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Context: FreedomOfSpeech

Not sure I'm 100% behind this solution I proposed a few years ago, but I think it's reaching in an interesting direction.

Quora Answer : Should Nazis and white supremacists be allowed to speak freely?

Aug 21, 2018

Everyone agrees that there should be limits on freedom of speech.

You have to be very irresponsible to falsely shout "Fire!" in a crowded theatre.

The question is always, should you be allowed to falsely shout "It's their fault!" in a crowd of disgruntled people. And should you be allowed to give speeches and make YouTube videos saying "It's their fault!" in a country full of disgruntled people.

I think it's pretty clear that falsely saying "it's their fault" is a kind of defamation of character. And defamation of character is frowned upon in all civilizations. Even the Bible has a commandment against bearing false witness.

So, no, the government should not have a policy to stop Nazis and white supremacists speaking. But any Muslim should be able to sue someone who implies that Muslims, as a class, are violent but can't prove it in the case of this particular Muslim. On grounds of defamation of character.

Similarly, any black person should be able to sue someone who claims "black people are less intelligent than white" for defamation of character if the white supremacist can't prove that this particular black person is less intelligent than average.

And, of course, this cuts both ways. It should be possible for a white non-racist to sue someone who intemperately claims that "white people are racist".

Right now, our 18th century ideals of freedom of speech from government control have crashed up against the reality of social media where everyone can publish whatever assertions they like to a global audience. And, contrary to the idealism that most of us shared at the dawn of the social media age, the good doesn't seem to swamp the bad. But the bad flourishes and grows in pockets of prejudice.

So ... we need a solution to cool down all the screaming of "it's their fault!"

Bringing in a blanket government restriction is contrary to all our values and intuitions about freedom. OTOH, beefing up individual recourse to defend against attacks on character is more in line with our values and culture that go right back to the ten commandments.

What would be the effect of enabling this kind of prosecution? It would be to chill discussions and speculations in terms of blanket generalities. We'd all have to go back to arguing about more specific cases and evidence rather than broad brushed accusations. Because we'd have to be careful about who our broad-brushes painted.

That might be the best way we have to dampen the excessive and destructive "it's their fault" talk in our newly connected digital age.

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