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Question: Which of the following is the limit statements below and including which should be punished by the state (or otherwise justifiably responded to with violent force) and statements above which should be allowed?
I don't like people with blue eyes. - 3 (3.9%)
People with blue eyes have a negative impact on society. - 0 (0%)
The world would be better off without people with blue eyes. - 1 (1.3%)
I think people with blue eyes should leave the country or kill themselves. - 1 (1.3%)
I approve of people doing something (or "People should do something") to push against those blue-eyed scum. - 3 (3.9%)
I approve of people going out and killing those blue-eyed scum. - 5 (6.6%)
You, [specific person], should go and kill five blue eyed people right now. - 9 (11.8%)
If you, [specific person], kill five blue-eyed people right now, I'll give you 200 bitcoins. - 24 (31.6%)
All of the above should be legal. - 30 (39.5%)
Total Voters: 75

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Author Topic: The free speech poll  (Read 7378 times)
cbeast
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February 17, 2012, 02:31:20 PM
 #61

I think maybe english isn't your first language? That is what the original question asked (besides "the state" part).

I'm not sure how you say no serious ethics discussion would include this question when it's meaning was interpreted by the majority of people to be exactly what you proposed. There was just a miscommunication between the OP and you due to the (apparently) ambiguous wording.
OK, here's the question.
Which of the following statements do you believe is the limit at which should not be punishable by the state? By expressing a limit, it's not a false dichotomy of an all or nothing choice. For instance, I don't have a problem with someone singing a song that "I hate ****." Hate is as meaningless word anyway. If I said I hate blue eyes, that would not make a good argument, so I don't say such things. If someone does say that, I would be willing to listen to their argument why they would say such a thing before judging (and probably laughing at) them. I will not tolerate anyone advocating to murder without presenting an argument of threat. If someone does say that, I will listen to their reasoning to see if there is a legitimate threat, but if not, then corrections are in order. If someone calls to action without going through that process, then they themselves are a threat and should be sanctioned. The OP is a slippery slope. The OP is obviously promoting the notion that running your mouth off is considered free speech. In the words of Harlan Ellison, "Everybody has opinions: I have them, you have them. And we are all told from the moment we open our eyes, that everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. Well, that’s horsepuckey, of course. We are not entitled to our opinions; we are entitled to our informed opinions. Without research, without background, without understanding, it’s nothing. It’s just bibble-babble. It’s like a fart in a wind tunnel, folks."

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February 17, 2012, 03:50:36 PM
 #62

can those statements be uttered without being a contract?
Of course they can. For example, the statements were made in the formulation of this poll, yet no-one thinks the pollster was trying to form a contract.

You can go to any pub in my city on a Friday or Saturday night, and you will hear statements such as these, and it's obvious that it's rhetoric rather than an offer to contract.
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February 17, 2012, 03:55:30 PM
 #63

can those statements be uttered without being a contract?
Of course they can. For example, the statements were made in the formulation of this poll, yet no-one thinks the pollster was trying to form a contract.

You can go to any pub in my city on a Friday or Saturday night, and you will hear statements such as these, and it's obvious that it's rhetoric rather than an offer to contract.
WTF kind of neighborhood do you live in?

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February 17, 2012, 05:31:09 PM
 #64

Person A: "I will give 200 BTC to anyone who kills blue eyed people"
Person B kills 5 blue eyed people.
Person B: "OK. Done. Now give me the BTC"
Person A: "No, sorry. Obviously it was only a joke."

That's the reason why Person A should be punished. Obvious jokes are not alyways obvious.

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February 17, 2012, 05:37:12 PM
 #65

I am missing an option:

If you, [specific person], don't kill a blue-eyed person right now, I'll kill you, and after that I'll let someone else kill a blue-eyed person.

For most things, I am quite a free-speech fundamentalist, but this one makes me doubt, since, if [specific person] believes the threat, it effectively removes choice from him, and turns him from an ethical being into an instrument of murder. This means that the choice, and hence responsibility, is shifted from [specific person] to the person who made the threat. This is different from the 200 Bitcoin example, because that would still leave choice to [specific person].

So, saying the above is, IMHO, an attempt of murder, using [specific person] as an instrument of murder. If [specific person] actually kills a blue-eyed person, I think the punishment for the murder should be shared between the two. I haven't completely figured out how it should be shared: I think it all depends on the alternatives that are available to [specific person]: more choice means more responsibility. Those alternatives are not necessarily limited to what he has been told to do.

In an extreme case, the 200 Bitcoin example could be equivalent, e.g. if [specific person] needs those 200 Bitcoins to survive, and has no more ethical means of obtaining them. I assumed this was not the case.

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February 17, 2012, 06:16:53 PM
 #66

If you, [specific person], don't kill a blue-eyed person right now, I'll kill you, and after that I'll let someone else kill a blue-eyed person.

For most things, I am quite a free-speech fundamentalist, but this one makes me doubt, since, if [specific person] believes the threat, it effectively removes choice from him, and turns him from an ethical being into an instrument of murder.

I disagree. [Specific person] still has a choice. To drive that point home, imagine if [Specific person]'s target was to be [Specific person]'s five year old daughter.

In this situation, if I felt the threat was real and intended, I would attempt to remove the threat.

I expected this response. Yes, [specific person] still has a choice. But can you blame him for the murder, if there really is no other option, such as removing the threat? I'd say most people would would rather kill another person (not if it's their daughter, but that was not the question) than being killed (although I could be wrong on that). That doesn't make it right, but it does mean that the threat can reliably turn a human being into a murder weapon. So, it does mean that more responsibility lies in the hands of the person who made the threat.

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February 17, 2012, 07:03:44 PM
 #67

wow.. interesting question.. didn't vote though, because I am in doubts.

free speech in its extreme could have negative consequences.. so should we rather fight consequences or freedom of speech that causes them?

even if it was a joke about 200 bitcoins.. it could be misunderstood by killer. in fact, the public message doesn't need even to mention blue-eyed people or bitcoins.. literally any message being exposed to billions of people can cause some random crazy guy to pick up a gun and commit a murder.

and both (the 'joker' and the 'killer') could have moral justifications for their actions (even though most of you wouldn't agree with them).

if nobody enforces common moral and everybody supports free speech in its extreme, then probably this should be considered to be "OK situation" (you know.. different people have different moral.. it's a pity, of course, that they ate your leg.. but that's how they live.. and you better don't go there and protect yourself)

it sounds scary, but maybe our world is much more scary (we just prefer not to think about it).


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February 17, 2012, 07:43:23 PM
 #68

I'm amazed.

You guys really are debating whether its OK to incite someone to murder or to tell someone you will pay them to murder.

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February 17, 2012, 08:05:31 PM
 #69

You guys really are debating whether its OK to incite someone to murder or to tell someone you will pay them to murder.

A murder is just an example. Just replace "murder" with "having homosexual contact" or "denying God" or anything else... There are people that think that murder is not as bad as the latter two...

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February 17, 2012, 08:08:07 PM
 #70

Quote
You, [specific person], should go and kill five blue eyed people right now.

75% think this is OK.

And the best excuse you can come up with is "Murder is just an example - some people think homosexuality is just as bad."

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February 17, 2012, 08:15:13 PM
 #71

Quote
which should be ... justifiably responded to with violent force

If you, [specific person], kill five blue-eyed people right now, I'll give you 200 bitcoins.

Even if you consider this "conspiracy" or "incitement" and/or a form of aggression, there is still the principle of proportional response to consider. How would one defend the claim that violence, of any sort, is a proportional response to a spoken statement, however threatening?

Threats matter when it comes to contracts because contracts agreed to under duress are void. They also matter when it comes to self-defense, as one consideration in determining whether there is an imminent risk of irreversible harm. Outside of those domains, only deliberate harm can justify a violent response, because only then is a violent response proportional to the offense.
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February 17, 2012, 08:25:34 PM
 #72

Quote
which should be ... justifiably responded to with violent force

If you, [specific person], kill five blue-eyed people right now, I'll give you 200 bitcoins.

Even if you consider this "conspiracy" or "incitement" and/or a form of aggression, there is still the principle of proportional response to consider. How would one defend the claim that violence, of any sort, is a proportional response to a spoken statement, however threatening?

Threats matter when it comes to contracts because contracts agreed to under duress are void. They also matter when it comes to self-defense, as one consideration in determining whether there is an imminent risk of irreversible harm. Outside of those domains, only deliberate harm can justify a violent response, because only then is a violent response proportional to the offense.

If someone is organising a murder, violence is a proportional response.  There is no ethical rule that says you can defend yourself against the person killing you but not against the person hiring people to kill you. 

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February 17, 2012, 08:48:39 PM
 #73

If someone is organising a murder, violence is a proportional response.  There is no ethical rule that says you can defend yourself against the person killing you but not against the person hiring people to kill you.  

Very convincing argument. So I am still in doubts..

1. If Alice hires Bob to kill Tom, then Alice is obviously responsible for murder (as Bob is).
2. If Alice says Tom doesn't deserve to live and Bob kills Tom, then... Is she responsible?
3. If Alice says she doesn't like Tom any more, and Bob kills Tom...

Update:

If someone is organising a murder, violence is a proportional response.

Or maybe not.... Maybe organizing protection (such as talking to a person, calling police, buying a gun, escaping) is a proportional response.

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February 17, 2012, 09:06:01 PM
 #74

If someone is organising a murder, violence is a proportional response. There is no ethical rule that says you can defend yourself against the person killing you but not against the person hiring people to kill you.

I disagree. If they "organized" it, but didn't actually commit the murder, then any violent response is proportional only to an action (actual murder, not just offering money to someone else to commit murder) which the target of the response never took. Naturally, if you chose to "organize" a murder of your own in response it would be governed by the same rules, so you are free to respond in kind. However, anyone who chooses to accept your hit job would be acting just as aggressively as whoever chose to accept theirs; they could not claim self-defense, even as your agent, any more than the first party's hit man could shift the blame onto his employer.
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February 17, 2012, 09:38:45 PM
 #75

If someone is organising a murder, violence is a proportional response. There is no ethical rule that says you can defend yourself against the person killing you but not against the person hiring people to kill you.

I disagree. If they "organized" it, but didn't actually commit the murder, then any violent response is proportional only to an action (actual murder, not just offering money to someone else to commit murder) which the target of the response never took. Naturally, if you chose to "organize" a murder of your own in response it would be governed by the same rules, so you are free to respond in kind. However, anyone who chooses to accept your hit job would be acting just as aggressively as whoever chose to accept theirs; they could not claim self-defense, even as your agent, any more than the first party's hit man could shift the blame onto his employer.

What you are saying is that its wrong to forbid someone ordering a killing but perfectly ok to organise a killing yourself.  So if the intended victim tries to retaliate, they are morally equal to the person who organised the killing.

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February 17, 2012, 11:41:11 PM
 #76

I'm amazed.

You guys really are debating whether its OK to incite someone to murder or to tell someone you will pay them to murder.

Gah, morals/=law.
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February 18, 2012, 05:08:05 AM
 #77

Quote
You, [specific person], should go and kill five blue eyed people right now.

75% think this is OK.

And the best excuse you can come up with is "Murder is just an example - some people think homosexuality is just as bad."

You keep saying this.

75% think there should be no law banning the statement.

I would wager the percent of people on this forum that "think it's OK" would be lower than the general population of any given society.

The difference is, most people on this forum don't believe a law should exist just because they don't think something is OK. Consider: in a forum full of committed pacifists, the number of people who would not agree with a law banning the statement would be 100%.


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February 18, 2012, 08:41:09 AM
 #78

Quote
You, [specific person], should go and kill five blue eyed people right now.

75% think this is OK.

And the best excuse you can come up with is "Murder is just an example - some people think homosexuality is just as bad."

You keep saying this.

75% think there should be no law banning the statement.

I would wager the percent of people on this forum that "think it's OK" would be lower than the general population of any given society.

The difference is, most people on this forum don't believe a law should exist just because they don't think something is OK. Consider: in a forum full of committed pacifists, the number of people who would not agree with a law banning the statement would be 100%.



Well I can agree with you on that.  75% of respondents think there should be no law against ordering a killing or paying for a killing. 




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February 18, 2012, 10:29:01 AM
 #79

Even if you consider this "conspiracy" or "incitement" and/or a form of aggression, there is still the principle of proportional response to consider. How would one defend the claim that violence, of any sort, is a proportional response to a spoken statement, however threatening?

So even if someone walks up to you with a gun clearly in his pocket (assume that such gun carrying is normal and acceptable where you live) and says "give me $200 or I'll shoot you" it's not OK to attack him first? I'm all for free speech, but once you start taking things this far and outlawing preemptive strikes I really think we're entering into "evil will always defeat good because good is dumb" territory.

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February 18, 2012, 11:37:11 AM
 #80

So even if someone walks up to you with a gun clearly in his pocket (assume that such gun carrying is normal and acceptable where you live) and says "give me $200 or I'll shoot you" it's not OK to attack him first?

I doubt it. She doesn't really want to kill you, she just really needs your money (that's why she takes the risk of threatening you). Anyway it is more rational to give her $200 than to risk your life.

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