Freedom of Speech

The first post I read is Provenge, Ca Provenge, Cancer Drug, Costs $93,000: Sky High Drug Prices Impact Life-Or-Death Decisions from The Huffington Post. It is talking about whether the new treatment for cancer (Provenge) worth a high price, and whether the government Medicare should cover this treatment. The comments of this post can mostly be categorized in two kinds of opinions: some think that the taxpayer can’t afford the price of the treatment (and don’t need to pay for it); some believe that the price of the drug is too high because the drug company is too greedy, and the government should do something about it.

The second post is An Open Letter to President Obama, written by Charlie Daniels from NewsBusters. Daniels indicates that Obama “take the well-earned rewards of these (hard-working) people and give it to those who have done nothing to deserve them.” Also, Daniels questions Obama: “how can you support the building of a mosque in the very same area where Islamic radicals murdered so many Americans?” In the end of the post, Daniel called Obama “failure”, and points out that Obama waste taxpayer’s money. The comments of this post is polarized: some thinks the post is great and ask Daniels to “put your letter on a website where we ALL can sign it (generalbroccoli); some think the post is very awful and think that “the substance of your opinion sounds like a big fart!(Samshile)” Compare to the first post, the comment of this post has much more radical words.

Cammaerts didn’t have a conclusion about whether a democratic country should have a censorship on hate speech or not. However, from my point of view, the speech should not be censored on the internet, for this might suppress other voices and opinions on the internet. Also, I agree what Cammaerts has mentioned that” who defines what is hurtful, offensive, wounding or injurious speech, and what is the context in which such language is being used? (p.570)” The censorship of the hate speech on internet can never be objective enough for everyone, and it might cause more problems and controversies. I also agree with Cammaerts that the internet filtering of hate speech might “proliferation of these discourse further throughout society (p.570),” for some people might be irritate by the censorship. Without censorship, there still have some way to reduce hate speech. In Taiwan, a lawyer sued 108 people because they post hateful comments about her when discussing about whether Taiwan should abolish death penalty or not (see detail). This case is very different from the case Cammaerts brought up (the racism); however, I think they all related to “insult” and “hate speech” (although one is personal and one is not). I think this kind of law can prevent some hateful speech toward certain people (one-on-one) if the commenter weren’t anonymous.

9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. caseyawilson
    Sep 29, 2010 @ 23:23:46

    I agree with you (and Cammaerts) that one of the problems with censoring hate speech is that it might actually empower those that are being censored. By censoring people, however hateful their speech might be, it places them in the role of the victim. That role, when handled adeptly, can paradoxically be a position of power. It would allow them to believe that they are the ones whose rights are being violated via the censorship, adding fire to their claims, which could lead to the sort of proliferation of their speech and ideas that you quote from Cammaerts. It could inflame their passion, bolster their position, and redirect the conversation entirely. Censorship might make their views illegal, but it might also make them more powerful.


  2. joneelauriel
    Sep 30, 2010 @ 11:08:24

    I agree with your perspective. The issue with censoring speech is that in the process of weeding out hate speech, you may eliminate positive, productive speech as well. Also, as Cammaerts mentioned in his article censorship deals with the symptoms of the problem and not the deep seeded roots of racism. It’s like putting a band-aid over a cut. The band-aid covers the cut but it still needs to be treated or it won’t get better. Honestly, I don’t know what solutions could be offered for eliminating hate speech. If we pass a law then we run into the issue of categorizing what is hateful speech and what isn’t. Then we run into the issue of who decides what’s offensive and what isn’t. So many issues…it just gives me a headache to think about 🙂


  3. Carol
    Sep 30, 2010 @ 15:41:49


  4. ltn0913
    Sep 30, 2010 @ 21:38:28

    Although I didn’t read Cammaerts’ article, I do agree with you that “the speech should not be censored on the internet”, not just “for this might suppress other voices and opinions on the internet”, but there’s barely a way to define what should be censored. Besides, if there’s censorship and people are irritated by it, the consequences would be much worse than hate speeches.


  5. chentingchen
    Sep 30, 2010 @ 22:02:17

    I agree with your point that the hate speech between “ont-on-one” can be solved by certain law. However, the problem may be that hate speech is often between group and group (or individuals and group). Just as Cammaerts said, even in the US, a country values freedom of speech so much, defamation is also illegal. “Much hate speech would be allowed, as it is argued that it does not provoke direct harm to another individual.” (p.560)
    I also agree that censorship may arouse much more hate speech in society. I think the collective power of netizens is enormous, especially when they are irrational. Therefore, censorship may take certain degree of risk.


  6. fanninchen
    Oct 01, 2010 @ 10:23:15

    I agree with your point that “The censorship of the hate speech on internet can never be objective enough for everyone, and it might cause more problems and controversies.” In a democratic society, the hate speech can describe as a necessary evil in online discourses, however, it may occur to face-to-face discussion as well. The essence of democracy is the freedom of speech, though we do have CoC to confine people’s speech, but there are still thousands of ideas out there, we just can’t prevent people to “hate”. As we are still in a democratic society, we have to respect others’ “right” to express their feelings, even the “hate” ones.


  7. morganyang
    Oct 01, 2010 @ 11:51:51

    I agree with the point that there should be no censorship on the internet. Since, just like the case you mentioned, there is already laws about “libel”, the laws may do part of the similar job of censorship. Actually, the best way to limit hatred speech and do not invade the principles of democracy is education(I know that is also difficult to do). I have been taught that people in a democratic society have absolute freedom, but the prerequisite is not to invade freedom of others. The public should know more about the internet manners since we are in the “Internet era”.


  8. francescalyn
    Oct 01, 2010 @ 16:21:28

    Your choices of posts are somewhat similar to mine. I picked one specific issue and a more general one about Obama as well. However, I read Maynor rather than Cammaerts.
    Hate speech is a very interesting point to bring up. In my post I was somewhat championing the value of anonymous posters. However, I would have a hard time defending hate.
    Does hate speech on the internet limit the freedom of others? Maybe filtering comments should be the choice of the reader, rather than the blog.


  9. Mindy McAdams
    Oct 19, 2010 @ 10:21:09

    It’s very interesting to compare the comments on these two posts to each other. The one by Daniels is very polarizing — he tells the President he’s doing a bad job. The one about the high cost of the drug has some controversy, but it does not have the same kind of political “dynamite” as the Daniels post. So we see a different kind of discourse and deliberation in the comments on each post.

    The story about the law professor in Taiwan is very interesting — people made personal attacks on her because of her thoughts about capital punishment, instead of talking about the ideas. It is easier to call a person “a moron” than to construct a well-reasoned argument.


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