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Old 27.03.2011, 15:58
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Re: basic civil rights rules?

Your deep insight into Virginia state law: overkill!!! as well as irrelevant.

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I think the difference with Americans and continental Europeans (or even Brits from what I've seen) is that Western Europeans think freedom of speech is good depending on its practicality or utility. Basically "what are you using it for"?

Americans think, in general, all speech is good, in spite of the reason for it.
Ah yes, the sacred right to freedom of speech in the US. It means absolutely no limits on corporate campaign expenditures (Supreme Court 2010) and it means hate churches can protest and picket funerals of soldiers with signs like "God hates fags" and "Thank God for dead soldiers", freely expressing their opinion that the soldiers deaths are justified and are an example of god punishing the US for allowing the moral degradation that is homosexuality (Supreme Court 2010). Interestingly, Justice Alito, who is not exactly liberal, dissented, saying “Our profound national commitment to free and open debate is not a license for the vicious verbal assault that occurred in this case” and “In order to have a society in which public issues can be openly and vigorously debated it is not necessary to allow the brutalization of innocent victims.” Indeed.

It is commonly held that there are limits to one’s civil rights. This was nicely expressed in 1789 in the Declaration of the Rights of Man (which, among other things, influenced the Swiss Constitution):
4. Liberty consists in the freedom to do everything which injures no one else; hence the exercise of the natural rights of each man has no limits except those which assure to the other members of the society the enjoyment of the same rights. These limits can only be determined by law.
It is also in Article 10 of the European Human Rights Convention (which Switzerland has signed) if you’d prefer something more modern. If you are interested in the European take on the matter, look up the case law at the European Court of Human Rights. Switzerland is certainly more liberal than, say, Germany, in terms of things like Nazi symbols etc.


For more information on fundamental rights in Switzerland, you might take a look at the Swiss Constitution (Articles 1-36), available online and in English. You can also check out Swiss case law but I am assuming your German/French/Italian is probably not up to it: http://www.bger.ch.


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The only real laws against speech in America is immediate threats.
There are many, many, many laws which restrict what you can say where and when. For example, many states now have funeral protest laws prohibiting protests within a certain distance to funerals – restricting when and where you can exercise your freedom of speech. The imminent lawless actions test you refer to is simply a test which can help determine if certain utterances are or should be protected under the first amendment.

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The reality is that is only during the day, plenty of drunks cursing at night, and I've never herd of anyone being ticketed, but that is another difference in America. We often selectively enforce the law (unlike Switzerland or Germany where "the law is the law")
This is hardly a difference between the two countries; it simply has to do with the discretionary use of police power. It even has a name here: the principle of opportunity, codified in the Swiss Criminal Procedure Law, meaning that not all crimes are worth pursuing.
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  #22  
Old 27.03.2011, 16:29
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Re: basic civil rights rules?

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Your deep insight into Virginia state law: overkill!!! as well as irrelevant.


Ah yes, the sacred right to freedom of speech in the US. It means absolutely no limits on corporate campaign expenditures (Supreme Court 2010) and it means hate churches can protest and picket funerals of soldiers with signs like "God hates fags" and "Thank God for dead soldiers", freely expressing their opinion that the soldiers deaths are justified and are an example of god punishing the US for allowing the moral degradation that is homosexuality (Supreme Court 2010). Interestingly, Justice Alito, who is not exactly liberal, dissented, saying “Our profound national commitment to free and open debate is not a license for the vicious verbal assault that occurred in this case” and “In order to have a society in which public issues can be openly and vigorously debated it is not necessary to allow the brutalization of innocent victims.” Indeed.

It is commonly held that there are limits to one’s civil rights. This was nicely expressed in 1789 in the Declaration of the Rights of Man (which, among other things, influenced the Swiss Constitution):
4. Liberty consists in the freedom to do everything which injures no one else; hence the exercise of the natural rights of each man has no limits except those which assure to the other members of the society the enjoyment of the same rights. These limits can only be determined by law.
It is also in Article 10 of the European Human Rights Convention (which Switzerland has signed) if you’d prefer something more modern. If you are interested in the European take on the matter, look up the case law at the European Court of Human Rights. Switzerland is certainly more liberal than, say, Germany, in terms of things like Nazi symbols etc.


For more information on fundamental rights in Switzerland, you might take a look at the Swiss Constitution (Articles 1-36), available online and in English. You can also check out Swiss case law but I am assuming your German/French/Italian is probably not up to it: http://www.bger.ch.



There are many, many, many laws which restrict what you can say where and when. For example, many states now have funeral protest laws prohibiting protests within a certain distance to funerals – restricting when and where you can exercise your freedom of speech. The imminent lawless actions test you refer to is simply a test which can help determine if certain utterances are or should be protected under the first amendment.


This is hardly a difference between the two countries; it simply has to do with the discretionary use of police power. It even has a name here: the principle of opportunity, codified in the Swiss Criminal Procedure Law, meaning that not all crimes are worth pursuing.

[removal]

2) My response as to state law in the U.S. was specifically in response to being called a liar who obviously does not know anything about law in the U.S., but feels the need to comment on it. Should I allow the person to state falsehoods about my countries legal system and call me a liar? The fastest way to clear up this type of issue is to present facts, not go back and forth.

3) I did not say the freedom of speech laws were not problematic. As I said I'm a visible minority. You think I like Klu Klux Klan or Skinhead marches? The point is I understand why allowing this may be necessary. It has nothing to do with "personal like" of individual or group use of their right to speak freely. It is the principle. I personally do not, nor do I associate with people who go around and yell racial, sexual, etc names at strangers in public spaces. I find the behavior barbaric.

My father served 22 years in the U.S. military and if any man stood at his funeral and said the things you described above (and yes I'm aware of this church group) I would be spending the next 2 weeks in jail for assault. With great power comes great responsibility, heh...? YOu can say what you want, but there will be consequences, if they be legal or otherwise (thrashing, denied a job, fired from a job, etc).

In any case, being that America has 300 million + people, these situation are actually quite rare. It is not like there are thousands of funeral protests a year.

3) Thank you for your clarification about Swiss law.

There are many states that forbid funeral protests, but as you mentioned, the Supreme Court cases now has invalidated some of them, so they will be revised or thrown out. States, as Swiss Cantons (but less so) have the power to make various rules on speech (also cities/townships).

The issue might be what you get at toward the end of your post, selective enforcement.

It could be a simple fact that due to culture, Americans have a higher tolerance for "offense speech" and therefore are less likely to try to prosecute it, than in Switzerland where they are more sensitive to "personal protection" from being offended by others. I believe most Americans, would simply say something like "those people are "a-holes" but get over it...or you are free to counter-protest, etc"...

Also "which injures no one else" is somewhat vague, and seems to me to depend on a cultural interpretation of injury. Obviously, we think that (in most states in America) threatening people (if indirect) is not hurting anyone or the state (criminally), but you can sue civilly, usually though it will be thrown out of court.

You did mention "when and where" you can practice your freedom of speech. Fair point, but my initial point was that there are few limits on your ability to say something in general. There is no law against denying the Holocaust for example. I did point out you can not "yell fire at a crowded theater" etc. Obviously in some situations you can endanger public safety. Just as you can't yell terrorist threats at airports (in any form). Still, I wonder how easy it is to get a permit in Switzerland as compared to the States to do something like a "funeral protest" (if possible)...obviously this would have to be a Canton vs State comparison, there are no real national laws.

I'm not sure that would be an acceptable answer to most Swiss.

Last edited by AmericanGotWorkVisa; 27.03.2011 at 17:16.
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Old 27.03.2011, 17:05
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Re: basic civil rights rules?

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Why you feel it necessary to bash America I do not know.
WTF? I disagree with the idea that the US constitution is infallible and I disagree with an unlimited right to freedom of speech as evidenced by the cases I referred to. Why is this America bashing? I see no reason why criticizing things I don't like about my own country constitutes "bashing". Yes, I am American. In fact, from Maryland.

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( your case law comment did not go unnoticed)
This was based on your initial posts that I remember reading in late 2009 in which you said you did not speak any of the official languages here. A little more than a year is generally not enough time to develop the language skills to read case law in a foreign language. If I am wrong and you have developed those skills, I apologize. That is why I provided the link - in case I was wrong.

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Also "which injures no one else" is somewhat vague, and seems to me to depend on a cultural interpretation of injury.
Indeed it is vague. It is for the lawmakers and the courts of the various countries to draw the lines.
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  #24  
Old 27.03.2011, 17:15
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Re: basic civil rights rules?

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WTF? I disagree with the idea that the US constitution is infallible and I disagree with an unlimited right to freedom of speech as evidenced by the cases I referred to. Why is this America bashing? I see no reason why criticizing things I don't like about my own country constitutes "bashing". Yes, I am American. In fact, from Maryland.


This was based on your initial posts that I remember reading in late 2009 in which you said you did not speak any of the official languages here. A little more than a year is generally not enough time to develop the language skills to read case law in a foreign language. If I am wrong and you have developed those skills, I apologize. That is why I provided the link - in case I was wrong.


Indeed it is vague. It is for the lawmakers and the courts of the various countries to draw the lines.
Lol, Maryland? Sorry buddy, my mistake. I was completely wrong.

On this board we often seem to get attacked for no apparent reason (even by our immediately northern neighbors) maybe I've become sensitive.

You are right, I speak enough German to get the main idea of some Soap Operas and shows like Mitten Im Leban. I definitely can't read legal code.

No harm no foul, we are cool.

I agree with you that the things you mentioned are highly offensive, no issue there. I guess I just think they should still be legal, because I don't like the idea of the government defining what is "good speech", that is too arbitrary, and depends on who is "in power".

As far as Switzerland, what you stated was highly informative, not really surprising though. It's just a different culture.

BTW, I lived in NOVA (Alexandria).

I edited my previous post.
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Old 27.03.2011, 17:40
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Re: basic civil rights rules?

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Lol, Maryland? Sorry buddy, my mistake. I was completely wrong.

On this board we often seem to get attacked for no apparent reason (even by our immediately northern neighbors) maybe I've become sensitive.

You are right, I speak enough German to get the main idea of some Soap Operas and shows like Mitten Im Leban. I definitely can't read legal code.

No harm no foul, we are cool.

I agree with you that the things you mentioned are highly offensive, no issue there. I guess I just think they should still be legal, because I don't like the idea of the government defining what is "good speech", that is too arbitrary, and depends on who is "in power".

As far as Switzerland, what you stated was highly informative, not really surprising though. It's just a different culture.

BTW, I lived in NOVA (Alexandria).

I edited my previous post.
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Old 27.03.2011, 17:42
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Re: basic civil rights rules?

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Black Forest or The Great White North
It doesn't matter, lets get back to Swiss civil rights... I tend to like boTH Germans and Canadians (in general) and don't want to even get into those topics.
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Old 27.03.2011, 17:44
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Re: basic civil rights rules?

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Lol, Maryland? Sorry buddy, my mistake. I was completely wrong.
Don't you mean to say "my bad": 'My bad'.

My policy: always try to interpret a post in a positive light (it isn't always possible: trolls will be trolls). There are many people of many different cultures on this forum and so logically many different ways of expressing ideas and opinions. Some are easier to understand than others but misunderstandings are also easy too. A few ugly threads have recently reminded everyone of that. I have been offended by some posts only to discover that I had got it all wrong. Hence, my policy.

Maybe this site has something that will interest you. The English pages are limited but ... http://www.humanrights.ch/home/en/en...3-content.html.
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Old 27.03.2011, 17:55
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Re: basic civil rights rules?

We are still way OT here with some very long messages. Maybe we can split all that out if you want to continue to discuss civil rights in the US. But don't disagree with each other cuz that's America bashing.

Anything to add about civil rights in Switzerland?

I never did take that class I mentioned back in 2007. But I think when we get back to VD I will take it.

ETA: I don't know how all these new messages pop up after I"ve posted... There seems to be a delay in my EF reloading. Thanks Ziger for the link to humanrights.ch. I'll bookmark that to read when there is nothing going on here on EF.
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