Author Topic: Religion and freedom of speech  (Read 2397 times)

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Gail

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Religion and freedom of speech
« on: March 23, 2013, 05:17:44 AM »
In my twitter timeline there's an interesting debate about religion. One of the people I follow likes to argue about that theme, and right now the subject is Easter. Among the different arguments there was an image with the following text:

Implicit in Right to Freedom of Expression
is
RIGHT TO OFFEND
I have the right to
Offend your sacred symbols
Offend your sensibilities
Offend your emotions and feelings
Offend your country, your institutions and your governments
Offend you leaders, your political parties and administrators
Criticize and ridicule your religion, your customs and your traditions
Hate your guts and what you stand for

I know that, in general, one should try not to offend other people, and that ridicule another one's religion is rude. But I was thinking about personal opinions. Let's say that I support gay marriage, and that my companion is offended by that comment. Or we are discussing politics, I say that the X party is useless and my companion is offended by this. So, where do you draw the line? Do you take back your comment about your belief (even though the other person does talk about hers) or you defend your right to speech?
The last time I said what I was really thinking there was an "intervention".

sweetonsno

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Re: Religion and freedom of speech
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2013, 05:50:18 AM »
Well, the fact that you have a right to do something doesn't mean that you should, or that it is the right thing to do. I believe that certain topics should be off the table in certain situations. One should not bring up abortion, same-sex marriage, the draft, or any other powder keg/can of worms as a topic of casual conversation.

To me, the line is quite simply respect and tact. Are you expressing your beliefs in a way that show that you understand and honor that others may have arrived at a conclusion different from yours? Saying, "I support gay marriage," while it does express a clear opinion on a somewhat divisive topic, does not disrespect or diminish the opposing viewpoint. Saying that a particular political party/religion/other group is useless is dismissive and rude.

You should not apologize for having an opinion, nor should you retract your beliefs. However, if you are disrespectful to others while you express your beliefs, you owe them an apology for that. It really depends entirely upon your delivery.

If you have simply stated your belief ("I support same-sex marriage" or "I prefer the Purple Party"), it would be illogical and unreasonable for your friend to be offended. If you have added an editorial remark about people who disagree with you ("Anybody who opposes same-sex marriage is a poopyhead" or "Only a deluded fool would support the Orange Party"), then it would be reasonable for your friend to be offended, as you have potentially just called her a poopyhead or a deluded fool, neither of which is particularly kind.

In the first instance, I would ignore the listener's offense, or remind her that we are both entitled to our beliefs and that we are grown-ups and able to discuss them calmly (or perhaps suggest that we take the topic off the table if it becomes too wrought). In the second instance, I would certainly apologize for the name-calling. "You're right. There's no need for me to say nasty things about Oranges/whatevers. I'm sorry that I did, even though I do think they are wrong about their beliefs." Then change the subject.

kherbert05

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Re: Religion and freedom of speech
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2013, 06:11:33 AM »
Your (general) right to freedom of expression/religion ends when
1. I can't walk away from you
2. You are on my property
3. You try to deny other people  human rights because you are a bigot. You can believe what you want - the government is not violating your rights by giving human rights to people you want to deny rights to.


My principal was sending out these fundamentalist diatribes every Friday. Ordering us to pray to his god and act certain ways according to his beliefs. To me this fell under the category I can't walk away. I had to assume he had his bosses' approval because they were on the distribution lists. A group of 15 of us were fed up. I sent them to several civil rights groups to find out where we stood. One of them sent a letter to the Superintendent, Principal was called up on the red carpet, and must now have any communication approved by his immediate boss. Immediate boss and Superintendent claimed they hadn't read any of 36+ diatribes that he had sent them. I think they are lying.


He has the right to say every hate mongering thing he said - just not as the principal of my school. I've had a couple of discussions with the Tech people at my school because they wanted me to use my google and twitter accounts for school stuff. I was already using them to advocate my political activity. I refuse to muddy the waters. I use different accounts for school and politics.


A certain church group has a no trespass order against them at my grocery store. They tried to claim that it was a public forum because both scout groups, various youth groups, and others are allowed to sell cookies/popcorn/coupon books. The difference when I'm putting my groceries in my trunk the Girl Scouts don't block me in with a van, slide open the door, and have 2 men jump out to strong arm me into buying thin mints. The religious group did. The men were lucky I did not grab something heavy out of the trunk and slam it into their heads- they scared me that much. The grocery store doesn't wait till they start - if they are seen the cops are called.
Don't Teach Them For Your Past. Teach Them For Their Future

Virg

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Re: Religion and freedom of speech
« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2013, 07:56:51 AM »
It's very possible to be rude in doing things that you have a legal or moral right to do, so the statement listed above is accurate (at least in the U.S.) but still wouldn't excuse rudeness.  And as always, retaliatory rudeness is still rude, so even if someone does these things rudely to you, it wouldn't excuse being rude to them.  One can defend their views without being rude, even if those views offend the sensibilities of the listener.

Virg

Piratelvr1121

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Re: Religion and freedom of speech
« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2013, 08:18:59 AM »
It brings to mind the saying "Your right to throw your fist ends at my nose."
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars.  You have a right to be here. Be cheerful, strive to be happy. -Desiderata

Oh Joy

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Re: Religion and freedom of speech
« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2013, 08:31:10 AM »
Courtesy and rights are different criteria entirely, just like evaluating something on volume versus weight.  I often see a confusion on EHell.

I just know that when I see a bumper sticker criticizing any current or former leader or philosophy (and I personally dislike bumper stickers in general) I smile because it reminds me that I live in a beautifully-privileged country.

Thipu1

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Re: Religion and freedom of speech
« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2013, 09:56:00 AM »
The Right to Free Speech technically gives a person the right to offend others.  However, the offender must be prepared to be offended in return.  This is not a good way to go. Recrimination back and forth only leads to nasty fire-fights.

People can engage in religious or political discussion if they confine their speech to their own beliefs.  It's fine to say, 'I believe in evolution'.  'I support same-sex marriage', 'I back the X Party' or 'I'm a member of Y religion'. 

The problem comes when the other partner in the discussion presents a cat-butt-face and says, with a sniff, 'Well, that's your opinion but I KNOW THE TRUTH!!!'. 

At that point, useful discussion is at an end. 

Open-minded and civil discussions of political and religious topics can educate both sides of the debate.  Each can learn from the other.  We don't expect a conversation to change the mind of the other person.  We just hope that our adversary might think a little bit differently about things.  We'll certainly think about what he or she said. 



« Last Edit: March 23, 2013, 10:10:31 AM by Thipu1 »

magician5

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Re: Religion and freedom of speech
« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2013, 10:08:33 AM »
I believe that, for the most part, the OP's "right to offend" statement was written in response to religious edicts demanding punishment (even death) for making statements "offending" certain faiths, and several nations' anti-blasphemy laws, as well as laws against "offending" the nation's government or king. These edicts and laws came both from Christian and Islamic nations.

In that light, as a freedom-of-speech issue, IMO the statement is perfectly legitimate. However, in the arena of interpersonal relations, such a combative stance would clearly never be polite. I know there is some difference of opinion about when politeness is (and isn't) called for.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2013, 10:11:08 AM by magician5 »
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*inviteseller

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Re: Religion and freedom of speech
« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2013, 10:19:33 AM »
The right to freedom of speech came from people being persecuted for talking about/practicing  their religion, and the desire in the formation of the United States to allow people to practice their religion without fear of said persecution.  It, IMO has been twisted into "I can say whatever vile and heinous thing about a person, place or thing no matter where I am and no one can do anything because an amendment says I can!"  I have relatives that I have discussed politics with on FB,,some of us are one party, some are the other.  While these discussions have been spirited and intense, they were always polite, and usually humorous until one cousin and a friend of his decided it was time to 'put me in my place' over my 'stupid remarks' that made them think I needed "severe mental health treatment" because I had a view different then theirs .  This was in response to me just posting something I felt that was in no way for/against a party or agenda.  When they got called on their rather vicious comments towards me, they said "it is our first amendment right to tell her she is stupid and mental." 

hyzenthlay

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Re: Religion and freedom of speech
« Reply #9 on: March 23, 2013, 10:25:33 AM »
I know that, in general, one should try not to offend other people

This applies in polite company or social gatherings. It's weight in business dealings is much reduced, and it has even less bearing in political discussion.

I would not consider many online forums and threads to be 'social gatherings' unless they are moderated as such. And if an individual or group chooses to make a public stand about a topic they must accept public feedback even if they find that feedback 'offensive.' 

JenJay

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Re: Religion and freedom of speech
« Reply #10 on: March 23, 2013, 10:28:00 AM »
The right to freedom of speech came from people being persecuted for talking about/practicing  their religion, and the desire in the formation of the United States to allow people to practice their religion without fear of said persecution.  It, IMO has been twisted into "I can say whatever vile and heinous thing about a person, place or thing no matter where I am and no one can do anything because an amendment says I can!"  I have relatives that I have discussed politics with on FB,,some of us are one party, some are the other.  While these discussions have been spirited and intense, they were always polite, and usually humorous until one cousin and a friend of his decided it was time to 'put me in my place' over my 'stupid remarks' that made them think I needed "severe mental health treatment" because I had a view different then theirs .  This was in response to me just posting something I felt that was in no way for/against a party or agenda.  When they got called on their rather vicious comments towards me, they said "it is our first amendment right to tell her she is stupid and mental."

I had something similar go down on my own facebook wall. The culmination was the "capable of a healthy debate" people telling the "if you disagree with me then you're wrong" person that the right to free speech means you can say what you want without being arrested. It does not mean you can say what you want without other people thinking you're a jerk and telling you to shut up. lol

Yvaine

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Re: Religion and freedom of speech
« Reply #11 on: March 23, 2013, 10:38:12 AM »
The right to freedom of speech came from people being persecuted for talking about/practicing  their religion, and the desire in the formation of the United States to allow people to practice their religion without fear of said persecution.  It, IMO has been twisted into "I can say whatever vile and heinous thing about a person, place or thing no matter where I am and no one can do anything because an amendment says I can!"  I have relatives that I have discussed politics with on FB,,some of us are one party, some are the other.  While these discussions have been spirited and intense, they were always polite, and usually humorous until one cousin and a friend of his decided it was time to 'put me in my place' over my 'stupid remarks' that made them think I needed "severe mental health treatment" because I had a view different then theirs .  This was in response to me just posting something I felt that was in no way for/against a party or agenda.  When they got called on their rather vicious comments towards me, they said "it is our first amendment right to tell her she is stupid and mental."

I had something similar go down on my own facebook wall. The culmination was the "capable of a healthy debate" people telling the "if you disagree with me then you're wrong" person that the right to free speech means you can say what you want without being arrested. It does not mean you can say what you want without other people thinking you're a jerk and telling you to shut up. lol

This!  ;D If there were one thing I'd like to convey to, oh, 99% of the Internet, it's that freedom of speech is not the freedom from disagreement. Disagreement is, in fact, more speech! I see arguments all the time where Person A says "Politician is a scumbag!", Person B replies "You're an idiot," and Person A responds with "You're trying to stomp out my freedom of speech!" Facepalm!

Sharnita

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Re: Religion and freedom of speech
« Reply #12 on: March 23, 2013, 10:45:55 AM »
Looking at the type of speech the OP mentions I am thinking about things like art which submerges a cross in urine or people burning the scriptures of a religion they disagree with.  They might be correct that they have the legal right to do that in the US but that to me that is not just speech or expressing your belief.  That is taking pleasure in inflicting pain on those who disagree with you.  The pain isn't physical but it is still pain. I don't know how I would respond if I saw a post along those lines.  I think that even if I weren't the target I would likely defriend the individual, especially if I saw examples of the philosophy in action.

*inviteseller

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Re: Religion and freedom of speech
« Reply #13 on: March 23, 2013, 11:13:55 AM »
It is not just discussions on the internet that people use their 'rights' to spew venom, it is hate groups and certain people who hide behind their 'right' to spew racist, misogynistic,  and anti religious rants even to the point of threatening behavior then saying the amendment says I can do this!!!  Our founding fathers must be rolling in their graves to see what their words have been twisted to.  Yes, my cousin can say all he wants when I disagree with him, and we just think he is a fool, but when , say, a certain group out of a midwest state travels around with their speeches, to me that is crossing a line from freedom of speech into threatening behavior.  I love to debate with others over differing points of view, you can learn things and possibly have your own opinions change and I am not easily offended but there has to be some sort of line when it crosses from protected into threatening.

mmswm

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Re: Religion and freedom of speech
« Reply #14 on: March 23, 2013, 11:32:23 AM »
I tell my children that yes, they have a right to free speech, even speech that offends, however that right does not absolve them from consequences.  Those they offend also have rights.  They have the right to refuse your company.  They have the right to have you removed from their property.  Unless they are a government agency, they have the right to refuse you service.  Rights come with responsibilities. If we fail to take care of our responsibilities, our rights soon become meaningless.