Contemporary threats to free speech

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Sam Vara
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Re: Contemporary threats to free speech

Post by Sam Vara » Mon Mar 19, 2018 12:20 pm

binocular wrote:
Mon Mar 19, 2018 11:58 am

Yet this approach seems rather normal in psychiatry and its applications. For example, every day, kids get stigmatized as sociopaths solely on the words of others.
Absolutely. It's to avoid this kind of nonsense that we need to be vigilant regarding the law and the actions of the police.
I'm refering to mental actions being as much subject to one's own scrutiny as one's verbal and physical actions. One can, for example, transgress the precepts only mentally, but those are still transgressions.
Is is recommended that we scrutinise mental acts, and some are certainly labelled as unskilful or unwholesome, but that's very different from them being thought crimes. They are subject to the objective laws of kamma rather than the prescriptive laws of a country or organisation.

I've not seen reference to mental transgression of the precepts in the canon. Sometimes the ten forms of wholesome conduct coincide with keeping particular precepts, but I don't think the 5 lay person's precepts are transgressed unless there is the particular action (i.e. the killing, the stealing, the proscribed sexual activity, the lying, and the consumption) committed. One can, for example, really want to drink alcohol, but providing one doesn't give in to the urge, the precept is not broken.

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Re: Contemporary threats to free speech

Post by binocular » Mon Mar 19, 2018 12:45 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Mon Mar 19, 2018 12:20 pm
Is is recommended that we scrutinise mental acts, and some are certainly labelled as unskilful or unwholesome, but that's very different from them being thought crimes. They are subject to the objective laws of kamma rather than the prescriptive laws of a country or organisation.
Here's what I don't understand:
Where does one draw the line?
Why couldn't the prescriptive laws of a country or organisation be the same as kammic laws?
I've not seen reference to mental transgression of the precepts in the canon. Sometimes the ten forms of wholesome conduct coincide with keeping particular precepts, but I don't think the 5 lay person's precepts are transgressed unless there is the particular action (i.e. the killing, the stealing, the proscribed sexual activity, the lying, and the consumption) committed. One can, for example, really want to drink alcohol, but providing one doesn't give in to the urge, the precept is not broken.
For one, one can easily go against the spirit of the precept in one's mind.

For two, take the basic instructions to Rahula:
"Whenever you want to do a mental action, you should reflect on it: 'This mental action I want to do — would it lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Would it be an unskillful mental action, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it would lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both; it would be an unskillful mental action with painful consequences, painful results, then any mental action of that sort is absolutely unfit for you to do. But if on reflection you know that it would not cause affliction... it would be a skillful mental action with pleasant consequences, pleasant results, then any mental action of that sort is fit for you to do.
/.../
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/ati/tip ... .than.html
I think this is clearly about the first precept.

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Sam Vara
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Re: Contemporary threats to free speech

Post by Sam Vara » Mon Mar 19, 2018 1:13 pm

binocular wrote:
Mon Mar 19, 2018 12:45 pm

Here's what I don't understand:
Where does one draw the line?
Why couldn't the prescriptive laws of a country or organisation be the same as kammic laws?
Because kamma-vipaka is not knowable, so legislators could not frame laws and penalties with any accuracy.

https://suttacentral.net/an4.77/en/sujato
For one, one can easily go against the spirit of the precept in one's mind.
What does this "going against the spirit" actually entail? Imagining doing it? Wanting to do it? As I said above, these are not, so far as I know, actual breaches of the precept. They might be unwholesome, but they only transgress recommendations given elsewhere than in the precepts.
I think this is clearly about the first precept.
It might be. It might be about any of them. But note that the Buddha does not tell Rahula that it is preceptual. ("If you do this, Rahula, you will have broken a precept...") Just that it should not be done. There are many things other than keeping the precepts which the Buddha said ought to be done.

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Re: Contemporary threats to free speech

Post by Ron-The-Elder » Tue Mar 20, 2018 3:22 am

Since this thread has become so "extensive" and "prolific" I decided to revisit the OP:
Post by retrofuturist » Thu Feb 02, 2017 5:35 pm

The purpose of this topic is to discuss the prevalence of trends, actions, ideologies and policies which are a threat to free speech in the 21st century.
I can think of several off the top of my head:

Russia: If you openly / publicly disagree with the leader of govt. you might wind up being poisoned.

North Korea: If you openly / publicly disagree with the leader of govt. you might wind up being poisoned.

U.S.: If you publicly disagree with the liberals you will be subject to demonstrations, your property damaged, be attacked by actors, politicians, and union thugs paid for by Soros.

U.S.: If you Tweet stupid or rude things and you are President of U.S. you will be attacked by the liberal News media and incessantly derided and ridiculed on CNN, MSNBC and every liberal comedian on t.v.

U.S.: If you say stupid, rude, or sarcastic things about President Trump (true or not) you will be ridiculed by Greg Gutfeld and Hannity on FOX.

U.S.: If you are a conservative and wish to speak at a liberal college you will not be allowed by liberal protesters.

U.S.: If you disagree openly with your wife you will be wrong before you even open your mouth. Hence the question: "If a husband makes a statement of any kind in the forest, and your wife doesn't hear you, are you still wrong?" :?
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
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Re: Contemporary threats to free speech

Post by chownah » Tue Mar 20, 2018 4:28 am

Ron-The-Elder wrote:
Tue Mar 20, 2018 3:22 am
"If a husband makes a statement of any kind in the forest, and your wife doesn't hear you, are you still wrong?" :?
:shrug: :rofl:
chownah

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Re: Contemporary threats to free speech

Post by binocular » Tue Mar 20, 2018 6:51 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Mon Mar 19, 2018 1:13 pm
Because kamma-vipaka is not knowable, so legislators could not frame laws and penalties with any accuracy.
What's the use of a concept, when its applications cannot be known?

For one, one can easily go against the spirit of the precept in one's mind.
What does this "going against the spirit" actually entail? Imagining doing it? Wanting to do it? As I said above, these are not, so far as I know, actual breaches of the precept. They might be unwholesome, but they only transgress recommendations given elsewhere than in the precepts.
Yes. But beyond that, I think it depends on how serious one is about the practice. For example, if one notices that pizza has an intoxicating effect on one's mind, then, even though pizza is not officially listed as an intoxicant, in order to act in line with the spirit of the precept against consuming intoxicants, one refrains from eating pizza. Or, to give an example of going against the spirit of the precept in one's mind: indulging in romantic fantasies about someone.

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Re: Contemporary threats to free speech

Post by binocular » Tue Mar 20, 2018 7:10 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Mon Mar 19, 2018 12:20 pm
binocular wrote:
Mon Mar 19, 2018 11:58 am
Yet this approach seems rather normal in psychiatry and its applications. For example, every day, kids get stigmatized as sociopaths solely on the words of others.
Absolutely. It's to avoid this kind of nonsense that we need to be vigilant regarding the law and the actions of the police.
Humans in general have engaged in witch hunts and scapegoating for millennia, in one way or another. Is there any reason to think they could stop doing so? Even if they wanted to stop behaving that way, it's questionable whether their psyches could handle the radically different social environment that would emerge in the absence of such behaviors; and whether they could live with their own faults and imprefections without blaming others and without taking their frustrations with themselves out on others.
I'm refering to mental actions being as much subject to one's own scrutiny as one's verbal and physical actions. One can, for example, transgress the precepts only mentally, but those are still transgressions.
Is is recommended that we scrutinise mental acts, and some are certainly labelled as unskilful or unwholesome, but that's very different from them being thought crimes. They are subject to the objective laws of kamma rather than the prescriptive laws of a country or organisation.
My point is that thought crimes aren't necessarily an exception to other crimes. Think about the things that Catholics can or should confess, in formal confession: many of those are thought crimes; ie. they have the gravity of crimes because the mere (!) mental transgression is considered grave enough. Another example, religious heresy is, to a great extent, entirely mental, yet regarded in religious circles as a serious transgression (which in some periods of history warranted the death penalty, and in some places, it still does).

It seems rather to be expected that secular society would have similar concepts, even if somewhat toned down. It seems that the principle of social cohesion demands that people not only peacefully coexist in their verbal and bodily actions, but also in their mental actions. Because otherwise, that peaceful coexistence in words and deeds would be rendered a mere pretense, as there would be no meeting of minds. Which has wide-ranging implications.

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Sam Vara
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Re: Contemporary threats to free speech

Post by Sam Vara » Tue Mar 20, 2018 7:23 pm

binocular wrote:
Tue Mar 20, 2018 6:51 pm
Sam Vara wrote:
Mon Mar 19, 2018 1:13 pm
Because kamma-vipaka is not knowable, so legislators could not frame laws and penalties with any accuracy.
What's the use of a concept, when its applications cannot be known?
Often, we don't need to know the particular applications. It's like knowing about the dangers of falling and not needing to know about where exactly one will hit the ground; or knowing that poisons will make us ill, without needing to know the symptoms of those illnesses.
Yes. But beyond that, I think it depends on how serious one is about the practice. For example, if one notices that pizza has an intoxicating effect on one's mind, then, even though pizza is not officially listed as an intoxicant, in order to act in line with the spirit of the precept against consuming intoxicants, one refrains from eating pizza. Or, to give an example of going against the spirit of the precept in one's mind: indulging in romantic fantasies about someone.
True. This is to do with types of right conduct which are beyond the precepts. In the case of pizza, or indeed other foods, I am wary about extending the fifth precept to cover them, regardless of the effects they have on one. I would conceptualise this in terms of craving and greed; or just avoiding foods that don't agree with one.

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Re: Contemporary threats to free speech

Post by Sam Vara » Tue Mar 20, 2018 7:55 pm

binocular wrote:
Tue Mar 20, 2018 7:10 pm
Humans in general have engaged in witch hunts and scapegoating for millennia, in one way or another. Is there any reason to think they could stop doing so? Even if they wanted to stop behaving that way, it's questionable whether their psyches could handle the radically different social environment that would emerge in the absence of such behaviors; and whether they could live with their own faults and imprefections without blaming others and without taking their frustrations with themselves out on others.
I'm not talking about eradicating the general tendency to scapegoat and control others; you're probably right to say these things are inexpungeable. The best we can hope for is to stand up to this tendency whenever it threatens us, and preventing deterioration in the law would be an example of this.
My point is that thought crimes aren't necessarily an exception to other crimes. Think about the things that Catholics can or should confess, in formal confession: many of those are thought crimes; ie. they have the gravity of crimes because the mere (!) mental transgression is considered grave enough. Another example, religious heresy is, to a great extent, entirely mental, yet regarded in religious circles as a serious transgression (which in some periods of history warranted the death penalty, and in some places, it still does).
Other people's thoughts have certainly been seen as important, and this is (in one sense at least) even more important within Buddhism than in Catholicism. Intention determines action, so is of extreme significance. But there are two important differences here. Buddhism does not express unskilful actions as "crimes". This might be because there is no developed Buddhist jurisprudence, but the differences are clear. Unskilful actions are not determined as such by human convention; and they often do not have humanly-imposed penalties attached. Vipaka is not "punishment" in the conventional sense.

The second difference should be seen in the context of the English legal system which I was talking about. There has long been a convention that people cannot be tried for their opinions and ideas. In matters of religion, Elizabeth 1 said "I would not open windows into men's souls", and there has been a jealously-guarded tradition of independence of religious thought which was very well established by the middle of last century. Liberty of thought has been so strongly guarded and praised by English liberals (in the Millian meaning of the term) that to talk of policing intentions is hugely retrograde.
It seems rather to be expected that secular society would have similar concepts, even if somewhat toned down. It seems that the principle of social cohesion demands that people not only peacefully coexist in their verbal and bodily actions, but also in their mental actions. Because otherwise, that peaceful coexistence in words and deeds would be rendered a mere pretense, as there would be no meeting of minds. Which has wide-ranging implications.
Sure. Similar, but not "crimes". Norms and customs and freely-chosen modes of interacting with others do very well here. And there is also the point (again derived from the English liberal tradition) that radical and unorthodox ideas should be actively encouraged and freed from both state and religious supervision in order to enhance human progress and flourishing. Minds can meet in passion and disagreement, with no threat to society at all. As William Blake said, "Opposition is true friendship...One law for the lion and the ox is oppression". That's probably a key difference between European Catholicism and the glory that is English liberal protestantism.

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Re: Contemporary threats to free speech

Post by Mr Man » Wed Mar 21, 2018 9:16 am

Sam Vara wrote:
Sun Mar 18, 2018 11:44 pm
Mr Man wrote:
Sun Mar 18, 2018 11:21 pm
Sam Vara wrote:
Sun Mar 18, 2018 12:37 pm
But sadly, I don't think it is. The country of Milton, Locke, and Mill has (depending on your local police force) thought crimes.

No it doesn’t. You are lying.
Thank you for your courteous and informative comment, Mr. Man.
Rather than addressing the style perhaps you could address the point - What you wrote is untrue.

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Re: Contemporary threats to free speech

Post by Sam Vara » Wed Mar 21, 2018 9:26 am

Mr Man wrote:
Wed Mar 21, 2018 9:16 am
Rather than addressing the style perhaps you could address the point - What you wrote is untrue.
Sorry, Mr. Man, the style seemed the more important point, in that calling someone is a liar is offensive rudeness, whereas there was no point to be discussed - you didn't say what the lie consisted of. In such a context, just calling someone a liar is no better than claiming they are stupid, or insane, or otherwise evincing one's distress at what they say.

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Re: Contemporary threats to free speech

Post by Mr Man » Wed Mar 21, 2018 9:35 am

Sam Vara wrote:
Wed Mar 21, 2018 9:26 am
Mr Man wrote:
Wed Mar 21, 2018 9:16 am
Rather than addressing the style perhaps you could address the point - What you wrote is untrue.
Sorry, Mr. Man, the style seemed the more important point, in that calling someone is a liar is offensive rudeness, whereas there was no point to be discussed - you didn't say what the lie consisted of. In such a context, just calling someone a liar is no better than claiming they are stupid, or insane, or otherwise evincing one's distress at what they say.
I quoted the lie. But obviously you are not interested in addressing that (or correcting). More interested in distraction?

Here it is again:
Sam Vara wrote:
Sun Mar 18, 2018 12:37 pm
But sadly, I don't think it is. The country of Milton, Locke, and Mill has (depending on your local police force) thought crimes.


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Re: Contemporary threats to free speech

Post by Sam Vara » Wed Mar 21, 2018 9:47 am

Mr Man wrote:
Wed Mar 21, 2018 9:35 am

I quoted the lie. But obviously you are not interested in addressing that (or correcting). More interested in distraction?
No, I would be happy to address responses to my posts if people want to say why they think I am mistaken. But I'm not going to second-guess what is bothering people who stoop to personal abuse. That might be gratifying for the person who just wants to abuse another poster, but it's a waste of my time.

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Re: Contemporary threats to free speech

Post by Mr Man » Wed Mar 21, 2018 10:04 am

Sam Vara wrote:
Wed Mar 21, 2018 9:47 am
Mr Man wrote:
Wed Mar 21, 2018 9:35 am

I quoted the lie. But obviously you are not interested in addressing that (or correcting). More interested in distraction?
No, I would be happy to address responses to my posts if people want to say why they think I am mistaken. But I'm not going to second-guess what is bothering people who stoop to personal abuse. That might be gratifying for the person who just wants to abuse another poster, but it's a waste of my time.
You are still avoiding the point. There is no need to second guess I have made it very clear. Here it is again -
Sam Vara wrote:
Sun Mar 18, 2018 12:37 pm
But sadly, I don't think it is. The country of Milton, Locke, and Mill has (depending on your local police force) thought crimes.


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Re: Contemporary threats to free speech

Post by retrofuturist » Wed Mar 21, 2018 10:11 am

Greetings Mr Man,

Is this a lie?

The state of free speech — dog's Nazi salute deemed a hate crime

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Contemporary threats to free speech

Post by Mr Man » Wed Mar 21, 2018 10:24 am

retrofuturist wrote:
Wed Mar 21, 2018 10:11 am
Greetings Mr Man,

Is this a lie?

The state of free speech — dog's Nazi salute deemed a hate crime

Metta,
Paul. :)
Yawn. You are so predictable. No it is true he was convicted but he was not convicted for "thought crimes". He was convicted under the Communications Act 2003 I believe.

Are you guys a tag team? :rofl:

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Sam Vara
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Re: Contemporary threats to free speech

Post by Sam Vara » Wed Mar 21, 2018 10:39 am

Mr Man wrote:
Wed Mar 21, 2018 10:04 am

You are still avoiding the point. There is no need to second guess I have made it very clear. Here it is again -
Sam Vara wrote:
Sun Mar 18, 2018 12:37 pm
But sadly, I don't think it is. The country of Milton, Locke, and Mill has (depending on your local police force) thought crimes.

How is that a lie?

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Mr Man
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Re: Contemporary threats to free speech

Post by Mr Man » Wed Mar 21, 2018 10:47 am

Sam Vara wrote:
Wed Mar 21, 2018 10:39 am
Mr Man wrote:
Wed Mar 21, 2018 10:04 am

You are still avoiding the point. There is no need to second guess I have made it very clear. Here it is again -
Sam Vara wrote:
Sun Mar 18, 2018 12:37 pm
But sadly, I don't think it is. The country of Milton, Locke, and Mill has (depending on your local police force) thought crimes.

How is that a lie?
Because it is not true that the there is such a thing as "thought crimes" in UK law and I am pretty sure that you would know that. If there is no action there is no crime.

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Re: Contemporary threats to free speech

Post by binocular » Wed Mar 21, 2018 11:01 am

Sam Vara wrote:
Tue Mar 20, 2018 7:55 pm
Other people's thoughts have certainly been seen as important, and this is (in one sense at least) even more important within Buddhism than in Catholicism. Intention determines action, so is of extreme significance. But there are two important differences here. Buddhism does not express unskilful actions as "crimes". This might be because there is no developed Buddhist jurisprudence, but the differences are clear. Unskilful actions are not determined as such by human convention; and they often do not have humanly-imposed penalties attached. Vipaka is not "punishment" in the conventional sense.
In contrast, in theistic authoritarian systems, the legal system is deemed as having divine origin, or is at least sanctioned by God, and as such, is, in effect, deemed the same as God's.
So in such systems, for all practical intents and purposes, being judged by particular people is the same as being judged by God (even though those judges claim that they are not doing their own will, but God's).

In Buddhist and Hindu cultures, there exist folk and some more serious conceptions about what karmic consequences follow for what action. Something like "karmic concordance charts" ("If you do X, you will get karmic consequences Y"). And some people elevate those conceptions almost to the level of law, seeeing themselves as arbiters and enacters of other people's karma ("You did such and such, therefore, I can do such and such to you, and I will be guiltfree for doing so").

There's something that bugs me about that, but I haven't been able to formulate it concisely for days.
The second difference should be seen in the context of the English legal system which I was talking about. There has long been a convention that people cannot be tried for their opinions and ideas. In matters of religion, Elizabeth 1 said "I would not open windows into men's souls", and there has been a jealously-guarded tradition of independence of religious thought which was very well established by the middle of last century.
That then makes England special.
It seems rather to be expected that secular society would have similar concepts, even if somewhat toned down. It seems that the principle of social cohesion demands that people not only peacefully coexist in their verbal and bodily actions, but also in their mental actions. Because otherwise, that peaceful coexistence in words and deeds would be rendered a mere pretense, as there would be no meeting of minds. Which has wide-ranging implications.
Sure. Similar, but not "crimes". Norms and customs and freely-chosen modes of interacting with others do very well here. And there is also the point (again derived from the English liberal tradition) that radical and unorthodox ideas should be actively encouraged and freed from both state and religious supervision in order to enhance human progress and flourishing. Minds can meet in passion and disagreement, with no threat to society at all. As William Blake said, "Opposition is true friendship...One law for the lion and the ox is oppression". That's probably a key difference between European Catholicism and the glory that is English liberal protestantism.
Interesting. I thought that all over the world, if there's one thing that people can't stand and judge severely, it is pretense, fakery. I would think that in most places in the world, few things are regarded as as bad as looking like a decent person, talking like a decent person, acting like a decent person, but not actually thinking like a decent person. I have the impression that to most people, being internally, mentally different (while externally seeming average or normal) is worse than blatant villany. At least where I come from, people feel intensely betrayed if a person seems normal in their appearance, words, and deeds, but then it turns out that they don't think "normal" (such as if they are of the "wrong" religion or without one).


You did have something like McCarthyism in the U.K. in the 20th century too, didn't you?

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Re: Contemporary threats to free speech

Post by Sam Vara » Wed Mar 21, 2018 12:03 pm

binocular wrote:
Wed Mar 21, 2018 11:01 am

In contrast, in theistic authoritarian systems, the legal system is deemed as having divine origin, or is at least sanctioned by God, and as such, is, in effect, deemed the same as God's.
So in such systems, for all practical intents and purposes, being judged by particular people is the same as being judged by God (even though those judges claim that they are not doing their own will, but God's).
That might happen, but doesn't have to. There is a clear theological distinction between those people who believe that God divinely ordains laws by means of kings and judges, and those (mainly Protestant) who think that the radical nature of the gospel message entitles them to challenge and overthrow those kings and judges. If by "theistic authoritarian systems" you mean Catholic autocracies, then sure. Otherwise not.
In Buddhist and Hindu cultures, there exist folk and some more serious conceptions about what karmic consequences follow for what action. Something like "karmic concordance charts" ("If you do X, you will get karmic consequences Y"). And some people elevate those conceptions almost to the level of law, seeeing themselves as arbiters and enacters of other people's karma ("You did such and such, therefore, I can do such and such to you, and I will be guiltfree for doing so").
Maybe, but I've not got any experience of this. Buddhist and Hindu countries seem to have fairly secular legal systems that work pretty much as Western ones do. Again, it's possible, but I doubt if Indian or Thai judges think this way.
That then makes England special.
Indeed it does.
I thought that all over the world, if there's one thing that people can't stand and judge severely, it is pretense, fakery. I would think that in most places in the world, few things are regarded as as bad as looking like a decent person, talking like a decent person, acting like a decent person, but not actually thinking like a decent person. I have the impression that to most people, being internally, mentally different (while externally seeming average or normal) is worse than blatant villany.
I don't think so. I got the impression from Japanese friends that Japanese society allows one to think and do almost anything, providing you just "play the game" and maintain the image. And Liberalism at its best allows for a wide range of opinions. The thoughts and ideas of other people are their own concern, providing they don't infringe my rights. I think the difference is beween hypocrisy (which consists of professing one standard while never intending to live up to it) and the unconcern with other people's morality providing they don't bother other people. The former tends to be disliked in the UK, whereas the latter was until recently the mark of a "gentleman" or noble mind. It ties in nicely with the Dhamma, in my opinion; all beings are the owners of their kamma, and not of anyone else's.
You did have something like McCarthyism in the U.K. in the 20th century too, didn't you?
No. There were no mass accusations, and the worst that happened was that during the Cold War the secret services monitored the actions of Communists and Soviet "fellow travellers". I have friends who grew up in Communist families during the 1950s. There was a fascinating network of Jewish communist intellectuals across North London and elsewhere, and it all seems like jolly middle-class fun. Communist summmer camps, Russian songs, "Ban the Bomb" marches, and Daddy lecturing on the evils of capitalism over the tea and sandwiches.

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