engaging in evaluating what's permissible speech and not above and beyond what laws require.

So, are you referring to India's last steps to shut down the internet in multiple regions where dissent forms? Or is this about caps on free speech in certain countries? I feel like these things are not on the same spectrum.

That said, the power of Google, Facebook and somewhat less so Twitter is scary.


> I feel like these things are not on the same spectrum.

As somebody living in a country with pretty heavy "caps on free speech", Germany, it's very much both on the same spectrum [0].

Because the reasons for those "caps" are very much the same reasons why India shut down the large scale: To reign in dissidence and control the Overton window.

The South Korean National Security Act [1] is another, rather blatant, example for this kind of "thought legislation" that also doesn't shy away from straight-up banning and censoring media.

[0] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/nov/20/extincti...

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Security_Act_(South_K...


> [0] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/nov/20/extincti

So some political activist used his free speech right to make some inconsiderate comments about historic events, and then numerous other public figures used their own free speech rights to point out that they disagree with those comments, and his publisher used their right of freedom of contract to cancel his book publishing deal.

Where exactly is the "caps on free speech" here? According to the article no legal or police action was taken against him? Should the people who disagreed with his comment have been prevented from criticizing him in public? Should book publishers be required to publish anything from anyone?


I am not sure what your example from Germany is supposed to show. The author was not persecuted, his publisher simply stopped selling his book. This seems vastly different to India turning off an entire communication channel.


> The author was not persecuted, his publisher simply stopped selling his book.

If you ignore how that whole episode completely side-tracked from the topic the author was actually interviewed on, climate-catastrophe, and how the German government has been rather opposed to that whole movement, then the end result was very favorable for the German government which originally cried wolf over it.

And all it had to do was accuse him of something he actually didn't do, based on an interview that wasn't even publicly published at that point.

Or we can just act like him getting depublished for talking sense is a completely rational and normal thing.

As such I consider it a rather apt example of how these kinds of "speech caps" can be abused to influence the Overton window.

And while it might not be as blunt as just cutting off information access wholesale, it's much more devious in its actual manifestation due to the large-scale acceptance of it, while denying that it leads to any self-censorship.


I have a hard time agreeing with your assessment here.

Roger Hallam called the holocaust "just another fuckery in human history" in the context of past atrocities that left millions of people dead. Germany's foreign minister Heiko Maas criticized this statement which is a given as the Holocaust is viewed as an extraordinary and not at all common event in Germany (and by many historians globally too). Also it's a relatively recent event. That said, it's not Germany's government that pushed for Hallam to not be able to publish his book.

If you live in Germany, you do of course know that politicians of the AfD party have said similar things without any persecution whatsoever. There are former high ranking neo nazis who work in high offices in this party. After the elections in Brandenburg, Andreas Kalbitz was interviewed on multiple TV stations despite his past as a neo nazi. AfD politicians are regularly invited to political talk shows, newspapers publish anything they say or tweet, Thilo Sarrazin published teaser chapters of his book in leading newspapers across the whole political spectrum. Germany's left-center newspaper Die Zeit asked whether rescuing refugees at sea is worth it not too long ago.

I do not see where anyone in Germany is being "depublished" for saying things that go against your perceived current. The Ullstein publishing house declined to sell the book after his comments. Other publishing houses might have decided differently. There is no evidence of the government pushing this anywhere from what I can see.

How this is in any way more "devious" than what the Indian government is currently doing in Kashmir and to protesters is absolutely incomprehensible to me. And I do take the latest developments in the WDR choir scandal as much into account as I do Richard Gutjahr's open letter about the BR and extreme right-wing mob attacks which was published yesterday. These things are not on the same spectrum at all.


> Roger Hallam called the holocaust "just another fuckery in human history"

Prefacing it with "almost.." but apparently everybody just glosses over that word because that wouldn't be conducive to the narrative of "Roger Hallam is a secret neo-Nazi who relativizes the Holocaust, everybody should shun him and his views!".

You drawing the AfD into this, and how they can supposedly openly deny the Holocaust without consequences, is not just dishonest, as it completely embezzles the resulting controversy, it also fits neatly into the "Hallam is like the AfD" narrative.

While completely embezzling that a large part of what feeds the AfD is a counter-culture movement that's getting tired of constantly getting slapped with the "Nazikeule". That's not to say that this is always undeserved, often enough it is deserved, but quite regularly it's used to shape the discourse because anybody who talks about the Holocaust without going "Yes, that was the most horrible thing in human history ever, and will forever remain the most horrible thing" is treading on very dangerous ground, as Roger Hallam had to find out.

> There is no evidence of the government pushing this anywhere from what I can see.

So the foreign minister of Germany is not part of the government? He didn't use his public position to help start, and legitimize, this witchhunt? That whole episode didn't make Roger Hallam a Persona non grata among the German branch of the ER?


I did not claim the AfD denied the Holocaust as that's illegal in Germany. But Gauland from the AfD famously called the Holocaust "Vogelschiss" which is not far away from Hallam's "fuckery", is it? Was he persecuted? No. Was he "depublished"? No. He's still interviewed, whatever he says is still reported on, he still has a platform, he was not removed from any social media either, he had no consequences to face whatsoever.

I disagree with the naive assessment about the AfD you're portraying here, but alright. Especially in connection to what just happened last week with the WDR and this week with the BR and Gutjahr's open letter.

>So the foreign minister of Germany is not part of the government? He didn't use his public position to help start, and legitimize, this witchhunt? That whole episode didn't make Roger Hallam a Persona non grata among the German branch of the ER?

So if the German foreign minister criticizes a public activist's take on the Holocaust that to you is a witch-hunt? So Hallam bears no responsibility here? Who is allowed to criticize him then?

It is comical how you think this episode is almost more devious than what's happening in India at the moment. It shows to me a complete lack of perspective. But let's agree to disagree then.


> But Gauland from the AfD famously called the Holocaust "Vogelschiss" which is not far away from Hallam's "fuckery", is it?

It's very far away from calling it "almost just another fuckery" particularly when the context of that statement was other genocides and the prospect of the climate-catastrophe making all of them look rather small-scale.

> I disagree with the naive assessment about the AfD you're portraying here, but alright. Especially in connection to what just happened last week with the WDR and this week with the BR and Gutjahr's open letter.

It's not at all a "naive assessment", you only call it that because it contradicts the popular narrative of "Every single one of them is just a neo-Nazi, so none of them have any valid points".

It's a narrative that leaves certain political issues completely in the hand of the AfD, by painting these issues as topics that supposedly "Only AfD neo-Nazis would talk about", like the financing of public broadcasting and how it over proportionally encumbers single-person households.

No other party actually has that on their agenda, and that most certainly won't change because by now that whole issue has been "sullied" by the AfD.

Then there's the reality that the AfD abuses the stigma of certain topics to gain popularity trough controversy, literally gaming the system that's supposed to keep them marginalized.

> So if the German foreign minister criticizes a public activist's take on the Holocaust that to you is a witch-hunt? So Hallam bears no responsibility here? Who is allowed to criticize him then?

The German foreign minister did that on the basis of an interview that wasn't even publicly available at that point. So nobody could actually read the full context of Hallam's statements, but plenty of people ended up reading Mass unique take on it.

How Mass got hold of the interview prior to publishing? Nobody knows, and apparently nobody even cares because who would want to defend somebody who supposedly relativizes the Holocaust? Certainly nobody in Germany, because that would be the equivalent of character-assassinating yourself.


>The German foreign minister did that on the basis of an interview that wasn't even publicly available at that point. So nobody could actually read the full context of Hallam's statements, but plenty of people ended up reading Mass unique take on it. How Mass got hold of the interview prior to publishing? Nobody knows, and apparently nobody even cares because who would want to defend somebody who supposedly relativizes the Holocaust? Certainly nobody in Germany, because that would be the equivalent of character-assassinating yourself.

Maas linked to the article when he made his statement on the issue. The article was already available:

https://mobile.twitter.com/heikomaas/status/1197113471546134...

The AfD started as an anti-euro party. Most people who look at the party somewhat objectively don't think it's only filled with neo nazis. The five hundred op-eds about how Union and SPD missed the mark and have to take the "besorgte Bürger" seriously were all published in media across the political spectrum.

But it's absolutely obvious that the far right wing part of the party has won over control. It's also obvious that people with neo nazi affiliation do exist in the party and a person with strong ties to the scene like Kalbitz even leads the party in one of their most important states. Look at their last party meeting. Look at Petry leaving, Lucke - the party's founder - leaving a lot earlier. Your assessment of the AfD is extremely naive as this party is consistently talking about putting caps on the freedom of the press. Just look at Höcke's comments after his interview on ZDF this summer.

To your other point, no, I don't think Gauland's comment was all that different in what triggered the response. Again though, what kind of persecution did anyone here face? Is there a travel stop to Germany for Hallam now? Was his interview removed? Is he now not allowed to sign a book deal with another publisher? What terrible fate did he endure? You think this is more devious than what's happening in India. I've rarely read a more first-worldian approach than this.

We are very divided on this. I don't think you're being very objective here, you seem to fall prey to simplistic notions like "Nazikeule", and your perspective does not sound all that thought out to me.


Doesn't free speech also enable lies and immoral ideals to be spread by bots/people too? It seems it's a double edged sword in a way but I don't think censorship is a solution. I don't think there is a solution beyond education?


> Doesn't free speech also enable lies and immoral ideals to be spread by bots/people too?

Yes. I don't think the government should be our moral police nor should it dictate what morals are acceptable.

> I don't think there is a solution beyond education?

I don't think education should try and instil morals. This seems rather totalitarian to me. Where would these morals come from, how would we decide what morals our children should be indoctrinated with in school?


So where should morals come from? If not from governance or education? (Honest question).


Parents, family, friends, community - many places - being dictated morality in school from a government seems rather perverse though.

I'm sure it sounds great if you also think that nobody with morals that is not yours should ever have political power - but that is not an option and even if it was I don't think that is a reasonable expectation or desire.


School is the community kids spend half their waking lives in. Of course they will learn about morals there. Teachers are a big part of it, as is the curriculum. Both are to some degree checked by the democratic process.

None of this is new or totalitarian or particularly controversial in practice, since most of morality is not particularly controversial in the first place (in a given community at a specific time). People with divergent morality from the society they live in avoid public schools, one way or another.


The curriculum is not part of the community - and either the curriculum dictates morals or it does not. If it does I have a problem with it, if it does not I don't. I doubt the person I was responding with was referencing anything but the curriculum when they said "I don't think there is a solution beyond education?". And to be clear this is also what I was referencing if that was not clear enough.

If it was just some teacher's own opinion and there was no insistence that the children must adopt it then I would not characterise it as dictating morality in school.

And in my view dictating morality as part of the curriculum is totalitarian and perverse.


You will be surprised how difficult it is to teach a lot of subjects without taking moral positions or at least discussing them. In a literature course, students are going to read fiction in which the authors will have taken moral positions. If you don't discuss the morality in class, students are likely to be strongly influenced by that morality - good or bad. If you do discuss the morality, they will be impacted by the morality of the teacher and their peers.

A course on biology can teach genetic editing. If you don't discuss morals and ethics in that course around the issue of designer babies, you will have raised young people who might think the tech is cool without understanding its dangers. Your only solution is to talk about the morality of it.

And obviously, courses on economics or political science can't even begin to be taught without assuming certain moral or philosophical positions.

Education is complicated. It is teaching people how to understand the world around them, and morality is part and parcel of that world.


> If you don't discuss the morality in class, students are likely to be strongly influenced by that morality - good or bad.

Discussing morality in school is not the same as dictating morality in school. If the governments position is these are the morals that the school system must instill in children then I have a problem with it - if not - great - have at it.

> And obviously, courses on economics or political science can't even begin to be taught without assuming certain moral or philosophical positions.

I don't see how any course in economics or political science requires the pupils to adopt any specific morals.


> If the governments position is these are the morals that the school system must instill in children

This is what I am trying to argue, that this is not realistically possible. You can have a situation where you will find 0 policy or legal government documents or statements that say that this moral position is to be taught, yet the curriculum, assessments and resources will unintentionally strongly suggest a narrow set of moral positions to the students, and most students will end up adopting something from that set.

Going back to my example of the biology course. Are you taking the position that the teacher not discuss ethics related to genetic engineering at all? That is already a moral position: students will learn that worrying about morals when you study technology is not required.

If morals are to be discussed, then the teachers are usually not experts in the field. Hence, they usually use resources suggested by the state. The state will suggest a small set of resources, and try as much as you can, those resources will only discuss only a few moral positions on genetic engineering. Ultimately, students will be taught these and they will adopt one of them.

The generic mistake you are making in your argument is forgetting that the null policy is also a policy.


> Are you taking the position that the teacher not discuss ethics related to genetic engineering at all?

I guess that I have not been clear enough - so maybe this will help. I have no objection to morals or ethics being discussed in school. I have a problem with the state trying to instil a specific set of morals into children.

> That is already a moral position

That the state should not dictate what morals children should hold is indeed a moral position. I never once suggested otherwise.

> The state will suggest a small set of resources, and try as much as you can, those resources will only discuss only a few moral positions on genetic engineering.

There is a big difference between studying specific works on ethics and trying to instil a specific set of morals into children. I think it is very valuable to have exposure to many different points of view on morality. I think it would be good to expose children to the concepts of moral absolutism, moral objectivism, morality of different peoples and different times.

> Ultimately, students will be taught these and they will adopt one of them.

If someone gets taught different points of view on morality - it is up to them to adopt or not adopt it.

> The generic mistake you are making in your argument is forgetting that the null policy is also a policy.

I'm perfectly aware that a policy of not dictate morals to children in schools would be a policy - not sure why you thought otherwise. I'm not arguing for the absence of government policy or the absence of morals.


Education works for fact-based debates. And logical thinkers.

But today, there is a lot of emotional manipulation. In the US, recently, xenophobia fears are incited and played upon. Moderate bullying tactics are employed, being careful to avoid hate-speech. Not sure education plays a role when primal fear is involved.


How do you get from facts to morals though?


Mostly a thought-experiment here:

There's a class of people+situations where there's a communication asymmetry. For example, someone in a position of authority can create a press conference and deliver communication to hundreds or thousands, and people can't contest and deliver communication back to all listeners in an equally timely manner. So these situations are one-sided and prone to be abused as propaganda delivery mechanisms.

Why can't we require speech in these specific situations to follow a couple rules:

- Statements of opinions must be preceded by a notice that X is your opinion, for each statement.

- Stating things that are provably incorrect is a violation of law.

- Statements that encourage behavior that is against the law is a violation of law.


I don't think its new for democracies to control free speech, they just have far,far better tools to do so today. Lincoln didn't have the Internet, but he did suppress opposition by suspending habeas corpus and clapping a supreme court justice in irons. Robespierre, the man of the people for part of the French Revolution, which supposedly valued liberty and fraternity, decapitated numerous political enemies until finally he himself became the enemy.

I could go on, but humans have been bending and breaking democratic egalitarian rules for centuries. Modern technology is just so pervasive, Putin and Trump can affect the information at everyone's fingertips always with social media and online information.

Indeed, any powerful entity can buy anything online: clicks, bots, comments, views, accounts, literally anything they want to say can reach millions of people. This would be ameliorated by ethical and moral information platforms, which we seem to not use and not build for profit reasons.


> Putin and Trump can affect the information at everyone's fingertips always with social media and online information.

> Indeed, any powerful entity can buy anything online: clicks, bots, comments, views, accounts, literally anything they want to say can reach millions of people. This would be ameliorated by ethical and moral information platforms, which we seem to not use and not build for profit reasons.

There's still a marketplace of ideas. Powerful entities will be competing with other powerful entities for bandwidth and attention. The people themselves will decide which messages they wish to pass on and spread and which they don't. If it was as simple as you say, the person with the most money would always win. While that does happen, we can see the from the results of the 2016 election that it doesn't always work that way. Clinton spent far more on traditional advertising and guerrilla internet tactics (c.f. Correct The Record) and didn't win because her message didn't resonate with enough people.

Long story short: free will still drives the internet and outcomes. Advertising isn't very effective and when it is, advertisers will be competing against each other for the limited access to that scarce effectiveness.


True that tools have improved but also it’s no longer an exception (like wartime exceptions), but an accepted quotidian thing that’s used like propaganda to dominate people.


> What is new is that even democratic countries are controlling free speech via speech laws or often the private companies engaging in evaluating what's permissible speech and not above and beyond what laws require.

That's not new at all. Here are a few of the many, many examples from the past century or so:

- The Comstock laws, passed in the 1870s, criminalized the sending of "obscenity", contraceptives and sex toys via USPS [1]

- There was literally a US agency called the "Office of Censorship" during WWII! [2]

- The US entertainment industry denied employment to many people suspected of affiliating with Communism in the 1950s [3]

- Lenny Bruce was arrested multiple times and eventually convicted for obscenity (saying e.g. "cocksucker" onstage) in the 1960s [4]

- During the Jim Crow era, it was a misdemeanor in Mississippi to publish materials advocating social equality or interracial marriage between white and black people [5]

- Laws against child pornography have apparently only existed in the US since 1977 (!) but still exist today [6]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comstock_laws

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Office_of_Censorship

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollywood_blacklist

[4] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lenny_Bruce#Obscenity_arrest...

[5] https://www.nps.gov/malu/learn/education/jim_crow_laws.htm

[6] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_pornography#History


So It’s even worse because now it’s not only the government which can set rules where we can have some say in what the rules are given we elect the government, but now we are happy to have companies themselves without input from the government “do what’s best for us”.


We've always been happy to have that happen.

Take the Red Scare as an example: Gallup poll found that popular support for Joseph McCarthy peaked at 50% in 1954 [1]. In other words, a full half of the US population was in favor of companies blacklisting people from employment on the basis of their political views.

[1] https://books.google.com/books?id=ViXaw6NSkrYC&pg=PA263#v=on...


In the tech. industry "blacklisting people from employment on the basis of their political views." i would argue support is still around 50%.


From what I've seen, it seems to me that it's even more than half now. There's a lot of 'cancel culture' in tech now. Lots of people are happy about the de-platforming of people they disagree with.

People today seem to be more willing to kick someone off the internet, get someone fired from their work, or put someone on blast socially than they are willing to simply sit down and debate the person - or just mute/block/ignore/avoid them themselves.


Companies have always done this. See for example the Hollywood blacklist above.

Newspapers have always refused to publish some things, and this right was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1974[1].

[1] https://www.freedomforuminstitute.org/about/faq/can-a-newspa...


Before the internet, it was a handful of newspapers, radio, and TV stations which where the gatekeepers to public discourse.


Arguably some organs attempted balance via editors. Editors seemed to then exert balance on reporting on their reporters. Today I don’t think they act much as a moderating force.


What is new is the scale at which it happens now, in the democratic countries. And ordinary people are not aware at the level at which this invades their lives. And what is worse, you are deemed a criminal/undesirable if you voluntarily try to escape this surveillance.

Ellul was right. Propaganda and surveillance is more insidious in democracies than in authoritarian regimes.


It used to be, you didn't care about the nationality of the Internet person whose texts you are reading. Its still a little bit like that, but I believe that the contention that 'democratic countries' is even still a thing is pretty banal. Sovereignty is dead. The 21st Century killed it.

If you ask your average western citizen whether their government really represents their interests and needs, you'll find a dire scene. Most westerners feel imprisoned by their government, and have zero desire to take responsibility for their government, or their military' actions, as good citizens do.

What has happened is that, over two decades at least, maybe a little more, a large portion of the intelligent decadent western public has woken up to the fact that their democracies have failed, and think that the Internet is there to save them.

Only to have had it all rubbed in their faces with the Snowden revelations that all technology is flawed and should never be trusted unless you built it yourself. Which is, interestingly enough, the same conclusion one makes in political systems such as democracy.

However, this is not an ultimate conundrum, because while it is true that all large human groups are eventually corrupted by smaller groups, its also a driving force behind technological progress.

Those with the technology to do so, can still use the Internet to heal society and re-build it in new forms. It'll take a few more big group/small group battles, though, before the tribes finally work out we're all on the same team.


I think what has come out of the postmodern dialectic is the recognition that there are no neutral points of view.

Policing “hate speech” is an attempt to address the fact that differences in perspective exist, but there are still some behaviors that are not tolerated because they lead to a breakdown of society.

The problem is that reactionaries see it as a loophole that they can use to play the victim while continuing to dehumanize others. Nothing means anything when people argue in bad faith.


Postmodernism is the recognition that all points of view are equally valid (or invalid). Policing "hate speech" and "protecting" society are modern concepts not postmodern ones.

I think if you read classic postmodern literature (think Gravity's Rainbow) you'll find a lot of speech that would be considered politically incorrect, possibly even hate speech. That was purposefully designed by the authors to help devalue and level the meaning of all speech as that's a core postmodern principal.

Reality Is What You Can Get Away With is another postmodern classic that explores some of these themes:

https://www.amazon.com/Reality-What-You-Can-Away/dp/15618408...


I totally agree — the existence of “hate speech” isn’t a postmodern point of view, but rather a modernist reaction to postmodernism. But a great many authoritarian modernists use postmodern arguments in bad faith as a way to delegitimize their critics.


I think the act of bringing postmodern tools to the debate was a way of playing the "I win" game by turning the conversation into inescapable morass for those that weren't accustomed to that kind of debate.

Whatever the "reactionaries" did in response was yet another step in the evolution of the back-and-forth and no more or less in bad faith than the previous step.


Yeah, there is a subtle distinction between “there are no neutral points of view” and “there is no such thing as objective truth”. Postmodernist arguments applied to contemporary politics serve to blur that distinction, which is where the bad faith comes in.


>private companies engaging in evaluating what's permissible speech and not

I don't feel this is an issue until you can't spin up your own website/app/platform and allow whatever speech you want. I am interested for any responses as to why I might be mistaken from people who disagree with me, though.


That's only part of the equation though. People who disagree with PoVs not only want to get people suspended or banned from ubiquitous comms platforms but they also want to doxx them and publicly shame them. I'm not talking about immediate threats of violence or disgusting vile language. But more generic points of view on various contentious topics.

But let's take your objection at face value. Let's say a certain Senator has declared the senator wants to break up some certain major tech companies and these companies disagree. Under your take they would be within their rights to suspend or ban or de-rank such candidates given they already have their websites as platforms to comms and moreover that's a non event.


I don't agree with doxxing or getting people fired. I am fine with facebook/twitter/etc. de-ranking/suspending/hiding/whatever a candidate who has called for their breakup, even though I support their breakup.


I agree with it all.

Here's the thing, you either support freedom of speech and expression, or you don't. Now if you do, then you have to support the nazi's right to speak and express, the abortion doctor's right to speak and express, the senator's right to speak and express, and the beggar's right to speak and express.

Everyone's right must be supported. If someone wants to express themselves to my boss via boycott in an effort to get me fired, so be it. That's their right. Just as it's the nazi's right to express himself on the internet to better inform people about the tenets of his ideology. The government must have no ability to constrict either activity.

It may not seem like it, but it's actually a good thing that the government can't stop any of these people from doing any of these things.

If you want to get the government to disallow any boycotts of companies, then you are not really in favor of freedom of speech and expression.


Do you support (or at least not want the government to ban) libel/slander?

What about child pornography?

Should I be able to run into an airport and yell "BOMB"?

Perjury? Should it be illegal to lie in court?

I also assume that if I had your real name, address, and SSN that you think it should be legal for me to post that info in this comment ('doxxing')?

Now, the thing is, I mostly agree with you. However, it's plainly ridiculous to claim that someone has to fully support/oppose free speech. Make a real argument rather than just claim your opponent's position doesn't exist in order to strawman their position as 'not suporting freedom of speech and expression'.


I support the rights of NAZIs or others to express themselves within the law. I don't believe that facebook should be compelled to carry their speech without being compelled to carry all legal speech.

Finally, I will say I don't believe facebook or others should be compelled to carry all legal speech.


Here's the thing, you either support freedom of speech and expression, or you don't.

There are plenty of gradients to freedom of expression - child porn is an obvious one, and German law against Nazi speech is another, and there are things in-between like advertisements for opioids or tobacco.

All you've done is restate the absolutist position, without addressing the challenges of that position which include: criminal speech, commercial speech, and the fact the restrictions on some speech have been successfully implemented without all the negative side effects that absolutists claim are inevitable.


You’re advocating for compelled speech and state control of private property.

If you truly believe this, give me control of your account. Otherwise, you’re censoring me.


People who disagree with PoVs not only want to get people suspended or banned from ubiquitous comms platforms but they also want to doxx them and publicly shame them.

"People" is awfully non-specific here. I support the right of companies to decide what is on their platforms but I don't want people doxxed or shamed.

Let's say a certain Senator has declared the senator wants to break up some certain major tech companies and these companies disagree. Under your take they would be within their rights to suspend or ban or de-rank such candidates given they already have their websites as platforms to comms and moreover that's a non event.

This is already the case - Newspapers, TV station and other publications already can refuse advertisements and frequently don't carry news they disagree with. That's why a competitive news ecosystem is incredibly important.


Some of these tech companies are so large and pervasive that they are integral parts of society. The policies they enact with that power can have a chilling effect. Now, whether we should or shouldn't do something about that is another matter. The Government has certainly shown a willingness to regulate industries that got to big for their britches before.


>integral parts of society

I am not sure I agree with these companies being an integral part of society. I feel pretty confident they could be replaced by alternatives operated by other people and most if not all users would not notice the difference. But I've seen that happen with the early WWW with Altavista, Yahoo, etc.

And if they are an integral part of society then I think they should be heavily regulated for things like foreign and domestic propaganda and the promotion of dangerous falsehoods. It's either self-regulation (within legal reason) and whatever they decide is appropriate for their platforms, or they should be heavily regulated with guaranteed free expression as allowed by law.


Facebook, Twitter, and Google. I think they are integral. Sure, you could replace them with different names, but the result is the same.


I think if we haven't had any serious conversation about making internet service a public utility, then it seems a bit of a farce to consider talking about companies like these as integral to our modern society.

How proper internet service is still held hostage by the likes of Comcast and Verizon is beyond me, with little discussion given while everyone talks about the leverage of these three companies.


Do you consider the press part of society?


That is a very different question - both dropping integral a very vast and the entire press vs particularly large publishers.

The answer is yes but irrelevant as so are embezzlers, serial killers or would a hypothetical few who literally want to actively to destroy every trace of it.

The question is vague enough that literal cancer could get both yes and no as answers logically (cases caused by society part of it vs existing independently in species without anything to remotely qualify as a society).


Your evaluation seems to disregard the relative network sizes and in turn exposure one has on a mainstream platform vs a tiny user created one. This difference seems so obvious to me, I suspect you may only have a limited subset of "issues" in mind, such as the 1st amendment.


I don't believe that anyone is guaranteed an audience for their free expression. I don't believe I'm disregarding anything?


The guarantee is not the point. If anything is altered by censorship, like ability to get one's message in front of people, it is an issue.

Whether your personal ideology considers that problematic has no bearing on the fact that change has occurred.


The point is, you don't have a right to get your message in front of people. You only have a right to speak your message. You can speak your message in the middle of the street, but the government is under no obligation to force people to stop on the street and listen to your message. Because other people have the right to ignore you. That right to ignore and not associate with you is also part of free speech and free expression. There really are no further guarantees to free speech and expression other than being able to speak and express.


As I said earlier:

> This difference seems so obvious to me, I suspect you may only have a limited subset of "issues" in mind, such as the 1st amendment.

Free speech seems like an unlikely candidate for culture war status (and the ensuing cognitive behaviors), but it seems unmistakable.


But the 1st, and more broadly, the Constitution, is the only issue that does matter. That’s what you don’t seem to be getting. No one cares if you can’t get an audience. But we care very deeply that the government not be able to constrict your right to speak.


> But the 1st, and more broadly, the Constitution, is the only issue that does matter.

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/matter

Under the Verb definition, I see no reference to the Constitution.

Also, in places where the Constitution does not apply, does nothing matter?

Perhaps you and I have different meanings in mind for the word matter?

> No one cares if you can’t get an audience.

a) No one?

b) How did you come to know the feelings of all people?


>Also, in places where the Constitution does not apply, does nothing matter?

You're free to move to places where the Constitution does not apply if you feel that will work out better for you. Here in the US, we take the Constitution seriously enough that a very large number of us would readily kill in its defense.

Yes. No one. If you can't get an audience, that means no one cares about your content. The only other option is that you have misrepresented your argument, and you, in fact, can get an audience. In which case there is no problem because you have no problem finding your audience.

Look man, there's an audience for rap. There's an audience for country. There's even an audience for heavy metal. But don't try to pawn that crap off on people who don't want to hear it. They have a right to turn the station, and the government must never constrict that right because "heavy metal can't find an audience".


> If you can't get an audience, that means no one cares about your content.

If someone has 5000 followers on Twitter, is then banned, and then sets up his own platform, do you actually believe one can logically conclude that those people not finding him on the new platform is because they all simultaneously became uninterested in his content?

It fascinates me how certain topics seem to be able to disable the logical capabilities of even HN folks. Perhaps I should add this notion to the 2020 Predictions thread, I can't imagine others aren't going to start noticing this phenomenon eventually.

> Look man, there's an audience for rap. There's an audience for country. There's even an audience for heavy metal. But don't try to pawn that crap off on people who don't want to hear it. They have a right to turn the station, and the government must never constrict that right because "heavy metal can't find an audience".

I would love to know if you are able to realize that this is a distinctly different situation.


Only 'cos it's used as a stalking horse for people whose real goal is race extermination.


I don't think I understand, could you expand your idea further?


What is your position here exactly? That everyone should be guaranteed an audience, even on private platforms?

That seems a radical change: newspapers and other broadcasters have always been able to refuse publication.


"I don't feel this is an issue until you can't spin up your own website/app/platform and allow whatever speech you want."

I disagree that no "issue" exists. This is a distinctly different notion than "rights".

I find this (type of) conversation interesting from a psychology perspective, because the topic seems to render many people unable to see a distinction.


>I don't feel this is an issue until you can't spin up your own website/app/platform and allow whatever speech you want.

We're already kinda at this point. I don't condone them, obviously, but sites like the Daily Stormer and 8chan have been kicked off several registrars, and at one point one of their hosting providers got kicked off their upstream provider for hosting them.

I'm generally fine with social media companies policing their sites, but I get nervous when we start talking about similar things in core internet infrastructure. I think we're setting a dangerous precedent for the future if we do that.


Because speech is meaningless without an audience, and people on mainstream platforms don't all know about or agree with those platform's moderation/censorship policies.

Sure people shouldn't be "forced to listen to everyone's message", but what if it's a message someone does want to listen to, but the platform doesn't want to transmit? And since they don't even know the message exists, they won't be seeking it out on alternative platforms.


>people on mainstream platforms don't all know about or agree with those platform's moderation/censorship policies.

I will agree with you on this. I think the moderation policies should be clearly delineated or they don't really exist. A law is not much of a law if it's unequally applied.

You bring up an interesting point about "discovery" of view points you want to hear about, especially when you consider the foundation of the Internet as a platform: search engines. One problematic example I can think of off the top of my head is the "anti-vaxx" movement, which may be promoting a message that some people want to hear but at what cost to their children or the larger society who are subject to those parents' whims or beliefs? Very different than me discovering there are other people out there on the internet who are disturbed by the Garfield comic and want to joke about the existential horror of a cartoon cat and his owner.

I can't say that I have an easy answer for the issue of the harmful effects of a platform on the societies its users are members of. Or even determining what is harmful (or not).


If a society only allows 'harmless' speech, then it simply does not have freedom of speech, regardless of if it is enforced by law or private platforms. Much like in other areas (e.g. police powers), there is a balancing between rights/liberty, and security(1). At least when it comes to US law, this balancing was already done - the 1st Amendment embodies the opinion that allowing government censorship would be worse than allowing 'harmful'(2) speech.

That said, the situation has changed. Among other things, the ratio between the amount of speech, and the number of speakers or their resources is getting harder to determine, as is the origin of the speech(3), and the nature of the speaker. It could be an anonymous fellow citizen, a corporate shill, or an agent/bot of a hostile foreign government. The platforms themselves can also massively influence public opinion by suppressing some viewpoints, and promoting others (not by something as crude as censorship, but by changing the threshold of when a post goes viral). This effect is similar to that of media conglomeration, but harder to detect.

Personally, I lean heavily towards only banning "inauthentic behavior" (the mentioned shills and bots), as I believe Twitter refers to it, and allowing all other currently legal speech.

(1) Giving up some freedom may grant security from other people, but it reduces security against the state itself - the risk of abuse of authority increases, as does the harm a bad government can cause.

(2) Quotes not because I don't believe some speech is harmful, but because outside of a few narrow exceptions (probably coinciding with the exceptions to the 1st Amendment determined by the US Supreme Court), everyone has their own opinion on which speech is harmful and which isn't, and which should be allowed and which banned.

(3) Though the Supreme Court has on a few occasions ruled quite decisively in favor of anonymous speech.


what if it's a message someone does want to listen to, but the platform doesn't want to transmit? And since they don't even know the message exists, they won't be seeking it out on alternative platforms.

Are you talking about Fox News not broadcasting the benefits of public health options or CNN not broadcasting something beneficial about guns here?

Yes it's a problem. It's unclear it it limited to digital platforms.


It's not a problem though. Private platforms, whether digital or not, do not have to carry your message. That's also a part of free expression. Fox is free to ignore whomever they choose. Everyone gets rights, not just the platform, not just the user. The user can speak whatever he wants, and so can the platform. There are good reasons for this, it allows for propaganda portals like fox news, but it also allows for real, well researched journalism like propublica.


You explained well why it's legal, but not why it's not a problem. Many things that are, and even should be legal, are also problems. Such as Fox ignoring whoever they choose - they certainly should have that right, but that doesn't mean it's not a problem when they present a misleading narrative.


>>> ... since they don't even know the message exists, they won't be seeking it out on alternative platforms.

>> .. Yes it's a problem. It's unclear it it limited to digital platforms.

> It's not a problem though...

You didn't seem to address the OP's issue ("they don't even know the message exists, they won't be seeking it out on alternative platforms") here at all?


Because you not knowing about a message is not a problem the government should solve.


Is your mind able to distinguish between a problem in general, and a problem that the government should solve?

This is kind of a two part problem: an ability to realize the difference (an ability that seems largely constrained by evolution), and an ability to admit it publically.

I enjoy posing "philosophical" questions like this and observing if interest in the topic vanishes.


Oh, right.

It's a problem because of filter bubbles. That doesn't mean government intervention is appropriate though.


> I don't feel this is an issue until you can't spin up your own website/app/platform and allow whatever speech you want.

I mostly agree with you on "website/app". As for the platform, it really depends on the nature and size of the platform. If it becomes an essential platform or if it is a monopoly, then you could argue it has utility features and hence everyone has a right to it. For example, you wouldn't say a power or water company doesn't have to serve you because you can go start your own power or water company.

You could argue that twitter is an essential platform since its the primary form of communication for the president. It is a platform for you to communicated with your elected official. Hence twitter as a platform is a "utility" and cannot block US citizens from accessing it and exercising their 1st amendment rights. This actually could be an interesting Supreme Court case if anyone who has been banned wants to ligitate. It could actually be precedent-setting.

You could argue that facebook, youtube, etc are monopolies that nearly serve the purpose of a utility and hence you have a right to it.

Also, you could argue that these american companies have a duty to follow the "spirit of free speech" in our country even if they aren't legally bound to it.

There are arguments to be made on both sides. Unfortunately, it isn't being taken through the legal system.


I think if a platform like twitter or facebook have become a "utility" or indispensable to society then they should be heavily regulated and fall under society's control. I replied elsewhere that I am not sure I agree that these platforms have achieved indispensability but leaving that aside if they are integral to society then society should control them.

>you could argue that these american companies have a duty to follow the "spirit of free speech" in our country even if they aren't legally bound to it

I could not personally argue this in any shape way or form because I don't even know what to base this claim on. Free speech has been restricted historically (often during war-time but also for various populations of people.) It has been restricted for pragmatic reasons (like perjury).


>To wit what comprises "hate speech". It's basically come to mean "point of view in disagreement with my group's current position which may change in the future"

Well, in America, sometimes. In other countries there are actual hate-speech laws that designate the central cases and set limits on the corner cases.


Controlling communication goes back much further. The oldest example I can think of right now is https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cabinet_noir but I'd be surprised if it didn't go as far back as writing itself.


Comparing china's control of the actual pipes to twitter no hate speech policy makes you look silly.


Just because a greater evil exists doesn't mean all other evils are 'silly'.

Is it also silly to worry about hate crimes against Muslims in the U.S. because China is committing a greater crime against them?


No, this has absolutely nothing to do with a greater evil.

You have a choice on which social media platform you wanna post on. The free market will decide which content policy wins. Lets ask some hong kongers how much choice they have.


Let's be real about the contrast here.

* China: things you might find "disappear" in discourse include values related to free speech itself, checkered history of the communist party, civil rights, challenges to the authority/policy of the communist party, issues of graft, judicial independence. And political organization/activism to address those issues might get you into trouble where you disappear / are imprisoned or ruined by the state.

* Twitter: you can't deadname trans people, use slurs, or threaten violence (and lots of these aren't tightly enforced). You might get your account deleted and have to create another one if you break these rules often enough.

Can you think of a single worthwhile form of discourse that's forbidden by Twitter itself? What topics are hobbled to the point where society itself is unacceptably held back from the potential progress that would be unleashed if we just let MOAR SPEACH happen on twitter and those whose glorious intellects have been unfairly silenced were finally unleashed?

We're not in US Muslim hate crimes vs China's human rights violations territory, we're in China human rights violations vs the fact that the United States has traffic laws and John Q Citizen gets cranky because he has to actually obey the speed limit damn cops it's a police state grumble grumble. And it does strike me as a bit silly.


> "the private companies engaging in evaluating what's permissible speech"

They have the right to control how people use their property. It's a completely different discussion than the one about government control


> What is new is that even democratic countries are controlling free speech via speech laws

Yes, I think this is much worse. We don't expect anything better from the North Korea, Iran, Russia etc. We have intrinsically higher standards regarding our western, liberal democracies. And now we, the citizens of said states, are the slowly boiled frogs.


democracy with free speech fails in special circumstances. it needs an authoritarian component to prevent more authoritarian form of governments from taking over.


> democracy with free speech fails in special circumstances.

like?

> it needs an authoritarian component to prevent more authoritarian form of governments from taking over.

I don't think so.


I think what he means is that democracy as understood by most, is basically a dictatorship of the majority.

But this is not democracy and won't work for long. Most relatively functioning democracies will enforce certain rules, often in constitutional laws and courts, against the will of the majority or their representatives. This can feel anti-democratic but it really isn't.

The rules laid out in a constitution center around making sure the democratic system stays democratic. If a 60% majority decides that the other 40% can't vote any more, that's not democracy. Similarly for many other attempts at weakening the rights of minorities, be they political, ethnic, religious or whatever.

Free speech in the US is understood as an absolute right and principle, to the extent that such speech is infringing on other people's rights. Hate speech endangers people. Look at the rising violence since the current president is in power. His rhetoric probably carries some blame for inciting such tendencies. I think it is legitimate to issue some restrictions such that minorities can feel less threatened.


>>> it needs an authoritarian component to prevent more authoritarian form of governments from taking over.

>> I don't think so.

> I think what he means is that democracy as understood by most, is basically a dictatorship of the majority.

If the majority of people are against that more authoritarian form of government, why would they support it? If they are not against it, how would them restricting their own speech help? This argument just makes no sense.

Either they support it or they don't - speech restrictions that they supposedly impose on themselves to prevent them from being more authoritarian like they would like to be is just - I don't know - does not make sense to me - some circular reasoning somewhere there.

If the majority wants to be more authoritarian, and they would be save for speech restrictions, why would they not just vote to change the speech restrictions?


> If the majority of people are against that more authoritarian form of government, why would they support it?

misinformation is the obvious answer, I'm unsure why you couldn't find that counterexample yourself.

We literally have misnamed bills put forth by our leaders in the US to misinform the populace. And it's acceptable to do so.


> misinformation is the obvious answer, I'm unsure why you couldn't find that counterexample yourself.

> We literally have misnamed bills put forth by our leaders in the US to misinform the populace. And it's acceptable to do so.

So in order to prevent the government from lying to us we should put the government in charge of deciding what is fact and what is not fact and also according to others in this thread put them in charge of what is moral and not moral.

Hard pass but thanks for the suggestion.


when in doubt, strawman the fuck out of your opponent. That'll teach em to engage you.


> If the majority wants to be more authoritarian, and they would be save for speech restrictions, why would they not just vote to change the speech restrictions?

They eventually will. However, that takes time and political capital. Hopefully enough time to fight off/fix whatever is causing the hate and resentment to build.


I guess there is more nuance to what you are trying to say but it is not far from saying we need to design our systems so that the minority can suppress the genuine will of the majority while they indoctrinate them to think different.

This is where culture and tradition should play a role in my view - if we foster a liberal culture and encourage our children to adopt this culture we can keep what those that came before us paid the blood price for.

If we on the other hand encourage our children to take the power of government to compel their follow citizens to do what they want them to do and adopt the morals they want them to adopt then I think no amount of government censorship of speech will save us from tyranny and dystopia.


I don't believe that restrictions of free speech are necessarily authoritarian. They can enhance the overall balance of power, for example by making minorities feel more safe.

For example hate speech could be restricted, supported by a majority of for example 60%, whereas the hate speech would only be exercised by for example 10%, endangering a minority of 5%.

Those who actually argue for more authoritarian elements, for example those who'd like Trump to not be hampered as much by the judicial system, don't really want "authoritarian"-ness, but rather they want the government to do what they want. They don't seem to realize that once a government has those powers, they have no control about what the government actually does. When a sufficient majority is buying into this, and actually wants to enact the same things, it's game over for democracy.

However, most authoritarian governments didn't develop that way. Most seem to develop by some people just taking power through various means and not really through appealing to a large majority.


This is rather divergent from the argument I was engaging with - if you disagree with the argument I was engaging with it is best to take the disagreement up with the person who made it rather than me.


to answer your question you'll need to define democracy more precisely as that impacts when the failure occurs. too many options to consider otherwise.


“To wit what comprises "hate speech". It's basically come to mean "point of view in disagreement with my group's current position which may change in the future"”

Citations required.


[flagged]


If someone says racist[1] things (from whichever POV), it’s fair to call out racism. That’s not the crux of the question. Moreover there are other forms of obnoxious speech in addition to racism. Someone could be a vegan and another a omnivore and the both could be offensive. Or it could be about reproductive rights and so on. People should be able to engage in debate even if it’s repugnant to you or to me or anyone.

[1] meaning actual racist things not the colloquial “racist” which can mean someone disagreeing on policy among other things.


Examples in the US beyond terrorists or terrorist sympathizers? The rules of a platform tend to be transparent.


LGBTQ+ creators come to mind as folks who often get demonitized.


HN runs at least one story a week along the lines of "I got banned from the app store and no one will tell me why".


> The rules of a platform tend to be transparent.

There are a lot of prominent youtube creators saying the rules are vague at best. And the scope of those rules is certainly not limited to terrorism. Terrorism is the boogie man governments and corporations cite when they want people to be compliant, but the bulk of enforcement in practice is against mundane shit like copyright infringement or scatological jokes that offend grandparents with sensitive dispositions.


Exactly. It's trivial to prove that Google's results have a strong political bias.


The whole industry of advertising as we understand it today was created by those who had done propaganda during the first and second world war, and realised they could apply their skills in the field of business.

To learn the history of propaganda, advertising and how it is embedded deeply in our current political machine, watch The Century of the Self, a 2002 documentary:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnPmg0R1M04


I haven't watched the documentary, but I assume you're familiar with the impact of behaviorism on the advertising industry, before WW2?

John B. Watson[0] (founder of the behavioural psychology school) pivoted to advertising in the beginning of the 20th century.

For those who are not familiar with the subject or his research methods, I recommend reading up on the Little Albert experiment[1].

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_B._Watson [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Albert_experiment


The Century of the Self does cover advertising being born from early 20th century psychology:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Century_of_the_Self#Overvi...

I don't remember if Watson is explicitly mentioned though (it's possible he is, it's been a while since I've seen it).


Kinda but advertising was called propaganda in some places before the term was marred by WWII and was afterwards rebranded as advertising.


It was rebranded "public relations", as noted in the referenced documentary. A central figure in the film is Edward Bernays, who was referred to as "the father of public relations".


A very interesting character he is


In some languages it was never rebranded (I believe the Portuguese word for "advertisement" is just "propaganda")


In spanish too. Although depending on region and context you might also use publicidad.


It was the 1920s after WWI.


"Authoritarian Nations are..." makes it sound like the same trends aren't prevalent everywhere.

The cost of monitoring and enforcing compliance with the law is dropping very rapidly. Cameras, automated monitoring systems, etc, have all blossomed since around 2007 when phones suddenly became computers and cameras in one fell swoop.

It is no longer a default expectation that someone can commit a crime without being detected. Or do anything without it being recorded in triplicate on the internet. We'd better all hope we aren't doing anything the government doesn't like!


I'm not sure what is your point, authoritarian or democratic does not make a difference? Both kind of nations have same kind of access to citizens' private information? Both use the monitoring for the same purpose? US is throwing people who offended Trump online into jail like China is doing for Xi?

I just can't live with this kind of intentional defense of authoritarian by making nonsensical and shameless equalization.

Plug:

China Sentences Wang Yi, Christian Pastor, to 9 Years in Prison https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/30/world/asia/china-wang-yi-...

Kaifeng Jewish Community Suffers New Suppression https://bitterwinter.org/kaifeng-jewish-community-suffers-ne...

Inside China’s Push to Turn Muslim Minorities Into an Army of Workers https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/30/world/asia/china-xinjiang...


I'd think the point is that the qualification in the headline might give people in non-authoritarian nations a false sense of security that GP is trying to warn us for.


> authoritarian or democratic does not make a difference?

You think it it does? Democracy without freedom is an empty shell. And surveillance is antithetical to freedom


The logical fallacy[0] here is so obvious that to people who can reason, it's a joke.

Their goal is to divert the discussion and trick people without a clear mind. If we follow through their argument, or even let them trigger any emotion in us, they win. So the best reaction is to give no attention to them, such that this kind of argument sinks to the bottom.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tu_quoque


> US is throwing people who offended Trump online into jail like China is doing for Xi?

No, but it has been collecting all online data, snooping on citizens and finding out (along with everything else), who has been saying what about President Trump.

The fact that it hasn't yet criminalised that behaviour is some consolation, but the data collection itself is unsettling.


As opposed to what we are doing to Assange? Or carrying out a coup against a democratically elected president in Bolivia ( Yes, I know he legally ran for a 4th time, but then so did angela merkel...). Do you know the largest "worker" population in the US is our prison population?

> I just can't live with this kind of intentional defense of authoritarian by making nonsensical and shameless equalization.

Okay. How about this. A democracy is responsible for a 100 holocausts in the US with our extermination of the native. A democracy dropped nukes on hundreds of thousands of civilians. A democracy pioneered human experimentation. A democracy instituted racial slavery. A democracy has killed tens of millions of people around the world after ww2. A democracy has stolen the most land and resources around the world.

Democracy or authoritarian, both are capable of all kinds of evil. By any objective measure, the most evil nation to have ever exist was a democracy.

Now flip it. An authoritarian regime lifted 800 million people out of poverty. Easily the greatest humanitarian achievement in human history. The greatest human good in human history was achieved by those "evil" authoritarians.

If we are going to worry about the internet being weaponized, I think we should be worried about it whether "authoritarian" or "democratic".


Evo Morales commited fraud.


> In 2014, former CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden said in a public debate, “We kill people based on metadata.”

> According to multiple reports and leaks, death-by-metadata could be triggered, without even knowing the target’s name, if too many derogatory checks appear on their profile. “Armed military aged males” exhibiting suspicious behavior in the wrong place can become targets, as can someone “seen to be giving out orders.” Such mathematics-based assassinations have come to be known as “signature strikes.”

https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/how-...


the rolling stone article is a joke. not only does it jump randomly over long periods of time, but it actually makes it look like the main character is in fact a terrorist:

> Over a decade later, after some major life changes – he’d converted to Islam and found himself working as a TV reporter in the Middle East under his new name, Bilal Abdul Kareem

> the Syrian office of the controversial Islamist TV network he founded, On the Ground News

> “They were picking off Al Qaeda and Al Nusra members,” he says. “I didn’t pay it much attention. I thought, ‘It’s not the first time I’ve heard a drone.’”


"exhibiting suspicious behavior in the wrong place". I need more details to make an informed judgement.


So do the people with their fingers on the button.


Or are you underestimating how many governments should be/are labelled Authoritarian?


I believe it is more important to focus on making sure your government doesn't have the intent or ability to punish you for things you don't want to be punished for, rather than worrying about what the government knows about you.

By "The Government" I don't mean the entity that calls itself your government, but rather the entity that has the most power. In a democracy, you have a share in that power and how it is controlled and kept in check.

But in general, in a relatively democratic society, a democratically minded citizen has an incentive to make the state (legislature+executive+judicative) pretty much as powerful as possible (within reason), while at the same time controlling its intent.

Because any power the government doesn't have, someone else has, and that someone likely isn't you.


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