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Submitted on
January 15



When I was a young person I believed that in a democracy you had freedom of speech but in fact you don't. Things like laws against inciting hatred and political correctness tend to prevent that. I think this is a mistake. It would be better to punish people for what they do, not what they say. If you think about it there are two possible systems. One would be a system where everybody can say what they want and if it offends some group they can argue against it but they cannot stop people saying what they want. The other system is where you cannot say what you want if it offends somebody. The trouble with this is there is no arbiter to peoples cultural and religious sensibilities. One persons religion is another's cult. With this subtractive system you are left with very little space to say anything. This system pretends that all views are equally valid but they are not. Rather than challenge daft ideas lets not say anything offensive. Its intellectually lazy.

I would differentiate between public and private spaces. Its reasonable to advocate the benefits of pork on TV but don't expect to get a similar hearing in a mosque say. This brings me onto a different but related topic. Some people feel at liberty to comment negatively on pictures when no critique is asked for. As far as I'm concerned my pictures are in my space produced with my time and money and if you don't like them go somewhere else. This is the equivalent of switching off the TV if you don't like the program. Its just standard politeness. If you see a girl in a pretty dress maybe you might compliment her on it. If you see an ugly girl saying 'my you are ugly' is not really acceptable. There are thousands of pictures produced at Deviant Art. Some are world class but the majority just aren't that good but I don't spend my time complaining about it I just move on. That is the correct response. If you don't think I should have a cross in a picture, make reference to Dresden or comment on German economic policy too bad. Oddly I express my art and opinions not yours. Why not comment in your own space rather than complain at other people's?

Things I don't like are as follows:
1) Black and white pictures. Yes I know its easy to make pictures look real in black and white but its a cop out. Anyone can do that. Make them look good in colour and if you succeed it will look much better. (Strange that B/W looks real because few people see that way).
2) Single nudes but you can see the pores on the skin and the lighting is fantastic. Yes if you have a good program on a fast PC you can achieve this but where is the art or the composition? Lighting is important but not really an end in itself. Do the good lighting but can we have a composition please?
3) Watermarks. Had several goes at this already. I won't favourite any picture with a watermark. They dont add anything for the viewer.
4) Boobs are wonderful. Big boobs are better, so boobs which you drag along the floor must be the best ever right? Somewhere along the line this argument breaks down but not for some people.
5) Pictures on 10 sites. If I see a picture I like I'll fav it. Seeing it 10 times over does not improve my opinion of it. Its just tedious.
6) Ten pictures of your pet dog. Slightly different posing. I have thousands of photos but I don't suppose that other people would find them interesting.
7) 100 pictures of your favourite girl. Now this girl was quite pretty but so many pictures of her I had to quit the group.
I did not make any of these comments on pictures but I'll get it off my chest here.

If you want to comment on this text I'll give you a fair hearing that is why I wrote it. If you don't like my views but still like my pictures thats OK too. The two aren't really related.

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IscariotArt Feb 17, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Very interesting conversation, just on a legal side, there is no ordiance or law that makes yelling "fire" in a crowded room illegal, what is illegal is the "reporting falsely" of an emergency that does not exsist, and the panic that ensues from the false reporting of a fire in a crowded room falls under performing an unsafe act in public, i.e. recless endangerment is illegal. But the actual act of yelling "fire" isn't illegal, its illicit yes, but not specifically illegal. You can't make yelling fire illegal because if there is a fire and some one yells fire they would be violating the law even though there is an actual fire. So you are perfectly allowed to do so, just remember, if there isn't actually a fire you will be charged with endangerment of others through your illict act, its actually the same charge you can get if you are weaving in and out of traffic, you may not be speeding but you are performing an act that endangers those around you. 

Just saying. 
Interesting. Thanks.
IscariotArt Feb 17, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
BTW I do love your art :) 

It's always good when an artist feels that there are things to be said, and says them. Right or wrong in interpretation. Good for you.

Having said that, here are some things to keep in mind (and you might find more thoughtful detail and analysis in some of the essays on these topics I've posted on my gallery page):

1. It's illegal to shout "fire" in a crowded theater. It's just speech, not action, you say? Hardly. In such a context it is an action, and extraordinarily dangerous to people in a space that's dark and has limited exits. Especially to children, who are easily frightened and not well experienced in crowded places.

Alas, there are many such situations, and also other situations analogous to it.

For example, suppose you're a person in an angry crowd, confronting another person…say, a politician…whom you detest. Someone yells, "Get the sonofabitch!" and suddenly the crowd becomes a mob, and the target is brutally attacked. Happens all the time. Another analogous situation is on-line bullying: some kid or adult makes nasty allegations or hate slurs about some school kid on a website. Other kids read it, and they make similar nasty, hurtful, hateful allegations ("I think Johnny actually fucks his own mother! And he raped Darlene Schmidt, I think."). Soon Johnny's entire school is ostracizing him, maybe beating him up after school. Wouldn't you say this is no longer just an issue of free speech?

2. The issue involving hate speech in public places is complicated, I grant you. But yelling (or printing or posting) in public the words "Death to all Jews (or Christians, or Moslems, or Hindus, or Japanese, or Germans, or homosexuals, or heterosexuals, etc.; coose any group)" is illegal because all segments of a civic populace need to feel that they are protected from fear and threats. That's the difference between being civilized and living in anarchy. We agree not to damage each other in public. Sure, it's an ideal, and we all fall short of it. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try, and so we have laws against egregious hate speech as violating individual (and group) civil rights. It's no longer considered civilized for public spaces to have signs that say "No blacks allowed," or "No women allowed" (okay, okay, gender-specific lavatories are different).

If you are an anarchist, or perhaps believe that "might is right," then I'm having a discussion with someone whose ethics and values are completely different than my own, and I'll stop discussing this point, since I'm not going to be able to influence you through facts and logic. But I hope that's not the case.

3. On "acts" vs. "speech": I understand the distinction you're trying to make, but I actually think the logic doesn't hold up. Consider one definition of speech: "the verbalization of thoughts" – what I say is simply a verbalization of what I think. Well, there are lots of religious moralizings about how "the thought is as bad as the deed." But it can't be true. Because if it were then almost all the bondage images here at dA would be gone, their artists afraid of going to jail for even thinking such things, let alone drawing them. No, thoughts aren't the same as deeds. But what about "speech"? I'd argue that speaking, especially in a public environment, is acting, not thinking. If it were merely thinking, we wouldn't hear it aloud, would we? The act of saying something aloud – speaking – is a behavior, and someone who speaks must be responsible for the sounds and the meanings of their behaviors: what they say (except perhaps for very very young children). This is exactly because (see points 1 and 2 above), speech affects others.

4. Conclusion: along with the privileges of freedom comes the responsibility to act in ways that don't interfere with others' freedom. And that is why there are laws about speaking hatefully in public, shouting "Fire!", etc. Those acts affect other people's ability to be free. We could disagree on the fine points of what freedom really is, but mostly people reach agreement on most of these things. You can choose to live your freedom solipsistically, of course (like the Unibomber), until or unless your actions (including your speech) threatens the ability of people around you to feel free (like the Unibomber!).

5. With respect to dA and its TOS, and your statement that you have a right to post anything you want here without incurring comments you don't like: My friend, if that's how you feel, dA is the wrong place for you to be spending time in. dA is a public forum for artists to post their work for people to see – and for people to comment on. If there are viewers who annoy you by giving you feedback you don't like, you can always block them from leaving future comments. But trust me, if you're blocking because you simply don't like getting constructive criticism (as opposed to blocking someone because that person is a troll or engaged in hated speech), that will soon get around the community, and viewers will stop taking you seriously, or even showing up at your gallery. No self-respecting artist is immune to feedback; it's how we learn, improve our skills, explore what others in the artistic community think. Artists who prefer to simply be all alone, all by themselves, producing work that people will be able to view but not comment on, work that can't be critiqued…they're mostly wasting their time here on dA. This isn't a museum; it's a working, lively community of people sharing what they're doing and learning as they go.

And although you claim differently, in fact you didn't pay for the privilege of posting here (you pay only for upgraded membership: your choice). Establishing a gallery here at dA is free, and dA welcomes you to post what you like, within the boundaries specified in the TOS. And you personally agreed to the TOS when you registered. Were you lying when you said you agreed? There's stuff in the TOS I don't agree with, but I understand why the rules are what they are and I follow the rules as I understand them. Sometimes I push the boundaries, but I'm prepared to have stuff censored by dA if I push too far. The TOS bars hate speech, and that's a good thing for all of us here. But it doesn't bar comments and feedback, obviously, and that's a good thing too, even though sometimes feedback can be uncomfortable.

If you don't understand the rules, you ought to ask about them, and someone (the dA administrators, or perhaps even talkative people like me on some topics) can help provide an explanation.

Anyway, I want you, as an interesting artist, to stick around. You can even block me, I guess, although I'm not sure why you'd want to, since I like your work. But I gotta warn you, there are artists here I love and respect, and yet from time to time there's something in a specific image I have a problem with. I let them know (sometimes in a Note, sometimes in a public comment; depends). Most often they say "Thanks." Sometimes they say "Here's why it's like that.") And sometimes they say "Gee, I never thought about that. Good catch." But they're open. That's what being here on dA is all about. Being open and supportive of the artistic community and its common goals.

Do please stay with us. We want you. Even though sometimes our constructive efforts might come across as critical.


Wow thanks for a really considered response. I can see you are a man who likes to think. There are a lot of points here so will try to work from top to bottom.
1-4) I think we need to differentiate between the principle of punishing by deed not speech and some of the practical boundary lines. You have persuaded me that the Action/Speech boundary needs to be carefully defined but not that it is the actions that should be punished. I'd count shouting fire in a theatre as an action. The other examples are speech leading to bad actions by other people which can be addressed by punishing the people who did the bad action. In these cases the speech is bad because someone else did the bad action. Admittedly its a sliding scale but you wouldn't presumably want to arrest somebody for advocating driving over the speed limit or saying that sex under the age of 16 should be permitted?  I'm not really bothered about protecting people who simply want to say that Group X are morons or the Pussy Riot people but its important to be allowed to present reasoned arguments even if its for an unpopular/unfashionable cause. Saying 'Death to all Jews' should be wrong but explaining why the establishment of Israel is unfair (as taking over peoples lands is usually unacceptable) is OK for example. Some people act out their fantasies after watching violent films but few are saying the film producer should go to jail. People should take responsibility for their own actions and the fact someone else suggested something is not a defence. For every suicide bomber there are probably hundred people who mouth off about the glories of Jihad. Allow people their fantasies and speech and punish the people who act out their fantasies. We have a situation on London buses where homosexuals can put political adverts but not Christian groups opposed. 100 years ago it would have been the other way around. I think both groups should be allowed to express their arguments in public. So called 'hate crime' and 'political correctness' is an attempt to enforce the status quo ideas on everybody. Nobody is arguing that speech does not affect others but so is an enforcement of speech control. I suppose if all your ideas are status quo you think that a good thing but most people would say that democracy is about allowing the expression of views you don't agree with too.

5. Re 'With respect to dA and its TOS, and your statement that you have a right to post anything you want here without incurring comments you don't like' you  are connecting two separate things. A) I cannot put up anything I like - that bit is true but B) I do not have to receive criticism. I can ban up to 500 individuals or I could simply have it that nobody can post comments. It does not bother me if it gets around. There is no trade. I put up my pictures and people get to view and download them for free. If people want a boycott and refuse to comment on my pictures that is fine by me. I think the fact that people can request a critique should give you a clue. There are mistakes on my pictures but whether it is worthwhile to correct them is down to me. Other matters are my artistic tastes again my choice. You are quite right DA does not ban critiques but I will from now on.

A reasoned reply, for sure. Thank you for taking the time to engage in this discussion. I believe that we are pretty much in agreement about the ethical issues of speech vs. language, in that there are fine lines and the decision about where to draw them is not just personal but social and even cultural, and is thus complicated, difficult, and therefore hard to manage. Half the solution is being aware of these complications, and exercising freedom in a way that does not abridge the freedom of others. The other half of the solution is a combination of legal and cultural constraints.

Of course, as you so correctly point out, legal and cultural constraints merely support the status quo, which if not subject to its own corrections can (and often does) lead to revolutionary activity on the one hand or slavery on the other. It changes an ethical issue about behavior into one of power.

I suppose I could continue to take issue with your labeling of "hate crimes" as "so-called" and part of "political correctness." My sense is that scapegoating and bullying is fundamentally undemocratic and not conducive to the pursuit of happiness. I am I confess more left wing than right, more focused on community than individualism, but very much engaged with the issue of personal freedom of choice – again, as long as individual choice does not preclude someone else's individual choice.

The problem I have with your bus ad example is that homosexuality is something that is genetically predisposed. Being a Christian (or belonging to any other organized or disorganized religion) is a matter of choice. Since I'm basically anti-organized religions of all kinds, I don't have much sympathy for the legal standing of churches, except (as I say again) that their right to associate and celebrate their beliefs should not be restricted as long as they do not restrict others. Homosexuality is not a matter of belief. Advertising so as to make that point in the face of bullying and prejudice seems okay with me. Advertising to say that homosexuality is a matter of choice is simply mistating the facts.

I fully support your decision not to accept any critiques of any of the images you post. It's your choice. I for one, as a member of the dA community, will miss the opportunity to engage you. And I shall not try to provide any commentary concerning your work from here on in. Will you be disabling all comments?

Re 'Homosexuality is something that is genetically predisposed. Being a Christian (or belonging to any other organized or disorganized religion) is a matter of choice'.

Do you think there is a gay gene then and if there was does it really alter the argument? If murderers or paedophiles could show a genetic disposition would you let them off? (At one time people thought XYY genes disposed people towards violence - although not currently). The majority of religious or nationalist types simply get programmed by their parents as kids and have very little choice. The point here is not that homosexuality should be viewed as akin to these objectionable groups but rather the presense of a genetic rather than a behavioural basis makes no difference as to whether an activity should be viewed as right or wrong by society. (If it gives some people pleasure and causes me no harm why should I object? is my view). I am an atheist but I still think religious people should be allowed to put their views on buses even if they are wrong.

I have only had a handful of objectionable comments in as many years. I doubt if I will have to do much at all. Most people understand that uncalled for critiques are not welcome. I don't allow comments at Renderosity but only because I was fed up with the tit for tat mentality of I'll fav you if you fav me. If I write 'Great Work' to a hundred people a day I can get my pictures into the art charts.

It's not as simple as that, I think, but I take your point. It's more likely that there are "gay genes," and that some of them interact with environmental factors very early in life, much as predispositions for ADHD and other syndromes (the disease model) on the one hand, and musical or other talent on the other hand (the special intelligence model). Homosexuality is simply a label right now for a range of environmental and behavioral expression of genetic predispositions. My guess, based on the available data, at least the research I've seen) is that almost all human beings have at least some of those predispositions as part of their genetic makeup. Homosexual behavior, along with heterosexual behavior (obviously) is easily identifiable among other species of mammals. And that ought to be a major clue about the genetic (as opposed to the cultural) origins.

And interestingly, I (along with many others in the scientific community) do think that there are genetic predispositions toward violence, too. I suspect that this tendency is normally distributed in the population. But unlike some other such markers (such as homosexuality and musical talent, for example), the ones for violence seem to be much more strongly interactive with cultural variables such as child-rearing, history of abuse (especially parental abuse), the presence or absence of extended family structures and other social organizations, and available economic and educational opportunities.
So allowing for the presence of predispositions to violent behavior isn't the same as excusing it. And, as you point out, homosexuality as expressed in behaviors between consenting adults is not, and never has been, anything more than another way of expressing sexual pleasure that does not do harm to anyone.

I believe anyone should be able to express their views on buses, unless by doing so they infringe on someone else's rights and freedoms. It's one thing to advertise "You can't be a God-fearing Christian and support gay rights!" but it's quite another to advertise, "Homosexuals should not be allowed to attend church." The latter is equivalent in my view to saying "Don't buy from Jewish merchants."

Anyway, as I noted, the challenge for all of us motivated by ethical concerns is to follow Hillel's proscription: "Do unto others, etc." That would go a long way towards helping all of us get along.
Very well said and I agree with you 100% on this
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