1. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Freedom of Speech

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Cogito, Jul 7, 2008.

    What does freedom of speech mean?

    Does it mean you can say anything you want, anywhere you want?

    No. If you are using someone else's corkboard to express a position, they have the right to limit the scope of those opinions on that corkboard.

    Recently, there have been a couple of situations where people have objected that opinions expressed on this forum have been curtailed, and the cry "Censorship!" inevitably is raised.

    Censorship referes to the suppression of speech by a governing body. It does not pertain to editorial restrictions in a privately owned and operated medium.

    This site has certain rules regarding content and respect for other members. Those rules are interpreted and enforced by the moderators, including but not limited to me. In turn, the moderators must answer to the site owner, either for letting a discussion get out of hand, resulting in flamewars or other damage, or for being arbitrarily restrictive.

    We moderators try to keep a balance, and when possible, we confer on how to handle a developing situation. A measure of success is when the number of people upset that a situation was permitted to go to far matches the number of people complaining that they were unduly constrained.

    As for free speech, nothing prevents anyone from establishing his or her own web page to express an opinion. But here, I will do what I deem necessary to try to keep the peace, and I believe I speak for the rest of the mod team as well.
     
  2. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I feel inclined to answer this as a neutral observer... Freedom of Speech is about having the power to state your own view in a way that does not offend anyone else's personal beliefs, and without fear of repression.
     
  3. Lucy E.
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    Lucy E. Contributing Member

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    I agree with Lemex. If other people are offended by what you say, it can be classed as discrimination, which is unacceptable.
     
  4. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    "...Freedom of Speech is about having the power to state your own view in a way that does not offend anyone else's personal beliefs, and without fear of repression..."

    I do not agree. You can offend others under free speech and it is still protected. "Freedom of Speech" is a government defended right. The words used may evoke anger and even retaliatory "free speech". When neo-Nazi's go into predominantly Jewish neighborhoods and deny the truth of the holocaust, feelings are hurt. Same with nasty comments made to young women as they enter abortion clinics. This hurtful rhetoric is protected under the law in the U.S. and some other countries.

    Why?

    Simple. A free society must allow for the expression of differences of opinion or it is no longer a "free" society.

    That said, words can do real harm, so "Freedom of Speech" has a long history of carefully crafted consequences for abuse. For example, if you falsely impugn someone's character with malice and forethought, you have stepped beyond the protections of "free speech". It is completely legal to publicly call a person a crook IF that person was, in fact, convicted of such behavior, but you can not knowingly make a false accusation about being a crook.

    The bottom line is, if you are using words as a weapon to assault someone, freedom of speech has limitations. A court may hold you liable for a criminal or civil wrong doing...character assassination, etc.

    None of this discussion about "Freedom of Speech" has anything to do with this forum. WritingForums.org is NOT a "public" owned facility like a park or county courthouse. It is privately owned and the rules regulating freedom of communication herein are entirely at the discretion of the owner. He can discriminate in any way he wants. Think of it like a restaurant: "No shirt; no shoes; no service!" If a visitor doesn't like it, there is one option...leave!

    I personally do not participate in most writing forums because of the personal attacks that are allowed. This place is well managed and provides an opportunity for people to express differences of opinion without the nonsense...that folks, is called adult behavior!

    Keep up the good work Cog and others.
     
  5. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    ^ I agree with that NaCI, but there is a line between stating belief and being discriminating. :)
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    salty...
    amen to that!

    cog...
    you're in my 'best of the best' book, amico mio!
     
  7. The Cleansing
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    The Cleansing New Member

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    That's is so true, but I can't seem to shake off the reality that there are quite a bundle of people who would "express" their point of view, and not caring if that point of view might create havoc and damage to others. Although, it IS the person's thoughts that are qualify
    to make such a statement. But then again, the havoc and damage IS sometimes caused by the offended one.
     
  8. tarnished
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    tarnished Contributing Member Contributor

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    I believe freedom of speach is being able to say whatever you please, as long as it in no way falsely presents "facts" to ruin someones reputation. Along with censorship, in terms of "swear words" on certain places.
    -Tarnished
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    As NaCl correctly pointed out:
    Freedom of speech is a right guaranteed to members of many countries, including the United States of America. It does not demand that any private entity facilitate such expression.

    As it relates to this forum, all communications must comply with the rules set forth by the owner. Such rules prohibit the posting of illegal or offensive material, and writing posts which insult olrther members. Examples of what is meant by offensive material are given, but it is not a comprehensive list.

    Freedom of speech on this forum extends only to the limits of the site rules. If you wish to exercise your rights beyond those rules, you may - but not here.
     
  10. Sandy Banks
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    Sandy Banks Member

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    If you are going to limit the expression of opinions that you deam "offensive" there should be greater transparansy and clarity over what is regarded as "offensive".

    The authorities of any organisation are answerable to members of the public. To avoid charges of autocracy, the same should apply to web forums. Threads being deleted out of nowhere, with no explanation given, is a shady and sinister way of operating.

    My suggestion for the benefit of this forum is that when threads are deleted, explanations should be given for the action taken along side examples which back up moderators claims. This will avoid confusion, and will build up a greater relationship between forum members and moderators.

    I will not be post in these forums again because i believe them to operate in a way that is not condusive to good communication. I will read any replyies to this post, and am perfectly willing to accept that i could be entirely mis guided, but i will no longer make any posts.

    Try to remember that heated discussion and debate is nothing to be afraid of and should be embraced. The progress of human history rests on such foundations. If you all want to live in a little bubble where you all agree with each other all the time and anything that disagrees with the majority view is regarded as "offensive" and something to be "censored" then thats up to you. But in my eyes this makes for a boring and predictable forum. Embrace controversy, feast on heated discussion, enjoy being proven wrong, and most of all, keep open minds!
     
  11. ChimmyBear
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    ChimmyBear Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well said Cog.
    One of the reasons I have enjoyed being a member here is because this site is well balanced and every member is considered.

    Freedom of speech comes with responsibility and respect. If we abuse that responsibility we damage the integrity of this freedom...furthermore, the forum has the responsibility to see to it that this doesn't happen.

    I am proud of the work the mods put into this site...thank you !! :)
     
  12. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I think it all boils down to the agreement one makes upon joining. We are all here of our own volition, and of our own free will. There is no totalitarian eye demanding and ensuring that we log on to the site for the requisite number of hours per day. And, as has already been pointed out, the forum is a private entity, not a publicly owned venue.

    Freedom of speech is a right in the United States, but it is also a privilege. It is probably the most important privilege that Americans have. It must guarded and treated with respect. It must no be abused and prostituted into serving those who would harm others.
     
  13. CDRW
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    CDRW Contributing Member Contributor

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    I guess it all depends on what you're looking for. Honestly, there hasn't been very much censorship here because everybody is polite and intelligent. I'm siding with Cogito on this issue because I've seen what happens when offensive posts are not deleted. The thread in question was turning into a flame war. It was no longer about the issue at hand, but who was right. It went from an intelligent debate to a battle of wills. Who was going to back down first? If you want to see what happens when the forum is completely unmoderated check out rockclimbing.com I have yet to see a thread there where somebody doesn't say the original poster is a troll. It is impossible to get useful information without being degraded and flamed. Swearing is rampant, feudes between members are ongoing, they insult the intelligence of members new to the sport, and they tear down the experience of members who have been doing it for years. Once this forum turns into that, that's when you should stop posting.
     
  14. Gloom Kitty
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    Gloom Kitty Banned

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    Cog, when a conversation becomes harmful to forum members, freedom of speech can barely be used to explain the matter. Most of the users on the forums have a deep respect for what the mods do for us and the fairness in which matters are handled. I wanted to add also that the reviews try to spot problem posts that may occur and report them ASAP. Freedom of speech is great bad attitudes towards other members are not.
     

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