Segregation in the name of free speech

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Segregation in the name of free speech

Postby davidstarlingm » Tue Dec 03, 2013 6:51 pm UTC

Spotted this lovely gem earlier today:

The segregation of women and the appeasement of bigotry
Ultimately, if imposing an unsegregated seating area in addition to the segregated areas contravenes the genuinely held religious beliefs of the group hosting the event, or those of the speaker, the institution should be mindful to ensure that the freedom of speech of the religious group or speaker is not curtailed unlawfully.

These people (not the authors of the article, but the people the article talks about) are arguing that a public university should be permitted to use force to gender-segregate an auditorium if the speaker is offended by men and women sitting next to each other. Because otherwise they are "curtailing" the speaker's freedom of speech.

How utterly twisted can it get?

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Re: Segregation in the name of free speech

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Dec 03, 2013 7:37 pm UTC

That's...odd. I suppose I'd argue for the right of people to segregate themselves, I guess. If that's whatcha want, free country. I can't see how "I'm offended" = "I can't speak", though. If you choose to only exercise your right to freedom of speech in front of segregated groups, that would be fine, I suppose, though odd. I see no reason why your preferences must be imposed on others, though.

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Re: Segregation in the name of free speech

Postby davidstarlingm » Tue Dec 03, 2013 8:29 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:That's...odd. I suppose I'd argue for the right of people to segregate themselves, I guess. If that's whatcha want, free country. I can't see how "I'm offended" = "I can't speak", though. If you choose to only exercise your right to freedom of speech in front of segregated groups, that would be fine, I suppose, though odd. I see no reason why your preferences must be imposed on others, though.

The issue is not voluntary segregation. The issue is forcible segregation of a non-religious audience in order to protect the religious sensibilities of the speaker. Because otherwise the speaker's "freedom of speech" is being "unlawfully curtailed".

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Re: Segregation in the name of free speech

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Tue Dec 03, 2013 9:28 pm UTC

If you would like to read a source that doesn't make you feel like someone is peeing on your brain, the original case study is from page 27 of this PDF.
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Re: Segregation in the name of free speech

Postby Derek » Wed Dec 04, 2013 12:14 am UTC

I suppose I would allow the hosts of an event to segregate the audience, but I find it disgusting. Segregating an event at the whim of the speaker is even more disgusting, it would be far better to not host the speaker at all.

No one's free speech is violated by a desegregated audience, because there is no right to have a segregated audience (that would be a positive liberty, which I don't believe in).

I commend Lawrence Krauss for walking out on the debate with a segregated audience.

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Re: Segregation in the name of free speech

Postby BattleMoose » Wed Dec 04, 2013 1:23 am UTC

I feel the need to attend. And cross-dress.

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Re: Segregation in the name of free speech

Postby sigsfried » Wed Dec 04, 2013 1:24 am UTC

Universities want to host talks by very controversial speakers, at the very least student societies might want to invite a speaker to talk to their society (pretty much all religious and political societies want to do this), and in some cases the society might already segregate to some extent, I don't think it is unreasonable for them to want to do this also at the talks given, while I wouldn't want to be present at or a member of such a society. Overall I don't like this but provided the segregation doesn't impact anyone's ability to take part I can't really consider it that major a problem.

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Re: Segregation in the name of free speech

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Dec 04, 2013 2:13 am UTC

Derek wrote:I suppose I would allow the hosts of an event to segregate the audience, but I find it disgusting. Segregating an event at the whim of the speaker is even more disgusting, it would be far better to not host the speaker at all.

No one's free speech is violated by a desegregated audience, because there is no right to have a segregated audience (that would be a positive liberty, which I don't believe in).

I commend Lawrence Krauss for walking out on the debate with a segregated audience.


Yeah, the "right to have a segregated audience" isn't really a thing by any standard of rights with any traction so far as I'm aware. Certainly not protected by law.

I think simply not having the speaker is entirely fair at that point. You can have controversial speakers without requiring controversial things out of the audience. If I say that I will only speak if you give me a million dollars, you are well within your rights to say no. In fact, I'd wager that colleges opt to decline speakers because of speaking fees all the time. This demand is an imposition not merely on the college administration, but on the audience as a whole.

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Re: Segregation in the name of free speech

Postby Red Hal » Wed Dec 04, 2013 5:59 pm UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:If you would like to read a source that doesn't make you feel like someone is peeing on your brain, the original case study is from page 27 of this PDF.
Thank you, the original source is very different in tone from the polemic in the Spectator.

The original is a case study, intended to raise awareness and discussion of the issues faced by someone seeking to hold one of these talks. These are discussion points. Here are some selected quotes:

"The case studies highlight some of the legal and
practical issues that might arise, but are not intended as
a substitute for legal advice. Each scenario depends on
the particular facts, and the analysis cannot necessarily
be applied to other cases. Also, any analysis can change
if additional information comes to light
."

...

Ultimately, if imposing an unsegregated seating area in addition
to the segregated areas contravenes the genuinely held
religious beliefs of the group hosting the event,
or those of the speaker, the institution should be
mindful to ensure that the freedom of speech of the
religious group or speaker is not curtailed unlawfully.


My reading of this (IANAL YMMV, though we've done training in this and considered similar case studies as part of my job) is that one must consider protected characteristics first and other considerations second. Under the Equality act, the protected characteristics are: Age, Disability, Gender reassignment, Marriage and civil partnership, Race, Religion or belief, Sex, and Sexual orientation1, and the act makes it an offence to discriminate on any or all of those characterisics.

So, is it possible to segregate the audience in such a way that does not discriminate on any of those characteristics? If the answer is no then there is a clear duty to inform the speaker that the audience cannot be segregated according to his or her wishes, since doing so would contravene the Equality Act, and allow the speaker to choose whether or not they still wish to attend.

If, however, it is possible to achieve segregation in a way that does not discriminate on any of the protected characteristics, then we are into a more nuanced decision. I am firmly of the opinion that whether or not the speaker is allowed to speak is not a matter of free speech. Free Speech in the U.K. does not mean that one must let anyone speak anywhere on anything at any time, (the oft-quoted counter-example is shouting 'fire' in a crowded theatre), and therefore denying the speaker the right to a segregated audience is not denying them the right to speak, which takes care of the phrase "mindful to ensure that the freedom of speech of the religious group or speaker is not curtailed unlawfully", so if it were my decision, I just wouldn't book any speaker who would insist on segregation.

But is there a way to resolve this through compromise? I mean, one could equally say that anyone who objects to segregation of the audience is free not to attend, and allow those who don't have a problem with sitting on different sides of the auditorium to attend.
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Re: Segregation in the name of free speech

Postby Ormurinn » Wed Dec 04, 2013 6:36 pm UTC

Hmm, as I see it, if clear "This event has segregated seating" messages are communicated to the potential audience, it does seem unfair to then not allow event organisers to remove individuals who won't follow the rules.

As long as attendence to the event is non compulsory my moral sensibilities aren't upset by this at all - even though i think it'd be a bit weird to have segregated seating and I personally would choose not to attend such an event.

It's not "freedom of speech" though. I could see an argument for freedom of assosciation.
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Re: Segregation in the name of free speech

Postby Chen » Wed Dec 04, 2013 6:55 pm UTC

Red Hal wrote:If, however, it is possible to achieve segregation in a way that does not discriminate on any of the protected characteristics, then we are into a more nuanced decision. I am firmly of the opinion that whether or not the speaker is allowed to speak is not a matter of free speech. Free Speech in the U.K. does not mean that one must let anyone speak anywhere on anything at any time, (the oft-quoted counter-example is shouting 'fire' in a crowded theatre), and therefore denying the speaker the right to a segregated audience is not denying them the right to speak, which takes care of the phrase "mindful to ensure that the freedom of speech of the religious group or speaker is not curtailed unlawfully", so if it were my decision, I just wouldn't book any speaker who would insist on segregation.


I'm not so sure this is correct. From earlier in that PDF we have:

Section 43(1) of the Education (No 2) Act 1986 places a direct obligation on universities in England and Wales to ‘take such steps as are reasonably practicable to ensure that freedom of speech within the law is secured for members, students and employees of the establishment and for visiting speakers’.

This duty ‘within the law’ extends to ensuring ‘so far as is reasonably practicable, that the use of any premises of the establishment is not denied to any individual or body of persons on any ground connected with (a) the beliefs or views of that individual or of any member of that body; or (b) the policy or objectives of that body.’


This is why they did the Segregation case study. They note that the segregation would be discriminatory IF "it amounts to ‘less favourable
treatment’ of either female or male attendees". The example they give of side by side segregation (rather than say front/back) results in no less favourable treatment and would not necessarily be considered discriminatory. They say that if you believe segregation is wrong (for whatever reason), that can be a legitimately held belief and thus they MAY be infringing on THAT belief if they were to only offer segregated seating. However, that is not immediately obvious as a belief that is protected under the act and thus would require a court ruling. In this case, however, the religious belief IS protected under the act. And hence them saying that not bowing to the wishes of the speaker for a request that is not in contravention of any law, might in fact be unlawful as per Section 43 of the Education act.

The speaker may have inequitable views, but if they make a request based on those views that is not a priori illegal or discriminatory, refusing them the right to speak based on that may in fact be illegal for the university to do.

The position in the case study is EXTREMELY nuanced. The article in the original post shows a complete lack of understanding of this nuance, especially the way it takes a paragraph quote COMPLETELY out of context.

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Re: Segregation in the name of free speech

Postby Red Hal » Wed Dec 04, 2013 9:19 pm UTC

Chen, I concur with your analysis. I placed less emphasis on the Education Act as it specifies actions that should be taken rather than actions which it is illegal to take, but I accept your assertion that a legal ruling would be required where there appeared to be a conflict between the beliefs of the speaker and the beliefs of the potential audience.

It's for this reason that I would not book a speaker who would put me in this position in the first place.
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Re: Segregation in the name of free speech

Postby Derek » Wed Dec 04, 2013 10:10 pm UTC

Chen wrote:This is why they did the Segregation case study. They note that the segregation would be discriminatory IF "it amounts to ‘less favourable
treatment’ of either female or male attendees". The example they give of side by side segregation (rather than say front/back) results in no less favourable treatment and would not necessarily be considered discriminatory.

I know it's not precedent in the UK, but in the US, separate is considered inherently unequal.

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Re: Segregation in the name of free speech

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Dec 05, 2013 12:46 am UTC

Derek wrote:
Chen wrote:This is why they did the Segregation case study. They note that the segregation would be discriminatory IF "it amounts to ‘less favourable
treatment’ of either female or male attendees". The example they give of side by side segregation (rather than say front/back) results in no less favourable treatment and would not necessarily be considered discriminatory.

I know it's not precedent in the UK, but in the US, separate is considered inherently unequal.


Yeah, in the US, the phrase "seperate but equal" is associated with some rather nasty racism.

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Re: Segregation in the name of free speech

Postby ucim » Thu Dec 05, 2013 2:01 am UTC

chen wrote:The speaker may have inequitable views, but if they make a request based on those views that is not a priori illegal or discriminatory, refusing them the right to speak based on that may in fact be illegal for the university to do.
I'm not sure I get this at all. Does a (potential) speaker have the right to speak at any (i.e. college) function he or she wishes?

This quickly gets untenable by itself if every yahoo around claims his right to speak, irrespective of any accommodations they may want.

But if a speaker does not have the right to speak in the first place, then it would seem that they also don't have the right to impose demands (of any sort) on the venue. The venue could simply say 'no' and that's that.

What am I missing?

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Re: Segregation in the name of free speech

Postby Chen » Thu Dec 05, 2013 1:06 pm UTC

Derek wrote:I know it's not precedent in the UK, but in the US, separate is considered inherently unequal.


That was with respect to educational institutions and race. I don't believe it was generalized. Male/female bathrooms are still common and separate, yet not legally considered inequitable.

ucim wrote:I'm not sure I get this at all. Does a (potential) speaker have the right to speak at any (i.e. college) function he or she wishes?

This quickly gets untenable by itself if every yahoo around claims his right to speak, irrespective of any accommodations they may want.

But if a speaker does not have the right to speak in the first place, then it would seem that they also don't have the right to impose demands (of any sort) on the venue. The venue could simply say 'no' and that's that.

What am I missing?

Jose


Yeah that part doesn't seem as obvious. I quoted the section of the education act and it does say the University needs to ensure freedom of speech is insured for guest speakers. Basically if you invite them in and they make a request that is not illegal and based on their sincerely held beliefs, the school has a lawful duty to accommodate that. At least that's how I'm reading it. The iffy part is at what point can you not let a speaker in to speak without this being a problem. Clearly the schools have a choice on who to let in. Clearly they don't have to allow any and everyone who wants to speak in. Maybe it would be considered discrimination though if you told the person they could not speak because they wanted the audience segregated (in a way that is not discriminatory) and that this segregation was due to a sincerely held religious belief, since religious belief is one of their protected classes.

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Re: Segregation in the name of free speech

Postby ucim » Thu Dec 05, 2013 6:15 pm UTC

Chen wrote:Basically if you invite them in and they make a request that is not illegal and based on their sincerely held beliefs, the school has a lawful duty to accommodate that.
... no matter how silly? If a speaker sincerely believes that the audience listens better if they wear pom-poms and hold a parasol, it's illegal to not make people wear pompoms and hold parasols? We're not even talking discrimination here, so that part doesn't enter into it. Would it matter if the "sincerely held belief" were religious in nature (i.e. the parasols act as antennas to God)?

It seems to me that allowing guest speakers to dictate the circumstances of their speech is a step too far.

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Re: Segregation in the name of free speech

Postby leady » Thu Dec 05, 2013 6:55 pm UTC

Of course the more crazy the speakers demands, the more accepting of them the target audience generally will be - ergo the parasol problem isn't really a probelm

the problem as normal is the UK tripping over itself as usual to force "tolerance" as opposed to just using the South Park and proper usage of the word (that episode should be required watching for all MPs)

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Re: Segregation in the name of free speech

Postby mike-l » Fri Dec 06, 2013 2:29 am UTC

I'm not nearly as familiar with UK law as I am with candadian and American law, but I don't see the quoted section of the education act as making any requirements on schools to acquiesce to requests of this nature, as I don't see not bein granted a segregated audience as in any way violating your freedom of speech. The closest similar scenario where I think an argument could be made is if the speaker had an objection to appearing with another speaker or by being introduced by someone. However not being able to place restrictions on the audience does not, in my mind, have anything to do with your right to free speech

At a complete guess, I'd imagine this is a law that was written with the intent of, and used to enforce, keeping censorship out of schools.

But of course, this is a whole other country with a whole other set of judicial precedent and values, so I could be completely wrong
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Re: Segregation in the name of free speech

Postby Soralin » Fri Dec 06, 2013 3:38 am UTC

Chen wrote:Maybe it would be considered discrimination though if you told the person they could not speak because they wanted the audience segregated (in a way that is not discriminatory) and that this segregation was due to a sincerely held religious belief, since religious belief is one of their protected classes.

But they're not preventing them from speaking, they would just be declining a request to force the audience to segregate. The speakers could still speak there if they wanted to, without the audience being segregated. If they decide not to, that's their own choice.

The right to swing my fist, ends where your nose begins. Your religious rights end at the point where you try to use them to force action on other people.
segregated (in a way that is not discriminatory)

No such way exists. Segregation is discrimination.

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Re: Segregation in the name of free speech

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Dec 06, 2013 4:00 am UTC

Forced segregation is, certainly. Voluntary segregation is fine. I'm not very comfortable with state imposed segregation, though.

The case of restrooms is a curious one. It's segregation, to be sure, but at this point, it is mostly voluntary for historical reasons. If one tried to introduce new segregation in another context, it will not be voluntary.

And yes...nobody is stopping the speaker from talking but him. That is not a violation of rights. He has an opportunity to speak, and if speaking in those conditions is against his beliefs, he may decline to do so. His choice. No force involved there.

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Re: Segregation in the name of free speech

Postby gnutrino » Thu Dec 12, 2013 8:41 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:And yes...nobody is stopping the speaker from talking but him. That is not a violation of rights. He has an opportunity to speak, and if speaking in those conditions is against his beliefs, he may decline to do so. His choice. No force involved there.


As far as I understand the case study, the scenario is something like this:
You are the university management. One of your societies has organized an event and wants to invite a speaker to that event. You have already approved the invitation and so the society goes and tells the speaker they'd like him (or her, but I hope you won't find it too remiss of me to assume that in this case it's more likely to be a him) to speak at their event and he has said he'll do it but he wants the audience segregated. The question is then: can you, as the university management, turn around to the society and tell them they're not allowed to have that speaker because he wants a segregated audience?[1]

This is a bit more difficult because it's no longer a case of just saying, if he doesn't want to turn up under your rules it's his choice; because "you" are no longer the one who invited him, you would have to deny a society the right to have the speaker they want attend the event, and to do that you would need a sound reason. As far as I can see that reason could be one of two things: either the belief that people shouldn't be segregated could fall under the definition of "belief" in the Equalities Act and therefore be protected or it could be impossible to segregate without discriminating. I am very much not a lawyer but my impression is that neither of these issues is strictly clear under UK law and would have to be put before a judge to decide, and would be very likely to end up there if this were to happen in actual practice, no matter what the university management decides.

My personal feeling is that given the historical context of attempts at "segregated but equal" it would be likely that a court could decide that segregation is impossible without discriminating against anyone (and I would agree with that ruling). I also find it slightly odd that religious belief gets a special place in law above any other kind of sincerely held belief and would argue that a belief that people shouldn't be segregated should fall under the beliefs protected by the Equalities Act[2] but whether or not it does in legal reality is not something I'm qualified to comment on. Again I would like to make it perfectly clear that I am not in any way a lawyer and this is just, like, my opinion, maaaan.

[1]: It's sort of assumed that the society is fine with him wanting the audience segregated and could just refuse to have him if they're not. However, at the start of the pdf that TheGrammarBolshevik linked it does goes on about putting rigorous and exhaustive processes in place to deal with things so it's entirely possible that a simple common sense solution like this could get lost in bureaucracy and it could be required that the university management makes the decision.
[2]: It's certainly one that I hold every bit as sincerely as a religious person might hold a belief in segregation

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Re: Segregation in the name of free speech

Postby Derek » Thu Dec 12, 2013 11:14 pm UTC

gnutrino wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:And yes...nobody is stopping the speaker from talking but him. That is not a violation of rights. He has an opportunity to speak, and if speaking in those conditions is against his beliefs, he may decline to do so. His choice. No force involved there.


As far as I understand the case study, the scenario is something like this:
You are the university management. One of your societies has organized an event and wants to invite a speaker to that event. You have already approved the invitation and so the society goes and tells the speaker they'd like him (or her, but I hope you won't find it too remiss of me to assume that in this case it's more likely to be a him) to speak at their event and he has said he'll do it but he wants the audience segregated. The question is then: can you, as the university management, turn around to the society and tell them they're not allowed to have that speaker because he wants a segregated audience?[1]

Of course they can. When they approved the speaker, there was an unstated assumption that the audience would not be segregated, because this is the norm. If the speaker demands that the audience be segregated, this changes the situation to something other than what was originally approved, and it needs to be re-approved.

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Re: Segregation in the name of free speech

Postby gnutrino » Thu Dec 12, 2013 11:34 pm UTC

Derek wrote:Of course they can. When they approved the speaker, there was an unstated assumption that the audience would not be segregated, because this is the norm. If the speaker demands that the audience be segregated, this changes the situation to something other than what was originally approved, and it needs to be re-approved.


The original source was a discussion of the legal issues. While what you say might make sense, how certain are you that it's legally sound?

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Re: Segregation in the name of free speech

Postby Aceo » Fri Dec 13, 2013 12:13 am UTC

gnutrino wrote:
Derek wrote:Of course they can. When they approved the speaker, there was an unstated assumption that the audience would not be segregated, because this is the norm. If the speaker demands that the audience be segregated, this changes the situation to something other than what was originally approved, and it needs to be re-approved.


The original source was a discussion of the legal issues. While what you say might make sense, how certain are you that it's legally sound?


Following English contract law it would be an implied term of the contract as per Custom in that 'industry' sector.
In order for terms to be changed, it would involve a new contract and dissolution of the previous contract.
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Re: Segregation in the name of free speech

Postby ucim » Fri Dec 13, 2013 12:38 am UTC

gnutrino wrote:As far as I understand the case study, the scenario is something like this:
You are the university management. One of your societies has organized an event and wants to invite a speaker to that event. You have already approved the invitation and so the society goes and tells the speaker they'd like him (or her, but I hope you won't find it too remiss of me to assume that in this case it's more likely to be a him) to speak at their event and he has said he'll do it but he wants the audience segregated. The question is then: can you, as the university management, turn around to the society and tell them they're not allowed to have that speaker because he wants a segregated audience?
I don't see that this follows. The speaker says he'll do it but he wants {silly request}. You, as the university management, can say to the potential speaker "we won't accede to your {silly request}" and can say to the society "you may not do {silly request}". Nowhere are you denying the speaker the ability to speak at your event. And that speaker never had the "right" to speak there in the first place.

It should not matter what the actual contents of {silly request} are.

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Re: Segregation in the name of free speech

Postby gnutrino » Fri Dec 13, 2013 1:03 am UTC

ucim wrote:And that speaker never had the "right" to speak there in the first place.


They sort of do, according to the relevant law:

The duty imposed by subsection (1) above includes (in particular) the duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the use of any premises of the establishment is not denied to any individual or body of persons on any ground connected with—

(a)the beliefs or views of that individual or of any member of that body; or

(b)the policy or objectives of that body.


Universities are publicly funded bodies and have a legal requirement (so far as reasonably practicable) to not deny access to external speakers. You cannot approach this using the same logic that would apply to a totally private individual or organization. You can certainly make arguments around whether or not segregating people is "reasonably practicable" but my point is you actually have to make those arguments, it's not a given that universities can just do whatever the fuck they want in regards to refusing to host external speakers.

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Re: Segregation in the name of free speech

Postby WibblyWobbly » Fri Dec 13, 2013 1:46 am UTC

gnutrino wrote:Universities are publicly funded bodies and have a legal requirement (so far as reasonably practicable) to not deny access to external speakers. You cannot approach this using the same logic that would apply to a totally private individual or organization. You can certainly make arguments around whether or not segregating people is "reasonably practicable" but my point is you actually have to make those arguments, it's not a given that universities can just do whatever the fuck they want in regards to refusing to host external speakers.

I find the definitions you use for "deny access" and "refuse to host" to be unfortunately broad.

Edit: not picking on you, personally; others making the arguments use the same language. I fail to see how not making a special dispensation to a group is legally equivalent to barring that group.

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Re: Segregation in the name of free speech

Postby gnutrino » Fri Dec 13, 2013 2:02 am UTC

WibblyWobbly wrote:I find the definitions you use for "deny access" and "refuse to host" to be unfortunately broad.

Edit: not picking on you, personally; others making the arguments use the same language. I fail to see how not making a special dispensation to a group is legally equivalent to barring that group.


It's not a question of whether something is barring a group or not, the law does not say "you can't bar someone from speaking" it requires an actual positive duty to "ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the use of any premises of the establishment is not denied". Just not actively barring some is not enough. These are not my definitions they are what the law says. Although I feel I should point out once again at this point that I am not, in fact, a lawyer, I'm just reading what the law says and it seems fairly clear to me on that point.

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Re: Segregation in the name of free speech

Postby WibblyWobbly » Fri Dec 13, 2013 2:21 am UTC

gnutrino wrote:
WibblyWobbly wrote:I find the definitions you use for "deny access" and "refuse to host" to be unfortunately broad.

Edit: not picking on you, personally; others making the arguments use the same language. I fail to see how not making a special dispensation to a group is legally equivalent to barring that group.


It's not a question of whether something is barring a group or not, the law does not say "you can't bar someone from speaking" it requires an actual positive duty to "ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the use of any premises of the establishment is not denied". Just not actively barring some is not enough. These are not my definitions they are what the law says. Although I feel I should point out once again at this point that I am not, in fact, a lawyer, I'm just reading what the law says and it seems fairly clear to me on that point.


If not actively barring someone is not enough, how would you define "not denied"? Doesn't denial have a necessary active component? I would think it clear that "not denied" is not the same as "guaranteed", or otherwise that wording could have been used instead, but what lies between the definitions of "denial" and "guarantee"?

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Re: Segregation in the name of free speech

Postby ucim » Fri Dec 13, 2013 5:23 am UTC

gnutrino wrote:
ucim wrote:And that speaker never had the "right" to speak there in the first place.


They sort of do, according to the relevant law:

The duty imposed by subsection (1) above includes (in particular) the duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the use of any premises of the establishment is not denied to any individual or body of persons on any ground connected with—

(a)the beliefs or views of that individual or of any member of that body; or

(b)the policy or objectives of that body.


Universities are publicly funded bodies and have a legal requirement (so far as reasonably practicable) to not deny access to external speakers...
I am not a lawyer either, but I do not read this the same way you do. What this is saying (to me) is that you may deny access if you like, but if you do, it cannot be because of the views or beliefs of the speaker. It does not say (to me) that you must accede to all the demands of the speaker, nor that you must require others to do so.

Or are you trying to tell me that a university is a place where anybody can set up a megaphone whenever he or she wants, and demand that all freshman be required to attend naked, if that's what he or she claims to believe in? And that the university is required to require this of their students? As another poster said, "to deny access" and "to refuse to host" are two very different things.

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Re: Segregation in the name of free speech

Postby addams » Fri Dec 13, 2013 7:18 am UTC

I, sort of, like a little segregation.
Not all the time and not in a way that denies me full access.

What is wrong with assigned seating?
If that AssHole you have to sit by is a real irritation,
freedom to move within your section might be required.

It is nice, for many reasons, to ask the men to do one thing and the women to do another thing.
Of course, there will always be exceptions. That is where you will usually find me.

If a Speaker can not make that kind of simple request, I see that as a problem.
We need to do that for fun and to show ourselves and each other how much effect we have on one another.

Not allowing people to be sorted from time to time seems as wrong as forcing segregation all the time.
Especially at a University!

The people attending those lectures are tommorow's professionals.
They must be allowed to have experiences while protected by the school.

What?
Are people concerned that once women get a taste of sitting with other women, they will never go back?
I have done both. I like sitting with the women. Don't you?

What? Who is complaining?
Woman that feel that sitting with women does not allow the women to hear properly?

I think sitting with men is harder. Would you like the list of what is wrong with sitting with the men?
Not all men are creepy. When they go over to the Dark Side. Well.....

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Re: Segregation in the name of free speech

Postby ucim » Fri Dec 13, 2013 12:51 pm UTC

addams wrote:It is nice, for many reasons, to ask the men to do one thing and the women to do another thing.

"ask", yes.
"require, under penalty of law", not so yes.

I can think of good reasons why a speaker might reasonably make such a request - such as to demonstrate something he or she will be talking about in their speech, or to eliminate or at least reduce certain tendencies. If you are not sitting next to somebody you know*, you are less likely to share minor distractions or ask for minor support. This is a case-by-case thing and I'd trust the university to make the call. However, these examples have nothing to do with discrimination (in the bad sense), and I see no reason for The Law to get involved. If the university says "no", that's that. Speak, or not, under those circumstances.

Jose
*Of course, segregating by sex probably does not accomplish this goal, but the example is only meant to show that seating requests could sometimes make sense
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Re: Segregation in the name of free speech

Postby Chen » Fri Dec 13, 2013 1:05 pm UTC

ucim wrote:I am not a lawyer either, but I do not read this the same way you do. What this is saying (to me) is that you may deny access if you like, but if you do, it cannot be because of the views or beliefs of the speaker. It does not say (to me) that you must accede to all the demands of the speaker, nor that you must require others to do so.


This is pretty much correct. The belief of the speaker in the religious case was to segregate the audience. If this is capable of being done in a way that is non-discriminatory, the case study said that it need be considered lest you possibly go against that above quoted part of the Education act. Not allowing them to speak based on their request of segregation which was based on their sincerely held religious belief might be illegal. Note that is ALL the case study said. It didn't say it was certainly illegal or that you had to do it. Segregation MAY be determined as discriminatory regardless of how you do it, BUT that would need to be brought up in a court (which is also mentioned in the case study).

Every mainstream article I've read on this has jumped to the conclusion that segregation of the audience to accommodate religious beliefs is ok. The case study said it needed to be considered and possibly brought before a court. Almost all those articles are quite misleading.

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Re: Segregation in the name of free speech

Postby Heisenberg » Fri Dec 13, 2013 2:40 pm UTC

Chen wrote:The belief of the speaker in the religious case was to segregate the audience.
One of the beliefs of the speaker is that all audiences should be segregated. So they were required to allow him to speak about that opinion. And he certainly was welcome to come speak to a crowd all day about segregation.
Chen wrote:Not allowing them to speak based on their request of segregation which was based on their sincerely held religious belief might be illegal.
Sure, so if the university arrested him upon arrival, locked him out of the hall, or turned off his microphone, I'd sympathize with the guy. But they didn't do any of those things, so they did "not deny" him the ability to speak on the premises. (But honestly, they could probably get away with turning off his microphone. I don't think they're obliged to amplify his speech either, they're just not allowed to physically prevent him from speaking.)

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Re: Segregation in the name of free speech

Postby davidstarlingm » Fri Dec 13, 2013 2:49 pm UTC

The law says, "Ensure that the use of premises is not denied to a speaker on grounds associated with his beliefs." The ambiguity arises around the word "denied". Is denial limited to physical restrictions on the speaker, or can denial arise from failure to painstakingly accomodate the speaker's own personal mores?

If a Holocaust survivor was going to speak, would it be reasonable for the university to bar white-power holocaust deniers from showing up wearing Swastikas? Of course. Could the university be forced to bar Swastikas based on this law? Maybe.

If a Muslim was going to speak who demanded that all the women in the audience wear burkhas, could the university be forced to require the audience to comply, based on this law? I don't think so....

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Re: Segregation in the name of free speech

Postby Chen » Fri Dec 13, 2013 3:37 pm UTC

The answer to all those questions is basically "we don't know". As far as I can tell it has NOT been brought before a court so we don't know one way OR another. Which is pretty much what the original case study was cautioning against. It gave situations where it would definitely be illegal to segregate. It then stated there might be cases where refusing to segregate, if segregation was deemed legal and non-discriminatory, might be in violation of the Education act, depending on the situation of the refusal. I can see, by the extremely vague wording of the act, why this might be the case. Would it hold up in court? I don't know. My gut says it probably wouldn't since it does seem to be stretching a bit. However, its not so frivolous that it would be immediately thrown out of court.

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Re: Segregation in the name of free speech

Postby sam_i_am » Fri Dec 13, 2013 8:05 pm UTC

If this is what I think it is, than this is the biggest non-issue in the world.


First off, does a speaker have a right to speak in that auditorium? If he does then please tell me how I can reserve the auditorium for a time to speak about my personal agendas.

Is anyone stopping the speaker from walking away and giving the exact same speech somewhere else? I don't think so.


And for the people going into the auditorium. Can they not also just walk away from it. If this is a required speech, than I'd understand the controversy, but otherwise, nobody is forcing them to segregate themselves because nobody is forcing them to attend the speech.

Do they have a right to attend all speeches? One would think that if you had a right to be there, than you could eat, drink, use flash photography, speak on the phone, and do any number of things that you have a right to do, and if someone asked you to leave you could simply say "Hey I have a RIGHT to be here."

I have a feeling that the organizers can ask you to leave the auditorium for any number of things that they don't have an explicit legal authority to stop you from doing.


Ultimately, no matter what the university decides to do with the room, and no matter whom they want to allow in there and under no matter what conditions, nobody's rights is really being violated.


As a disclaimer, even though I began to read the first two versions of the issue posted here, none of them got to the point fast enough so i stopped reading them. I might be wrong about what the issue is.

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Re: Segregation in the name of free speech

Postby ucim » Fri Dec 13, 2013 10:35 pm UTC

Chen wrote:
ucim wrote:[...]What this is saying (to me) is that you may deny access if you like, but if you do, it cannot be because of the views or beliefs of the speaker. It does not say (to me) that you must accede to all the demands of the speaker, nor that you must require others to do so.


This is pretty much correct. The belief of the speaker in the religious case was to segregate the audience. If this is capable of being done in a way that is non-discriminatory, the case study said that it need be considered lest you possibly go against that above quoted part of the Education act. Not allowing them to speak based on their request of segregation which was based on their sincerely held religious belief might be illegal.[...]
However, are they not allowing him to speak? Or are they allowing him to speak?

Notice I said nothing about the audience, or about his requests. I am merely asking about permissions. They can deny his accommodations, and still allow him to speak.

Why would that not be legal?

Jose
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Re: Segregation in the name of free speech

Postby johnny_7713 » Sat Dec 14, 2013 11:04 am UTC

sam_i_am wrote:If this is what I think it is, than this is the biggest non-issue in the world.


First off, does a speaker have a right to speak in that auditorium? If he does then please tell me how I can reserve the auditorium for a time to speak about my personal agendas.

Is anyone stopping the speaker from walking away and giving the exact same speech somewhere else? I don't think so.


And for the people going into the auditorium. Can they not also just walk away from it. If this is a required speech, than I'd understand the controversy, but otherwise, nobody is forcing them to segregate themselves because nobody is forcing them to attend the speech.

Do they have a right to attend all speeches? One would think that if you had a right to be there, than you could eat, drink, use flash photography, speak on the phone, and do any number of things that you have a right to do, and if someone asked you to leave you could simply say "Hey I have a RIGHT to be here."

I have a feeling that the organizers can ask you to leave the auditorium for any number of things that they don't have an explicit legal authority to stop you from doing.


Ultimately, no matter what the university decides to do with the room, and no matter whom they want to allow in there and under no matter what conditions, nobody's rights is really being violated.


As a disclaimer, even though I began to read the first two versions of the issue posted here, none of them got to the point fast enough so i stopped reading them. I might be wrong about what the issue is.


If I understand the case correctly I think a key point is that these speakers are not invited by the university directly, but by organisations (student unions or the like) that have been granted use of a certain space. If the university has told you: 'you can use this room for a meeting' they are then not allowed to say 'unless you invite person X to speak' or ´unless you do action Y, which is based on a sincerely held belief and is not otherwise illegal´.


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