The other day I read a po￼st from Melanie, over at Sparks From a Combustible Mind, which she wrote in response to a post from Sam “Goldie” Kirk at The Daily Flabbergast, which was titled, “Free Speech — For Me But Not For You.”
I read Melanie’s response and then I read the original post from this Sam “Goldie” person that prompted Melanie’s response. I suspect that my political perspectives are quite different from Goldie’s, a blogger whose posts I’d never read before. But I found her — at least I think Goldie is a her — interesting, especially since my weekly Provocative Question just last week asked, “Do you think Donald Trump should be allowed back on social media now that he’s no longer in office?”
In her post, Goldie asked four provocative questions about free speech:
I answered her questions in a comment I left on her post:
Do you think freedom of speech is in jeopardy?
No. Freedom of speech, as long as it does not include hate speech, inciting or instigating violence, or being abusive, is not in jeopardy. It’s against the law to yell “fire” in a crowded theater, and that is essentially what Donald Trump has been doing since even before the election.
What do you think about people being banned on social media?
Most social media sites publish Terms of Service (TOS), and most such sites include in their TOS prohibitions against hate speech, inciting or instigating violence, or being abusive. Anyone who continually violates these TOS, as Donald Trump has, should be banned from using the site, be they just ordinary people like you and me, or heads of state.
Do you see blocks as helpful or unnecessary?
Because of my answers to the first two questions, I consider them to be appropriate.
What actions do you take to be able to continue sharing your opinions?
I’m not on Twitter, Facebook, or any other of the typical social media sites. I am on WordPress and I have never felt constrained when it comes to sharing my opinions and perspectives. But I don’t use hate speech in my posts, nor do I promote, incite, or instigate violence. So I’m good on that count.
After reading my comment, Goldie asked four follow-up questions, which I thought, rather than responding in a comment, I’d do so in my own post. So here are her questions and my answers:
What do you consider “hate speech?” When can something be described as inciting violence?
Hate speech is any kind of communication in speech, writing, or behavior, that attacks or uses pejorative or discriminatory language with reference to a person or a group on the basis of who they are. In other words, based on their religion, ethnicity, nationality, race, color, descent, gender, or other identity factor.
As to inciting violence, “imminent lawless action” is a standard currently used to define what constitutes a “clear and present danger.” So if the speaker intends to incite a violation of the law that is both imminent and likely, that is inciting violence.
Seems pretty clear to me.
Do you see the Terms and Conditions as black and white rules, or with a lot of gray area?
First of all, I will admit that almost nobody actually reads the social media sites’ Terms of Service. That said, I looked up the Twitter TOS regarding hate speech and ￼violence, respectively:
You may not promote violence against or directly attack or threaten other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, caste, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease. We also do not allow accounts whose primary purpose is inciting harm towards others on the basis of these categories.
You may not threaten violence against an individual or a group of people. We also prohibit the glorification of violence. Healthy conversation is only possible when people feel safe from abuse and don’t resort to using violent language. For this reason, we have a policy against threatening violence on Twitter.
Are these TOS rules black and white, or with a lot of gray areas? You tell me.
Do you yourself block others? Why/why not?
No, the only sites I block are those that are purveyors of spam. I do not block others whose opinions, views, or perspectives are different from my own.
Why is it that you limit your social media use to only WP?
I never saw much point to Twitter and it has become, from what I’ve read about it, a pretty vile place. I do have Facebook and Instagram accounts, but I never post anything on them and keep them active only to see pictures and updates that my now adult kids post to Facebook and Instagram. WordPress keeps me busy.
Okay, folks, if anyone else would like to respond to Goldie’s questions — either her original freedom of speech questions or the ones she posed to me in response to my comment on her original post, have a go at it. You can comment here, write you own post and link back to this one. And you might also wish to link back to Goldie’s original post here.