FacebookTwitter
Hatrack River Forum Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile login | register | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Possible french law makes it a crime to deny Armenians suffered genocide (Page 1)

  This topic comprises 2 pages: 1  2   
Author Topic: Possible french law makes it a crime to deny Armenians suffered genocide
Dagonee
Member
Member # 5818

 - posted      Profile for Dagonee           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
From the Wash. Post:

quote:
France's lower house of parliament approved a bill on Thursday making it a crime to deny Armenians suffered genocide at the hands of Ottoman Turks...

The legislation calls for a one-year prison term and 45,000 euro ($56,570) fine for anyone denying the 1915 genocide -- the same sanction as for denying the Nazi genocide of Jews.

"Does a genocide committed in World War One have less value than a genocide committed in World War Two? Obviously not," Philippe Pomezec, a parliamentarian with the ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), said during the debate.

There's a bunch of political stuff about NATO and Turkey's EU membership in the article, but what I find interesting is this idea of legislating truth.

It seems Turkey has attempted the same thing:

quote:
Pamuk recently went on trial for insulting "Turkishness" after telling a Swiss newspaper nobody in Turkey dared mention the Armenian massacres. The court eventually dropped charges.
In this case, he was charged for accusing Turkey of supressing the opposite of what France is trying to supress - kind of a meta-truth-legislation.

Does anyone think this is a good type of legislation? Anti-Holocaust revisionist laws are on the book in several European countries.

Assuming the position supported by the French bill - that the genocide happened - is true, does that make the French bill less oppressive than any attempts by Turkey to supress the false position? Assuming Turkey's position is true, is there something worse (or better) about supressing false statements about one's own country? And would France be doing something worse by trying to coerce people to espouse slanderous positions via the criminal law?

In other words, are such laws less oppressive when the banned statement is truly false, and does the type of error matter in this evaluation?

My first reaction is to call all such bills horrible and enemies of the truth, even when the opinion being mandated is true.

But I got interested in what, exactly, is the type of wrongdoing when the bill not only censors but also causes propogation of untruths.

Posts: 26071 | Registered: Oct 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Corwin
Member
Member # 5705

 - posted      Profile for Corwin           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I read an article about it yesterday, I think. Pretty disturbing. If I remember correctly the "insulting Turkishness" law is a little bit older. It just "didn't apply" in that case.
Posts: 4519 | Registered: Sep 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Dagonee
Member
Member # 5818

 - posted      Profile for Dagonee           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The "insulting Turkishness" law is more inherently scary, because it's vagueness allows it to be used in a far more arbitrary manner and to supress a far greater range of expression.

But that's far afield of the specific aspect I'm trying to analyze. For purposes of the comparison, assume there is a specific law in Turkey that just bans denying that the Armenian genocide didn't happen.

Posts: 26071 | Registered: Oct 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Corwin
Member
Member # 5705

 - posted      Profile for Corwin           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Too many negatives... :explodes:
Posts: 4519 | Registered: Sep 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MrSquicky
Member
Member # 1802

 - posted      Profile for MrSquicky   Email MrSquicky         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
These countries have a different perspective than we do. I'm not sure that I can say that they are obviously wrong.

There are certain types of speech that we consider criminal as well. For example, threatening the life of the President. It seems possible to draw an analogy between this and say denying the holocaust.

Both could be considered threats serious enough to take action on. Obviously, the Presidential example is more clear cut and immediate, but there could be a similar type of thinking.

On a different note, it is possible to make a judgement that certain types of people should not be welcomed in your society. Germany, for example, really doesn't want Neo-Nazis hanging around and uses their laws to enforce this.

I don't know that I agree that the benefit outweighs the cost there, but I don't think that it is by any means a clear cut "our way is better" situation.

Posts: 10177 | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Stephan
Member
Member # 7549

 - posted      Profile for Stephan   Email Stephan         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I have mixed emotions. Part of me wants the idiots to be heard, so everyone will know how stupid they sound. The other part knows that other idiots will be the ones actually listening.
Posts: 3134 | Registered: Mar 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Dagonee
Member
Member # 5818

 - posted      Profile for Dagonee           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
What factors would you use to decide if such a law is good or bad?

Some I can think of:

1.) Whether the banned statement is true.
2.) Who is harmed by the statement.
3.) How important is it to make the banned statement (which could be analyzed in dozens or hundreds of ways).

If the overall goal of making undesireables unwelcome in society is acceptable, then none of these factors are necessarily dispositive.

I'm hard-pressed to see the difference in these laws and the homosexuality laws as OSC advocates them. It seems that the judgment of the law itself under this framework would be based on the desirability or undesirability of the underlying behavior. And "undesriablity" must be somehow defined. The ultimate definers will be the government. In the French case, the article makes it clear this is a driect expression of a particular interest groups definition of desirability.

Also, neither bans the underlying belief/behavior but rather merely attempts to force such belief/behavior out of public sight.

Posts: 26071 | Registered: Oct 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Rakeesh
Member
Member # 2001

 - posted      Profile for Rakeesh   Email Rakeesh         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I heard about this on NPR..last week? This week? I forget when exactly. The coolest thing (I think) about the story is that the one man, an Armenian I believe, in Turkey who was threatened with this law said that if France passes it, one of the very first things he'll do is travel there and deny the genocide.

*sigh* This sort of ambiguity is what I get for listening to the news at work.

Posts: 17164 | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
The Pixiest
Member
Member # 1863

 - posted      Profile for The Pixiest   Email The Pixiest         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
This is a bad law.

It's not like France is newly liberated from the ottomans and they have to worry about ottoman partisans forming resistance groups using the propaganda. (which was the case in germany with the nazis)

The purpose of this law isn't even to protect the feelings armenians. It's a political jab to keep Turkey out of the EU.

But even if it was to keep Armenians from getting offended, it would still be a bad law. It's not slander or libel. It's not directed at an individual. It's protected under free speech.

Do they pretend to have free speech in France?

Posts: 7085 | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
ketchupqueen
Member
Member # 6877

 - posted      Profile for ketchupqueen   Email ketchupqueen         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
If they already have the Holocaust law I don't see that making this one should raise any additional issues, except that Turkey still officially denies it? Is that right?

I'm really slow today, does someone mind very slowly explaining to me how it's different?

Posts: 21181 | Registered: Sep 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MrSquicky
Member
Member # 1802

 - posted      Profile for MrSquicky   Email MrSquicky         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
OSC's objections to homosexuals appears, from his writing, to come in large part from beliefs that are demonstrably false and constitute forcing others to live according to his religion.

I don't know that this is adequately compared to banning people saying things that are false or making it illegal to be a neo-Nazi. While the structure of these situations are very similar, the underlying factors are very different.

It's like saying that there isn't a difference between laws against, say theft, and laws against not being a Christian or wearing the color green. The decision here isn't so much whether it's okay in general to consider certain behaviors undesirable, but whether there is a sound basis for considering specific behaviors as undesirable.

The decision of whether or not some group or behavior is undesirable should rest on as objective an expectation of harm as possible. The anti-gay crowd has consistently failed to reach this standard and their arguments have often turned out to be intellectually and/or ethically deficient.

Even assuming that they have demonstrated some solid points as to why it should be okay to throw gay people in prison, I don't think anyone except those from the furthest extreme is going to say that the case against gays is anything even approaching that against neo-Nazis. Though perhaps you disagree Dag, as you apparently don't see a difference between these laws.

Posts: 10177 | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
twinky
Member
Member # 693

 - posted      Profile for twinky   Email twinky         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I actually meant to start a thread on freedom of speech addressed particularly to Storm Saxon, because some time ago he and I discussed hate speech/genocide incitement laws here in Canada. I felt that I hadn't done a very good job of expressing my position and the reasons for it, but it recently came up on another forum and I went back through the judicial history. I found the seminal Supreme Court of Canada decision on whether Canada's hate speech law constitutes a "reasonable limitation" of the right to freedom of speech -- that is, whether the restriction is Constitutional. The whole thing was very interesting, and I had planned to start a new thread with some quotes from the decision.

If you don't mind, I would like to make that post in this thread instead, because in touching on the issues you raise in your first post I'll definitely want to make reference to what the law is here in Canada (and why).

[Smile]

Added: Rakeesh, I heard that on the CBC within the last two days, so I imagine you heard it this week.

Posts: 10886 | Registered: Feb 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MrSquicky
Member
Member # 1802

 - posted      Profile for MrSquicky   Email MrSquicky         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Incidentally, I'm curious. Did I pull a neo-Godwin?
Posts: 10177 | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Dan_raven
Member
Member # 3383

 - posted      Profile for Dan_raven   Email Dan_raven         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I find this uncomfortable for three reasons.

1) It is anti-free speech. Whenever a government starts limiting what you can and can not say, even under the most grand of reasons, it is dangerous. They are in truth trying to police what you can think, and that is never good.

2) It is French Cultural Imperialism. They are trying to enact a law in France to tell another soveriegn country--Turkey--how they should behave. (How would Frenchmen react if Turkey passed a law stating that any proclaiming that Joan of Arc was other than an insane child, they will be fined)

3) Its all a base political move to win the hundreds of thousands of French Armenian votes. Hypocracy is not an American political monopoly, despite the claims of certain French politicians.

Posts: 11895 | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Dan_raven
Member
Member # 3383

 - posted      Profile for Dan_raven   Email Dan_raven         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Besides, what happens if we discover that, while the genocide was planned, the GSM (Giant Spaghetti Monster) gathered up all the Armenians and took them away to a far nicer, better irrigated, and much cooler and hip planet? THen would the law be one that demands we lie?
Posts: 11895 | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Tresopax
Member
Member # 1063

 - posted      Profile for Tresopax           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
If you believe in the value of free speech then these, including the law banning denial of Nazi genocide, are horrible laws. They make it illegal to express a political opinion - the exact opposite of the right to free speech.

And I think this new possible French law illustrates what's so dangerous about allowing such laws. If it can be illegal to deny Nazi genocide, it could be illegal to deny Turkish genocide. If it can be illegal to deny Turkish genocide, it could be illegal to deny all sorts of politically contraversial claims. And so on and so forth, until it is illegal to make political statements that a given ruling power doesn't want you to make.

Posts: 8120 | Registered: Jul 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MrSquicky
Member
Member # 1802

 - posted      Profile for MrSquicky   Email MrSquicky         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
If you believe in the value of free speech then these, including the law banning denial of Nazi genocide, are horrible laws.
The only way that is true is if you assert that the value of free speech trumps the concerns that these laws represent. Law is often more a balancing act between competing concerns than a clear black and white decision.

We admit limitations to the freedom of speech too. I mentioned one above. Another famous one is yelling "Fire!" in a crowded movie theater. In these cases, we judge that the other aspects of the situation are more important than maintaining an uninfringed right to free speech.

I don't agree with the valuing represented here, but passing this sort of law says little about the commitment to the value of free speech other than it is considered to be outweighed by these other concerns.

Posts: 10177 | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Flaming Toad on a Stick
Member
Member # 9302

 - posted      Profile for Flaming Toad on a Stick   Email Flaming Toad on a Stick         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Dan_raven:
Besides, what happens if we discover that, while the genocide was planned, the GSM (Giant Spaghetti Monster) gathered up all the Armenians and took them away to a far nicer, better irrigated, and much cooler and hip planet? Then would the law be one that demands we lie?

I'm sure you didn't mean to offend anyone, but here I am, offended. I am of Armenian descent. My grandparents' parents had to flee to Lebanon to escape the massacres and the death marches. The issue is kinda personal to me.

As for the French government:
It is one thing to publicly acknowledge the genocide (We're still waiting on the U.S.), and another to ban free speech. That being said, laws in many countries state that denial of the Holocaust is illegal. Either way it goes could have massive political fallout. If the law is passed, the situation Tresopax gave could well happen. If the law is repealed, does that mean that laws that make it illegal to deny the Holocaust should also be repealed? Neither seems a valid path.

Posts: 1594 | Registered: Apr 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Mig
Member
Member # 9284

 - posted      Profile for Mig   Email Mig         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I agree with Dan on all points, except about the GSM.

From what I know about the Armenian genocide, I have little doubt that it happended and that it is nothing to joke about. The Turkish perspective, I don't fully understand, but it has something to do with them rejecting the term "genocide" because it tends to inplicate some level of state intentional action. The Turks claim that Armenians died as the result of famine and ethnic clashes attendant to the chaos of WWI. I doubt their defense mainly because of the sheer numbers dead (about a million) and the historic Armenian/Ottoman antipathy.

Mr Squicky, your comparison of the French and Turkish laws to the crime of threatening to kill the president is a poorly choosen one. Threats to kill anyone are illegal in most, if not all countries. Federal law provides a crime for threatening or assualting a pres, VP, former pres, and other government officials. The rest of us are covered under state laws.
All this does is bring the offense within federal jurisdication. I'm guessing your confused by the fact that the secret service tends to take even jokes about killing the president seriously, so they investigate a lot of cases which leads to public attention public attention, but few are actually prosecuted because comments and jokes rarely rise to the level of a threat/assualt.

A better example I think are US and state laws that limit or prohibit certain types of demonstrations. For example: the federal law that prohibits demonstrations near abortion centers, and the laws adopted in several states recently to ban protests at funerals in response to the idiots from Phelps church.

Posts: 407 | Registered: Mar 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Dagonee
Member
Member # 5818

 - posted      Profile for Dagonee           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
OSC's objections to homosexuals appears, from his writing, to come in large part from beliefs that are demonstrably false and constitute forcing others to live according to his religion.

I don't know that this is adequately compared to banning people saying things that are false or making it illegal to be a neo-Nazi. While the structure of these situations are very similar, the underlying factors are very different.

We're not talking making it being illegal to be a neo-Nazi, we're talking about it being illegal to say certain things that neo-Nazis say - whether the speaker is a neo-Nazi or not.

If falsity makes the difference, then is it all falsity that can be banned? Or just some? Does the crime require intent? Knowledge of falsity? Negligence about the truth?

As to the religious basis, that's a particular perspective. As you stated, "these countries have a different perspective than we do." Part of this perspective is that openly tolerating certain speech will cause problems. Part of OSC's perspective is that openly tolerating certain sexual activity will cause problems. I'm not sure what basis you have for assigning validity to one view of what will lead to bad results and invalidity to another.

For example, "insulting turkishness" could certainly cause problems in Turkey. Does that make the law OK?

Posts: 26071 | Registered: Oct 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Dagonee
Member
Member # 5818

 - posted      Profile for Dagonee           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
One big difference between this law and an anti-threat or anti-"FIRE"-in-crowded-theater law is that this law bans a particular viewpoint. The others ban particular effects of speech. That represents a significant jump in the manner in which speech is affected.
Posts: 26071 | Registered: Oct 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MrSquicky
Member
Member # 1802

 - posted      Profile for MrSquicky   Email MrSquicky         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Part of OSC's perspective is that openly tolerating certain sexual activity will cause problems. I'm not sure what basis you have for assigning validity to one view of what will lead to bad results and invalidity to another.
I didn't think I was being that subtle:
quote:
OSC's objections to homosexuals appears, from his writing, to come in large part from beliefs that are demonstrably false and constitute forcing others to live according to his religion.
quote:
The decision of whether or not some group or behavior is undesirable should rest on as objective an expectation of harm as possible. The anti-gay crowd has consistently failed to reach this standard and their arguments have often turned out to be intellectually and/or ethically deficient.

Even assuming that they have demonstrated some solid points as to why it should be okay to throw gay people in prison, I don't think anyone except those from the furthest extreme is going to say that the case against gays is anything even approaching that against neo-Nazis. Though perhaps you disagree Dag, as you apparently don't see a difference between these laws.

---
quote:
We're not talking making it being illegal to be a neo-Nazi, we're talking about it being illegal to say certain things that neo-Nazis say - whether the speaker is a neo-Nazi or not.
I am.
quote:

On a different note, it is possible to make a judgement that certain types of people should not be welcomed in your society. Germany, for example, really doesn't want Neo-Nazis hanging around and uses their laws to enforce this.

If you weren't responding to this, I'm not sure how I see the OSC on homosexuals allusion makes sense.
Posts: 10177 | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Dagonee
Member
Member # 5818

 - posted      Profile for Dagonee           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Oh, and twinky, feel free to post about Canada's laws. This seems like a good thread to do it in.
Posts: 26071 | Registered: Oct 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Dagonee
Member
Member # 5818

 - posted      Profile for Dagonee           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Are you somehow contending that those answer my post, Squicky? Or do you just like to repost. It seems you've been on a bit of a reposting kick as of late.
Posts: 26071 | Registered: Oct 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MrSquicky
Member
Member # 1802

 - posted      Profile for MrSquicky   Email MrSquicky         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
One big difference between this law and an anti-threat or anti-"FIRE"-in-crowded-theater law is that this law bans a particular viewpoint. The others ban particular effects of speech. That represents a significant jump in the manner in which speech is affected.
That's not really true though. The "Fire!" example is based not on the effects of the speech, but rather the probable effects of the speech. This wasn't passed by a bunch of psychics who knew what the effect would always be. You can make an argument that the ban on Holocaust denying et al. is at least partially focused on the probable effects of this speech.

I think such an argument would be incomplete and I agree that it's on a different level, but still the argument exists.

Posts: 10177 | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Dagonee
Member
Member # 5818

 - posted      Profile for Dagonee           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
I am.
Well, I wasn't. When I said "I'm hard-pressed to see the difference in these laws and the homosexuality laws," "these laws" referred to the French and Turkey ones, presumably the ones you were alluding to with "I'm not sure that I can say that they are obviously wrong."

I'm desperately trying to continue to ignore your stupid, insulting, and downright dishonest implication contained in this:

quote:
I don't think anyone except those from the furthest extreme is going to say that the case against gays is anything even approaching that against neo-Nazis. Though perhaps you disagree Dag, as you apparently don't see a difference between these laws.
Especially in light of the current sticky thread.
Posts: 26071 | Registered: Oct 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
King of Men
Member
Member # 6684

 - posted      Profile for King of Men   Email King of Men         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
They've got a point about consistency with the Holocaust law, certainly; then again, I'm not too happy about the Holocaust denial laws, either.
Posts: 10645 | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Dagonee
Member
Member # 5818

 - posted      Profile for Dagonee           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
That's not really true though. The "Fire!" example is based not on the effects of the speech, but rather the probable effects of the speech. This wasn't passed by a bunch of psychics who knew what the effect would always be. You can make an argument that the ban on Holocaust denying et al. is at least partially focused on the probable effects of this speech.

I think such an argument would be incomplete and I agree that it's on a different level, but still the argument exists.

They're not banning speech that might have a particular effect. They're banning particular speech because it might have a particular effect.

When someone is prosecuted under an anti-"FIRE"-in-crowded-theater law, the likelihood of the effect occurring because of that particular instance of speech is an elment of the crime and must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. That's not the case in the anti-Armenian-genocide-denial law.

Simplified elements of each crime:

Anti-"FIRE"-in-crowded-theater law: 1) speech 2) made in public 3) with the likely effect of causing a dangerous stampede (usually it would be more general than this, but still the likeliness must be proven).

Anti-Armenian-genocide-denial law: 1) speech 2) which denies that event X occurred.

No effect element.

So, while adding probable is necessary to make my statement accurate, the characterization "The 'Fire!' example is based not on the effects of the speech, but rather the probable effects of the speech" is significantly inaccurate. The way to properly restate my characterization is to say that the "fire" law "bans acts that increase the likelihood of particular effects occurring, and that speech is included in the acts under consideration."

To make it constitutional, we would add proper adjectives such as "a substantial likelihood."

Posts: 26071 | Registered: Oct 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MrSquicky
Member
Member # 1802

 - posted      Profile for MrSquicky   Email MrSquicky         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
If this:
quote:
I'm hard-pressed to see the difference in these laws and the homosexuality laws as OSC advocates them.
wasn't about the neo-Nazi laws and instead was only about the speech thing, then let me clear it up for you. OSC advocates using the law against a certain group of people because of the very fact that they belong to a certain group in order to assert that these people don't belong in our society. The speech laws are aimed at excluding a certain viewpoint, judged to be false, from being actively represented as true and is not about a passive group of people.

This difference is to me excedingly clear, such that I didn't see how you could not instead be talking about the laws I had just mentioned that were set up for the same purpose as OSC had with homosexuals. If that wasn't what you were talking about, I don't see how bringing up what OSC makes sense, but what I said is no longer necessarily a logical extension of your statements.

Posts: 10177 | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Mig
Member
Member # 9284

 - posted      Profile for Mig   Email Mig         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Dagonee:
One big difference between this law and an anti-threat or anti-"FIRE"-in-crowded-theater law is that this law bans a particular viewpoint. The others ban particular effects of speech. That represents a significant jump in the manner in which speech is affected.

Anti-threat or -"FIRE"-in-crowded-theater laws are also distinguishable because they may lead to genuine physical harm as opposed to laws against insults which only protect aginst hurt feelings.

The French are setting a bad western example to the Muslim world which is constantly taking offense over one or more "insults to islam." How can the French tell their islamic citizens that free speech is more important than protecting people from being offended by an idea, when they go ahead an do something like this?

Insults and making false factual claims in the US, and , I think, generally elsewhere are not illegal. You can insult all you want, and you can make false or untrue statements about anyone you want, if you want to risk a slander or libel suit (and in slander/libel truth is a defense). But insulting an idea? Making one set of facts more important than the protecting speech? Where do you stop?

Posts: 407 | Registered: Mar 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Dagonee
Member
Member # 5818

 - posted      Profile for Dagonee           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by MrSquicky:
If this:
quote:
I'm hard-pressed to see the difference in these laws and the homosexuality laws as OSC advocates them.
wasn't about the neo-Nazi laws and instead was only about the speech thing, then let me clear it up for you. OSC advocates using the law against a certain group of people because of the very fact that they belong to a certain group in order to assert that these people don't belong in our society. The speech laws are aimed at excluding a certain viewpoint, judged to be false, from being actively represented as true and is not about a passive group of people.

This difference is to me excedingly clear, such that I didn't see how you could not instead be talking about the laws I had just mentioned that were set up for the same purpose as OSC had with homosexuals. If that wasn't what you were talking about, I don't see how bringing up what OSC makes sense, but what I said is no longer necessarily a logical extension of your statements.

Good. I don't care if you see how it makes sense any more, as long as you've withdrawn your extension.
Posts: 26071 | Registered: Oct 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MrSquicky
Member
Member # 1802

 - posted      Profile for MrSquicky   Email MrSquicky         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Your explanation is accurate from an explicit legal standpoint, but not necessarily from a more generalized one. It is entirely possible to make a law based on what one perceives as the likely effects of something without codifying these effects into the determination of that crime, especially when the effects we're talking about are as potentially widespread and nebulous as would be in the case of denying the Holocaust or this genocide.
Posts: 10177 | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Brian J. Hill
Member
Member # 5346

 - posted      Profile for Brian J. Hill   Email Brian J. Hill         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
It doesn't suprise me one bit that there is a law like this in France. France has a very different idea of individual liberty than do Americans; consequently, they have a much broader definition at which liberties should be curtailed for the good of the society. For example, the police have the right to stop anyone on the street, for any reason, and ask them to show their government-issued photo I.D. cards. This would constitute a flagrant violation of civil liberties in America, with the ACLU demanding the repeal of such draconian measures; to the French, it's just good policing.
Posts: 786 | Registered: Jun 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Dagonee
Member
Member # 5818

 - posted      Profile for Dagonee           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Your explanation is accurate from an explicit legal standpoint, but not necessarily from a more generalized one. It is entirely possible to make a law based on what one perceives as the likely effects of something without codifying these effects into the determination of that crime, especially when the effects we're talking about are as potentially widespread and nebulous as would be in the case of denying the Holocaust or this genocide.
And yet I haven't contended that the law wasn't based on likely effects, only that is bans speech with specific content, not effects. This is what it does, and it's a siginificant difference between the two laws.

I didn't deny that the argument exists that the effects of Holocaust denial would be bad. But it's a different kind of argument entirely - "the class of actions described by X might lead to Y, therefore the class of actions described by X are now criminal" rather than "specific acts that have a likelihood of causing a specific instance of Y are now criminal."

Posts: 26071 | Registered: Oct 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MrSquicky
Member
Member # 1802

 - posted      Profile for MrSquicky   Email MrSquicky         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
But it's a different kind of argument entirely - "the class of actions described by X might lead to Y, therefore the class of actions described by X are now criminal" rather than "specific acts that have a likelihood of causing a specific instance of Y are now criminal."
You slipped into lawyer speak a little too far for me to follow you here. Which argument is which? I think you're attaching the Holocaust denying to the first one, but I'm unsure enough to ask.
Posts: 10177 | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Dagonee
Member
Member # 5818

 - posted      Profile for Dagonee           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Yes, the first is the anti-denial law.
Posts: 26071 | Registered: Oct 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MrSquicky
Member
Member # 1802

 - posted      Profile for MrSquicky   Email MrSquicky         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Okay, but I'm not sure I understand the point. Of course the "Fire!" thing is different. That's one of the reasons why people who are arguing against this don't have a problem with it. I didn't bring it up to argue that it was equivilent, but rather to point out, in the face of people holding up free speech as sacrosanct, that we also abridge free speech at times.

---

edit: Ultimately, this comes down to a differential valuing of things. I don't agree with the value that the French seem to be putting on these things, but I'm not willing to say that they are obviously wrong for doing so.

For that matter, we've had threads here where people have spoken strongly in favor of abridging the free speech rights of groups such as NAMBLA. I view this as a similar situation. I can understand why they value things they way they do and I can even buy into the idea that we gain nothing from protecting speech with certain specific contents, but I don't agree with that valuing. This is not because I think that they are obviously wrong, but because I very much don't trust the government to decide what sort of speech should or should not be protected.

Posts: 10177 | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Juxtapose
Member
Member # 8837

 - posted      Profile for Juxtapose   Email Juxtapose         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Slippery slope concerns aside, I wonder if the law leaves room for satire and the like.
Posts: 2907 | Registered: Nov 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Dagonee
Member
Member # 5818

 - posted      Profile for Dagonee           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The point is that it's a qualitative difference, not merely one of degree.

A "fire" ordinance is based on far more than the content. It's a time-place-manner restriction (when there's a crowd-in a theater-shouting) with an effect element. No particular message or viewpoint is targeted. There's no message that such a law bans entirely.

The Armenian-genocide law is based solely on content. If passed, it is criminal to express this idea, at any time, in any place (within the jurisdiction of France), in any manner.

So we can talk of laws that ban speech, but the vast majority of them actually ban actions that include speech - threats (which don't require speech), "FIRE" (which is actually an incitement/public endangerment act), solicitation (an offer to buy or sell), conspiracy (agreement, not necessarily speech). There's no idea that may not be expressed.

The French law bans the expression of an idea.

That's a significant difference and one that requires viewing speech restrictions in a different manner entirely, not merely a different weighing of costs and benefits.

Posts: 26071 | Registered: Oct 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Dagonee
Member
Member # 5818

 - posted      Profile for Dagonee           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
This is not because I think that they are obviously wrong, but because I very much don't trust the government to decide what sort of speech should or should not be protected.
Exactly. It's this threshold that is crossed by the French law and not by the "FIRE" law.
Posts: 26071 | Registered: Oct 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MrSquicky
Member
Member # 1802

 - posted      Profile for MrSquicky   Email MrSquicky         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Errr...would you be happier if it was a broader prohibition then? Say, taking the anti-Holocaust/neo-Nazi thing, laws that prohibited the furthering of neo-Nazism, which incidentally included denying the Holocaust in order to do so?

(I'm much more comfortable with talking about the Holocaust denying, at least in part because I really know very little about the Turkey/Armenian situation.)

Posts: 10177 | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Dagonee
Member
Member # 5818

 - posted      Profile for Dagonee           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'm not happy with it at all. They're trying to ban the expression of certain ideas. I find that to be categorically different than banning yelling "FIRE" in a crowded theater. It requires a different justification than banning "FIRE" in a crowded theater, not one that merely draws some lines in a different place.
Posts: 26071 | Registered: Oct 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MrSquicky
Member
Member # 1802

 - posted      Profile for MrSquicky   Email MrSquicky         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Exactly. It's this threshold that is crossed by the French law and not by the "FIRE" law.
Yeah, but that's kind of my point too. They (hypothetically) are either more trusting of their government or more strongly opposed to this sort of thing than I am. From my perspective, it is a bad thing, but change either of those two elements and I would likely stop seeing it so.

Since I don't consider either of those two things to be set in stone for all the world, I'm not going to join the whole "The French are bad for doing this." chorus.

---

In regards to your latest (^), I think it's both fundamentally different and a matter of drawing the lines in different places, depending on what sort of lines you are talking about.

[ October 13, 2006, 03:33 PM: Message edited by: MrSquicky ]

Posts: 10177 | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MightyCow
Member
Member # 9253

 - posted      Profile for MightyCow           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
In America, it's illegal to make false statements about a person or company that a reasonable person might believe, and if so might cause the person or company in question harm. I can see this as a sort of extension of that idea.

I'm not sure that I support it, but I don't live in a country where that sort of thing is a problem. I imagine that if my grandparents had been killed in a cultural genocide, I would be pretty keen on making sure that it didn't happen again.

Posts: 3950 | Registered: Mar 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Dagonee
Member
Member # 5818

 - posted      Profile for Dagonee           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
In America, it's illegal to make false statements about a person or company that a reasonable person might believe, and if so might cause the person or company in question harm.
You have to be careful with the word "illegal." Such statements give rise to a civil cause of action, but not criminal liability.

There's also a wide range in the mental state required to find civil liability. If the subject of the statement is a public figure, then an accidentally false statement won't lead to liability unless the speaker had "reckless disregard for the truth." If the person is a private figure, then negligence about the truth of the statement can lead to liability.

All of this is very different from criminal liability. Civil actions focus more on compensation than punishment, although monetary punishment is possible.

The French law can lead to 3 years in prison.

Posts: 26071 | Registered: Oct 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Mig
Member
Member # 9284

 - posted      Profile for Mig   Email Mig         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
In America, it's illegal to make false statements about a person or company that a reasonable person might believe, and if so might cause the person or company in question harm.
Your close. Slander (oral statement) and Libel (written statement) require that the false statment actually harm or injure someone, generally speaking, that the statment harmed or prejudiced the complainant's reputaion. Dag is right in that, unlike the issue under discussion in France, slander/libel are civil torts not crimes, and that you have to show a reckless disregard for the truth.

I'm reminded about a recent trend in which some states have passed laws protecting certain industries from slanderous/libelous statments. Texas, for example, and its beef industry. Remember when Oprah got sued in Texas for making some disparaging remarks about Texas beef. But the Texas cattlemen had to prove, but didn't, that they were actually harmed not just that they were insulted by Oprah.

Posts: 407 | Registered: Mar 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MightyCow
Member
Member # 9253

 - posted      Profile for MightyCow           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Thanks for the clarification, I'm not as up on law as I might like. It's an interesting distinction.
Posts: 3950 | Registered: Mar 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
twinky
Member
Member # 693

 - posted      Profile for twinky   Email twinky         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Okay. [Smile]

quote:
Originally posted by Dagonee:
What factors would you use to decide if such a law is good or bad?

Some I can think of:

1.) Whether the banned statement is true.
2.) Who is harmed by the statement.
3.) How important is it to make the banned statement (which could be analyzed in dozens or hundreds of ways).

If the overall goal of making undesireables unwelcome in society is acceptable, then none of these factors are necessarily dispositive.

Exactly, though I would add that "the overall goal" might also encompass the prevention of harm in some such cases (not necessarily the French one). Those are the sorts of jugments that any legislative proposal to restrict freedom of expression must consider.

As background to the rest of my post, this speech by the Chief Justice of our Supreme Court, Beverly McLachlin, comprises in part a brief review of the differences in freedoms between Canada and the U.S. Notably:

quote:
Canada, like the United States, has a constitutional guarantee of free expression. Our Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees freedom of expression, subject to such reasonable limits as are "demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic society". In other words, we have free speech, but the state can limit it in reasonable ways. This may be contrasted with the absolute language of the First Amendment of the United States Bill of Rights, which states: "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech or of the press." The words of the Canadian guarantee acknowledge the state's right to limit free speech; the words of the American guarantee forbid the state from doing so.

Of course, we all know that the American Supreme Court has not interpreted the First Amendment literally. American rights, however absolutely stated in the Bill of Rights, are in fact subject to limits imposed by the Courts as they struggle to balance conflicting rights and situate them in a practical working framework. Free speech is no exception. In 1952, Justice Hugo Black, who insisted on reading the First Amendment literally, voted to strike down a states' group libel law, stating that the First Amendment "absolutely forbids such laws without any 'ifs' or 'buts' or 'whereases'." (Beauharnais v. Illinois, 343 U.S. 250, 275 (1952)). But he was in dissent and his view has not prevailed.. It was Mark Twain who said of the United States, only partly in jest, "It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience and the prudence never to practice either of them."

This said, the explicit recognition that, in a democratic society, limits may be imposed on fundamental freedoms means that free speech is more narrowly conceived in Canada than in the United States, as is evidenced by our respective positions on pornography, hate speech and defamation. While the American right of free speech admits of some limits in the name of reason or practical necessity, the fact remains that what would be counted as a reasonable limit on speech in Canada would often amount to an unreasonable limit in the United States.



To take another example, it is easier to sue for libel in Canada than it is in the United States. Application of the First Amendment's guarantee of press freedom led in this country to New York Times Co. v. Sullivan (376 US 254 (1964)) which permits newspapers to publish false rumours and make false statements about people with impunity so long as they do not do so intentionally or recklessly. A few years ago, the Supreme Court of Canada in Hill v. Church of Scientology expressly declined to adopt the Sullivan approach. As a result, in Canada, newspapers print unverified material at peril of being sued for libel. The Supreme Court considered the argument that a Sullivan approach was required to prevent "chilling" the free dissemination of information essential for the working of democracy. It concluded that any chilling effect flowing from strong libel laws is outweighed by the importance of protecting people's reputations against false and slanderous statements. Canadian law accepts that the goal of getting at the truth may be served by free exchange in the marketplace of ideas. But it also accepts that false words can do great damage to individuals and groups, damage that cannot always be repaired by debate and discussion.

The specific Canadian law that most closely relates to the issue of restricting freedom of speech in "hate propaganda" cases is section 319(2) of the Canadian Criminal Code. Here is an overview of what it entails:

quote:
Section 319(2) is the section most of the public would be familiar with when hate propaganda is mentioned in the media. This section states that "everyone who, by communicating statements, other than in private conversation, wilfully promotes hatred against any identifiable group is guilty of an indictable offence or an offence punishable on summary conviction." Section 319(3) sets out the defences which provide that no person shall be convicted of an offence under subsection (2):

(a) if he establishes that the statements communicated were true;

(b) if, in good faith, he expressed or attempted to establish by argument an opinion on a religious subject;

(c) if the statements were relevant to any subject of public interest, the discussion of which was for the public benefit, and if on reasonable grounds he believed them to be true; or

(d) if, in good faith, he intended to point out, for the purpose of removal, matters producing or tending to produce feelings of hatred toward an identifiable group in Canada.

I'm only aware of a handful of Section 319(2) cases. The "benchmark" case, in which the law's Constitutionality was challenged, was Regina v. Keegstra. This is a brief overview of the case, taken from the same document as the last quote:

quote:
Section 319(2) cases are few. One of the reasons for this is that the allegations under section 319(2) rarely meet the high standard of proof that is required by the legal definitions and evidential requirements established in Regina v. Keegstra. In that seminal judgment, the Supreme Court of Canada had to balance the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms’ right to freedom of expression under section 2 against section 1’s reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

The Keegstra case went through several levels of court on the original charges and took several years for appeals on sentence.

The facts, briefly, are that James Keegstra was a high school teacher in Eckville, Alberta. From the 1970s to his dismissal in 1982, he attributed evil qualities to Jews. He described Jewish people as "treacherous, sadistic, money-loving, power hungry, and child killers." Keegstra taught that Jewish people seek to destroy Christianity and are responsible for depressions, anarchy, chaos, wars and revolutions. He claimed the Jews "created the Holocaust to gain sympathy" and, in contrast to open and honest Christians,were said to be deceptive, secretive and inherently evil.

Particularly egregious was the fact that his students were expected to reproduce his teachings on exams, and if they failed to do so, their marks suffered. Ironically, he later defended his actions by arguing that freedom of expression was a charter right in a democracy.

He was convicted at Superior Court, but his Charter argument was accepted in the Alberta Court of Appeal. The Crown appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The question of Constitutionality was essentially "Is this a reasonable limitation on the right of freedom of speech? If so, why? If not, why not?" Here is how the court answered the question. From the ruling itself:

quote:
Section 319(2) of the Code constitutes a reasonable limit upon freedom of expression. Parliament's objective of preventing the harm caused by hate propaganda is of sufficient importance to warrant overriding a constitutional freedom. Parliament has recognized the substantial harm that can flow from hate propaganda and, in trying to prevent the pain suffered by target group members and to reduce racial, ethnic and religious tension and perhaps even violence in Canada, has decided to suppress the wilful promotion of hatred against identifiable groups. Parliament's objective is supported not only by the work of numerous study groups, but also by our collective historical knowledge of the potentially catastrophic effects of the promotion of hatred. Additionally, the international commitment to eradicate hate propaganda and Canada's commitment to the values of equality and multiculturalism in ss. 15 and 27 of the Charter strongly buttress the importance of this objective.

Section 319(2) of the Code is an acceptably proportional response to Parliament's valid objective. There is obviously a rational connection between the criminal prohibition of hate propaganda and the objective of protecting target group members and of fostering harmonious social relations in a community dedicated to equality and multiculturalism. Section 319(2) serves to illustrate to the public the severe reprobation with which society holds messages of hate directed towards racial and religious groups. It makes that kind of expression less attractive and hence decreases acceptance of its content. Section 319(2) is also a means by which the values beneficial to a free and democratic society in particular, the value of equality and the worth and dignity of each human person can be publicized.

Section 319(2) of the Code does not unduly impair freedom of expression. This section does not suffer from overbreadth or vagueness; rather, the terms of the offence indicate that s. 319(2) possesses definitional limits which act as safeguards to ensure that it will capture only expressive activity which is openly hostile to Parliament's objective, and will thus attack only the harm at which the prohibition is targeted. The word "wilfully" imports into the offence a stringent standard of mens rea which significantly restricts the reach of s. 319(2) by necessitating the proof of either an intent to promote hatred or knowledge of the substantial certainty of such a consequence. The word "hatred" further reduces the scope of the prohibition. This word, in the context of s. 319(2), must be construed as encompassing only the most severe and deeply felt form of opprobrium. Further, the exclusion of private communications from the scope of s. 319(2), the need for the promotion of hatred to focus upon an identifiable group and the presence of the s. 319(3) defences, which clarify the scope of s. 319(2), all support the view that the impugned section creates a narrowly confined offence. Section 319(2) is not an excessive impairment of freedom of expression merely because the defence of truth in s. 319(3)(a) does not cover negligent or innocent error as to the truthfulness of a statement. Whether or not a statement is susceptible to classification as true or false, such error should not excuse an accused who has wilfully used a statement in order to promote hatred against an identifiable group. Finally, while other non-criminal modes of combatting hate propaganda exist, it is eminently reasonable to utilize more than one type of legislative tool in working to prevent the spread of racist expression and its resultant harm. To send out a strong message of condemnation, both reinforcing the values underlying s. 319(2) and deterring the few individuals who would harm target group members and the larger community by communicating hate propaganda, will occasionally require use of the criminal law.

The effects of s. 319(2) are not of such a deleterious nature as to outweigh any advantage gleaned from the limitation of s. 2(b). The expressive activity at which s. 319(2) is aimed constitutes a special category, a category only tenuously connected with the values underlying the guarantee of freedom of expression. Hate propaganda contributes little to the aspirations of Canadians or Canada in either the quest for truth, the promotion of individual self development or the protection and fostering of a vibrant democracy where the participation of all individuals is accepted and encouraged. Moreover, the narrowly drawn terms of s. 319(2) and its defences prevent the prohibition of expression lying outside of this narrow category. Consequently, the suppression of hate propaganda represents an impairment of the individual's freedom of expression which is not of a most serious nature.

Canadian law differs from the French law that sparked this thread, and I think (somewhat unsurprisingly, I guess, since I was mostly raised in Canada) that the line delimiting acceptable restrictions on freedom of expression falls somewhere between the Canadian law and the French one. I find the French law much too specific -- from what I've read, it says "You can't promote idea X." The Canadian law requires that the "hate propaganda" determination be made on a case-by-case basis, which I find much more palatable than directly enumerating what falls under that category.
Posts: 10886 | Registered: Feb 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
ketchupqueen
Member
Member # 6877

 - posted      Profile for ketchupqueen   Email ketchupqueen         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
(How would Frenchmen react if Turkey passed a law stating that any proclaiming that Joan of Arc was other than an insane child, they will be fined)

How is that the same? We can't prove whether or not Joan of Arc was sane. We can prove that Armenians were masaccred and that the Turks who raped, tortured, killed, and otherwise harmed them intended to commit genocide.
Posts: 21181 | Registered: Sep 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
TomDavidson
Member
Member # 124

 - posted      Profile for TomDavidson   Email TomDavidson         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
We can prove that Armenians were masaccred and that the Turks who raped, tortured, killed, and otherwise harmed them intended to commit genocide.
Even were it possible to absolutely prove anything in history, I would still be deeply unnerved by criminalizing the opposite opinion.
Posts: 37424 | Registered: May 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
  This topic comprises 2 pages: 1  2   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code™ is enabled.
UBB Code™ Images not permitted.
Instant Graemlins
   


Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Hatrack River Home Page

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.


Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2