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Sun Jan 18, 2015, 03:11 PM

I have to disagree with Bill Maher about boycotts and free speech

I consider myself a very strong advocate of free speech and free expression in general, in that I don't want government interference in free expression. Beyond the usual exceptions against "yelling 'fire!' in a crowded theater", libel, slander, and very clear and direct incitement to violence, there's little or nothing in the category of personal expression for which I accept restrictions or penalties enforced via the power of the state.

For the most part, in fact, I think I'd generally be more likely to piss people off for what I wouldn't want banned by government authority (like "hate speech" than for stifling free expression.

Further, I certainly don't accept private citizen's interfering with free expression through violence or intimidation.

But what about boycotts or other economic pressure against what is perceived as offensive, stupid or hateful free expression, protest by purely lawful and non-violent decisions not buy products, watch TV shows, participate in events, etc.?

Bill Maher's example was boycotts against Rush Limbaugh and his sponsors. He equated participating in such boycotts as being a poor defender of free expression.

Bullshit, I say.

The way I see it Rush Limbaugh's right to free expression, or my right or your right, doesn't include the right to large audience, it doesn't include a right to having other people facilitate, economically or otherwise, the dissemination of anyone else's message.

I support the right to this form of protest by private citizens even when it goes after free expression that I support. If people refuse, say, to go to Disney World or watch a Disney movie because Disney promotes gay rights, so be it. I consider such people to be flaming assholes, but flaming assholes acting well within their rights, not enemies of free expression unless, in addition to their boycott, they champion laws that would forbid Disney from expressing a pro-gay rights position.

The right of free expression certainly doesn't come with a right to a warm, friendly reception for your message something frequently forgotten on the internet, including by many who post on DU.

Other people are not infringing upon your right of free expression by using their own right of free expression to vigorously and loudly disagree with what you say. While it might be a violation in some cases of posting guidelines or other forum-specific rules of conduct, it is not a violation of the principle of freedom of expression for one person to disagree with another in a very disagreeable way, including saying things intended to make a person feel stupid or ashamed for what they've said.

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Response to Silent3 (Original post)

Sun Jan 18, 2015, 03:16 PM

1. I disagree too, but I can understand his bias on this topic.

 

He did, after all, lose his job because of his "free" speech.

Extra baffling because the show was called "Politically Incorrect" and he got fired for saying something politically incorrect!

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Response to Silent3 (Original post)

Sun Jan 18, 2015, 03:21 PM

2. There are always free speech and free commerce solutions to speech one finds offensive.

 

Exercising rights to free speech to criticize offensive speech and exercising rights to free commerce to boycott those who are offensive are basic human rights.

Bill Maher is fucked in the head.

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Response to Silent3 (Original post)

Sun Jan 18, 2015, 03:22 PM

3. A boycott is an act of free expression and free speech.

I boycott Fox News. I boycott the History Channel because they scraficed history for profit. A long time ago, I boycotted California Grapes. If I need a product, I consider the manufacterer's working conditons, their stand on equal pay, and where they donate money.

I disagree with Mahr.

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Response to Silent3 (Original post)

Sun Jan 18, 2015, 03:23 PM

4. I agree.

 

Freedom of speech does not grant freedom from reaction.
Carried out far enough, bullying would be perfectly okay.

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Response to Silent3 (Original post)

Sun Jan 18, 2015, 03:25 PM

5. I'm a big believer in free speech...

but boycotting someone who espouses views that disgust you is as American as apple pie. Bill Maher wants to be sure that he can be as offensive as he wants with absolutely no repercussions. That's great as it pertains to government intervention, but there's nothing to stop people from voting with their dollars.

Oh, and Bill Maher is an ass.

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Response to Silent3 (Original post)

Sun Jan 18, 2015, 03:51 PM

6. Too many people

believe free speech applies to citizens speaking out and offending others. It really means the Government can't arrest you for speaking out ( in most cases). When a person says something offensive, he can and does suffer consequences from other citizens. Bill had it ass backwards.

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Response to Silent3 (Original post)

Sun Jan 18, 2015, 04:20 PM

7. Since you leapt to gay issues, I will say that the Rush Boycott strikes me as a tad much out of a

 

bunch of people who were perfectly happy to have denigrating hate preachers all over Obama's campaign right up to the Inaugural. I mean, Rick Warren called gay people pedophiles, criminals and compared our relationships to incest three weeks before Democrats honored the fuck out of him in front of the entire bloody world on live TV.
So while Rush sucks, people who invite a guy who calls me terrible names are a bit hypocritical when they claim to always stand against denigrating speech.
Last week I watched DUers empathize with the killers in Paris 'they had been denigrated, what did the cartoonists expect to happen' they asked. But they also casually demanded that LGBT people fully accept and watch honors be given to a man who denigrated us.

So boycott if you want, but don't think that those who are attacked by the hate speech you do not stand against don't notice the hypocrisy and lack of concern in our direction.

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Response to Bluenorthwest (Reply #7)

Sun Jan 18, 2015, 04:38 PM

8. There's nothing about free expression that requires consistency

You're using your free expression to point out where you think you see hypocrisy in other people's actions and free expression.

That's how it should work.

If you're somehow saying that people are hypocrites about gay rights if they don't support "hate speech" laws, I can see why you might want such laws, but I don't see where you've made a good case that limiting free speech that way is the only (or best) way to either help the cause of gay rights or avoid hypocrisy.

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Response to Silent3 (Reply #8)

Sun Jan 18, 2015, 04:59 PM

10. Uh, no. I oppose hate speech laws. Let me put it another way. I'd feel better about those who get

 

'upset' by Rush or some cartoons if they were not extremely casual about venomous language that comes from politics and religion.
If you are ok to have a Party that uses McClurkin and Warren, but moved to action about a radio show that says something. Perhaps the boycott is very righteous. I despise Rush. But to me, once you invite a guy who trash talks others to be your officiate, it's hypocritical to boycott someone for trash talking others. 'If you use denigrating speech toward others we will either boycott you or hire you as our official surrogate'.
The people who keep inviting creeps to trash talk me are boycotting another creep for trash talking others. What they should be doing is not inviting people to trash talk me.

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Response to Bluenorthwest (Reply #10)

Sun Jan 18, 2015, 05:41 PM

15. I myself am certainly not casual about "venomous language...

...that comes from politics and religion". I'm not sure where you draw the line at being "extremely casual", however.

I thought Rick Warren at Obama's inaugural was disgusting, and said so, but, unlike how I feel about the bile that pours forth from the mouth of Rush Limbaugh, I could see how that choice could have made as a misguided attempt at national unity via an olive branch to the Right, where the presence of Warren certainly didn't have to be construed as an endorsement of all Warren stood for.

I don't see consistency requiring me to "boycott" Obama to anywhere close to the same degree and extent as Rush Limbaugh.

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Response to Silent3 (Original post)

Sun Jan 18, 2015, 04:48 PM

9. What an odd thing for him to say.

I had to look it up to get some context, because the position that participating in boycotts stifles free speech just doesn't make sense to me.

But he did indeed say this. He actually defended Limbaugh and called those that use boycotts to pressure him "babies".

Just another in a series of stupid statements by Maher.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #9)

Sun Jan 18, 2015, 05:12 PM

12. I say boycott, but people who boycott Rush while praising the Pope are clearly saying anti gay trash

 

talk is perfectly acceptable to them, just not Rush. So Rush is very bad, of course, and we boycott him for saying nasty mean things about others. But we also honor Rick Warren as we did, just a couple of weeks after he said extremely nasty,mean things about LGBT people. When we objected, we were told we 'wanted a pony' and this Party bowed it's head and prayed with a man who had just now finished calling me a criminal and much worse. So Rush is very bad. So he is boycotted. Does this then mean that Warren, speaker of hate, is good because he is not boycotted and instead rewarded? It sort of follows that it does.
So while I know everyone loves the Pope, I find his words extremely offensive toward LGBT people. Extremely. He is celebrated. Not boycotted. Says I am disordered, our relationships disfigure God he now says. This is vile. He is celebrated on DU.
So I'm just saying. If the things said by Warren and by the Pope warrant praise and reward, and apparently they do, then to boycott Rush for similarly denigrating speech it is worth noting that Rick Warren got the opposite of a boycott for calling gay people criminals, pedophiles and equating our relationships to incest. That means something. It's not nothing to allow the verbal abuse of some by some while pretending to be champions of truth and kind speech for all.
'If you use foul words to denigrate others and play dishonest politics, we the Democrats will either boycott you or hire you as official Presidential surrogate, depending."

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Response to Bluenorthwest (Reply #12)

Sun Jan 18, 2015, 05:25 PM

14. You would have a point if I could find anything at all to support

about Rush Limbaugh. Anything. But since I can't, the analogy doesn't work for me.

I like some of the things the Pope says and hate others. I'm not going to "boycott" him because I think it's important to keep nudging him in the right direction.

I think I could use an 18 wheeler and not move Limbaugh an inch.

Not eveyone loves the pope. I don't love the pope and I object to much that he says, including this weeks remarks about marriage.

But it seems that you would not be satisfied with anything other than full throated hatred. That's not going to work for me. I am going to celebrate him when he does and says the right things.

You can choose to support or boycott anyone you want. I don't think there is anything most people could do here that would satisfy you. You are surrounded by allies, not enemies.

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Response to Silent3 (Original post)

Sun Jan 18, 2015, 05:07 PM

11. I was discussing the same thing with my husband as we were watching that segment.

I found his point of view really off base, and kind of ridiculous.

Boycotts are a perfect example of free speech and participating in them is the free market economy at work. Sometimes companies need that invisible hand to slap them in the face...

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Response to Silent3 (Original post)

Sun Jan 18, 2015, 05:18 PM

13. "Free speech" is about what the government can (or cannot) prevent you from saying;

 

boycotts are about what the public chooses to listen to. IMO Maher doesn't understand the topic well enough to opine on it. Rush can say whatever he wants, but we have to STFU about it to be considered real liberals? Puhleese.

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