Re: nuremburg files judgement

Timothy Bates (
Mon, 01 Mar 1999 19:51:58 +1100

Randall Randall do say

> I'd want *any* free speech allowed, even "Fire!" in a crowded
> theater... Of course, this would always be covered by contract...

If I say "fire" in a crowded theatre and 10 people are trampled to death, I am responsible and will be tried for manslaughter. I support that.

On our ABC last night there was a BBC program about white supremacists followed up by an interview with a representative of the Australian Jewish Council.

This chap argued that saying things like "Jews are the children of Satan" ought to be illegal because they incite crime and he direct claimed the logic of the fire in a theatre example

I found myself disagreeing vigorously with that notion, imagining the slippery slope ...

Let anyone say anything, is my motto. Except it turns out that I don't think people should be able to inject dangerous false information into a crowded theatre. Am I a hypocrite? I think not any more than i could defend myself against a murder charge if I fired the gun on voice command instead of pulling the trigger.

Some related examples that I have been mulling over include.

If you say "Bill, kill tim and I will give you 5 grand" that is a crime. Not because of the speech per se. but because of the contract it creates: a contract to initiate force. I support that.

Larry Flynt defends his right to print pornography. I support that, even though some argue that it incites violence against women. So my position so far is that you are not responsible for the processing that other people do on your speech, so long as you are not directly commanding or aiding them to commit an illegal act.

If you say something silly and wrong like "Jewish people are the children of Satan", or "Extropians are out to sterilize humanity", I think you should be able to say these things and that sane people can reveal the illogical reasoning in these statements.

But if you say "these people here on this list should die and here are the times when they are alone and here are their children's photos and class school schedules" I think you are aiding and abetting a crime and would pay to stop that happening.

Is that a reasonable position: free speech = all speech which does not directly aid specific acts of violence?

Food for thought:

What is speech that it is free where action is not? When is speech action?

Why are we not free to speak lies (that is libel)?

Note too that under British Common Law, unlike US law, being correct is not a sufficient defense against libel. So in Britain you are not even free to speak the truth, if it harms another person's reputation. For reasons related to this, publication of books similar to the Bell Curve can be deemed a crime in the UK, though this is seldom enforced these days.