Δευτέρα, 16 Δεκεμβρίου 2013

What can we accuse "Golden Dawn" of?

A liberal state protects individual rights. Theft, fraud or attacks against one's body or life are punishable. After providing one with a fair trial one can be convicted of such crimes. Members of “Golden Dawn” have been, among others, accused of crimes against property or life and thus being convicted of them (if evidence occurs) will be just. Being democratically elected does not affect one's capacity to be found guilty.
For example, it is not punishable itself to be the leader of a Nazi party, but it is punishable for the leader to ask the party's chief members to attack or kill another specific individual.
Democracy must deal with Nazis not by depriving them of their individual rights. Nazis must, as individuals, have the right to use hate speech, recruit people, converge or hope to the substitution of the constitution by their misanthropic “moral code”.

Democracy, on the other hand, can use only just weapons to fight them. Justice (quick and functional), freedom of expression and knowledge can isolate “Golden Dawn” from the liberal society, in which it does not belong.    

Τετάρτη, 11 Δεκεμβρίου 2013

Does school violate students' religious freedom?

In Greece a course named “religion” is not an optional one. A course mainly focused on orthodox-christian beliefs using manuals aimed to inform about christian god and traditions is compulsory and everyone must attend. Attending an orthodox-christian morning prayer is compulsory as well.
In order not to attend the above, one must provide the school with a written permission by one's parents in which one's beliefs are declared as non- christian ones.
Religious freedom involves the right not to declare a belief. Apart from declaring students are asked to have their parents' written permission not to attend a course aimed to teach only one religion's views on religious issues.

I consider school students to be individuals having their essential individual rights protected by the constitution. Thus they do not need permission for exercising them. Religion courses must be optional, while compulsory morning prayer has no place in a liberal democracy.   

Κυριακή, 8 Δεκεμβρίου 2013

Free Wi-fi Over Greece: A provison or a threat ?

In his recent interview Greece's PM made a commitment for free Internet access over the country. In social media, this commitment met the derision of the public opinion within the context of the broader Greece's economic problems. But there are more interesting approaches.

A narrow approach would be that as the project is funded by European funds there will be no burden on the budget. So, why not take the money ? One could say that this way we're losing the big picture. From a free-market perspective, as the state becomes the sole internet provider, the private companies will lose average users as clients, stop improving structures and ultimately stop providing the service.

However, any public provision would not cover the entire country. The plan is to create wifi hotspots in targeted central places. Besides, the network's speed will be attenuated due to the fact that multiple users will be online at the same time. Never mind that a large number of websites will be blocked and a bandwidth limit could be imposed. The market will therefore not be affected even if the project eventually covers the whole country continuing to offer faster speeds and fewer restrictions at reasonable prices.

Πέμπτη, 5 Δεκεμβρίου 2013

Clear and present danger test

As a law student I was introduced to this criterion by my professors, when asking which political speech is protected and which not. “Clear and present danger” test is used for that. If, for example, I give a speech against the government this is protected, however if this speech clearly incites a lawless action, advocating use of force, then it is illegal.
Most law professors will go as far as to this point. They will not elaborate on this criterion. Its history however is exciting. The test was introduced by Justice Holmes in 1919 in Schenck vs U.S. Schenck came in front of the Supreme Court claiming protection under the 1st Amendment. He printed leaflets against the government peacefully suggesting a change, using tough language. According to the court clear and present danger existed and Schenck was not protected under freedom of expression. The test was proven to be a trap in practice. When people needed the protection of 1st Amendment, Justices equated words with acts against the government and refused the protection.
In 1969 the criterion changed: all advocacy is protected, except for that directed explicitly to producing, and likely to produce, imminent lawless action.


Τρίτη, 3 Δεκεμβρίου 2013

One major benefit of hate speech

There is an argument in favor of free speech based on the importance of being free to make a decision, having all the related information available to you.
Consider a society in which we decide, by vote or using the market correspondingly, to whom political or financial power should be assigned. Shouldn't we know what these competitive individuals like or dislike, in order to choose? If, for example, I dislike X group of people, being not allowed to say so means others will never know I hate X. Shouldn't X and those supporting X's ideas know my feelings?
In a free market of ideas expression of hate speech leads in individuals, aware of one's ideas, able to decide rationally who to empower with their vote or money. If expression of sexist, racist or homophobic feelings was forbidden, we would never actually know enough, in order to make a political choice. A sexist might thus be voted to deal with woman's issues. If “Barilla” was not allowed to express itself against new forms of family, homosexuals' or one-parent families would be deprived of the option not to put “Barilla” on their table.


Vivian Stergiou

Κυριακή, 1 Δεκεμβρίου 2013

Should the government control my bedroom?


There is no society (non totalitarian) which openly interferes with people's bedrooms.
Governments do not ask about individuals' sexual life.
One would now see two different paths:(path 1) Individuals have the right to their sexuality and individual life (right to a not controlled by government bedroom). (path 2) Individuals have the right to have common insurance, common loan or even a baby with other individuals. Path 1 is a path homosexuals can walk. Path 2 is a path homosexuals walk only when governments allow them.
If we now agree that no rational individual would enter a society in which they could not choose who to share their bedroom with and if we agree that such a society would be unjust, because of interfering with people's personalities trying to conform them, then we agree that walking on Path 1 if not combined with walking on Path 2 is like choosing to be deprived of rights.
So, if walkers of Path 1 are excluded from Path 2 one should choose Paths. Since both Paths lead to essential individual rights making one choose between 1 and 2 means making them choose which rights they prefer not to have.