What's the appeal of "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"?

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binocular
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What's the appeal of "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"?

Post by binocular » Mon Jan 01, 2018 3:26 pm

To begin with, the thought isn't Voltaire's --
In The Friends of Voltaire, Hall wrote the phrase: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"[4] (which is often misattributed to Voltaire himself) as an illustration of Voltaire's beliefs.[5][6][7] Hall's quotation is often cited to describe the principle of freedom of speech.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evelyn_Beatrice_Hall
But what is the appeal of saying "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"?
Why would anyone say such a thing??


If anything, the saying seems more like a pious exaggeration.

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Re: What's the appeal of "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"?

Post by retrofuturist » Mon Jan 01, 2018 9:02 pm

Greetings binocular,

It means one is willing to fight against that which would undermine their right to free speech, and freedom in general. If I have that right, you have that right. If you don't, I don't.

I can understand people valuing individual liberty and freedom this strongly. In this regard, it's similar to another saying you've probably heard, "Better dead than red".
If anything, the saying seems more like a pious exaggeration
If not for freedom and liberty, why did the allies war with the Nazis?

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: What's the appeal of "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"?

Post by SarathW » Mon Jan 01, 2018 9:49 pm

Hi Retro.
Can you support this with Buddha's teaching?
By the way, I am a supporter of free speech.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: What's the appeal of "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"?

Post by perkele » Mon Jan 01, 2018 10:18 pm

retrofuturist wrote: If not for freedom and liberty, why did the allies war with the Nazis?
Because maybe Nazi Germany, if not stopped by them, might have become a serious threat to them as well? If you have the means to stop the psychopathic bully next door who is slaughtering one of the other neighbours, it seems prudent to do so, not only out of pure altruism and high moral values you want to protect.

But on the topic of that particular freedom of speech slogan: Yes, that does sound very much like just hollow moral grandstanding or advanced virtue signaling to me, and I would not believe anyone who says that.

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Re: What's the appeal of "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"?

Post by Sam Vara » Mon Jan 01, 2018 10:22 pm

It probably is, as you say, a pious exaggeration - political sloganising often works in that way - but it nevertheless embodies an important principle. In adition to what Retro has said, I would add that there is an important intellectual strand in Millian liberalism which acknowledges one's own ignorance and lack of experience. We need others to state their case to challenge our world-view, either so that we can adopt elements of their better view, or so that our correct view can be examined and strengthened through opposition and challenge.

To deny others the right to say something is a type of slow intellectual death. That position implies that we are right in what we believe such that we simply cannot conceive an alternative. Better to die allowing others to challenge that, than commit the slow intellectual suicide that a closed mind entails.

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Re: What's the appeal of "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"?

Post by Cittasanto » Mon Jan 01, 2018 11:05 pm

Hi binocular
binocular wrote:
Mon Jan 01, 2018 3:26 pm
But what is the appeal of saying "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"?
Why would anyone say such a thing??
if you know the original context of the saying itself should give you a better understanding. or at least why it has been used to express voltaires ideas.

As for myself my signiture gives one reason I personally find this appealing and I will allaborate on that below. But first Another reason is we live in a fragile world and any security we curently believe we have is easier to loose than we may like to think, so dealing with difficult opinions and learning how to look at them helps us develop resiliance.

As to my signiture
another quote from in the same chapter John Stuart Mills "On Liberty" chapter 2
If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind. Were an opinion a personal possession of no value except to the owner; if to be obstructed in the enjoyment of it were simply a private injury, it would make some difference whether the injury was inflicted only on a few persons or on many. But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.
regardless of my perception of being right to rob myself or another of their ability to voice a differing opinion, even if it is only on finer points, is to rob myself and others of correction. it also limits what can be reported on by giving legitimacy only to orthodoxy. Sure when it comes to certain subjects the facts are well established and ridiculing the other opinion is warented, but that is not the same as silencing the opinion. [edit]I remember a reporter saying that it is the achademics and reporters who criticise the estambishmnet who are gone after first, and she was concerned for her safety during the last Bush administeation.

As I recently posted in the threats to free speach thread, there is curently a move in the UK to penalise Universities for no platforming speakers which I think is waranted to protect free speach and enabling people to be exposed to opinions in a learning context.

This is not to say that all forms of expression are allowed instigating violence, or harrassment are and should be prohibited.
binocular wrote:
Mon Jan 01, 2018 3:26 pm
If anything, the saying seems more like a pious exaggeration.
how do you mean?

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Cittasanto
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He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

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Re: What's the appeal of "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"?

Post by pilgrim » Mon Jan 01, 2018 11:18 pm

Isn't there a limit to free speech? Would you, for example, defend the rights of ISIS to set up a recruiting station or a website calling for genocide?

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Re: What's the appeal of "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"?

Post by Justsit » Tue Jan 02, 2018 12:45 am

pilgrim wrote:
Mon Jan 01, 2018 11:18 pm
Isn't there a limit to free speech? Would you, for example, defend the rights of ISIS to set up a recruiting station or a website calling for genocide?
Yes, there are limits on free speech, at least in the US. The most frequent example cited is that a person does not have the right to yell "Fire!" in a crowded theater. Nor do persons have the right to verbally slander or libel; commit sedition, treason, or obscenity; incite a riot or promote hatred or actions that harm others, etc.

In your example, setting up a recruiting station is an action, not speech, and also would be considered treason in the US, as ISIS is considered a terrorist organization. The Internet presents a different set of policing problems due to the applicable laws and rules in various countries. AFAIK right now, the various website hosts seem to be responsible for monitoring content.

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Re: What's the appeal of "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"?

Post by binocular » Tue Jan 02, 2018 8:12 am

retrofuturist wrote:
Mon Jan 01, 2018 9:02 pm
It means one is willing to fight against that which would undermine their right to free speech, and freedom in general. If I have that right, you have that right. If you don't, I don't.
Human history is a history of inequality. And from what it looks like, most people don't seem to have a problem with it -- as long as it is the others who are less equal. "If I have the right, I don't care whether you have it or not."
If not for freedom and liberty, why did the allies war with the Nazis?
Supremacy, or at least their own survival.
Freedom and liberty might be the official slogans, but even if so, they were actually freedom and liberty from the Nazi regime, not freedom and liberty in some grand, metaphysical sense.
perkele wrote:
Mon Jan 01, 2018 10:18 pm
Because maybe Nazi Germany, if not stopped by them, might have become a serious threat to them as well? If you have the means to stop the psychopathic bully next door who is slaughtering one of the other neighbours, it seems prudent to do so, not only out of pure altruism and high moral values you want to protect.
It's telling that the US refused to get involved in WWI until Germany has repeatedly committed acts of war against the US (United States declaration of war on Germany (1917)).

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Re: What's the appeal of "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"?

Post by binocular » Tue Jan 02, 2018 8:38 am

Cittasanto wrote:
Mon Jan 01, 2018 11:05 pm
binocular wrote:
Mon Jan 01, 2018 3:26 pm
If anything, the saying seems more like a pious exaggeration.
how do you mean?
Well, it seems silly, to say the least. To be willing to die so that another person can say whatever they want??!

This seems far more how things really are:

Image

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Re: What's the appeal of "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"?

Post by chownah » Tue Jan 02, 2018 8:48 am

perkele wrote:
Mon Jan 01, 2018 10:18 pm
But on the topic of that particular freedom of speech slogan: Yes, that does sound very much like just hollow moral grandstanding or advanced virtue signaling to me, and I would not believe anyone who says that.
Would you say this about someone in the armed forces who made this statement as they were being shipped off to war?
chownah

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Re: What's the appeal of "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"?

Post by binocular » Tue Jan 02, 2018 9:04 am

Sam Vara wrote:
Mon Jan 01, 2018 10:22 pm
In adition to what Retro has said, I would add that there is an important intellectual strand in Millian liberalism which acknowledges one's own ignorance and lack of experience. We need others to state their case to challenge our world-view, either so that we can adopt elements of their better view, or so that our correct view can be examined and strengthened through opposition and challenge.

To deny others the right to say something is a type of slow intellectual death. That position implies that we are right in what we believe such that we simply cannot conceive an alternative. Better to die allowing others to challenge that, than commit the slow intellectual suicide that a closed mind entails.
This seems to be a popular sentiment, but it doesn't seem that people in positions of power or those who aim for such positions take such things seriously. Say it, yes, but not actually do it. Or at least have so many rules about whose opinion to exclude from consideration that it all comes down to heeding only one's own worldview anyway.

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Re: What's the appeal of "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"?

Post by Cittasanto » Tue Jan 02, 2018 5:46 pm

binocular wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 8:38 am
Well, it seems silly, to say the least. To be willing to die so that another person can say whatever they want??!

This seems far more how things really are:

Image
It is defending the right to hold and express views, it isn't a defence of a particular view. By defending someones rights you are defending your own.
I don't take it litterally in the sense that I am willing to be executed for anothers rights, but rather, the time I will stop defending the right is when I can not defend the right aka at death.

I am sure vocal oponents of the complete freedom are like the cartoon. However, disagreeing isn't stopping the speech, although certain forms of protest at events are trying to silence.

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Cittasanto
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He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

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Re: What's the appeal of "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"?

Post by binocular » Tue Jan 02, 2018 6:43 pm

Cittasanto wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 5:46 pm
It is defending the right to hold and express views, it isn't a defence of a particular view.
In practice, how is there a difference between the two?
By defending someones rights you are defending your own.
It's not clear that many people interpret this this way.

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Re: What's the appeal of "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"?

Post by Justsit » Tue Jan 02, 2018 7:43 pm

binocular wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 6:43 pm
Cittasanto wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 5:46 pm
It is defending the right to hold and express views, it isn't a defence of a particular view.
In practice, how is there a difference between the two?
By defending someones rights you are defending your own.
It's not clear that many people interpret this this way.
Real-world example with regard to individuals:

Person A: "! think XX Politician is a jerk and XX's political party are all jerks. XX Party should be abolished"

Person B, who belongs to XX political party:"I do not agree with the content of what you say, but I agree that you have the
right to say that."

B does not defend the content, but does defend the right to have that view and verbalize it without fear of government retribution. It does not mean Person A thereby has the right to act on that view.
And B therefore also has the right to disagree with A.

Thus, defending another's right to free speech is in effect defending one's own.

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Re: What's the appeal of "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"?

Post by Cittasanto » Tue Jan 02, 2018 8:06 pm

binocular wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 6:43 pm
Cittasanto wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 5:46 pm
It is defending the right to hold and express views, it isn't a defence of a particular view.
In practice, how is there a difference between the two?
because defending a right need not do more about the opinion than show how it is covered by the right to express it. an atterney need not be a pedophile to defend someone who is accused of pedaphilia.

binocular wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 6:43 pm
Cittasanto wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 5:46 pm
By defending someones rights you are defending your own.
It's not clear that many people interpret this this way.
can you give an example where you are getting that impression?

Kind Regards
Cittasanto
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He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

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Re: What's the appeal of "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"?

Post by perkele » Tue Jan 02, 2018 8:07 pm

chownah wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 8:48 am
Would you say this about someone in the armed forces who made this statement as they were being shipped off to war?
chownah
Why would I want to badmouth someone specifically who is being shipped off to a war? Seems like he is in a bad enough situation already.
But regarding the credibility of such a statement from a person like that, it's no different to the general case. It just seems absurd and overbearing.
He might believe this to be true in some very abstract sense. But I don't see how it can apply. And I can hardly imagine anybody in any actual concrete situation defending to the death my right to say whatever shit I want to say in that moment. I might be indebted to him then in some way for his heroic act of self-sacrifice, but I can really not imagine a situation where I would not find this incredibly stupid. Why should someone sacrifice their life for my right to say something? I think nobody should do that.

Just to clarify:
Justsit wrote:Person A: "! think XX Politician is a jerk and XX's political party are all jerks. XX Party should be abolished"

Person B, who belongs to XX political party:"I do not agree with the content of what you say, but I agree that you have the right to say that."
(emphasis mine)
This is very different from saying "but I will defend to the death your right to say that". I would agree with the former. But I would not believe anyone who says the latter. And if they were actually sincere about the latter statement, then most likely I would think that to be extremely stupid.

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Re: What's the appeal of "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"?

Post by Cittasanto » Tue Jan 02, 2018 8:16 pm

Justsit wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 7:43 pm
....
That is a more direct example than mine. Thank-you
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

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Re: What's the appeal of "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"?

Post by Justsit » Wed Jan 03, 2018 12:37 am

perkele wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 8:07 pm
Justsit wrote:Person A: "! think XX Politician is a jerk and XX's political party are all jerks. XX Party should be abolished"

Person B, who belongs to XX political party:"I do not agree with the content of what you say, but I agree that you have the right to say that."
(emphasis mine)
This is very different from saying "but I will defend to the death your right to say that". I would agree with the former. But I would not believe anyone who says the latter. And if they were actually sincere about the latter statement, then most likely I would think that to be extremely stupid.
There are those who would defend to the death their own right to free speech.
Maybe stupid, maybe not.

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Re: What's the appeal of "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"?

Post by binocular » Wed Jan 03, 2018 10:35 am

Justsit wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 7:43 pm
Real-world example with regard to individuals:

Person A: "! think XX Politician is a jerk and XX's political party are all jerks. XX Party should be abolished"

Person B, who belongs to XX political party:"I do not agree with the content of what you say, but I agree that you have the
right to say that."
B does not defend the content, but does defend the right to have that view and verbalize it without fear of government retribution.
Maybe not government retribution, but certainly personal retribution. How a scenario like the above would develop would, where I come from, depend on the relative power that each person has. If A is the boss, then B better comply; if B said what your B says above, B would have to look for a new job. And if someone in a lesser position would say what your A says above, that would probably have devastating consequences.
It does not mean Person A thereby has the right to act on that view.
How does it not?
And B therefore also has the right to disagree with A.
The right, yes, but not the privilege to get away with such disagreement unscathed.
To hell with rights where acting on them makes things worse for one!
Thus, defending another's right to free speech is in effect defending one's own.
I just don't see how that follows.

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