Its a strange situation, everybody supports free speech, but also huge curtails on free speech have been polled as popular.

I think actually the true strength of free speech, at least in the context of strong democracies is what your wrote, that "in the long run we as a society learn more via an open competition for the best ideas, where anyone can try to persuade us as best they can, and listeners are free to choose what to hear." is not widely known enough, instead, free speech is supported because your taught to memorize that free speech is good in government class. Basically your brainwashed in an extremely authoritarian educational system.

Thus people dont even understand what they approve of, and they generally come to plato's conclusion that "bad" things should be banned and "good things"

Like I tend to think its less weird status games and more good old-fashioned ignorance.

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I've thought about this for a while and have finally made my call on this and I will be the first person to openly say this out loud.

I. Hate. Free speech.

Democracy and free speech are both overrated and I’d personally be happier without them.

Among many other concepts and all aside from their incessant glorifying, these two both needlessly promote a cycle of collective competition of popularity and productivity and demote personal independence and responsibility. Indeed, they are responsible for what is presently our broken, brutal, and bloody two party system of Democrat vs. Republican and Liberal vs. Conservative. I find the notion that humans are required to duel their ideas under the score of dominance is ironically no different than the nationalism of the Britain of yore. Pardon my revisionism, if it be judged so, but instead of as this brilliant beacon of universal freedom, was America not founded on solely as a nation that separated from its dominant collective so that its people could rule themselves?

That am I'm also forced to recognize people that I normally would not; I have to allow people to get in my personal business, for instance.

For what is popular, I can also say the same for what is unpopular. I must reemphasize that we never needed to submit our lifestyles or ideas for nobody’s sake except our own private one. We made them for ourselves and ourselves alone and if we liked them, then we liked them, and if we didn't then we simply changed them. Just because something is considered popular or unpopular does not make them any more or less significant except perceptively in the culture that they form in.

Even originality is unoriginal.

In the end, it does not come down to which is popular or not, and all of our ideas can be considered arbitrary to the outside if found undesirable. Instead of merely serving the ego, it ultimately comes down to simply living our lives to our choosing. If all of this be deemed “Un-American,” “unpatriotic,” or even “unpopular,” in which case I feel that my point has been proven, then go and deem it so.

So yeah, don’t give me those free country and Orwell lines of crap.

Anyway, I think that once you think about it, free speech has nothing to do with anything ever.

Did we ever really need it for anything else except to criticize to government?

I hate how everyone romanticizes how dialogue and compromise can solve everything an the notion is more sinister than idealistic. If you demand or require that two opposing forces, let us say me and you know what for example, become buddies, you deny those people their autonomy and freedom of association and ultimately achieve social conformity. You will have forced people to give up their being of themselves and their ability to fight their own battles. Then again, I once said that if one side is hellbent on keeping another down, then that side doesn’t deserve to be themselves.

This guy here considers it cultural fetishizing.

http://jeffsharlet.blogspot... … logue.html

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I came to essentially this same conclusion in 2001, back before I had a blog. (I then posted my thoughts on the Freedom to Hear as a Personal FAQ, or PFAQ, containing answers to questions of my own choosing.) I later re-framed and tightened the message in The Freedom to Hear, a post on my blog at Open Salon. I think it's great to see others coming to this analysis, too, whether by reading me or by independent thought. Having this transform available allows one to view situations from another angle and gain important insights as to who is benefiting and who is losing in a speech context. I mention the pointers to my own work by way of cross-reference because I have additional examples that you don't offer here, which may enhance your or your readers' understanding of how the analysis can be done. And it applies to Corporate Speech, as in the Citizens United case, I think the core issue I would raise is whether a sufficient flood of dollars by corporations can drown out opposing messages (as in a denial of service attack).

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When I say "ludditic majority", I'm not really making a value judgement. I'm saying that I can access fairly hi fidelity information with little interfering noise via the internet (Robin doesn't even run ads along the side of the page -- something that unintrusve wouldn't bother me), whereas others (the luddites) can't. I'm only saying that many people don't have a reliable means of informing themselves if they're consuming only mainstream media. They don't have to agree with me, but it would nice to think that they ave access to real information via their preferred means of communication, even if I find it ridiculous that they're happy with it.

I don't think there's any relevant distinction between Microsoft and the ACLU -- both are large, organized, have specific interests, and are capable of drowning out individuals. Of course, the ACLU supposedly exists to protect the rights of these individuals and so their interests might be better aligned, but I don't think this matters. Corporations, unions and nonprofits can all articulate their messages to anyone who wants to hear them already, so I don't see the point in allowing them to get any louder. I go to the bar for music, I don't want it coming to me, especially uninvited.

but you are doing the same thing that voters can do (by ignoring the messages)

I agree -- I can leave right now, and all is fine. But I'm saying that I worry this will be changed by the law in question. In a finite world, I can only run so far to get quiet space. I feel that I (and others) should have the right to stake out my ground and decide what messages enter, when I'm in my own private space, and that doing so might as well be easy. Right now, we're using a technology (legislation) to keep everyone speaking the same volume. If we remove that, I have to find a new technology (right now, the internet -- soon, very intense spam filters).

There are two ways to keep a room at a comfortable temperature. I can keep the heater on low, and the AC off, or I can turn both on full blast. Both have the same effect, but one is expensive. I believe (and this is subjective) that legislation was actually working to keep all the voices at reasonable levels. Eliminating it will just invite an expensive filtering tech arms race. Why bother inviting that when there's no real benefit associated with it?

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I've certainly seen more adept uses of the mocking rephrase.

My point is that people don't actually like competition. This includes people who own corporations and, yes, people who run html-based websites. Given the chance, they will quash would-be competitors before they become a threat. They will back policy that raises the barrier to entry for new competition and policy that enables them to generate higher returns- even to the detriment of the general population. Personally, I don't think society is best served when the loudest voices belong to groups with such narrow and explicitly self-serving interests. A person who runs a successful enterprise now shouldn't have more influence than the person who might like to start a successful enterprise in five years, at least to the extent that we can maintain a reasonable balance.

I'm not saying that there's a nice neat line to determine which groups should or shouldn't be able to spend this or that amount of money. I'm not saying existing or recently overturned laws are perfect. But at the very least, I'd say that corporations shouldn't be able to write our fucking legislation.

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Re : DWCrmcm January 24, 2010 at 5:58 am


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How exactly would one go about forming a non-profit without getting thrown into jail for tax-evasion? Non-Profits do make an actual profit but our tax code provides them special exemptions if they follow certain rules about how they operate.

Same go for unions; yes employees can coordinate their actions and act as a group but without the government protects afforded to unions specifically they would still be as vulnerable to employer "retaliation" as individual employees acting alone. The fact that we have such laws supports this.

The whole point of having these "entities" is to garner special treatment for the group of individuals different than that afforded to lone individuals - and such preferential treatment is almost always legal in nature. But, such protections should be additive - adding extra protections that would not normally be present; not (subtractive?) - removing existing protections the individuals already have.

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I think sometimes you try too hard to be contrarian, Hanson.

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"I fear authority-hungry governments, while you primarily fear profit-hungry corporations. IMHO, history provides greater justification for my view."

Might that have something to do with the much longer history of governments than corporations?

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@ bill at the time of our founders, there was no such thing as a corporation. Surprised are you. Framers didn’t know about something, the corporation, whose speech rights they apparently granted.

Main articles: History of corporations and List of oldest companies

[Very long comment cut as we have a 500 word limit here. Just give a link instead of long quotes. RH]

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Weasel, the first part of the comment was an obvious parody of the original post. I was pointing out the obvious similarity to previous claims about who deserves personhood.

Yeah, I got that, I simply found it tasteless and a hair shy of proverbial usenet invocation of Hitler.

I think an important point that no one seems to be discussing, is the fact that even if we deny corporations or (an organization for that matter) the right to free speech, or any other right, the members of that organization as individuals do still posess those rights, and can speak on the organizations behalf if they feel so inclined, so it's not as if said entity deprived of a voice or representation.

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TGGP: I do not disagree with you on your assessment of the reasoning that underlies Brown v. Board of Education. I raised it as a rhetorical point because it was a case that overruled long-standing precedent and is generally regarded favorably.

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On second thought, Bill, I think was overly hasty in reading your excerpt. We can indeed form non-corporate non-profits, just as we can form non-corporate for-profit businesses. We can form political parties without requiring permission from the government, but any third-party proponent will tell you that the law gives significant privileges to the major parties. Simply forming a party is not sufficient to get it on the ballot, you need the government to give the okay for that. And of course non-profits and for-profits have to get the government's permission for all sorts of things. Unions are given some special privileges by the government, and as a result require accreditation which can be withdrawn for various reasons. There are some who view corporations as creations of the state restricted in their function to public interests, but that is a rather marginal view these days. It is now seen as a nexus of contracts, and because they generally don't receive the monopolistic privileges characteristic of the old days of chartered corporations, corporate charters are normally granted when requested. The difference is something like that of "shall issue" vs "may issue" concealed carry statutes.

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Bill, as I said I have no legal training, but your source doesn't seem to have a great grasp of the law. It distinguishes between for-profit corporations, non-profits and unions regarding state accreditation, but that's not actually what distinguishes them. The "Citizens United" case was about a non-profit corporation! They are not that uncommon. Furthermore, unions are accredited by the government. I agree with Kevin Carson that this is a bad policy, but that's how the law currently stand. If that weren't the case there would be no point in the "card check" law ("Employee Free Choice Act") being proposed now.

I think you leapt to assumptions about others adhering to original intent. Rehnquist called himself a "strict constructionist", but that phrase isn't well defined and so not many people identify with it. Originalism used to come in expected applications or intent forms, but liberal thinkers successfully discredited them. The dominant form now is "original [public] meaning/understanding", which is also sometimes called "textualism". This isn't a radically new position either, Lysander Spooner advocated it in his "The Unconstitutionality of Slavery". A good explanation of the different versions of originalism (and non-originalism), combined with an argument for which are supported by the Constitution, is in Chris Green's paper on constitutional indexicals. I actually link to it in the excerpt gwern quoted below, though you'd have to click the link to my post in order to see it.

Securities Guy, I actually do think Brown v Board was incorrectly decided. I'm not completely alone on that, a number of legal scholars have described it as being "the right result for the wrong reasons". I believe Scalia has said that it's simply too important to overturn even if it was wrongly decided. Thomas is less talkative, but commentators have described him as being the only one who would possibly be willing to overturn it. That is because he is a more thoroughgoing originalist/textualist than Scalia, as Scalia himself has admitted.

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I do not deny that the Supreme Court overruled precedent and I'm glad that they did. I feel much less threatened by the prospect that corporations may speak freely than I am by the notion that Congress has the power to ban any type of political speech.

I suppose we should just agree to disagree on this point. Bygones.

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Sorry I offended you with my now declared status as a lawyer.

Here is something from a constitutional law website. You do not have to be a lawyer to read it to understand the Supreme Court overruled precedent:

"In Austin and McConnell, the Supreme Court had ruled that Congress and the States may regulate corporate political expenditures not because of the type of speech or political goals sought by the corporation but because of the very nature of the corporate entity itself. Today, Citizens United sweeps those decisions aside, resting partly on Justice Kennedy's assertion that "Corporations and other associations, like individuals, contribute to the ‘discussion, debate, and the dissemination of information and ideas' that the First Amendment seeks to foster." It is an assertion that Justice Stevens, in his dissent, blasts as a "glittering generality."

The notion that corporations are equivalent to "other associations" is a fundamental error that would get a law student in trouble. Corporations simply do not exist unless we enact laws that enable people to organize a corporation and provide the rules of the road for using a corporation. We all can start and run businesses without government involvement or permission; we can form non-profits and associations and unions and political parties and all kinds of groups without the government. But we simply cannot form or operate a corporation unless the state enacts a law providing authority to form a corporation, and providing the rules of the road that go with use of the corporate form. Advantages of corporations are a privilege provided by government."

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