Thursday, July 27, 2006

Ahem! A stranger / rather manages

Paradise is a despair. Paradiso is nothing but arid soap.

Purgatory is an Arty Group. (Alternately, Purgatorio is a poor guitar.)

Inferno? You'll find no finer place.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Hink Pink

In AP Physics in High School, I sat in the back doing crosswords. When a test happened, I'd just deduce all the identities I needed. Eventually, the crossword's more inspired answers led to word games. Now, I've been reminded of this by:

1) the discovery that this game has a name

and

2) the rediscovery of a few of these I wrote down.

Some examples:

a measurer of Ceres's distance - a Demeter odometer
brief poem about blindness - Magoo Haiku
reduced shine - dimmer glimmer
former up-and-downer - elevator abdicator
inflammable currency - expungible fungible
sight gag - visible risible
the cost of clothes - raiment payment
a ruler's taunter - Caesar teaser

See if you can get some of these:
public water
elementary dent
church musician who turns people to stone
spirited primate
brainwasher
snooped on Neptune
Grain-grinder's bane
seems like food
legendary imbiber
good-luck snacks
farmer's sign
internet access repair
chat about drums

Or come up with some of your own.

Speech Qua Speech

The term "absolute" only harms my argument if my definition of freedom of speech does not already exclude the sorts of cases MotJuste and I agree should be punishable. My contention is that free speech can be reasonably construed in a way that does already exclude those cases. I think that the "absolute" issue is a red herring here. MotJuste responds to my argument about accidental impedement of speech:

The above all seems both obvious and irrelevent. How do they support the point
of your beleif in absolute speech, or the statement that "free speech does not
mean you can say whatever you want"? Unless your point is 'you can't say what
you want if you're mute/dead' which, duh. You also cannot say what you want if
you're too stupid to express it, or don't know the language you wish to speak
in, or are unconcious, or are a potted plant, etc. Irrelevent.
Perhaps I should have qualified the term and said I believe in absolute legal freedom of speech. (i.e. congress shall make no law...) I had assumed that we were using the term as shorthand for something like the 1st amendment.Anyhow, I hope an example will clear up what I mean by speech as speech.

MotJuste writes:

The will to perform a violent act is not punishable by law. It is the physical
action taken-- speech-- that is punished. Speech which is an incitement to
violence is a kind of speech and therefore if it is limited, speech is not
absolutely free.
This is false. Unless I've somehow missed the point. If I hold a large knife up to someone and say "I will kill you with this now," the law recognizes this as grounds for intervention. However, if a theater actor on stage says the exact same words to another actor, this is not grounds for intervention. But I can also be arrested for attempted murder if I swing a knife at someone and am stopped before it kills that person.Case 1: speech and punishmentCase 2: speech and no punishmentCase 3: punishment and no speechClearly, speech is not the criterion here. In case 1 and case 3, assuming no actual physical wound is made, what is being punished is clearly the will to act. If we somehow knew that the assailant meant to run up to someone with a knife, swing, and then stop the blade before it touched the other person, attempted murder would not be the appropriate charge. At the same time, freedom of speech does not protect us from actions that accidentally -- that is, with some other goal in mind -- impede speech.Otherwise, we could not punish people on the basis of confessions or guilty pleas.To put it simply, freedom of speech means that there must be no restriction that simply states "you may not say [x]."

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

In response to Support Censorship by MotJuste:
MotJuste writes:

I don't believe in free speech. Anyone you ask will say they do and mostly they're lying, because free speech means anything, means you can say absolutely anything with no legal consequences, including slander, libel, plaigarism, etc. And people will then go "Well obviously not slander" but then, that's censorship. There's that famous Voltaire quote "I might not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." I disagree with that, but I admire him for it because he really understood the principle. Most people who advocate freedom of speech and no censorshipnhave no idea what they're talking about.

And then, oh, the artists. Censorship of art. I love artists and the arts and part of my censorship support is for them: I believe that people don't have the right to violate others' rights to life, liberty or property, and that it is possible to do so with words. Plaigarism is a violation of the victim's right to property. Lying about someone ina court of law can get them injustly imprisoned-- liberty. And if you have information about a te year old girl, where she lives, what her daily routine is, and you put that information up all over the web for any crazy to see along with easy step-by-step instructions on how to kidnap, rape and murder her, that's a violation of her right to life and it shouldn't be allowed.

These sound extreme and I know tha tthey're exceptions, not the rule. And usually I support freedom of speech, but any exception at all means I support censorship, so the standard goes like this:

"We have the right to freedom of speech, to be limited if and only if said speech constitutes a clear and present danger to the fundamnetal rights of others, is slander, plaigarism or libel, or would falsely incite a reasonable person to violence or panic."

It isn't perfectly worded, of course.

It's either that or I support total freedom of speech, in which the victim could retaliate by mailing detailed accounts of how to get into the perp's home to every psycho who might try it but honestly, I'd rather just have everyone protected.

And, there's a real life example.

There's a little college in Canada. Around the campus there were Missing Women posters. They detailed that these women were missing and had probably been abducted from the campus. Women were urged to watch out, be safe. This sort of thing isn't uncommon-- violent crimes against women are an unfortunate but very present reality in most modern womens' minds-- and a lot of people were very angry and afraid. A rally was organized, people met at a certain place and time to go looking for these women. But instead of going looking for them, the search party was lead to the concert of a new band. The posters had been a publicity stunt to raise buzz. The man who thought it up, named Edwin Booth, also directed the band's music video-- which pictured them abducting and beating their old ex-girlfriends and advocated those actions. Booth, when criticized, claimed that people were trying to censor him for his art. He claimed to be a supporter of total free speech. (Later he complained that people were slandering him.)

By my standards, Edwin Booth should go to jail.

By his standards, someone should be allowed to to find out all of his personal information. Where he lives, when he's home and when he isn't. What the easiest way is to break into his house. That person then finds out an easy way to kill Edwin Booth. Shooting him, say. This person then finds out places where you can buy guns, and how to get rid of one afterwards. How to cover forensic evidence and where to run to when you've finished. They then find someone-- say, a man, somewhat deranged, who's daughter was kidnapped and beaten, raped and killed, who is very angry and has nothing left to lose. They give this man this information. They sit down with him and convince him that Edwin Booth has to die. The man uses this information to kill Edwin Booth, get away with it, is never found. Or maybe he is found, or he dies in the process, or whatever. The person who provided him with the information is entirely public about doing so. Makes the public statement, "Edwin Booth deserved to die and I saw to it that he did. The only thing I didn't do was pull the trigger." That person can't be arrested.

Wherein lies justice?


Okay, here we go.

I believe in absolute freedom of speech.

I also agree that in the abuses MotJuste describes, people should be punished?

I can believe these two things because free speech does not mean you can say whatever you want. Other laws still apply.

It should be understood that free speech means freedom from government interference with speech. Obviously, owners of private property may make institute whatever rules they wish on their property.

Moreover, this does not empower people to say things that would otherwise be beyond their ability. Mutes and illiterates still have freedom of speech.

Finally, and crucially, freedom of speech does not affect laws with the accidental effect of supressing speech. A man who has been executed by the state for multiple murders can no longer speak. Yet this execution is not a violation of his right to freedom of speech. Why? Because speech was never the issue.

So when a constitution guarantees the right to freedom of speech, or freedom from governement laws infringing on freedom of speech, what it means is not that speech will not be impeded, but speech will never be punished as speech. You cannot simply ban a viewpoint. "Because I say so" ceases to be a justification. As a certain American lawyer argued against the Crown shortly before the revolution, truth is a defense against accusations of libel.

Freedom of speech does not conflict with laws against fraud -- you would be allowed to say those things, provided you were not being fraudulent about it too.

Freedom of speech does not conflict with laws against incitement to violence. The state is punishing the will to perform a violent act. In no way is this morally different from punishing physically attempted murder.

Violations of privacy are violations of property, or at least something strongly analogous to property.

The qualification "when no one's rights are violated" is a good sentiment, but at least in understanding the meaning of laws, the identity and extent of rights is bound to be highly controversial when you get down to more complicated specifics.

Hooray. My two target piano skills have finally begun to materialize.

1) I can now improvise flexibly. It's not just set fingering exercises in the chords I'm playing anymore. I can integrate that with improvised tunes. I gues the goal is to ultimately be as good with the piano as I am with my own voice. That'll still take some time, as the piano involves chords, but I'm getting there.

2) Playing music fast enough to make it mostly coherent on the first read. Of course, this is far from sight reading, but I think I've turned the corner on this two.

What's weird is that these gains have come at a time when I haven't been practicing very intensely at all. Once or twice a week, 20 minutes or so at a time.

So there is some hope that I'll eventually get around to becoming a master pipe organist in my spare time. Of course, then I'll need to get a pipe organ, but that's a comparatively minor problem. Maybe I'll steal one? Sneak into a church and stuff the full pipe organ into my pocket?

Like that far side cartoon. If you know the one I mean, you get 2 cultural literacy points.

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