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Free Speech, and Why it is great (Hitchens video)


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#1 Live Forever

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Posted 03 April 2007 - 09:11 PM


Here is the full video of one of the greatest speeches ever given by Christopher Hitchens on free speech (and all forms of free expression) and why it should be protected at all costs:



http://video.google....618149058958603






Original first post:
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Edit: I like this video so much, I am splitting this thread from the Most Hated Family In America thread

I think just calling them crazy and moving on is dishonest intellectually.


What would you consider 'honest' intellectually in this case?

The next sentence I wrote. I think they are brainwashed. Is calling someone "evil" or "crazy" when they are brought up and brainwashed to believe something honest? Perhaps it is, but it doesn't seem that way to me. (of course I am always trying to give someone the benefit of the doubt, so maybe that is my problem) Especially after seeing the above documentary, they seem to be fairly "normal" except for this part of their life that is very nutty.


There really is nothing that you can do because they aren't breaking the law, and any attempt to "call them names" would prove futile -- they have already seen it all and are not a bit offened. What should we do? Send them letters? Any true neurologically satisfying way of getting under their skin would be illegal. Dismissing their ideas would be the most satisfactory way to deal with them, in my opinion. Even if the case arrived where you were face to face with one of their "pastors", what would a screaming argument solve? More resentment and hatred would arise.

What I really mean to say is that you should just deal with them as you would deal with any other chrisitian who you disagree with: calm, collected and sharp.

I see how angry this type of propaganda can make a person (including myself) become :) . I just think that screaming and yelling at them is exactly what they want -- attention. Ditch this BS forever (here comes my emotional side [huh] ).

Oh I definitely agree that people shouldn't get into shouting matches with them. Perhaps all people can do is marginalize them so much that people do think of them as the very "fringe" of society. (luckily there are very few people like this)

On a side note, this kind of stuff shows some aspects of freedom of speech. I think it is a great thing to have people like this, because it causes the rest of us to discuss why they are incorrect in their beliefs, and offers a chance to examine things.

One of the best speeches I have ever seen on why freedom of speech (and specifically freedom of speech from "crazy" or fringe groups is good for everyone, and should be protected) comes from Christopher Hitchens:

(Note: Removed link because no longer available, go up to top to view the Google Vids version)

Edited by Live Forever, 20 February 2008 - 12:37 PM.


#2 biologic

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Posted 03 April 2007 - 11:26 PM

One of the best speeches I have ever seen on why freedom of speech (and specifically freedom of speech from "crazy" or fringe groups is good for everyone, and should be protected) comes from Christopher Hitchens:


Powerful. I especially agree with the thought that these crazy type groups are good for the reflection upon ourselves. Just wow.

#3 Aegist

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Posted 09 May 2007 - 11:52 PM

Awesome video. Awesome.

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#4 Live Forever

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Posted 10 May 2007 - 03:18 AM

Split this thread off from the other one. (as if that wasn't evident enough, haha)

Discussion of free speech is what I was going for.

I am sure some people are in favor of limiting speech in some instances. Where should the line be drawn, though?

#5 mike250

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Posted 10 May 2007 - 04:23 AM

as long as they don't go off insulting one another then there should hopefully be no problem.

#6 Live Forever

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Posted 10 May 2007 - 04:28 AM

as long as they don't go off insulting one another then there should hopefully be no problem.

I insult people all the time. (mainly of the religious ilk) Mainly not so much them, as their ideas, but still I don't think that should be limited.

#7 mike250

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Posted 10 May 2007 - 05:35 AM

as long as they don't go off insulting one another then there should hopefully be no problem.

I insult people all the time. (mainly of the religious ilk) Mainly not so much them, as their ideas, but still I don't think that should be limited.


if you're questioning their ideas and beliefs no problem- although I think it is something that everybody is free to choose and decide for themselves regardless if others don't like or appreciate it- but if you're insulting them personally then thats where the line should be drawn.

#8 Aegist

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Posted 10 May 2007 - 06:04 AM

I think I agree mike.

In the end, the idea of "Free Speech" is simply in existence to allow heretical ideas to be sewn, and authoritarian positions to be challenged, resulting in progress for all. Stagnation is never beneficial, and when speech is controlled so that only one stance is allowed to be presented, there is no way to progress out of that position.

Insulting people, for no reason other than to insult them, acheives nothing. Limiting the rights of people to insult for no reason does not negatively affect our society in anyway (other than not having that freedom).

Of course, then you have the problem of defining what is a justified 'insult' and what isn't.

Calling someone gay could be an insult, or it could be an accurate description. Ditto for 'Whore' etc. And then you have to wonder whether those sorts of things can be used as a basis for argument... Can I insult you in order to establish that your points are invalid? Even if I am accurate in my insults?

it is a hairy topic indeed.

#9 Live Forever

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Posted 10 May 2007 - 06:04 AM

as long as they don't go off insulting one another then there should hopefully be no problem.

I insult people all the time. (mainly of the religious ilk) Mainly not so much them, as their ideas, but still I don't think that should be limited.


if you're questioning their ideas and beliefs no problem- although I think it is something that everybody is free to choose and decide for themselves regardless if others don't like or appreciate it- but if you're insulting them personally then thats where the line should be drawn.

I personally try never to insult anyone personally, just their ideas. However, I don't think it should be against the law either, or officially banned in any way. (in fact, this is what the people wanting to ban "hate speech" want to do, which is the point being addressed by Hitchens in the above video)

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#10 mike250

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Posted 10 May 2007 - 06:15 AM

it shouldn't be banned- but then again can it be really banned?- however it does shed light on the kind of person somebody is and you lose credibility because you can't foster a more healthy and productive argument.

#11 Live Forever

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Posted 10 May 2007 - 06:23 AM

it shouldn't be banned- but then again can it be really banned?- however it does shed light on the kind of person somebody is and you lose credibility because you can't foster a more healthy and productive argument.

Exactly. People who are unable (or don't want to) engage in civil discourse should be marginalized. It works democratically, because when someone says something stupid or bigoted (such as what Kramer said in that comedy show, using the N-word), then people will marginalize that individual and no longer respond to what they have to say. (or not go see them perform, etc.) However, it shouldn't be legislated, but done on a basis of logical thought processes (and perhaps arguments) for or against an individual and what they say.

Just how the Westboro church (from the other thread this one is split off from) yells obscenities at passerbys and everyone thinks they are nuts and would not take anything they said as intellectually stimulating in any way, no matter what they say. Still, I would defend their right to say the things that they do.

#12 mike250

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Posted 10 May 2007 - 06:25 AM

I think I agree mike.

In the end, the idea of "Free Speech" is simply in existence to allow heretical ideas to be sewn, and authoritarian positions to be challenged, resulting in progress for all. Stagnation is never beneficial, and when speech is controlled so that only one stance is allowed to be presented, there is no way to progress out of that position.

Insulting people, for no reason other than to insult them, acheives nothing. Limiting the rights of people to insult for no reason does not negatively affect our society in anyway (other than not having that freedom).

Of course, then you have the problem of defining what is a justified 'insult' and what isn't.

Calling someone gay could be an insult, or it could be an accurate description. Ditto for 'Whore' etc. And then you have to wonder whether  those sorts of things can be used as a basis for argument... Can I insult you in order to establish that your points are invalid? Even if I am accurate in my insults?

it is a hairy topic indeed.


thats very true. everybody interprets things differently so while it may mean an insult to someone it might sound perfectly alright for the other. I think its better if we leave things as they are, since there are no true boundaries that can be defined.

#13 mike250

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Posted 10 May 2007 - 06:31 AM

it shouldn't be banned- but then again can it be really banned?- however it does shed light on the kind of person somebody is and you lose credibility because you can't foster a more healthy and productive argument.

Exactly. People who are unable (or don't want to) engage in civil discourse should be marginalized. It works democratically, because when someone says something stupid or bigoted (such as what Kramer said in that comedy show, using the N-word), then people will marginalize that individual and no longer respond to what they have to say. (or not go see them perform, etc.) However, it shouldn't be legislated, but done on a basis of logical thought processes (and perhaps arguments) for or against an individual and what they say.

Just how the Westboro church (from the other thread this one is split off from) yells obscenities at passerbys and everyone thinks they are nuts and would not take anything they said as intellectually stimulating in any way, no matter what they say. Still, I would defend their right to say the things that they do.


this is a positive look and I completely agree but then again, and this is from my primitive understanding of the situation, would this have been tolerated if it was the other way around?

#14 Live Forever

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Posted 10 May 2007 - 06:39 AM

this is a positive look and I completely agree but then again, and this is from my primitive understanding of the situation, would this have been tolerated if it was the other way around?


What is the other way around? Homosexual people protesting at Christians? I am all for homosexuals to have the same right to protest as crazy fundies. I also am all for the right of someone that disagrees with them to go down there and protest them being there. Of course, civil discourse is preferred. (and usually is what comes, even in a limited manner, from these types of events on talk shows and news programs)

#15 mike250

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Posted 10 May 2007 - 07:45 AM

no I meant the black-white issue. we saw this with Kremur but I only ask if this was a black guy insulting white people would it have been tolerated.

#16 Live Forever

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Posted 10 May 2007 - 07:48 AM

no I meant the black-white issue.

Oh, black people making fun of white people? I am down with that. It would definitely be way more "politically correct" and way less damaging to the individual's perception than what Kramer did.

#17 mike250

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Posted 10 May 2007 - 07:57 AM

but does that justify it? I certainly wouldn't agree even if it less damaging cause we are trying to apply the rule on everybody, so here blacks would look like the exception wouldn't you agree?

also, don't you think that whites don't seem to have somebody or an organization to stand up for them? much like homosexuals or women etc....

#18 Live Forever

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Posted 10 May 2007 - 08:02 AM

but does that justify it? I certainly wouldn't agree even if it less damaging cause we are trying to apply the rule on everybody, so here blacks would look like the exception wouldn't you agree?

also, don't you think that whites don't seem to have somebody or an organization to stand up for them? much like homosexuals or women etc....

No exceptions, that is what I am trying to say. Everyone should be heard, without restriction, and be allowed to say whatever they want. If the people are marginalized because of what they say due to people's perception of it, then that is the way it should be as opposed to legislation.

On your point about advocacy, I don't think white people are hurting for people standing up for them. (although it is beside the point on free speech I think)

#19 basho

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Posted 10 May 2007 - 01:42 PM

That speech was incredible. I really have to thank you for posting it. Its one of the most thought-provoking things I have ever seen on YouTube.

#20 Live Forever

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 06:07 AM

The Christopher Hitchens free speech (and free expression) video was removed from YouTube, so I changed the top one to the Google Videos version of the full thing. Just fyi.

Still one of my favorite videos...

Edited by Live Forever, 07 June 2007 - 06:19 AM.


#21 Live Forever

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 06:20 AM

Pasting it here too, just for the hell of it:



http://video.google....618149058958603

#22 lucid

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Posted 11 June 2007 - 12:34 AM

Nice vid. I like his stance on the whole 'yelling fire in a theatre' thing.

Umm, Anyone know why it was taken off youtube?

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#23 Live Forever

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Posted 20 February 2008 - 12:39 PM

Bumping this thread for people that have not watched the video before to see it. It is an awesome one that everyone should watch at least once.

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#24 andres

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 01:09 AM

I'm going to watch it now.
Thanks for that Live Forever :-)

Bumping this thread for people that have not watched the video before to see it. It is an awesome one that everyone should watch at least once.






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