The Difficult Case of Charlie Hebdo: Hate Speech, Free Speech

This article raises a cluster of tough issues at the intersection of philosophy of language and value theory:

Should we so stridently defend “free expression” rights for hateful cartoons?

Could we defend the hateful cartoons while prohibiting extremists on the right proclaiming ‘Get Muslims out of France by any means necessary’?

How would one go about banning the latter while allowing fair comment on the relationship between religious beliefs and violence?

Cyberbullying laws in Canada

Here is a very interesting link on cyberbullying laws in Canada:

Some issues for philosophers and others to ponder:

1) With regards to the Civil Law, do any of the three approaches to cyberbullying pose an undue threat to free speech?

2) With regards to Canada’s Criminal Code and Ontario’s Education Act, do their provisions on cyberbullying pose an undue threat to free speech?

Reasons for Inclusive Language

At the following website you will find various posters advocating inclusive language:

Look especially at the posters about “Gender” and “Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity”, and consider the following twin questions.

First, there are four reasons given for changing our way of speaking in the section “Why use inclusive language?”. They are, and I quote: “To promote respectful and accepting interactions. Language should be accurate, fair and respectful. Language is not static; it is constantly evolving. Language has a powerful impact on shaping ideas, perceptions, and attitudes.” For each of the four, what kind of reason is it, epistemic, practical or moral?

The second question is this: granting that the reasons given do motivate some kind of change, are they good reasons for adopting the specific choices of wording advocated in the sections “Say this… Instead of…” and “Some examples of inclusive language”?

NYC “Cat Calls” and Harassment

This infamous Youtube video contains some very creepy moments. It must be horrible to face that sort of stuff day in, day out. But, as many commentators have noted, the video contains a few comments which, considered in isolation, don’t seem especially creepy at all.

Maybe all cat calls aren’t created equal?

Which bits strike you as the worst, which as the least problematic? And: are even the least creepy ones harassing because unwelcome, and because they are part of a pattern of harassment?

More on the Moral Limits on Jokes

Is the right solution to moronic and nasty speech really more speech, e.g., speech pointing out how stupid the former is? Is it true that “there are no bad subjects for jokes, only bad jokes”? Should jokes by the powerful about the oppressed be banned, or anyway discouraged?

Were the Dal dentistry students just engaging in crude jokes in private, with no intent to pursue them? Does that matter?

Reading the attached article from Western’s The Gazette newspaper, I was struck by a series of linguistico-philosophical issues…

For example, when it comes to choosing a punishment, does it matter whether the posts really were jokes, or were intended as such? Does it matter whether the writings were not supposed to be shared publicly?  Can a person genuinely be “harassed” without realizing it? In what sense of that phrase would Dalhousie be “sending a message” by its decision? What of the claim that “Hate sex seems synonymous with rape”, and the author’s definition of ‘hate sex’?