"New York Philosophy" Message Board › Free Speech Meetup Pre-discussion.

Free Speech Meetup Pre-discussion.

A former member
Post #: 7
Marc, you're really being ridiculous. "Liberal" does not carry anywhere near as much weight as the term "racist". When the impact that a label of "racist" is as little as that of "liberal", which I predict eventually will happen, the problem will be solved.

I think we'd define "carry the same weight" differently. If we're thinking in terms of some sort of scorecard measuring hatefullness points, yes racist is a much more troublesome term. If we're thinking in terms of the ability of a label to inhibit speech, the terms can be competently potent if used in the "right" context. And in both cases, I think the potency is diminishing as speakers of all stripes are developing thicker skins (Romney being a possible and conspicuous laggard -- we'll see). Notice, for example, that my willingness to express my view is not at all restrained by your attempt to label me "ridiculous." Like I said , name calling isn't as potent as some think it is.
Bill
user 2341848
New York, NY
Post #: 194
Marc, I get the feeling you are defining name-calling in such a way that it is impossible for it ever to be a problem. Do you or do you not think that name-calling was a problem in the McCarthy Era?
A former member
Post #: 8
Marc, I get the feeling you are defining name-calling in such a way that it is impossible for it ever to be a problem. Do you or do you not think that name-calling was a problem in the McCarthy Era?

I’m not sure where you are trying to go with the above comment, so perhaps it would be worthwhile to review your blog, the one you used to open the discussion. In the blog, what was the point you were trying to make? Were you initiating a discussion of the phenomenon of racism including, or rather focusing on, misuse of the label? Or were you making a point about censorship and citing inappropriate use of the racism label as an example, one practiced by liberals?

I had presumed the latter, that this was a discussion of censorship. That seemed to me the thrust of you blog, particularly since its body evolved from three bullet-points introduced by the language: “Among liberals, the consensus is that “racist” views should not be tolerated. Of course, censorship is legally difficult to achieve in the US, so liberals have used, and used very effectively, the following tactics of limiting conversation to what they think is acceptable:” As to the bullet points, they state: (i) “Name-calling. Any time someone says something you don’t like, call them names. ‘Racist’ is very popular. (ii) “Ad-hominem attacks: Insult the speaker personally, often about things not remotely related to the conversation in question.” (iii) “Refuse to listen, and exclude the speaker from the venue by any excuse that can be brought to bear.” Ultimately, your blog concludes with: “But we’re not allowed to talk about dysfunctional behavior, because if we do we’ll be called names.”

If I have misinterpreted, if the thrust of your blog has been to say that it’s bad to call someone a racist when such a characterization is inaccurate, then there is no disagreement between us. Your opening sentence lends support to this interpretation (“The liberal end of the political spectrum in the US has been obsessed about race for at least 20 years now, and that’s a very bad thing.”), but everything that came after it suggested to me that you were mainly interested in discussing censorship, a topic much broader than accusations of racism per se. Again, if I have misinterpreted your aim, then we are in complete agreement on the implications of the terms racism.

Assuming, on the other hand, that I have correctly interpreted this discussion as being about censorship, then I’ll try again to explain the point I’ve been attempting to make.

1. Racism is one, among many, that is used in an effort to discourage someone from expressing a view. (Your first two bullet points are directly on point here and offers use of “Racist” as an example, not as the entire repertoire.

2. The three things you complain of in your bullet points (name-calling, ad-hominem attacks, and refusal to listen) are widely practiced all over. Liberals don’t by any means have a monopoly on this.

3. I cited tendencies among conservatives to accuse adversaries of being “liberal” in an attempt to inhibit them from expressing their positions.

4. If the discussion is about censorship, as I have been assuming, then a comparison of the intrinsic qualities of label (“racist,” “liberal,” etc.) is irrelevant. (It appears to me that this has been the main area of focus for you in this thread.) Instead, the relevant consideration is the relative effectiveness of the various labels in inhibiting speech.

5. My contention is that the effectiveness of any particular label is a fluid topic that depends much on culture, the personalities of the people involved, etc. Some people accused of being racist cower and go silent or modify their views while others are able to brush them off and go on, or metaphorically shove them down the throats of the accusers. Some people accused of being liberal cower and go silent or modify their views while others are able to brush them off and go on, or metaphorically shove them down the throats of the accusers. Remember my prior line: “context, context, context.”

6. While we can find anecdotal evidence of just about anything, I believe that it we step back and look at the full range of political debate/discussion nowadays, I see nothing that is consistent with a meaningful pattern of broad censorship (along the lines of your three bullet points). Notwithstanding some individual instances of cowering and twisting (I cited Mitt Romney as one example) advocates on the left and the right seem, on the whole, to be quite successful in loudly, boldly and widely trumpeting their views.

Back to your last post: “Marc, I get the feeling you are defining name-calling in such a way that it is impossible for it ever to be a problem. Do you or do you not think that name-calling was a problem in the McCarthy Era?”

Again, context, context, context: Yes, name-calling in that context was a huge problem first because of the way people at that time reacted so viscerally to the label “communist,” but also because of a major element that is way outside the topic of your original post: blacklisting. This was not merely an attempt at censorship via name-calling. It was an attempt (in many cases, a successful attempt) at censorship via active and tangible economic coercion. Could the label “communist” have succeeded on its own? I don’t know: I haven’t read anything on the topic and back then, I was too young to follow the developments on my own.

William C.
user 16367121
New York, NY
Post #: 7
Howdy

I do think name calling is a problem. However I do not think that name calling is equally a problem.
Conservatives do call Liberals a "Liberals". That is because they are Liberals. I do not think that they call Liberals "Liberals" to inhibit their speech. If Liberals think that being called "Liberals" is a perjoritve name then that is because of them. If a Conservative were to call me a Liberal then I would call Conservative a "Conservative". Being called a "Liberal" is not equivalent to being called a "racist".

Being called "ridiculous" is an ad homien, I do not think that Marc was inhibited or felt that you were trying to "censor" his speech.

If a Liberal calls a Conservative a "racist" then the Conservative can deny that he is a "racist". The Conservative can ask the Liberal to prove his claim that he is a "racist" or the Conservative can reply that the Liberal is a "racist".

Being called a Communist during the Mc Carthy era, as well the in the 20's, and 30's had consequences. A person who was called a Communist could lose his job as well as be socially ostracized by friends and family.

A person who was accused of being a Communist could suffer the same as well as be prosecuted and or harassed by law enforcement.

I think that the fear of Communism-Communists was excessive. I think it bordered on a phobic paranoia.
This is not to say that there was no reason to fear Communism-Communists but that it was "excessive."

Of course now I have the benefit ot 20/20 hindsight.

I remember watching a program on T.V. as a child called "I Led Three Lives."

I Led Three Lives

I Led Three Lives

I think that there are at least two forms of censorship. I think that there is a "social" censorship and "legal" censorship.

For example, I would not call a Muslim a "raghead" or "camel jockey" or "sand monkey". Unless I lose my temper. I try to censor myself. While I do have the legal right to do so, that does not mean that I should exercise that right.

"Legal" censorship however would make it a crime for me to call a Muslim a "raghead" or "camel jockey" or "sand monkey".

Legal censorship and social censorship are NOT "equivalent".

A former member
Post #: 9
"Conservatives do call Liberals a "Liberals". That is because they are Liberals. I do not think that they call Liberals "Liberals" to inhibit their speech. If Liberals think that being called "Liberals" is a perjoritve name then that is because of them."

I think we've seen many many instances to the contrary in the past including the recent past and will see many more in the months ahead.

Bill
user 2341848
New York, NY
Post #: 195
William Carter said "Being called a Communist during the Mc Carthy era, as well the in the 20's, and 30's had consequences. A person who was called a Communist could lose his job as well as be socially ostracized by friends and family."

People frequently lose their jobs because of policitally incorrect speech in the current times. Speech in the workplace is tightly monitored, and people lose their jobs so frequently that it does not make the papers.

A few years ago, I wrote some software at work. I was told to come up with a good usage example for it. The usage example had to be a good illustration of the power of the software. I gave an example of how, if a terrorist's PC were captured, the software could be used to rapidly search the computer, prioritizing files for how suspicious they were, based of the occurrence of words like "gun", "bomb", "jihad", and "Allah". My boss chewed me, out, reported me to his boss and his boss's boss, and sent me to HR to be further chewed out for speech "insensitive" to Arabs. I feel I was quite innocent, but it's clear that if someone were making really racist statements in that sort of environment, one could lose his job. Also, in my workplace, every couple of years we have to take training or watch a video making it absolutely clear that politically incorrect speech in the workplace will not be tolerated.

-- Bill
A former member
Post #: 10
I gave an example of how, if a terrorist's PC were captured, the software could be used to rapidly search the computer, prioritizing files for how suspicious they were, based of the occurrence of words like "gun", "bomb", "jihad", and "Allah". My boss chewed me, out, reported me to his boss and his boss's boss, and sent me to HR to be further chewed out for speech "insensitive" to Arabs. I feel I was quite innocent, but it's clear that if someone were making really racist statements in that sort of environment, one could lose his job. Also, in my workplace, every couple of years we have to take training or watch a video making it absolutely clear that politically incorrect speech in the workplace will not be tolerated.

Can't speak for others who read that but I'm certainly wondering where you work or worked and do have one guess, but I'll refrain from blurting it out in an open forum.

Anyway, this does raise a vital point that is separate from the blog with which you seeded this discussion. Now we're talking about serious and often much more potent censorship in the from of clear-cut economic-professional pressure, a bit like the McCarthy era.

What's intriguing about your example, and so many more like it, is that it is outside stereotypical notions of censorship by government (I assume your job was in the private sector; I may be wrong in your case, but even if so, there are many instances in which situations like that do occur in the private sector -- including the company I thought of as per above). There is, I think, too little appreciation nowadays of the extent to which threats to individual liberty occur not at the hands of an oppressive government but in the context of the corporate world, where employment at will is commonplace and the bill of rights does not apply absent some limited legislative interventions.
William C.
user 16367121
New York, NY
Post #: 8
William Carter said "Being called a Communist during the Mc Carthy era, as well the in the 20's, and 30's had consequences. A person who was called a Communist could lose his job as well as be socially ostracized by friends and family."

People frequently lose their jobs because of politically incorrect speech in the current times. Speech in the workplace is tightly monitored, and people lose their jobs so frequently that it does not make the papers.

A few years ago, I wrote some software at work. I was told to come up with a good usage example for it. The usage example had to be a good illustration of the power of the software. I gave an example of how, if a terrorist's PC were captured, the software could be used to rapidly search the computer, prioritizing files for how suspicious they were, based of the occurrence of words like "gun", "bomb", "jihad", and "Allah". My boss chewed me, out, reported me to his boss and his boss's boss, and sent me to HR to be further chewed out for speech "insensitive" to Arabs. I feel I was quite innocent, but it's clear that if someone were making really racist statements in that sort of environment, one could lose his job. Also, in my workplace, every couple of years we have to take training or watch a video making it absolutely clear that politically incorrect speech in the workplace will not be tolerated.

I don't know how frequently people will lose there jobs in current times because of politically "incorrect" speech.

I will agree that at the workplace speech is monitored.

How did you find out politically incorrect speech frequently leads to someone losing their jobs?

I am also not sure that your example is about free speech.

I would suspect that the reason that your boss, et al chewed you out because your using "jihad" and "Allah" as parameters-search words in the program that you wrote. Using those words would produce results that could be seen as being "Islamophoic" or bigotry towards Muslims.

When I was at my job and we got access to the Internet guidelines-company policy were given.

We could not use the computer to play games while we were supposed to be working.

We could not use the computer to make passes at women.

We could not use the computer to place bets at the racetrack.

We Could not usethe computer to access pornographic websites.

We could use the computer to access personal emails as long as we did it within reason.

We could use the computer to play games during our breaks or lunch.

Everybody knew the guidelines. There was a comany news letter gave examples of people being disciplend for voilating the guidelines. In the most egregious cases people were dismissed.

Despite this violatings of the guidelines continued.

Eventually Verizon security blocked access to the world net.

It is my understanding that a company does have the legal right to restrict what can and can't be said, what can and can't be accessed at the workplace.

I certainly can understand that you think that you were treated unfairly and were "innocent".

As my dear sainted mother told me "LIFE IS UNFAIR.".

While you were "chewed out" you wasn'T FIRED.

While I was working at Verizon every so often I had to attend lectures given by HR personal on what is considered to be politcally "incorrect" by the company.

While it was boring I still got paid. Aside from the guidlines I posted we were told to be courteous when we dealt with customer's and company employees.

The bottomline is that your weren't fired for writing your....politically incorrect(?) program.

Marc

"
I think we've seen many many instances to the contrary in the past including the recent past and will see many more in the months ahead."

I have no doubt that those slack jawed, inbreed, Republicans will use....polemical rhetoric in the upcoming election. Attack ads will be many.

However I am sure that Democrats will not stoop to the level of Republicans. wink







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