The following thoughts are merely my opinions and understanding. I’m no attorney nor do I even watch them on TV. If I get something wrong, I sincerely apologize. Please let me know.
Recently the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the principle of free speech even when it damaged another person. In this case, damage that took the form of emotional distress at the hands of an organization that calls itself the Westboro Baptist Church. A jury had awarded millions of dollars in damages to the parents of a Marine who was killed in Iraq but the Supreme Court ruling negated that award.
A jury had awarded millions of dollars for intentional infliction of emotional stress to the parents of a Marine who was killed in Iraq. The high court said the nature of the speech, along with the church’s peaceful cooperation with local authorities and 1,000-foot separation from the funeral, took the protest into protected legal space. (Source.)
Free speech can be one of the ugliest and most vile aspects of a democracy like ours, but a vital aspect just the same.
Would you enjoy a parade by the Nazi party in full uniform down a street in your community? But that’s the sort of thing that “free speech” makes possible in our society.
This concept of “free speech” isn’t universal. For example, members of the Westboro Baptist Church have been banned from entering Canada due to “hate speech.” (Source.)
France also has a hate speech law:
The court’s decision is in marked contrast with the case of fashion designer John Galliano, the flamboyant creative director of Christian Dior, whose anti-Semitic rant at a Paris bar was captured on film. In France, where the law reflects a deep shame over the Vichy government’s complicity with the Holocaust, hate speech isn’t just unprotected; it’s illegal. Galliano was charged with the crime of making racist comments in public, which carries a $31,000 fine and up to six months in prison. (Source.)
But what is free speech? Does it apply everywhere and in all situations. Hardly. Yell “fire” in a crowded movie theater and you just might find yourself face to face with one example of such a limitation. (Strangely enough, however, it is still legal to yell “movie” in a crowded firehouse.)
What if I come over to your house? If I’m on private property, my right to free speech is left on the sidewalk. If the property owner doesn’t feel just hunky dory at any time and for any reason, he can legally compel you to leave the property. That’s the principle of property ownership at work. We’re the kings of our little castles.
Thus we see an important distinction. Free speech applies to public property and spaces. But it doesn’t extend everywhere. And it does have limits.
Consider the example of an internet forum. In most cases those are privately owned and operated by individuals, companies and corporations. Thus, there is absolutely no guarantee or right to the concept of “free speech” in that setting. The only exception would be if the forum was owned and operated by the government. But if not, guess what? The right to comment exists at the pleasure of the forum owner.
You’ll routinely hear vile and disgusting rabble whine about “free speech” on internet forums when they’ve forced the site owners to “moderate” their comments. Those actions can’t be deemed “censorship” (except, perhaps, from a public relations standpoint) since there is no right to “free speech” on a privately owned site.
Recently Twitter was accused of censoring hashtags pertaining to WikiLeaks. I believe, however, that Twitter can’t “censor” anything since they have the legal right to moderate their own content. And there are also some who say that Amazon.com was guilty of censorship when they prevented LGBT material from their search results.
Sure, these can be public relations nightmares, and justifiably so in some cases, but again the concept of private vs. public ownership must prevail.
Internet forums, including sites like Craigslist, take things a step further by providing a platform for hate speech from the safety of a remote location on the internet – all while remaining completely anonymous. This is akin to a boxing match where one of the contestants is blindfolded and has his hands tied behind his back. And that’s not exactly a fair fight.
Craigslist has basically three types of users. Scammers, spammers and trolls.
The scammers are the Nigerian scheme folks of the net. The people who respond to your ads only because they want to scout your house and then rip you off. Or worse. Like kill you over an item of jewelry.
The spammers, well, we’ve all been around the internet enough by now to know exactly what they do.
And last but certainly not least are the trolls. These are the people that you’d almost wouldn’t think even exist any more except for the fact that we have the internet. They don’t operate in the light of day. The require the freedom of anonymity.
Was are some examples of things that trolls do?
- Post vile and vulgar racist crap
- Attack homosexuals
- Posts by women that “I’m sleeping with your husband”
- Posts by men that “I’m sleeping with your wife”
- Posts by women that “my husband is sleeping with your wife”
- Posts by men that “my wife is sleeping with your husband”
- All other possible combinations of who is sleeping with whom
- Anonymously attacking restaurants
- Accusing people by name of criminal acts
- Post the home addresses of people they hate
- Claiming responsibility for things like killing your cat
- All [blanks] are [blanks] – ex: All Democrats are fags.
- Trying to trick each other into showing up somewhere for a fist fight
Is this even remotely what “free speech” was intended to allow? I think not. If you’re going to act and say things like that, I personally don’t believe you should be able to do so from the relative safety and comfort of anonymity.
Perhaps it is time for some sort of hate speech law here in the United States. It shouldn’t be legal to hurt each other, at least not while remaining completely anonymous. And if you couldn’t do it anonymously I’m willing to wager we just might see a lot less of this sort of thing.
You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious.
Warning: This most may contain offensive themes and content. But nothing that Craigslist wouldn’t allow, I assure you of that.
I never paid much attention to craigslist. Oh sure, I heard about it in the news, usually something about the latest scam, or a family being shot dead during a craigslist transaction, or, more often than not, something having to do with a profession even older than craigslist itself. Thank God for craigslist or there would be a lot less prostitution!
Recently I was given reason to get off my duff and go learn more about the mysterious place known as craigslist. Sadly the reason is that the web site is being used to attack my very existence.
First I became aware of a section of craigslist that is called “rants and raves.” Just to enter and look around you have to agree that you’ll be subjected to “offensive content” and that you are at least 18 years of age.
In this section you will find the basest of the base. The very best of the worst that humanity has to offer. Craigslist has some legitimate functions (which are, of course, highly exploited by bad people), but rants and raves is reserved for the creme de la creme of evil. It represents a lowest common denominator of humanity and, trust me on this, there is basically no limit to how low that low can go.
Tonight I did an experiment. I picked a region at random. (Atlanta because it was listed first.) I then went into Atlanta’s “rants and raves” section. The very first thing I saw listed was this: “Coon chokes his 3 yr old.” The content, which I debated reproducing here but simply can’t in good conscience, even in the name of science, was one of the most offensive and disturbing things I’ve ever read. The use of the n-word in the post was just one of the many offenses including a reference to the child’s nose as a “snout,” talking about “KFC (extra crispy)” and much, much more.
And this was literally the very first thing I found on a random dip into craigslist. As such, what can we assume? That this is about average or that I somehow picked the worst of the worst? Something tells me that on craigslist this is nothing that unusual.
One can only wonder. Where does craigslist draw the line?
Like I said, the only reason I’m aware of how this web site works at all is because I came under attack myself. It’s a long story but basically I administer a web site forum and I’ve had to kick people off, from time to time, for repeated violations of the web site rules, one of which is: “Don’t be gigantic douchebag assholes.” That’s pretty much the Prime Directive of our rules.
My experience on this internet forum has taught me one thing quite clearly: Adults do not take kindly to being moderated in any way, shape or form. Just like everyone else they feel the rules to do not apply to them. Ever. If you dare enforce a rule, no matter how well deserved, you just made yourself a rabid enemy for life.
This is where craigslist comes in. Deprived of their voice on a forum, craigslist is their dream come true. Here they can safely remain truly anonymous as they attack real people by name. They have told lies about me, posted my picture, published my home address, called me Adolf Hitler (always a party favorite) and now have even taken up the practice of insulting my wife.
Freedom of speech in our country is a sacred right. But what about freedom of anonymous speech? I figured that must be different, especially when it is being used as a method of attack. I was wrong.
According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly that the right to anonymous free speech is protected by the First Amendment.
EFF says that this right was even used by our founding fathers, people like Alexander Hamilton and James Madison who wrote under the pseudonym “Publius.”
I tried to file a report with the local police today regarding this campaign against us that has gone on for months now. Their response, paraphrased: “Too bad, so sad.” They said it is nothing illegal and is protected free speech under the First Amendment. They didn’t want to look at my documentation, either, saying it wouldn’t matter.
Thanks to sites like craigslist we can view and experience the true nature of humanity and the universe, and, for an added bonus, take a quick swim in a pool of bile. Now I call that a true win-win!
Those of us in the United States consider it one of our most cherished rights. Freedom is something worth defending, something worth fighting for. Freedom is worth the ultimate sacrifice we can make.
In short, freedom is the ability to exercise free will to make choices and/or engage in behavior without duress or coercion. We recognize, however, that there should be some limits on freedom, namely that our right to free will doesn’t extend as far as hurting someone else or depriving them of their rights.
For example, my right to design, build and own cages doesn’t extend as far as locking another person in a cage without their consent.
I also can’t yell “fire” in a crowded movie theater. My right to free speech is trumped by the possible injury and danger to others. (Thankfully, though, it is still acceptable to yell “movie” in a crowded firehouse.)
Freedom is a great thing and I truly love and embrace the concept. On the other hand, freedom can sometimes be downright fugly.
For one thing, freedom means that if someone doesn’t like you, they can go on the internet (perhaps the orgiastic marketplace of ideas known as Craig’s List) and say some downright nasty things about you. Oh sweet delicious freedom! By the way, if you are ever curious about how truly vile and contemptible and just plain insane humans can get, go to Craig’s List sometime and check out the “Rants and Raves” section. Good clean fun to be sure! It will curl your hair! Speaking of people who should be in cages…
Or how about another quite popular expression of freedom? The smoking of cigarettes. Thank God for freedom, eh? As a non-smoker, what are the myriad of ways that this particular freedom enjoyed so much by others directly impacts me on a daily basis?
I wake up in the morning and find cigarette butts on my driveway. My wife and I don’t smoke. Where could this human flotsam possibly be coming from? I’m assured that my aunt and son (both smokers) aren’t responsible. If that’s true, then the answer must be that passerby using the sidewalk in front of our house like to fling their butts up my driveway. I guess I should be grateful they don’t like to smoke poop.
I drive to work, open the car door, and put my feet on the ground. I’m standing on more cigarette butts.
We go to a county park for a picnic. We set up our Coleman chairs to eat and enjoy some nature and watch wildlife in the river. Near our feet are a plethora of cigarette butts. We walk down to the river’s edge and find a fire pit. It’s full of butts. Incidentally, we paid our day use fee to use this park. We couldn’t use the garbage can, though, because it was overflowing. I took a peek and saw four Hungry Man microwave dinner boxes and a giant box of white rice. Methinks someone had a weird picnic or one of the locals is using the park’s garbage can rather than paying for their own garbage. That’s the way people roll around here.)
Anyway, when it comes to cigarette butts, I think might be starting to get the picture. They are ubiquitous and found everywhere I go starting with my very own driveway. There is nothing quite like stepping out of your own front door and being impacted negatively by your fellow man within five seconds. Just by setting foot outside of my door – and while still on my own property – my freedom and pursuit of happiness is seriously impacted. I’m curious – which one of the founding fathers is going to materialize and stick up for me?
I can’t walk into and out of my own home, a grocery store, restaurant, place of business, or even drive my car down the main street in my home town without being assaulted by the smell of everyone else enjoying their own freedom. Cigarette smoke is everywhere. And even in areas where smoking is not allowed these days, like restaurants, elevators, and the workplace, I still get physically assaulted by the odor of smoking that clings to certain people. It’s like having an ashtray rubbed in your face. (I’ve read some new studies that say second-hand stench may be dangerous just like second-hand smoking. The way some jackasses smell may go beyond mere offense. It might just be physically injurious to those around them.) Freedom!
I want to close out this post by telling two quick stories both relating to my freedom.
- I bought a 1,000 sq. ft. house setting on one-fifth of an acre. It actually had a very nice sized backyard. (It seems huge compared to my current lot which is a 5,000 sq. ft. postage stamp. That means you could fit almost nine of my current lots into my old lot. I call this sort of thing Santa Claus development because he could easily leap from rooftop to rooftop.) Ah, home ownership! Living the dream! What could be more uniquely American than that? I then went out to sit on my own patio in my own home and enjoy my own backyard. What do you think happened next? Yep. The neighbor’s lung waste toxins floated over and impacted me enjoying my own patio. Freedom!
- I may have mentioned before (ha!) that my new home is about 10 feet away from my neighbor’s house, who just happen to be the super-special jackasses of our neighborhood. They are constantly in front of their house smoking their guts out. As far as I can tell, next to parties and ignoring their kids, it is their favorite thing to do. Naturally all of that smell comes to our property to hang out. Our air conditioner recently broke so I opened the sliding glass door in the dining room and the window in my office to get a nice cross-breeze going. Can you guess what’s coming? Yep! The neighbor’s lung waste toxins fly right into my window like moths to a flame and those toxins physically attack me. My wife says if we keep that window open my office is going to smell like a Las Vegas casino. Freedom!
What is it about smoking that demands it is a “right” that has to travel most everywhere smokers go? I have the right to have sex in my bedroom, but that right doesn’t automatically extend to everywhere I go. I can’t legally get jiggy with it on the sidewalk or city-owned parking lots. Why does smoking have more rights than sex? Again, I can pee all I want in my own bathroom. But I can’t legally mark my territory everywhere I go, like on the sidewalk, in an alley, at the park, or on a beach. Why does a bodily function have less rights than smoking? What makes smoking the most special activity of all time? And even if kept to personal property, as I’ve clearly shown, it can still impact the mother fucking shit out of other people. Will this ever end?
I’m on the wrong planet. There was some major fuck up in Galactic Baby Assignment. I should have been sent to a planet where idiots don’t blow up their own lungs and shrapnel everyone around them with collateral black tar damage.
Where do I go to request a planetary transfer? I wish to immigrate.