Freedom of expression

Listening to Bob and Tom show on the radio this morning and they had a 3 or 4 comedians in conversation with them….and it kept coming up over and over whether they could say certain things or how they could say certain things to be ok for broadcasting over the air. I could only think about 1)how our founding fathers would be rolling over in their graves if they could hear this. 2) how the # of instances and circumstances when free speech rights were limited are growing and how self imposed censorship is rampant, 3)how much creativity is limited by this obsession with controlling speech 4) that these are professional radio people that have been doing this for 30 years and they are struggling ON THE AIR to try and figure out what is ok and what isnt. To me this is awful and shameful.


18 Responses to Freedom of expression

  1. hypothesis says:

    What kind of words or subject matters were being censored?

    Words and subject matter that I would not say or discuss in front of my child, mother, etc. for the sake of decency is one thing. We’re they referring to things other than that kind of censorship?

  2. aposteriori2 says:

    How in the world can we possibly try to control what every son or mother or parent would think is offensive – what if people have a belief system that says that replacement words are just as offensive as the words they have replaced because they basically MEAN the same thing or the same thing is intended – so then you – if you held that beleif system, wouldnt say or discuss “darn” “shoot” “son of a gun” in front of your mother or child – and then they wouldnt be able to say those things on the radio? What if someone decided that Cheney was a racist and that DISCUSSING racists is indecent – then saying or discussing Cheney on the radio is indecent – it becomes impossible – freedom of speech isnt freedom of DECENT speech – it has to be inclusive or it doesnt work – endangering public safety – ok, I understand that – “yelling fire in a crowded theater”
    Picking and choosing what is free speech would be like saying that we have freedom of religion in this country except for the Catholics – it just doesnt f-ing WORK that way…..but we COULD say that a religion based on murdering people is forbidden….same as yelling fire in a crowded theater… I am not saying that there arent ANY limits – I AM saying that you cant pick and choose when it comes to freedom of……Freedom of the press EXCEPT for stories that might offend Oil Companies because that would hurt our economy – that would be ridiculous and would totally screw up freedom of the press…….so, in my opinion, you just may have to TEACH your kids to not listen to morning radio if your goal is to protect them from indecency…..and to make sure your mother is aware that morning DJ’s can get pretty crude… me a small price to pay for freedom and liberty and it may help one build a better relationship with their kids and their mother!

  3. hypothesis says:

    We certainly cannot “control” what every parent thinks is offensive and I would never suggest such a thing. However, censorship in the name of decency has always been done, is being done, and will, to some extent or another, be done.

    As far as “darn,” “shoot,” and the like, there is no chance that those phrases or words would ever be considered so offensive as to be censored. If history has taught us anything, it has shown that the envelope of what is considered “decent,” or at least “acceptable,” is ever widened, nearly never shrunk.

    As for POLITICAL free speech (including the politics of CAPITALISM or CORPORATISM), there should be no limits, although certain words should be self-censored in the name of decency where appropriate. The political message can still be conveyed (and some would argue, better conveyed) with the appropriate language for the appropriate audience.

    Censorship in the name of “common decency” is one horse. Censorship in the name of “political correctness” is a horse of a different color.

    But just remember, I do not believe the federal government should even be involved in radio or television regulation in the first place, other than where patents and copyrights are concerned.

    In your ideal world a child could walk down the street and a bunch of television screens in the department store window could be exhibiting hardcore pornography, depictions of rape, or depictions of torture and murder and that would be acceptable?

    You often speak of the “common good.” If anyone could ever define that term, then one could, to the same degree, define “common decency.”

  4. 1crazygurl says:

    I think the introduction of censorship and its glorified weirdness is a joke…here in New Zealand we have the most morally stunted people running our censorship systems, and who can set a moral compass for all anyhow? What I see and feel is acceptable for my 2 children will be far and away more lax than that of my sister and her 6 kids. Even within the same households people can have almost extreme views on what is and is not consumable for public, or private, viewing and digestion. I loath horror movies and see them as gratuitous, yet am intrigued to read forensic pathology manuscripts and study the psychology of serial killers. What? you may say…yes a conundrum within the one person, so since when do we give and accept any other persons opinion about what we should like, dislike, accept or reject? I think the responsibilities for social conscience across the board are being taken, even wrestled, from the arms of those who they are supposed to protect, affect, benefit or conform…we the general public. Screw the censors, say what you want, mean what you say, and be prepared to reap the consequence of opening your mouth! It is after all what you wish to express, and if you choose not to due to the situation, the company you are in or timing, all well and good…that’s your choice.

  5. aposteriori2 says:

    I have a lot to say on this topic and little time to say it – the thing that keeps “floating to the top” is about how people respond differently to input and also how the human condition includes unpleasant and horrific things and what happens to people and society when we try to supress that reality.

    I keep thinking that the child that walks past the department store window could see a graffic depiction of torture and could turn out to be a major figure in some new Anti – Torture movement – could be the Gandi of an international movement against torture and so viewing torture accidently on television could in fact go a long way in dealing effectively with the horrors of torture in our world.

    It would be over the top to say that this is an argument for exposing kids to graphic torture – my point is that there is no way to control or engineer the cause and effect when human motivation is involved and the impact of things on people and on our culture – we are dichotomous and anything and everything could go “either way” or to any point in between!

    more later when I have more time!

  6. hypothesis says:

    You and I both know that in human psychology repetition breeds desensitization.

    We’re not talking about an accidental one or two times exposure to something the “common people” would consider unfit for children; we’re talking about what counts as the “norm” of what is “decent” or “acceptable.”

    In the world you envision, children would be bombarded with such language, images and information regularly. You seriously do not believe that would have a net negative effect on the vast majority of children? Seriously? As they become desensitized, what they find “acceptable” as parents later in life (let alone as adults sent off to war perhaps) would probably be worse and their children would get worse yet, and so on until what is left of “civilization”? Is that the world you want to live in?

    I do not believe anything and everything could go either way. That notion is absurd to me.

    Would you not agree that children who are abused by adults in many cases (most cases?) were themselves abused when they were children, and likewise the children they abuse are more likely to abuse others?

    Could go either way is one thing. Most likely to go a certain way is another.

  7. aposteriori2 says:

    Do you really think that the only thing that could balance and mediate what children are BOMBARDED WITH CONSTANTLY is external censorship? Where did I say that we as a society would be bombarding children with these things constantly?

    I remember when many parents were concerned that playing Pinball was going to f up the youth of the nation and ruin society before that it was Jazz and then Rock and Roll and Video Games now I guess oh yeah Hip Hop – turns out that it is greed and the love of money that is killing kids in Iraq before the Jazz and Rock and Roll and Pinball games could work it’s evil

    Just because one isnt controlled externally doesnt mean that we would choose to do something constantly

    I beleive that freedom is a good thing – and I dont believe that the only thing saving us from some hell on earth that you envision is CENSORSHIP!

    Also desensitization may not be a bad thing – it could be the thing that conteracts this society of fear that is growing and growing

    Also – not sure how libertarian your fears of being free from censorship are – I probably dont understand

    You have a point about “most likely going a certain way” which is why I said that it would be over the top to think that some kind of systematic exposure to torture would be advisable for children….my point is that we cant engineer everything and know that this will directly cause that – that it isnt that simple and it isnt that set in stone – our super villians and our super heros are made from similar “exposure” as you call it

  8. hypothesis says:

    Sex and violence, real or imagined, triggers reactions in the human brain. Advertisers and marketers know this quite well. Even with the restrictions in place now, the envelope is ever expanding.

    Certainly when there is any censorship, sometimes things are going to be censored that probably shouldn’t be. Time eventually remedies that problem (like Elvis shaking his hips). Just as having a justice system at all ensures that sometimes some people are going to be convicted unjustly. The alternative is to have no justice system at all.

    As for people being constantly bombarded, I never said you said that, but that is what would happen if there was no censorship. If you don’t think so, then you have a much better opinion of the masses than I do.

    And freedom is a good thing, but only when balanced with responsibility.

    As for the libertarian view, I suppose many would say there should be no censorship whatsoever (except in the case of public safety), just as you do. However, as I don’t subscribe to any “one way” of thought, I may or may not agree with all tenants of libertarianism – I’m no expert. But in any case, I am certain the Libertarian Party would agree that there is no room for the FCC or any regulation, such as we are discussing, by the federal government. That would be subject to which Amendment X would apply; powers reserved to the states or the people.

    And I am most certain Amendment I was meant to cover free speech of a political nature. Again, censorship in the name of “common decency” is different than censorship barring political opinions and ideas.

    I’m not sure what you mean about the super heroes and villains though.

  9. hypothesis says:

    And what about libel?

  10. hypothesis says:

    Also, the Constitution of Michigan states:

    ” Every person may freely speak, write, express and publish his views on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of such right; and no law shall be enacted to restrain or abridge the liberty of speech or of the press.”

    There is that pesky word “responsible” again.

    Freedom must be balanced with responsibility.

  11. hypothesis says:

    Take, for instance, so-called “campaign finance reform.”

    The Constitution of the United States of America states:

    “Congress shall make no law […] abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;…”

    So Congress, as clearly stated, should have no say-so whatsoever about who can donate how much to which campaign, yet, here we are “legally” restricted from donating more than a certain amount to certain candidate’s campaigns. That is a SERIOUS violation, abridgement, and infringement of our freedom of speech. The petty squabbles over the F word, the B word or the N word, are merely emotional distractions used to divert our attention from true unconstitutional violations of our freedom of speech.

    And don’t even try to argue that money doesn’t talk!

  12. aposteriori2 says:

    I dont believe that the only alternative to a justice system that convicts people unjustly is no justice system at all – that is all or nothing thinking …..there are thousands of options between the two – I understand that you are saying that with any system in place there are possibilities for errors – but that kind of thinking brings on a mindset of accepting errors and excusing them…..think of it as a paradigm shift instead of thinking of it as a logical exercise of there being the possibility of error in any system.

    I dont believe that simple “exposure” as you call it directly causes anything…..if that were the case then watching one commercial for any product would cause us to use that product and I would be drinking Vernors Ginger Ale and I dont like it and dont drink it 🙂

    Even calling it “exposure” is accepting that frame… it “experiencing the human condition” and it takes on a different sense about it.

    Again, no time to expound right now, but the fact that if you pay your money that you can see movies that have all these things in them at the theater is another part of this topic….so it isnt about public decency if it is perfectly legal for me to buy a ticket to an NC17 movie and legally see the things that we are proportedly protecting society from.

    Also, violence on the network news programs……the movie will have all kinds of edits for television taking out swear words and taking out violent scenes – but Channel 7 action news has killing and war and urban strife from the first sentance that the newscaster speaks sometimes up until weather. So if this is so important for public decency, why such easy to find exceptions?

    I understand freedom of speech for political speech and have no beef about the need for it.

  13. hypothesis says:

    Aren’t there a thousand options in between no censorship and total censorship too?

    When it comes to “experiencing the human condition,” mistakes and errors are realities. I can shift my paradigms into full overdrive or even into reverse, but that won’t change this human reality.

    And I was not referring to “simple exposure,” I was referring to repetitive exposure. Even though you do not like Vernors, you still drink pop don’t you? Some of the details of the effects of repetitive exposure may vary, as in Pepsi, Coke, Dr.Pepper, Vernor’s, etc., but you still got the message that pop tastes good and is refreshing.

    NC17 – NO CHILDREN under 17 years of age. This is not public radio where any child with access to it can just turn it on and turn the dial and listen to whatever is out there. Yes, someone has to pay to see NC17 or even XXX rated movies and shows. Am I to understand that you don’t agree with this either?

    The violence shown on the news is one of the necessary evils, if you will, of political free speech. But even then, the vast majority of violence I’ve seen on the news is usually the damage done after the fact and not the actual violence taking place. Even television news self-censors for the sake of decency and perhaps so people don’t throw-up in their Cheerios at brinner. But they still make sure the blood and gore is shown sometimes because they know the sight of blood causes certain reactions in the human brain.

  14. aposteriori2 says:

    There are thousands of options and we use them – noone here is arguing that there shouldnt be some distinctions between children and adults for instance and also the yelling fire in a theater thing….

    My point about NC17 or XXX is that if we are truly concerned about public decency then why would we make indecent things available on a paying basis……if they are indecent for free they would be indecent for money as well….no? Dont tell me that we make people pay as a means of controlling creative output for decency….cable television is another example – if I pay for Howard Stern then it becomes more decent?

    Reminds me of trying to control and limit people who are gay as a way of “saving the family” when divorce is perfectly legal and done freely by conservatives and liberals alike – divorce divides families – so what the heck is up with THAT?

    why would violence on the news impact us any differently than violence as a creative output? I would think that ACTUAL violence would have a greater negative impact than what I will call “creative violence” – if I were seeing actual violence it would be qualitatively quite different then if I were reading about it in a book….

    I have questioned whether I would be a consciencious objector or not – I am certainly against war – not understanding the criterion though – not sure if I can say that I am completely against violence – I like boxing and watch it fully aware that it is violent and I enjoy the ultra violent movies – I can honestly say that I dont believe that the violence in these forms negatively effects me – as Ben has said before …..teaching that violence is an acceptable way of solving problems seems to me to be the issue with violence – I suppose it would be measurable enough to be able to study the effects of “creative violence” not sure how well researchers could do with isolating the variables.

    If showing or telling about violence on t.v. news is bad for us… does showing it get an exception for being political free speech? what is political about reporting violence to sell advertising on television? maybe I am overlooking something about it that would make it qualify as political free speech…..wouldnt a movie using “creative violence” be able to be making a political statement more so than reporting that someone got mugged in the neighborhood??

  15. hypothesis says:

    OK, so you agree that a distinction should be made when applying free speech where children are involved as opposed to free speech when children are not involved?

    To me there is a distinction between what you voluntarily choose to expose yourself (or your child) and what you are exposed to involuntarily. A movie theater is private property and you choose to go in there. You have no need to go in there. There is no chance that you may accidentally see the movie while at the park or strolling down the street. Obviously there are always going to be things you may be exposed to that make you feel uncomfortable, and that is where the shades of gray come in, the “common decency” part of it plays a role. And what is considered “common decency” is, as I have pointed out previously, ever expanding to include all sorts of speech and depictions of behavior that 10 years ago, or even 5 years ago, would have been considered indecent.

    A bunch of men in a back room smoking cigars, drinking whiskey and playing cards, could talk about anything, and it would all be acceptable conversation (or even if it was a group of women for that matter). Introduce a lady into the mix and years ago their language and topics of conversation would have been tempered to a large degree. Today, if a lady were to enter the room, some of the conversation would probably be tempered, but not to the degree it was years ago probably. If a child entered the room, then the conversation would be greatly self-censored by the men, at least I’d hope it would!

    If you go into a shopping mall and there are large video screens throughout the mall, you are pretty much going to see what is on the screen. It would be very difficult not to see it and even more difficult to prevent your child from seeing it. That would be an example of a public display on private property in which there were no restrictions upon who could enter and view the images. That is a lot different than paying money to see a rated movie in a theater.

    As for “limiting gays” and the ease of divorce, there was a time when it was much harder to get a divorce and there was a time when it was much more difficult to be gay and live openly as gay. Again, the envelope is ever expanding to encompass more and more previously “taboo” behaviors and ideas. As soon as “common decency” dies, then all speech will be totally free, as you wish. But also, when “common decency” dies, I also believe the “common good” will be in the same coffin.

    Not all violence is bad; not all peace is good.

    As for children being exposed, there are many studies and findings out there. Here is one example:

    Assuming the only purpose of TV news is to sell advertising, then the motive for airing the violent content is questionable. But when it is displayed as a way to show people the truth of what is happening in the world around them, then it is political in nature. Even here, on TV news, as I pointed out previously, attention is still paid to what is acceptable and what is not. They simply do not show everything they have on tape.

    Valor: strength of mind or spirit that enables a person to encounter danger with firmness : personal bravery

    1: the quality of being discreet : circumspection; especially : cautious reserve in speech
    2: ability to make responsible decisions
    3 a: individual choice or judgment
    3 b: power of free decision or latitude of choice within certain legal bounds
    4: the result of separating or distinguishing

    “The better part of valour is discretion…”
    ~Falstaff in King Henry the Fourth, Part I by William Shakespeare

  16. aposteriori2 says:

    Are we making a distinction here between “free speech” and “censorship” – would strong effective social disaproval about discretion and public decency suffice? Would it develop the collective spirit to the point that censorship wouldnt be used? Freedom to do the right thing? – is there ever a time when what might be considered “indecent” was actually accepted as art? I have heard that one of the major criticisms of Christians in the first century was that the crucifix was seen as a crude and tasteless symbol in that society – that it would be the equivelent of using an electric chair or a gas chamber as a symbol today…..I dont mean to make this a moving target so I hope it isnt coming across that way…..another thing that keeps poping into my brain is that there is a warning on McDonald’s coffee “caution – contents hot” as a result of a law suit that someone won after being burned by McDonald’s hot coffee – instead of someone taking responsibility for not burning themselves on hot coffee… censorship the socially lazy way out? If the state censors things between people then we dont have to learn to live with each other effectively and then we are divided and conquered?

  17. aposteriori2 says:

    The other issue that I just realized got lost in the mix is that the radio personalities that started this whole thread for me WERE trying to do the right thing (at least on the surface as far as I can tell) and the censorship was so vague and obviously important but ambiguous enough that they truly seemed to be struggling to comply and it was totally messing up the flow of the conversation – they werent being “shock jocks” and pushing the envelope and trying to get away with everything they could – it was this creativity killing externally regulated mess that they were struggling with – when there was “the code” in the 1930’s film makers started to use more subtle methods of getting their points across in movies – but they had the code and knew what they were “up against” ….before the 1930’s by the way – film was far more risque about sexual issues than it has been for most decades since – so I question your characterization of things ever expanding outward to less “common decency” (accepting your frame as “common decency” or was it my frame?) I believe that in fact it is probably cyclical.

  18. hypothesis says:

    I know what you mean. Coca~Cola had real cocaine in it at one time too.

    I don’t know about early film. When something is brand new, it may take some time to find the initial boundaries of what people find acceptable.

    To me, the whole “common good” notion is as dangerous, if not more dangerous, than censorship in the name of “common decency.”

    Many things have been done in the name of the “common good” that created a lot of common bad.

    As for radio personalities, the federal government should butt out! Get lost! Scram!

    I’m not so sure that suing for physical injury belongs in this conversation(?).

    The state censoring things between people? Like what? The F word?

    I’m really curious as to what Bob and Tom were specifically confused about.

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