Hurley 11/20/2012 3:06:00 PM
How Far Should the Right to Free Expression Extend?
Good way to end an essay – address the limits of the argument, not
everything was covered but this is what was pointed out
Italicize case titles in essays
Last class, our two articles both offered arguments that sought to
defend an account of what the media should be doing in respect of
some specific issue.
Our interest in those articles was motivated by our ongoing
discussion of the principles by which the actions of the media
should be assessed… in each case the authors were trying to
discuss how those principles ought to be applied.
Levy argued that, when it comes to the collection of information to
identify corruption, the media ought to rely on proactive techniques
to fulfill their role as the fourth branch of government.
Held argued that the media ought to represent the positions of
those who experience and create political violence in greater detail
if they are to fulfill their moral obligations.
She argued, further, that the media will likely fail to do so because
of the influence of the profit motive.
This week, we shift our focus to one particular principle that has
been implicit in all our discussions of the neutral, critical, and
independent media most assume is necessary in a democratic
society… the right to freedom of expression.
If the media is to be neutral, critical, and independent, the
members of the media need to be assured that they will not be
punished for expressing themselves.
The institutional mechanism in democratic societies normally relied
upon to assure the media they will not be subject to reprisals for
spreading accurate information comes in the form of a
constitutional right of free expression. To say that all the citizens of some country have a constitutional
right to the freedom of expression is to say that the government of
that country has a duty to refrain from introducing legislation that
interferes with that right.
When initially conceived, the right to free speech was intended to
protect journalists, not entertainment.
As the primary source of entertainment, our first article tries to
provide reasons for thinking that entertainment should not enjoy
the same degree of constitutional protection as journalism.
The two legal decisions we consider are intended to explore the
idea of the sorts of limits that can be imposed on freedom of
expression by contrasting the Canadian approach to hate speech
with the US approach to hate speech.
Hurley – Violent Entertainment and Free Speech
o General – Political philosophers in the „Liberal‟ tradition, who
rely so heavily on the ideas of rationality and autonomy need
to be willing to rethink their reliance on these aspects of
human cognition, as relevant empirical data is accumulated in
the cognitive and social sciences.
o Specific – Recent studies in cognitive science on imitation,
and in social science on the effects of violent entertainment,
when considered in combination, support the following
o Violent Entertainment causes violent behaviour, which will
lead to third party harm. To the degree that third party harm
is caused, governments would be justified in restricting
o This is a controversial thesis inasmuch as „free speech‟ is a
Liberal principle traditionally accorded special status (i.e.,
imposing limits on speech is a big deal).
o Imitation is not a merely childish reaction, but is instead a
cognitive mechanism unique to humans, that appears to contribute to language formation, acculturation, and the
ability to recognize other minds.
o „Full-fledged imitation‟ – novel action learned by observation,
which includes adoption of both goals and means of achieving
o „Emulation‟ – adoption of goals from observation, but using
o „Response-priming‟ – copied body movements without any
goal or means, e.g., contagious yawning or laughing.
o „Stimulus-enhancement‟ – action of another draws attention
to stimulus that triggers an innate or learned response.
o Full-fledged imitation is rare outside the human species.
Babies imitate, even when the means to the goal adopted are
not efficient. Chimps by comparison, will emulate when the
means of achieving the goal are inefficient.
o Why are human babies so committed to imitation? Perception
is imitative unless inhibited, and babies don‟t have the
capacity to inhibit their imitative responses.
o Adults with damage to the inhibiting centers of the brain will
imitate observed actions in a similar manner… they will
imitate when told not to, and will try to justify their imitation.
o “Ideomotor Theory: Every representation of movement
awakes in some degree the movement that it represents” (p.
o The Chameleon Effect (from social psychology): “[T]he mere
perception of another‟s behaviour automatically increases, in
ways subjects are not aware of, the likelihood of engaging in
that behaviour oneself”(p. 171).
o The lesson from Ideomotor theory is that thinking about or
perceiving an action will make you more likely to perform the
action because of the link between perception and action.
o The Chameleon effect is the „default tendency‟ of humans to
imitate, meaning that this tendency is something that must
be, and usually is, overridden in normal adult humans. o The neurological basis for the human tendency to imitate is
„Mirror Neurons‟, i.e., neurons that fire for both perception
o Why would our species have developed this tendency? Maybe
because imitation preserves evolutionary successes, and
ensures they are repeated. Maybe because they provide for
social successes as well.
o The big lesson Hurley wants to take from the empirical study
of imitation is that humans have a strong tendency to imitate
that is not subject to rational deliberation… a tendency that is
therefore difficult to entirely overcome or control.
II. Violence and Imitation
o „Violence‟ is defined by Hurley as “the intentional infliction o