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> Im thinking as a French I had to fight a lot with free speech absolutists abroad, while at home we're quite okay with selective censorship... it sounds scary to an American sometimes, but hell we dont care :D

I'm not surprised you're being downvoted as I've tried to make this point with American friends before and gotten the same reaction 10/10 times.

To use a very topical example: in other jurisdictions outside of the US, racism is a crime, and speaking out in favor of it or discriminating against someone verbally is not protected by free speech.

In fact, jurisdictions outside of the US often do not even have a definition for the "right to free speech" – it's obvious that you can say whatever you want.

It just so happens that by saying some of those things you may be doing something illegal, not unlike how threatening someone isn't a protected action in the US. So it's not so much a matter of censorship, but one of limits to rights. Every right has certain limitations, and free speech isn't absolute, be it in America or elsewhere.






And in those other jurisdictions you don't have free speech. A woman in Austria was convicted of blasphemy for a factual statement, because it hurts the feelings of people following that religion. Apparently our European human rights that say they protect free speech don't protect free speech.

Free speech as a strongly held value is incredible, because it avoids situations like the above (Austria). It also avoids situations where the police pay you a visit to check your thinking over a tweet (UK). It also avoids the situation where a teenager gets arrested for quoting rap lyrics on Instagram (UK). It also avoids situations where you can be fined for insulting the president by holding up a sign that says "get lost, you prat" (France). It also avoids situations where the government can refuse to allow (not ban, simply do nothing) the publishing of video games, movies, and books in the country (Australia and New Zealand).

Note that in the French case the ECHR actually got their act together and found the French law to be in violation of free speech. If that situation had happened in the US then there wouldn't have been a fine in the first place, because the right to free speech is that important.

People accept these kinds of things, because they don't think they'll ever be in the wrong. However, when it happens to them there's no real recourse.

Edit: keep in mind that that are the countries that are considered to be doing well.


The recent flux of videos of US policemen physically assaulting people making use of their free speech right tends to make me think it's not in fact "that important" in the US to be honest.

You're absolutely not wrong that this detracts from it. However, the courts in the US won't side with the policemen on this. They seem to be rather protective of the first amendment.

As an aside, police violence happens in the countries I mentioned. Not as much, but it does happen. Eg the yellow vest protests in France had a problem with this.


I really don't follow. The police doing something that the population doesn't support, doesn't mean the population supports the police actions. Not to mention "use of free speech" in this context is a big disingenuous. Are the police attacking people who are speaking their mind? Protesting and being asked to clear an area? Rioting? Peacefully protesting? Etc.

Free speech is extremely important in the United States, especially amongst sensible, regular everyday people. There are some elements on the far left who have been turning against free speech, but thankfully they are fringe groups that are largely ignored (Antifa/BLM Marxists, etc.)


Well, let's take an example : "It also avoids situations where you can be fined for insulting the president by holding up a sign that says "get lost, you prat" (France)."

The police fined the guy, which doesn't mean that the french people supported the police on this (they didn't), and that the law supported the police on this (it didn't).

So either police actions are a good scope to evaluate the importance of free speech, or either they aren't, but it shouldn't be only when it's convenient.


If free speech doesn't protect a person's right to say negative, bad, or even wrong things, it's not free speech. Even the strictest authoritarian regimes don't restrict people from saying approved or positive things--that simply wouldn't make sense unless their goal is to have zero speech whatsoever.

> I've tried to make this point

"Point" in your comment means the muzzle of a gun, not a logical argument.


Oh. But can I think about something illegal ? Can I write something illegal down on paper ? Say something illegal quietly ? Can I say something illegal loudly in the middle of the forest ? Saying something is just a way to make your thoughts known by others. Thought police, and thought crime are just a tear drop away, it seems.

Sorry, but that's called the slippery slope fallacy

It's happening in the UK. Google "I need to check your thinking" for an example. You need to have some clear boundaries between speaking-crime and thought-crime otherwise they get blurred and you end up with something like McCarthyism.



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