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Does a tax on Free Speech Still Keep it Free?

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Balladeer
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0 posted 01-15-2010 08:17 AM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

Top Obama czar: Infiltrate all 'conspiracy theorists'
Presidential adviser wrote about crackdown on expressing opinions

Posted: January 14, 2010
12:30 am Eastern

By Aaron Klein
© 2010 WorldNetDaily


In a lengthy academic paper, President Obama's regulatory czar, Cass Sunstein, argued the U.S. government should ban "conspiracy theorizing."
Among the beliefs Sunstein would ban is advocating that the theory of global warming is a deliberate fraud.

Sunstein also recommended the government send agents to infiltrate "extremists who supply conspiracy theories" to disrupt the efforts of the "extremists" to propagate their theories.
In a 2008 Harvard law paper, "Conspiracy Theories," Sunstein and co-author Adrian Vermeule, a Harvard law professor, ask, "What can government do about conspiracy theories?"
"We can readily imagine a series of possible responses. (1) Government might ban conspiracy theorizing. (2) Government might impose some kind of tax, financial or otherwise, on those who disseminate such theories."

Sunstein said government agents "might enter chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups and attempt to undermine percolating conspiracy theories by raising doubts about their factual premises, causal logic or implications for political action."
http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=121884

Denise, we better stop posting here until Obama's gone! Big Brother may be coming to the Alley and we'll get taxed for not supporting global warming!
Grinch
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1 posted 01-15-2010 02:39 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


Good topic Mike.

Do conspiracy theories cause damage and should the government attempt to curtail their proliferation?

Iíve downloaded the paper and Iíll get back to this thread once Iíve digested it, my first impression though is that you may have found a topic where we agree more than we disagree.

.
Balladeer
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2 posted 01-15-2010 06:17 PM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

Stranger things have happened....no, actually, they haven't!
Essorant
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3 posted 01-15-2010 07:25 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

It doesn't sound much like a suggestion to ban or tax freespeech to me:


quote:
Our main suggestion is just that, whatever the tactical details, there would seem to be ample reason for government efforts to introduce some cognitive diversity into the groups that generate conspiracy theories. Social cascades are sometimes quite fragile, precisely because they are based on small slivers of information. Once corrective information is introduced, large numbers of people can be shifted to different views. If government is able to have credibility, or to act through credible agents, it might well be successful in dislodging beliefs that are held only because no one contradicts them. Likewise, polarization tends to decrease when divergent views are voiced within the group.  Introducing a measure of cognitive diversity can break up the epistemological networks and clusters that supply conspiracy theories.

In other words, it would be reasonable for the government to try to counteract the spread of conspiracy theories, by doing basically what we are doing here: speaking out and arguing, instead of just letting outrageous claims and accusations go on unchallenged.  

  
Balladeer
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4 posted 01-15-2010 09:44 PM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

In a 2008 Harvard law paper, "Conspiracy Theories," Sunstein and co-author Adrian Vermeule, a Harvard law professor, ask, "What can government do about conspiracy theories?"
"We can readily imagine a series of possible responses. (1) Government might ban conspiracy theorizing. (2) Government might impose some kind of tax, financial or otherwise, on those who disseminate such theories."


Look again and you may see the word  "tax" there in Sunstein's paper.

In a lengthy academic paper, President Obama's regulatory czar, Cass Sunstein, argued the U.S. government should ban "conspiracy theorizing."

Look again and you may see the word "ban" in Sunstein's paper.
Essorant
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5 posted 01-15-2010 10:41 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Balladeer

Did you read the paper?  If you did, you missed the context:


quote:
What can government do about conspiracy theories? Among the things it can do,what should it do? We can readily imagine a series of possible responses. (1)Government might ban conspiracy theorizing. (2) Government might impose some kind of tax, financial or otherwise, on those who disseminate such theories. (3) Government might itself engage in counterspeech, marshaling arguments to discredit conspiracy theories. (4) Government might formally hire credible private parties to engage in counterspeech. (5) Government might engage in informal communication with such parties, encouraging them to help. Each instrument has a distinctive set of potential effects, or costs and benefits, and each will have a place under imaginable conditions. However, our main policy idea is that government should engage in cognitive infiltration of the groups that produce conspiracy theories, which involves a mix of (3), (4) and (5).



The banning and taxing are mentioned as possible responses that the government might choose, not the responses that the author is suggesting the government should choose.   What it puts forth involves the third, fourth, and fifth responses mentioned, not the first and second (banning and taxing).    

Balladeer
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6 posted 01-15-2010 10:55 PM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer



Each instrument has a distinctive set of potential effects, or costs and benefits, and each will have a place under imaginable conditions.

Sounds to me like it's talking about all five points, not just 3-5.
Grinch
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7 posted 01-16-2010 08:03 AM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


Iím a little stuck for choice here, from the numerous possibilities I could:

1 Attempt to show why the article doesnít reflect the contents of the paper correctly

2  Atempt to show why the paper is inherently flawed

3  Take the contents of the paper to show the usefulness of conspiracy theories and how governments can and do use them under certain circumstances.

4 Simply point out why Mike is wrong in post number 6

5 Ignore the post entirely

Iím going to try to concentrate on options 2 and 3 but in doing that Iíve probably made 5 slightly redundant and gone a long way to achieving number 4 in the list.

If that makes any sense please let me know.

Denise
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8 posted 01-17-2010 09:46 AM       View Profile for Denise   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Denise

Nothing about this administration fosters freedom. Any disagreement with them is labeled as a smear, disinformation, or a 'radical' viewpoint. 2012 can't get here fast enough for me, Michael. 2010 will be a good start though.
Balladeer
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9 posted 01-17-2010 11:27 AM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

Agreed.
Essorant
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10 posted 01-17-2010 11:33 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

But it doesn't matter how much news like this misrepresents the truth?  If there were no link to the paper itself, all we would have to go by is a great distortion of what the paper is actually about.  I think that is a sad shame.
Bob K
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11 posted 01-17-2010 06:51 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



     Good observation, Ess.
Grinch
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12 posted 01-17-2010 08:16 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


I think the Republican idea of infiltrating groups to counter misinformation and discredit conspiracy theories with verifiable facts is a great idea. Granted it didnít work on the two documented occasions when the Bush administration tried it but perhaps theyíre just exceptions that prove the rule. After all we donít know how many times this kind of thing has already occurred, for all we know the government may have been employing this tactic long before the documented cases that have been uncovered. For all we know they could still be doing it. If they are good luck to them, employing facts to overturn fiction still sounds like a good idea to me.

There is a problem though, the paper sort of touched on it - sometimes conspiracy theories turn out to be true. Thereís a bigger issue that stems from that if you take government involvement in debunking conspiracy theories to its logical conclusion - that itís an easy step for a Government to go from using facts to combat fiction to using fiction to overturn facts. In effect the government could kill a true theory or, perhaps more dangerous, create their own conspiracy to manipulate public opinion as easily as they could debunk a fiction with facts.

.
 
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