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Comment Re:1st amendment issue (Score 1) 1027

On Twitter, even if you don't follow a person, they can still send you messages. To give another example I encountered (albeit not one involving "hate speech"), this woman online decided that I was the same person as another guy she had a problem with. Her proof? We both like photography. (She's not all there. She also claims to be a prophet of god and that god talks to her and tells her these things. Obviously, saying "you're mistaken" doesn't work.) She would harass me constantly on Twitter and, eventually, on my blog. I ignored it, but still it was annoying to come back and see a dozen messages from her. I'd block/report her and her account would be taken down, but she'd just start a new one up. (At one point, I and a few other people she was harassing found out that she had set up around a dozen accounts ahead of time for the inevitable account suspension.)

Now, her speech to me wasn't hate speech. (She was accusing me of murder/hacking/doing obscene stuff to kids/etc because god told her.) Still, she could easily have been sending me hate speech instead. Is my option in this situation "just shut down my Twitter account and don't use it anymore"? Is the only option for someone who is being harassed to leave the place where they are being harassed?

As far as deporting illegal immigrants goes, I don't see discussing it and the various policy proposals as being hate speech. It's HOW it's discussed that's the bigger issue. Saying "we should deport those illegal immigrants" is fine. Saying "all [derogatory term for Mexicans] should be rounded up and shot" obviously isn't the same thing. I welcome a rational immigration discussion. Unfortunately, there are many who use the discussion's opening to shout racist rants. This hurts both sides as the left reacts to the racists and the right has their reasonable plans drowned out by hate. (It's one reason why I'm hoping the GOP will fracture so that it can kick out the crazies and reformulate itself as a Reasonable Conservative party. I might be left-of-center, but I want reasonable options out there to keep the Democrats in check.)

Finally, I agree that I wouldn't want to see Twitter, Facebook, etc ban people for spurious reasons. People shouldn't be banned because the CEO of Twitter believes X and someone tried posting a reasonable argument why X is wrong. However, if someone is posting pure hatred and is harassing people, they should be kicked off. That's not fostering communication. That's trying to scare people into silence so the racists/bigots can force their view onto America.

Comment Re:1st amendment issue (Score 2) 1027

It's only a First Amendment issue if the government is taking the action to limit or suppress your speech. Twitter could ban someone for any reason they like. They could have a ban for cats are better than dogs if they wanted. Nobody's free speech would be violated. Similarly, Slashdot could decide to ban people for any reason they want. This is their site and they get to determine who posts here and who doesn't. To give an offline example, it would be like someone in your house going on a rant. You have the right to ask them to leave. If they don't, you can call the police to eject them by force if necessary. The person being booted from your house has no right to complain that you are infringing on his freedom of speech because it's your house and your rules as to what speech is allowed and what isn't.

On the other hand, If President Trump declared that nobody was allowed to say that he had small hands, then that would be an example of the government infringing on our free speech rights. This would be a government official (or entity in the case of Congress passing a theoretical "Trump Hand Size Protection Act") regulating what we could and could not say.

One last point. Free speech is not absolute. I can't wave a knife at you, shout "I'm going to kill you" and expect to escape the legal system by claiming First Amendment rights. This is where "hate speech" originates. From people trying to make threats to people (based on their race, religion, etc) and then claim that it was just free speech. I'll admit that it's gotten expanded and overused to the point that many people laugh at the mere concept of hate speech. It does still exist, though, and the people who overuse it hurt the cause by cheapening the phrase. I will also admit that it's hard to define since what one person thinks is an innocuous comment could sound threatening to someone else.

And, yes, I've been the target of hate speech. In high school, a kid who was known for worshiping Hitler and who knew I was Jewish told me to my face that his only problem with Hitler was that he didn't finish the job and all Jews should be killed. This was clearly meant to intimidate me and make me scared of him - though all it did was make me want to punch him right in his nose. (I'm not violent at all, but I had to be held back that day.) One on one, I could definitely have taken this guy, but suppose he had five friends with him and they all were telling me how someone needed to "finish what Hitler started" (what the kid told me that day). I'd definitely be scared for my safety without them touching me at all.

Comment Re:Did you say "current environment"? (Score 2) 152

And while I like a lot of what Obama has done, I disagree with him strongly on expanding the powers of the NSA/FBI instead of adding better checks on them. Of course, he's not solely to blame - there are a lot of people in Congress that deserve a good share of blame - but the buck does stop in the Oval Office as far as that's concerned. (Now if he vetoed it and Congress overrode his veto, I'd say his hands would be clean, but obviously that didn't happen.)

Comment Re:Social Media Is Killing Discourse (Score 1) 219

I wouldn't presume to say that all Trump supporters were in an echo chamber, but there was certainly a group that were. Then again, I'm sure there's a solid group on the left that sticks to their own news sources and see any spin or overblowing of a story as 100% fact. It can be easy to pick news sources that reinforce what you believe to be true and end up in an echo chamber. Staying out of the echo chamber can be difficult at times, but it's worthwhile if we're going to have a functioning country where both sides can converse without each declaring the other traitors.

Comment Re:"Post-truth" is killing discourse (Score 4, Insightful) 219

I'd say that post-truth is worse than lying by omission. Usually lies by omission still have a grain of truth in them. "Post-Truth" statements seem to be made up out of pure fantasy and the people repeating them don't seem to care if they are true or not, just that they sound like they might be true. Did Hillary really kill five people by hand and drink their blood? Who cares if it's true or not? If a person thinks it kind of sounds like something she might do, they will repeat it as if it were 100% proven true. Their audience will do the same and before you know it, Photoshopped images of Hillary with blood dripping down her mouth will be circulating as "proof" of the claim. Meanwhile other people who are saying "this isn't true and here's the proof" will be either ignored or shouted down as being pawns of the "liberal elite media coverup."

Comment Re:Social Media Is Killing Discourse (Score 4, Insightful) 219

I see it as a double-edged sword - like pretty much any form of human communication. The upside is that you can communicate with people across vast distances instead of just the people who live near you. This can expose you to different points of view. Perhaps I'm for something since I live in Upstate New York but haven't considered the repercussions to someone living in Montana. In ages past, I would have never spoken with that person and never even considered their opinion. Now, I might see their view and reconsider my support.

The downside is that you can wind up surrounding yourself with people who agree with you. This happened on both sides of the aisle during the last election. If someone expressed support for Trump, some Hillary supporters would unfriend them. If someone supported Hillary, Trump supporters would cut them off from their stream. The end result is that you just see people supporting your candidates and causes. This leads to dismissing the other side out of hand and even exaggerating their position to an extreme. (For example, "expand background checks on guns" becomes "THEY WANT TO TAKE ALL OUR GUNS AWAY!!!!")

It should be noted that this isn't unique to social media - my father isn't on social media and surrounds himself with "news" from Fox, Hannity, Limbaugh, etc. He doesn't listen to CNN, MSNBC, etc at all - even in an effort to see how different stations spin the same news. He's in a bubble and refuses to listen to anything that originates outside of his bubble.

The other downside is that people tend to be more brash online than face-to-face. If you called someone an idiot and a traitor to their face simply for having a different political opinion, you'd risk a punch to the face. Online, though, the worst you'll get is named-called right back and blocked. What's worse is that it seems like this brazenness is leaking out into everyday society (at least for some people).

In the end, I don't think there's an easy fix. There's no way to keep the good aspects of social media (and the Internet in general) while forcing people to be civil and to not stay in bubbles. You can ask people to behave in certain manners and perhaps even encourage it in some ways, but no system will be perfect. They will all suffer from the flaws inherent in the fact that the users are human.

Comment Humans (Score 1) 204

Don't try to outsmart them. Any "system" you try to impose will be corrupted and subverted. You merely create a class of specialists who figure out how to extract the maximum benefit from such a system at the expense of everyone else. Doesn't matter what it is - capitalism, feudalism, communism or bureaucracy. You think you are doing a good thing but you are not. My philosophy of government is: LESS is MORE.

Comment Re:Better Idea (Score 3, Informative) 105

Honestly, this isn't a Netflix problem. If they could, I'm sure they'd just rip their DVD catalog and put it online. However, this would be massive copyright infringement and the entertainment industry would launch lawsuits immediately on a scale that would likely shut Netflix down. Instead, they need to go about this the hard way of making deals with the copyright owners and paying them for each show that they put on streaming. It's a slow process made harder by many in the entertainment industry acting as though Netflix is the enemy and streaming leads to piracy. (In reality, putting a show on Netflix makes it less likely that the title will be pirated.) Netflix only has so much money to spend on content so they need to pick and choose among what's available to them.

In short, if your favorite show/movie isn't on Netflix, the copyright owner is likely more to blame than Netflix.

Comment Re:Doubleplusgood! (Score 1) 394

The Constitution and two Supreme Court rulings. One (Texas vs Johnson) which says that flag burning is an expression of your First Amendment rights and another (Afroyim vs Rusk) that says that the government can't revoke your citizenship as punishment for a crime. (Trump mulled removing someone's citizenship as "punishment" for flag burning.) Even Scalia recognized that flag burning was covered by the First Amendment

Yes, he'll get at least one Supreme Court appointment, but - at best (for him, not us) - he'd need to have the law passed, have it immediately challenged in court, and have it work up to the Supreme Court in the hopes that it wouldn't get struck down along the way.

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Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened. -- Winston Churchill