Thursday, June 12, 2008

Here is another thing about America on which Americans themselves do not realize they are different from the rest of the world: Very strong adherence to free speech.


  1. hi, i wonder about one thing: you wrote about the reference to oncle toms cabin in a german newspaper and said something like this would never happen in the states. wouldnt you call that selfimposed censorship? please dont understand me wrong, i belive that the ban on promoting vilolence or racisim ( by any means - newspaper, speech etc) is the right thing. but nowadays i have a feeling that saying something 'unpatriotic' is de facto baned.
    i think it was similar during the red scare, or would you call that time a time of unhindered free speech?
    what i want to say is: maybe the freedom of speech is valued in the states but it is not protected as many people like to point out: for example the miller test would be considered censorship in europe. to my knowledge there it is not forbidden to say fuck or something similar sex related on tv. ot take the internal security act, which prohibits promoting dictatorship. i would call that censorship ( but i agree with it). or take the smith act,it is also prohibiting anybody from overthrowing the goverment. for this it is prohibting advocating, teaching, promoting... such things.
    and on top of that all you had (or have?) the comunist controll act which virtually bans a certain kind of thinking. to sum it up i belive you have the freedom of speech in the states but not more but also not less than in other western countries.

    my $0.02

  2. alexander, you would benefit from reading J.S. Mill's On Liberty (1859), which outlines the dangers to free speech imposed by the majority.

    But you are incorrect to say freedom of speech in U.S. is not more protected than the rest of the world. The NYT article should be enough proof of that. As to internal security act, if it were applied to suppress speech it would be held unconstitutional 100 out of 100 times in America.

  3. No wonder there are still racist groups in America.

  4. I read the assay and while I found it interesting I don’t come everywhere to the same conclusions. One phrase however is in my opinion a good conclusion of the whole ‘free speech’ matter:
    “ even opinions lose their immunity, when the circumstances in which they are expressed are such as to constitute their expression a positive instigation to some mischievous act.”

    However I think it should not opinions but only speech because opinions can hurt people, only if they are expressed, verbally or by action, they can hurt people.

    As for the internal security act: how do you define subversive? If I speak up against the status quo or try to overthrow the current system by advising, advertising, teaching or other verbal means I could be considered subversive. Now as soon somebody could be legally considered subversive he had to fear oppression by means of denaturalization, restriction of movement, denied citizenship and so on. Isn’t that a limitation to free speech when you speech might lead to oppression?

    One thing where we might agree is what also the NYT article points out: that in the us, hate speech and racism is not restricted or to be more precise not as much restricted as in other country’s. The main difference is that in the us there must be an immediate danger of violence etc. for the hate speech to be unlawful. So in short the difference is just the grade of oppression solely based on how long does something to take effect.

    About the other parts of free speech especially political speech: the smith act is to my knowledge still active and thus restricting free speech.
    Furthermore the FCC can and does restrict free speech nation wide and on a daily basis. Just try to get on broadcast in the afternoon and say motherfucker ;)
    Based on the decision from 3.7.78 the FCC has the right to restrict obscene or indecent broadcasts. If you compare this to other countries you will find less restricting rulings.

    This leads me to the conclusion that free speech is in the us not more protected than elsewhere. However if you only look in the topic of hate speech and racism: yes, congratulations it is better protected in the us than else were ;)

    further disscussion if you like via email :) (kuzao81 at googlemail)

  5. @noodle: There are still racist groups EVERYWHERE.


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