The 4 Freedoms Library

It takes a nation to protect the nation

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_speech#Limitations

Limitations[edit]

For specific country examples see Freedom of speech by country, and Criminal speech.

Legal systems recognize limits on the freedom of speech, particularly when freedom of speech conflicts with other values or rights. Limitations to freedom of speech may follow the "harm principle" or the "offense principle", for example in the case of pornography or hate speech. Limitations to freedom of speech may occur through legal sanction or social disapprobation, or both.[20]

Members of Westboro Baptist Church have been specifically banned from entering Canada for hate speech.[21]

In On Liberty (1859), John Stuart Mill argued that "...there ought to exist the fullest liberty of professing and discussing, as a matter of ethical conviction, any doctrine, however immoral it may be considered."[20] Mill argues that the fullest liberty of expression is required to push arguments to their logical limits, rather than the limits of social embarrassment. However, Mill also introduced what is known as the harm principle, in placing the following limitation on free expression: "the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others."[20]

In 1985, Joel Feinberg introduced what is known as the "offense principle", arguing that Mill's harm principle does not provide sufficient protection against the wrongful behaviors of others. Feinberg wrote "It is always a good reason in support of a proposed criminal prohibition that it would probably be an effective way of preventing serious offense (as opposed to injury or harm) to persons other than the actor, and that it is probably a necessary means to that end."[22] Hence Feinberg argues that the harm principle sets the bar too high and that some forms of expression can be legitimately prohibited by law because they are very offensive. But, as offending someone is less serious than harming someone, the penalties imposed should be higher for causing harm.[22] In contrast Mill does not support legal penalties unless they are based on the harm principle.[20] Because the degree to which people may take offense varies, or may be the result of unjustified prejudice, Feinberg suggests that a number of factors need to be taken into account when applying the offense principle, including: the extent, duration and social value of the speech, the ease with which it can be avoided, the motives of the speaker, the number of people offended, the intensity of the offense, and the general interest of the community at large.[20]

In 1999, Bernard Harcourt wrote of the collapse of the harm principle: "Today the debate is characterized by a cacophony of competing harm arguments without any way to resolve them. There is no longer an argument within the structure of the debate to resolve the competing claims of harm. The original harm principle was never equipped determine the relative importance of harms."[23]

Kurt Westergaard, a Danish cartoonist, created the controversial cartoon of the Islamic prophet Muhammad wearing a bomb in his turban and, because he expressed his opinion, he met with strong violent reactions from Muslims worldwide, including Western countries. Westergaard has even received numerous death threats and murder attempts from Muslims. Even though he used his right of freedom of speech, since he lives in a society where this right exists, he was harassed by people who were intolerant of criticism.[24] Similarly, Noam Chomsky, the MIT professor and vociferous critic of Israeli and U.S. policies, has received numerous death threats.[25]

Interpretations of both the harm and offense limitations to freedom of speech are culturally and politically relative. For instance, in Russia, the harm and offense principles have been used to justify the Russian LGBT propaganda law restricting speech (and action) in relation to LGBT issues. A number of European countries that take pride in freedom of speech nevertheless outlaw speech that might be interpreted as Holocaust denial. These include Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, and Switzerland.[26]

Norman Finkelstein, a writer and professor of political science expressed the opinion that Charlie Hebdo's abrasive cartoons of Muhammad exceeded the boundaries of free speech, and compared those cartoons with the cartoons of Julius Streicher,[27] who was hanged by the Allies after World War II for the words and drawings he had published. In 2006, in response to a particularly abrasive issue of Charlie Hebdo, French President Jacques Chirac condemned "overt provocations" which could inflame passions. "Anything that can hurt the convictions of someone else, in particular religious convictions, should be avoided", Chirac said.[28]

In the US, the standing landmark opinion on political speech is Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969),[29] expressly overruling Whitney v. California.[30] In Brandenburg, the US Supreme Court referred to the right even to speak openly of violent action and revolution in broad terms:

[Our] decisions have fashioned the principle that the constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not allow a State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force or law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or cause such action.[31]

The opinion in Brandenburg discarded the previous test of "clear and present danger" and made the US citizen's right to freedom of (political) speech almost absolute.[32][33] See First Amendment to the United States Constitution for more detailed information on this decision and its historical background.

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Replies to This Discussion

There is a difference between freedom of speech; the written and spoken word; and freedom of expression which can be physical; such as sticking a knife into someone to make a point. Where do death threats and murder attempts lie in this? Muslims regard the killing of those that insult Islam to be justifiable homicide and not unlawful. 

How do you judge the severity of a death threat?

Holocaust denial is a punishable offense in some countries.

Should sex parades be banned because they cause offense to some?

Julius Streicher was hanged after WWII for the Jew-hate words and drawings that he published during the Nazi era.

I support the view that it is actual physically harmful deeds that should be punished and unlawful; not words, no matter how threatening, insulting or revolting. I’ve seen some really nasty sadistic stuff in my time.

So what do I do about death threats, especially when I know that they are seriously intended? Insults I can ignore, but threats of physical harm, do we have to wait until they become real attempts at physical harm before they are termed illegal?

“In the US, the standing landmark opinion on political speech is Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969),[29] expressly overruling Whitney v. California.[30] In Brandenburg, the US Supreme Court referred to the right even to speak openly of violent action and revolution in broad terms:

[Our] decisions have fashioned the principle that the constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not allow a State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force or law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or cause such action.[31]

The opinion in Brandenburg discarded the previous test of "clear and present danger" and made the US citizen's right to freedom of (political) speech almost absolute.[32][33] See First Amendment to the United States Constitution for more detailed information on this decision and its historical background.”

August Strindberg went to trial twice for his work, once for blasphemy, the other for obscenity.   He was tried in Sweden for blasphemy. Strindberg was overseas at the time, and was not going to attend the trial, but as his publisher was to stand trial in his absence, Strindberg returned to Sweden to face the charges.  When his train arrived at the station, a large crowd had gathered to greet him.  When he was acquitted,  there was a galla dinner held in his honour.

Thanks, very useful.  I think the US model, allowing the incitement of violence, is too permissive. And the European model, restricting speech based on a plaintiffs whinging about being offended, is clearly open to abuse, and is so subjective as to show a deficit of intelligence in the legislation drafters.

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Mission Overview

Most Western societies are based on Secular Democracy, which itself is based on the concept that the open marketplace of ideas leads to the optimum government. Whilst that model has been very successful, it has defects. The 4 Freedoms address 4 of the principal vulnerabilities, and gives corrections to them. 

At the moment, one of the main actors exploiting these defects, is Islam, so this site pays particular attention to that threat.

Islam, operating at the micro and macro levels, is unstoppable by individuals, hence: "It takes a nation to protect the nation". There is not enough time to fight all its attacks, nor to read them nor even to record them. So the members of 4F try to curate a representative subset of these events.

We need to capture this information before it is removed.  The site already contains sufficient information to cover most issues, but our members add further updates when possible.

We hope that free nations will wake up to stop the threat, and force the separation of (Islamic) Church and State. This will also allow moderate Muslims to escape from their totalitarian political system.

The 4 Freedoms

These 4 freedoms are designed to close 4 vulnerabilities in Secular Democracy, by making them SP or Self-Protecting (see Hobbes's first law of nature). But Democracy also requires - in addition to the standard divisions of Executive, Legislature & Judiciary - a fourth body, Protector of the Open Society (POS), to monitor all its vulnerabilities (see also Popper). 
1. SP Freedom of Speech
Any speech is allowed - except that advocating the end of these freedoms
2. SP Freedom of Election
Any party is allowed - except one advocating the end of these freedoms
3. SP Freedom of Movement
The government can import new voters - except where that changes the political demographics (i.e. electoral fraud by means of immigration)
4. SP Freedom from Over-spending
People should not be charged for government systems which they reject, and which give them no benefit. For example, the government cannot pass a debt burden across generations (25 years).
An additional Freedom from Religion is be deducible by equal application of law: "Religious and cultural activities are exempt from legal oversight - except where they intrude into the public sphere (Res Publica)"

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