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Responsibility, Credibility, and Free Speech

 
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Vextor




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PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2008 5:28 pm    Post subject: Responsibility, Credibility, and Free Speech Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

After having more than a handful of misguided souls shout "how dare you limit my right to free speech!" etc and all that junk, I decided I'll give a little speech on my beliefs on the subject.

The right to free speech is a very important right within the United States of America this same right doesn't exist in many other countries in the rest of the world, including countries where some of our members reside. Free speech is a public right, and thus this right doesn't extend into the private domain even within the USA. For this reason, your right to free speech doesn't extend into suikox, which is my own private domain. Get that through your skull, please.

With that said, I believe in the right of free speech. I've used it myself many times in the numerous political causes I pursued in my youth. If I were a member of a forum, I'd be the administrator's worst nightmare-- and I was very much that kind of person while I was in college and elsewhere. Writing to newspapers, organizing protests, and getting TV stations to campus to report on some issue. The right to free speech is something people ought to use to their fullest extent to promote truth in this world.

However, I also believe that with free speech comes the responsibility to be truthful in your speech. I have no respect at all for those who speak falsehood, because the failure of community and fellowship often starts when one utters untruths. Whether untruths are brought forth as a result of nefarious idiocy or innocent stupidity doesn't matter -- there is an automatic responsibility to the speaker to try whatever they can to make sure they are being truthful.

The utterance of untruth often leads to problems in the future, and more often than not the falsehood of these utterances become uncovered one way or the other. That will cause your credibility to diminish, and subsequently others will trust you less. This is why I would listen to certain people more seriously compared to others, because it is worth my time to listen to those who have had a history of being scrupulous and truthful in their actions and words as opposed to those who have had a history of being deceitful and irresponsible in their actions and words. People who don't understand the concept of credibility may see this as "favoritism," but at the core of it the situation is as simple as the story of the "boy who cried wolf."

Credibility is very important for each of us. It is so important that I can even say our civilization depends on credibility. Unless we can make assumptions about the trustworthiness of another person, it becomes very difficult to conduct our daily lives. Credibility is why we choose to shop at certain vendors over others, and why we choose one bank over the other, and why we choose certain people to be your friend over others. It's very hard to remain friends with a habitual liar-- and even if you keep them as a "friend," you would never trust them with intimate details about your life.

Credibility is something that many people build up throught their life, and more often than not credibility translates to power. The whole concept of "credit" (in terms of borrowing money) emerged from such ideas originally-- credit was granted based on letters from dignitaries vouching for the good nature of the person borrowing money. When credible people are discovered as habing engaged in faleshoods, they besmirch their credibility and thus they lose their power and influence. The ramification of untruth can be quite far reaching, and even if it doesn't result in hurting others, it will often leave a scar on your soul--regret-- which you'd be able to feel every time you look inward until the day you die (and possibly beyond). Falsehood ultimately damages your own person.

As I say all of this I probably give the impression that I have a clean record, but if you can see the scars on my soul you will think otherwise. The shame I feel every time I look inward is very much the engine that keeps me aligned in my attempt to try my best to be truthful. I wouldn't recommend trying to "learn from your mistakes" though because this is akin to adding sugar to an over-salted broth in an attempt to make it more palatable. Often times this doesn't quite work and results in a crappy meal. It's much better to use the proper amount of salt in the first go.

It is probably unfair for me to expect this from most of you considering how I didn't really understand this whole thing until I was well into my 20s, and many of you have yet to live for two decades. However, at least you can understand that a core value exists behind decisions made at this site, and that it's not based on some whim. If you can't appreciate that, you can always go somewhere else-- there's plenty of other communities in the internet. You can also make your own community, such as a forum where you're the only member. In such a forum you can speak whatever untruths you wish without fear of causing any harm (I'm just joking).

With all that said, I hope each of you will strive to be truthful persons and be credible in the eyes of many others and in the eyes of society. Freedom isn't a free ticket to acting irresponsibly, but instead a very serious responsibility where there's nobody you can blame other than yourself, and the burden of consequence falls entirely upon your own two shoulders.
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Agahnim

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 1:05 pm    Post subject: Re: Responsibility, Credibility, and Free Speech Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

In relation to your comments on free speech, what do you say to the following concept;

That if a view is false, to silence it without giving it a hearing undermines the possibility of providing a public refutation of the view in which truth would be seen to be the victor in its collision with error.

-

I think that in order to silence a view, you must be confident of your own infallibility, but that no one can realistically have complete confidence in this respect. Not one human being is immune from making mistakes about what is true; history is ripe with examples of the truth being suppressed by people who genuinely believed the suppressed view to be misguided nonsense.
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Vextor




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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 8:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

First of all, there are a few different types of knowledge. Knowledge that is known, knowledge that we are aware of the fact that we don't know everything, and knowledge that we don't even know exists (same as the famous Rumsfeld quite "known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns").

The stuff we deal with on this site is basically "known knowns" and "known unknowns." We don't deal with "unknown unknowns" because that would just be baseless assumption (although we do that as a joke). The datum point of our knowledge is canon info from Konami, which is indeed "Truth" that can not be refuted. It is not my concern whether Konami is wrong, or whether Suikoden actually exists from a metaphisical perspective. If a member says, "Sheena is the president of the Toran Republic by the time of Suikoden 3," I can cite official sources and be 100% confident that this isn't true, and that Lepant is still president.

There's no space for "belief" in this case, because "belief" always contains uncertainty within its folds, and you can't really claim something to be 100% true if that something includes even an ounce of uncertainty.

However, if I am asked whether Konami's information is 100% reliable? I would say no, it isn't 100% reliable. They have made mistakes in the past and have made corrections, or added facts that contradict with previous canon. However, because we're dealing with official information about a world that has been created by Konami, I'll basically have to assume that their information is 100% correct and that's the best anybody can do. It's basically not my fight to determine whether Konami's information is right or wrong, because I don't have the faculties to judge such a thing to begin with.

There's also the question of practicality when it comes to seeking truth. Our society can only function as long as there is a base assumption that information given to us and what we can sense through our five senses are truthful. Even if our reality is completely bogus and in reality we're just a bunch of naurons suspended in some brine in a laboratory hooked up to some neural simulation thingy, we'll have to assume that we're human beings existing on planet earth in 2008, and that ice cream exists. Otherwise, the world will be filled with doubt and we won't be able to do a single thing.

For example, a customer goes to a store and buys an apple. He goes up to the cash register and the teller says, "that would be 20 ducats." Then the customer, filled with doubt, would ask, "please prove to me that this apple actually exists, then I will pay." After hours of debating the nature of the apple, and whether the color red on the apple is a psychological construct, or whether there is any actual difference between the existence of the apple and the existence of the customer, etc, the teller may be able to convince the customer that the apple does in fact exist. However, then the teller can ask the customer to prove to him whether his 20 ducat coin is actually worth 20 ducats at that precise moment. If we had to prove things so routinely, society can't function.

For that reason, public refutations of of falsehoods and confirmation of truth is often unnecessary unless it's an issue that inlcudes quite a lot of uncertainty. We don't have that sort of issue often at this site because we deal with encyclopedic knowledge with the fundamental assumption that our reference information is true.
Oftentimes, all that is needed is, "that's false, because Konami stated X and Y, etc." You don't really need confidence in your own infallibility to do that-- all you need is a book that you can reference.

In terms of moderation issues, all I need to do is look at logs and posts, and the information is pretty clear cut. Some issues can't be made public because the information would be too painful (usually for the offender) or relesed to the public. Truth isn't always a good thing, and just because something is true doesn't mean it should be spoken out loud. For example, just because someone is fat and ugly doesn't mean you should mention that fact every time you see the person, "hey Joe, you're really fat and ugly you know."
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kuwaizair

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 03, 2008 10:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

ah well I guess I never did wonder what happens if someone posting on an American forum but lives in a harsh place cannot do. Kind of like how if its legal drinking age in soandso country you cannot gloryfy drinking to 10 year olds on an American forum.

so if Slavery is legal in one country and they post on an American forum they have no right to gloat or say how good it is? and if they live in a place that somehow has internet but cannot voice individual opiniion and try to do so on an American forum thinking its save they can or cannot? "shut up you have no rights here go home"
wow what a world.

as for the fat and ugly coment, I have learnt that it is ok to do that if said fat and ugly personis mean, or acts up like a bratty whiney little kid and draws attintion to them self and smells of poop. because they did themself in and there is nothing else to do but twist the knife in deeper and shove their face in the piddle they leave by being a wanker if they are one.
because I think I've been in the wanker weeaboo idiot place on the internet and drew attintion to my behaviors growing up.
you need to have reason to do that.
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Amyral

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2008 10:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

kuwaizair wrote:
so if Slavery is legal in one country and they post on an American forum they have no right to gloat or say how good it is? and if they live in a place that somehow has internet but cannot voice individual opiniion and try to do so on an American forum thinking its save they can or cannot? "shut up you have no rights here go home"


Most websites are private entities. The owner decides what can or cannot be posted there, not the country.

As a journalist, the issue of free speech is quite important to my job, as important as the issue of credibility, and they both go hand in hand. You deal a lot with people who think of journalists as vultures, which is quite a shame, because, despite people trying to liken them all to the loud political pundits, reporters tend to value their credibility highly. Yes, they make mistakes, as does everyone. The only difference is that a journalists mistakes are broadcast to everyone.

I'll speak only for the US, which is where my knowledge of the subject lies, of course. In my mind, for free speech to really have its affect, we have to protect it. That doesn't mean there should be no limits, only that the right of people to speak should be protected. Of course, there are limits. You can't directly incite violence or directly advocate/cause people to take illegal actions or you can be punished. There are libel/slander/copyright laws in affect to make people accountable, and there should be.

Credibility is a different matter entirely. For journalists, it's as important. But I don't think it should in any way tie in to speech. The purpose of free speech is for the marketplace of ideas. That means the rambling idiot may still say something worth hearing on occasion, even if no one believes him the rest of the time.

Something else irks me, though. People seem to have the notion that "freedom of the press" is equal to "freedom of the media." I was reading an opinion article about a dangerous new tort in Florida. Basically, it said that if someone inferred something damaging from a published article, even if what was written was true, then they could sue. In the case, a journalist was writing about a real estate developer. For background, he wrote about another incident where the man's wife disappeared and was found dead, shortly after requesting a divorce. That's it, nothing more. He sued because he felt the article implied that it was foul play.

Reading through the responses, everyone seemed to think that "Freedom of the Press" was only for the media, making comments that the media's rights were now being restricted and that they didn't think the media should be allowed to print whatever they wanted. That's not what it means. Freedom of the press is just the written version of freedom of speech. It's the freedom to publish, whether you're a newspaper, a news letter, an author, a blogger, or just a random guy on the internet. Having a press pass doesn't give more protection under the law in the US. It doesn't allow you access to any extra documents. A journalist is still a member of the public, it doesn't change with them writing articles for a local paper.

That irks me as much as anything else. People seem to think being a journalist gives me special protection. It doesn't. In fact, in ways it hurts more.
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Noot

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2008 2:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I think the issue of whether the speech is true or untrue is irrelevant when it comes to free speech. The speaker has the right to speak, regardless of what his message is. And we have the right to ignore him. Plain and simple.

The Ku Klux Klan made free speeches and marches back in their time, and the authorities were unallowed to infringe them. The only time they could is when such speech could provoke violence, but it the pot would have to at least begin to boil before the cops could stop it. Their rhetoric was hateful and ignorant, but they were entitled to their speech. The freedom of speech was created to protect unpopular opinions (like, say, revolting against England), and it's not anyone's job to hinder anyone else's opinion.

And Vextor, you have to allow the open forum for "untruths" because if the debate is fair and the people are open to discussion, then the "truth" should win out anyway.

If you're talking free speech when it comes to your site, then obviously it only exists within the parameters that you set as the site's owner and adminstrator. We all have to accept "Terms and Conditions" (which 99% of people never read anyway) in which we agree to FORSAKE certain "rights" (such as free speech) in order to participate at the forum. Of course, if we are free, we have the option of going elsewhere. We are not FORCED to participate against our will. If you agree to the terms, then play by the rules. Your rights are not being infringed because of your own consent.
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Yvl

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2008 5:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

It's not totally fair to compare credibility with credit, in all honesty. With money, you KNOW that there's a certain amount in your wallet or bank account. With facts and lies, you could be fairly certain that, say, someone is in love with you, and tell your friends, "That girl definitely wants me." You find out that she actually hates you. Now you're a liar? Even if you were as sure about it as you were about there being a $20 bill in your wallet?

In any case, regarding free speech, I'll be honest here. There is no way in hell for you, me, or the president of the United States to be able to determine what something as complex as the truth is on their own. That's the point of free speech - to allow everyone's perception of the "truth" to be heard, to allow the genuine facts to be ascertained. I respect your right to limit it, but I strongly disagree with doing so, as it is counterproductive if anything.
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Ujitsuna

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2008 12:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

In the end it doesn't matter what is right or wrong (on an internet forum) but who owns the property and what rights they have in respect to the owner's wishes.
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Vextor




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PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2008 1:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Yes, truth is something nobody can be certain about, but truth in that context is about more abstract ideas. As long as we are talking about stuff with a common reference point, things can be truth with absoloute certainty.

For example, the statement "suikox is a genso suikoden fansite" is undeniably true. There's no ambiguity there because there's a very clear definition as to what suikox is. When there's some ambiguity, truth becomes elusive.

In cases where there are problem members in sites who are acting in disruptive ways, it's within the community's interest to do something about it. A person can make statements such as "All Muslims are terrorists" or "gays should burn in hell" or "all people who use spoons are socialists" etc. Whether such statements are true or false is completely subjective but there's no question that it is not appropriate within a community such as suikox. That type of "free speech" doesn't have to be entertained here at a suikoden site, and that's just way things are and how it would be around these parts of the internets.
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Yvl

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2008 8:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

That much I agree with you wholeheartedly on. Those kinds of idiots will usually get their just desserts one way or another though, whether it be administrative punishment or social punishment - the latter being my own preferred method unless things get out of hand. The theory there is that in an intelligent community like this one or at the forum I mod at, people aren't going to take shit like blanket stereotypes whether the administration condemns it or not. The administration then just needs to know when people are sick enough of that member that they need to be shown the door.

Again though, both theories have their pluses and minues, similar to any policy debate.
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