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Andres Aullet


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Why is freedom of speech so vastly different in the USA compared to the rest of the world? What does that mean in today's global culture?

Well, i may be exaggerating when i say "so vastly different", but it is my inalienable right to lie and exaggerate if that helps to get my point across.

Or is it?

Is there a limit to the amount of insults or lies i can utter in order to get a point across? or worse off, not even to get a point across, but simply to provoke a reaction on certain audience?

One of the main differences between the way freedom of speech is understood in the USA and elsewhere, is the concept of "hate speech".

Seems to me that in the USA, all the responsibility is passed to the listener, to remain rational in the face of lies and provocations, and never indulge in the most minimal reaction (other than use hate speech back).

Being a parent, I can say with certainty that not everybody can control their irrational impulses equally. Teenagers, in particular, are prone to act first and think later. And this has been known and exploited for centuries.

Can someone honestly claim innocence when making a speech that is capable of provoking this kind of out of control reaction in someone? Isn't that one of the things that could get you accused of treason, for example, when your speech incites people to rebel against your own government?

Now, to the second part of my question. Jurisdiction. If i say something that may be protected by free-speech in the USA, but which may not be protected as such in a different country (due to their differing definition of "hate speech", for example), under whose jurisdiction does this speech fall? Can someone honestly claim that they innocently released a comment on the internet for "domestic consumption only", and that they are not responsible of its international repercussions?


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    Sep 17 2012: Not everything is allowed by the 1st Amendment. There are restrictions which are based on people's reactions to words. The Supreme Court has ruled that speech that involves incitement; false statements; obscenity; child pornography; threats; and speech belonging to others are not guaranteed by the First Amendment. Commercial advertising is not fully guaranteed 1st Amendment protection. I count six exceptions. Insults are not on the list. Annoying words are not listed. American citizens are free to publically communicate any idea within the boundary of the six exceptions. God Bless America!
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      Sep 17 2012: Hi Edward... thanks for your answer... it is illuminating and it sends me back to doing some more homework, now to learn more about these six exceptions, that i find quite agreeable to begin with.

      Specially interesting i find your point about commercial advertisement not fully guaranteed 1st amendment protection

      Can you think of any reason why we should NOT teach our children respect for others as strongly as we teach them about freedom of speech?
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        Sep 17 2012: Because, the restriction of freedom of speech, involves escalating, from hate speech to violence.

        The hidden cost of "respect", is violence. In a society, where it is legal to call someone a Nazi... but not legal to punch someone in the face for calling you a Nazi... When the police get involved, they apply violence, to violent force. In a country where calling someone a Nazi is illegal... The police apply physical force, in reaction to simple noise.

        Why is this important? Well, especially in a country with freedom of religion, this is essential, because there are numerous religions, which regard the use of force, or violence, as the single greatest sin a human being can indulge in. In order to have a country composed of every religion, it is important, that the government not be capable of being seen as truly evil.

        Also, I would suggest it turns masculinity into a struggle for financial and social power, rather than physical strength. Freedom of speech encourages non violence... at great cost, and detriment to society at times. Andrew Sullivan said something akin to "Freedom of speech doesn't protect ideas everyone is comfortable with... Freedom of speech is the right for the Irish parade to not allow gay people, AND my right to protest outside of it... Not one or the other"
      • Sep 17 2012: "Can you think of any reason why we should NOT teach our children respect for others as strongly as we teach them about freedom of speech?"

        No. I was taught that respect for others comes first. The reason that is not reflected in our laws is to provide for freedom of public debate. It would be impossible to come up with a good legal definition of what might be disrespectful; respect and disrespect are too subjective.
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        Sep 18 2012: If I take the liberty of reversing the question and ask, "Should we teach our children to never disrespect another person?" I say yes. My point here is that some folks live in such a way as to make it impossible to respect them. In such cases it is best to be quiet. There is a Christian principle which says we may have liberty to say, or do certain things, but it is not right to exercise that liberty at the expense of another's feelings or well being.
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          Sep 18 2012: I completely agree. I would only add that we can't force, other parents to teach their children to respect others. We do our best to lead by example, and as you suggest remain quiet, especially in America, where they have the right to raise their child, really well, or really poorly.
      • Sep 18 2012: "Can you think of any reason why we should NOT teach our children respect for others as strongly as we teach them about freedom of speech?"

        Yes certain healthy respect is good to teach given that person deserves one. Some people abuse respect or demand respect regardless of their actions. I think one needs to earn respect rather than expect respect because they have certain position in their family or society. That way leaders lead because of their skills and characters rather than because of respect?

        I also think that freedom of speech should not be limited if it is in conflict with respect. We need to be able to criticize any idea and believe system in order to have healthy and just society that can continue to evolve its laws.

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