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Old 03-08-2011, 04:12 PM   #20
rank sentamentalist
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: goodbyecruelworld
Posts: 16,893
Default Re: What America was built on, Vs what it's been replaced with.

Sorry, which thread was it that we argued about the constitution before? I don't remember but if you point me to it or reiterate your arguments I'll respond.
we've argued it in at least 2-3 threads not.

here was my most recent response to you, regarding the constitution. twas a few days ago, in the 'Holocaust denial is a crime' thread. though this was in particular response to a post regarding the first amendment.

and i'm not American. just so you know. lol

i wasn't making that point with any explicit or implied association to the Constitution. we've already talked about this a little bit, earlier in this thread and elsewhere i think, and we disagree on whether or not the Constitution should be read with a healthy supply of skepticism. obviously you know the Constitution matters little if not at all to most countries in the world, but as far as Americans go, it should be enforced as precisely and strictly as possible. i still think even Americans should understand the concept of context, and realize that countries evolve to a point where they can't rely wholly on a single document centuries prior.

i understand and relate to your skepticism of limiting basic freedoms like what i laid out. i'm not certain a large part of me doesn't agree with you. in fact, i just saw on a Daily Show segment titled 'Tales of Principled Behavior' that your own Supreme Court reaffirmed its position of allowance toward the Westboro Baptist Chuch. that sort of unflinching vow to uphold something as universally positive as a freedom to express oneself is well worth crediting.

on the other hand -- because of course there's another hand -- a simple look at cases that have been largely successful with imposing reasonable limits on our most cherished rights confirms a plausible alternative to that idealism. and yes indeed, i fully acknowledge that those imposed 'limits' are only 'reasonable' because they were judged so by past and present governments with the job of legislation. but what's so bad about the end result? Canada is a phenomenal country to live in. so is the Netherlands. so is Great Britain and Germany and Sweden and Denmark. so is Australia. the United States, while dominant on the political and economic scenes, can by no means claim superiority of lifestyle. the politics certainly aren't any more contentious and unreasonable in a majority of the rest of the generalized 'West' as compared to the US. one could possibly argue that the Bill of Rights helped to shape the United States into the superpower it is today, yet at the same time, one would also have to concede that other elements factored heavily into that process; certainly much more so than a slight divide in what behavior is deemed unreasonable.

nevertheless, those are all factual examples of countries that have successfully limited those most valuable human rights, very arguably to the net benefit of its society. the facts demonstrate that it's very possible to build a society that limits free speech and free expression incrementally with success. it isn't illegal to criticize leadership in those countries. so why are they left out in the cold when they're just pleading to be used as examples?

the slippery slope argument doesn't make sense and here's why; it relies on a risk of starting down the wrong path and inexorably winding up in Nazi Germany, or at the very least, a less pleasant place to live. obviously the seething criticism of that understanding is that there isn't anything inexorable about it. history has shown us that moderation can prevail in this specific regard to politics. and more to the point, the other factors that contribute to a national outgrowth of oppression and authoritarianism far outweigh any of the limits that we're actually talking about.

but there are also others. my favourite is this one: it improves behavior. not a universal result of course and exceptions aren't exactly rare, but nor are affirmations. if Holocaust denial, which both of us know is stupid and let's be settled on that point, is not allowed in a society (according to the specific contexts of prohibition of course), then society will do less of it. and according to my common sense, if perhaps not the common sense of a Nazi, that's definitively a good thing. if hate speech promotes hatred which promotes violence, hey, let's try to limit hate speech! we'll just have to trust in ourselves that we can maintain a reasonable balance that works in the interest rather than to the harm of our society.

yet again, in most of the countries i listed, that balance has been at least hovering around reason. and if it's also altering behavior in a direction no sane person can disagree with (like acknowledging the Holocaust), all the better.
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