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Discriminatory acts VS Discriminatory speech
Politics


Speech row rocks multi-ehtnic Canada
This BBC article takes a look at the newly re-framed free speech debate in Canada: group rights versus individual rights, discriminatory acts vs discriminatory words........
xanthippa
Mar 24, 2008
7 votes
8 debaters
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2
Same thing


themind
Mar 24, 2008
1 convinced
Rebuttal
"Action is Eloquence" --William Shakespeare.

I hold that discriminatory words and acts are more alike than different. Words lay the foundation for acts by creating a mindset. I point you to the over-used, yet potent example of the Holocaust. The hatred and dehumanization perpetrated against the Jews were enacted first by the mouth. This made it easier to perpetrate actions with the 'sword.'

Additionally, rhetoric is the ultimate force behind policy making. It is in the words that we choose to use that laws (unjust or otherwise) and wars (unjust or otherwise) are created and destroyed. Words have as much power as action.


 
frankiej4189
Mar 24, 2008
1 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: hottubwille Show

But the two are both prejudice and discriminatory. Acts and words are not directly the same but indirectly similar. Words can be more powerful than action.

Ex. Racism:

You saying black people are lazy is different than not hiring a black man but they both promote the spread of racism. they both promote the attitude that one race is better than the other and deter the racial equilibrium America has been trying to achieve for many years now. Words begin first, but they transcend into action eventually.

 
helpme
Mar 25, 2008
0 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: brivapor Show

Words really do hurt people. Think of the kids who grow up being told how stupid and worthless they are. Scars them for life. Discriminatory speech can do the same.

 
themind
Mar 25, 2008
0 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: xanthippa Show

In the interest of interest, I will not present any long rhetorical analysis in the evidence section of this debate. It would quickly put people to sleep. However, allow me to distill some of the key points of rhetorical analysis:

Rhetoric is the art of using language, especially public speaking, to persuade others. If I use rhetoric to inflame a crowd in the US to imminent violence, I am legally responsible {(US Supreme Court - Brandenburg v. Ohio 1969) The decision of Brandenburg v. Ohio overturned a conviction, but did set the precedent of 'imminent violence' as it's criterion for legal recourse.} The key here is that good rhetoric incites action. A good rhetorician will move his/her audience to DO something. The act of speaking, especially in a public forum, is an ACT, and thus (when discriminatory) is a discriminatory ACT, meeting the criterion of the debate.

Secondly, any influence that a 'self' has on another entity or the 'collective' is an action. Speaking is an action. Writing is an action. Protesting is an action. Discriminatory speech IS discriminatory ACTION.

I hold that any time whe communicate it is an action, and, I guess I don't really understand, Xan, what a lack of opposition has to do with anything Hitler-related...Maybe I am just missing the point there.

I read the debate to mean: "Is discriminatory speech the same as discriminatory action?" Not "is discriminatory speech better than discriminatory action," or "is censorship good."



 
themind
Mar 25, 2008
0 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: thethinker Show

Speech is an act. Acts can (and do) lead to other acts.

If I pull the pin on a hand-grenade (act) and the grenade explodes (act) one act has led to another.

They still are both acts, right? So it is with discriminatroy speech. Just because one follows the other does not mean they are different.

 
frankiej4189
Mar 25, 2008
0 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: thethinker Show

Thats exactly what makes them the same. they have the same outcome. Words can lead to Action and Action can lead to Words. Its essentially the same

 
themind
Mar 26, 2008
0 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: xanthippa Show

Oh. I see. Your point is a good one. But, your rebuttal notwithstanding, speaking constitutes an action. That is my point.

I agree with your assessment of censorship. Ought we then not 'censor' discriminatory action? Is that not a form of free speech? (honestly, I am curious about your thoughts, not just trying to be combative.)

 
frankiej4189
Mar 31, 2008
0 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: thethinker Show

well do they not both have the same outcome? To answer my own question, YES they do have the same outcome so thank you for proving my point. Exercise and Liposuction are both forms of loosing weight and looking better. Hateful Speech and Hateful Action are both forms of being hateful towards a select group of people and they both result in separating people.

 
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5
Big difference


hottubwille
Mar 24, 2008
2 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: themind Show

I can say that I think black people are lazy. That is discriminatory speach. I can not hire a black man to work for me. That is a discriminatory act. They are different things.

 
brivapor
Mar 24, 2008
1 convinced
Rebuttal
sticks and stones may break my bones
but words will never hurt me

 
thethinker
Mar 24, 2008
1 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: themind Show

Ok, so discriminatory speech LEADS TO discriminatory acts.

This assumes that there is a difference.

 
thethinker
Mar 24, 2008
1 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: frankiej4189 Show

They both are same in certain aspects of their nature, they both lead to a certain thing... that doesn't mean they are the same.

 
thethinker
Mar 24, 2008
0 convinced
Rebuttal
You can cover your ears against discriminatory speech. You cannot physically phase out of reality against discriminatory and violent acts.

 
xanthippa
Mar 24, 2008
0 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: themind Show

Ah, but your examples are misplaced!

The dehumanizing speeches directed against the Jews, setting the stage for the holocaust, were deplorable.......but UNOPPOSED!!!

And THAT is the whole point!

The 'state' sanctioned SOME speech only - and censored all speech opposing its interests. And that is THE problem: if there is no ability to say things, even things deemed 'discriminatory', which oppose the state-sanctioned position, then the state can take out the 'sword' you speak of without much protest from majority of the populace!

Ah, you say, that was a 'bad state'! Yet, if we give these types of powers to ANY state, we have no guarantee that they will not be abused....and Hitler, remember, came to power through a democratic election...

Laws MUST protect the citizens from outside aggression, inside aggression AND from the state itself. And freedom of speech is one of the basic means of citizenry has of protecting itself from the state.

 
xanthippa
Mar 24, 2008
0 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: frankiej4189 Show

Hateful speech is usually counterproductive. Perhaps it may work in the short time, but...

When everyone is able to speak their mind, unfettered and unrestrained, then hateful falsehoods have a way of being debunked.

The danger here is that when people hear a truthful analysis of their own shortcomings, they usually don't like it - and are likely to scream 'hate-speech'! Yet, without criticism, without exposing what we are doing wrong, or what harm our policies and attitudes might be causing or perpetuating - however hateful it may sound at the time - we CANNOT improve ourselves and our society...

 
xanthippa
Mar 26, 2008
0 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: themind Show

Dude, you're the one who brought up Hitler: I was responding to your statement that prior to slaughtering Jews, Hitler actively promoted discriminatory speech against them.

And THAT was my point: speech, discriminatory or otherwise, is only intended to influence other people. It does not, in itself, constitute a threat that is equal to a physical attack. YET...

In the past and present, wherever freedom of speech is fettered, and only SOME speech, approved by the 'state' is permitted (after all, it is the state that does the 'fettering'), you will inevitably face the 'Hitler' situation: to secure its position in power, governments end up discriminating against one identifiable group or another (the old 'divide and conquer' thingy).

So, fettering free speech in ANY manner - even under the guise of curbing 'discriminatory speech' - will eventually result in 'state-sponsored discriminatory speech' going unopposed! And that paves the way for ...

Sorry to not have expressed this more clearly. But, what I am trying to say is that by censoring even such unsavoury things as 'discriminatory speech', we are depriving ourselves of the very means of opposing 'discriminatory actions'.

 
xanthippa
Mar 26, 2008
0 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: themind Show

This is also a rebuttal to FrankieJ:

This debate is based on the news-article attached. The article CLEARLY differentiated between 'discriminatory speech', which must be protected, no matter how much we may dislike it, and some forms of limits on speech are necessary: that would be the whole 'screaming 'fire' in a crowded theatre', slander, etc.

There is a big difference here, as is explained in the newsarticle it is based on. The discussion is not about the 'erasing' or blurring of this line, it is about the extrajudicial enforcment of censorship of ideas by the state, using agents who are not bound by the strict rules and procedures imposed on the police and the judicial system.

 
thethinker
Mar 26, 2008
0 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: themind Show

Yeah, but my point is that they are not the same act.

And I think you are equivocating "acts."

 
thethinker
Mar 26, 2008
0 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: frankiej4189 Show

So, exercising and liposuction are same things?

 
xanthippa
Mar 26, 2008
0 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: themind Show

Difficult point!

Leave it to YOU to ferret it out!!! Always thinking... :0)

I am not sure where it would be reasonable to 'draw the line' in the sand - and I have been struggling with this one for a VERY long time.

In order to 'close in' on the 'gray' area, I have been considering the two extremes, and trying to figure out where the line 'ought not' be: both sides of the extreme.

Let us start on the 'speech' side: a person 'ought to be' allowed to yell 'FIRE' in a crowded theatre - but ONLY provided there actually IS a fire. (And, in Canada - my home - this is no longer the case...) So, I have 'hit the limit' imposed by society which I think 'ought not' be there.

Another example is the publication of the infamous 'Muhammad cartoons': NOT originally (different dabate altogether, no opinion eneterd on it here), but AFTER people were murdered over the issue, churches had been burned, embassies stoned and/or stormed. Once all these things had taken place, it was ESSENTIAL that we, the 'unwashed masses of the West' (I hate being the 'unwashed masses'), know exactly WHAT our offence was which had caused this terrible and real violence.

Yet, the ONLY Canadian mainstream print media that re-printed them, in order to inform us and with warnings not to look-if-you-might-be-offended - even just so we'd be educated enough not to do it again, if we so chose - is still now being dragged through a 'Human Rights Commision' process - where the state is the investigator, prosecutor, judge and jury - yet is not subject to the limitations a police or judicial process would be to. you know, the ones that ensure the accused person's rights??? And, under the 'Section 13(1) - as this editor has been charged - the Human Rights Commissions to-date have 100% conviction rate....

It has, so far, cost the editor personally well into the 6 figures in legal fees, the news magazine has folded under the financial pressure, and the end is nowhere in sight. The taxpayers pay for the 'state' side ... If you want to WATCH video records of his interrogations, go to YouTube and search for Ezra Levant...

Now the 'action' side - though in this case, it is more of a 'lack of action': only a couple of years ago, a couple of our friends went to a nice little restaurant, only a few km outside one of Ontario's major cities, because my husband and I had stumbled upon it and really liked the place, so we recommended it to them. They were politely seated by the hostess, then waited for their menues...and waited...and waited....and no waiter/waitress would meet their eyes.... After close to an hour of being ostentatiously (by that point) ignored, they just left. Did I mention our friends were not 'white'???

That REALLY crossed the line for me...and yes, I had a chat with the owner of the restaurant he's not likely to forget for as long as his miserable life lasts: but proving providing 'poor service' to have been racially motivated is tricky in a court of law, and our friends did not let me push that far, though I wanted to... So I had to be satisfied with my freedom to rant!!! (oh, and I did, and the neighbourhood people, once made aware, caused 'significant changes' in the restaurant's policies to be enacted...)

Another action: a blond, blue-eyed boy (grade 7) was beaten
up on a school playground by a group of Arabic youths whom he did not know (though they may have known him and targetted him because his family helped non-radical Muslims in the past). According to Arabic culture, blue eyes are a sign of demonic posession.... which was the 'official' cause for the attack. It was classified as a racial hate-crime, and the Arabic youths received 3 days of detention (one hour per day) after school. Their identities were kept confidential, even from the boy who was attacked (he did not see them all, as several attacked him from behind...and only the fact that several of his friends came upon the scene caused him to not be beaten to death) and his family, in order to protect them and their families from 'racial prejudice'.

Now that you know where I think the line 'ought NOT be drawn', where do YOU think it 'ought to be'?

 
postfloyd
May 20, 2008
0 convinced
Rebuttal
True civil equality in all aspects is an ideal. But in practice you need some information by which to judge people, and getting to know everysingle person on the planet is not feasible.

 


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