SDMB views on punishment for speech

Greetings to the Straight Dope Message Board.

I have come here with a specific purpose and topic in mind. There is no way to truely “settle” the debate at hand but I think the input of a “control group” may go a long way towards clarity. Bear with me on the story and thanks in advance for your input.

I belong to and began a message board sometime ago. The board was began when another board was shut down due to undesirable speech. The slogan of the previous board had been “Say what you want, post what you want.” It belonged to a musician who, like many, had profitted greatly from his freedom of expression. Being a bit dismayed, I took up where that board left off with a new board dedicated to the freedom of expression. The only rules were those set down by our law makers in regard to slander, defamation, copyright infringement, etc. If board members wish to gripe, moan, “flame” or cry, they are allowed. No one has ever been banned although some have removed themselves. That seems suitable considering that the board had no aspirations of anything other than fleshing out the meanings of free speech, for better or worse.

Recently, the topic of discussion had turned to three specific cases of speech. The “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” case recently before the SCOTUS, the case of Rachel Boim and the case of Jack McClellan. In each case, the courts have sided with punishment for speech, absent any crime. In each case, a particular member of our board sided with the punishment for speech. In response, I quoted back to the poster statements he had made and posted regarding murder and “skull rape” of children and the elderly, asking if he would like to present his speech to the authorities, considering his stance on punishment for undesirable speech. The poster argues that his speech is somehow different due to the fact that we all know his history and know that he just has a twisted sense of humor. However, I propose that when his speech is judged by strangers, and just the objectionable speech, he is just as guilty as any of the above and could be subject to the same scrutiny and possible punishment for words he said, although I do not favor such action, he does…well unless it’s him being punished.

These are the direct quotes of the person in question:

Then a suggestion to someone having trouble with the landlord:

Then explaining his dreams:

So, after reading these statements, what’s your take on this person favoring punishment for objectionable speech ?

Before anyone goes and comments on the merits of the issue, I’m curious as to why anyone on this board should take a position on what is going on at some other board? If someone here agrees or disagrees with what this fellow has said, it is really an invitation for someone on your board to get offended and stir up trouble on this board.

If you’re looking for a debate on free speech, perhaps it’d be a better idea to frame the debate so that it is not focused on a particular person’s opinion, but rather deals with the substance of the issue in a manner divorced from quotations and personalities. That way the matter can be debated as an intellectual exercise, not a trial of some he-said-she-said dispute on another message board.

Excellent summation and suggestion, Ravenman.

SSG Schwartz

You guys make a fine point.

Consider the matter closed.

As well as the thread.

The topic–couched in more neutral terms–is still a valid one for discussion, but interboard discussions are not a good idea,

[ /Moderating ]