Europe or European Culture has more freedom than the USA? (Discuss)

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by WormieSaber, Nov 6, 2011.

  1. WormieSaber Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 22, 2000
    star 5
    I hear this all the time from people who come over here from Europe. I've been to Europe, and Australia (Mexico) and though on some details I can see how it would appear to have more freedom. For example, the speed limits in the United States as opposed to the speed limits in Europe. In France, there are virtually no speed limits and pedestrians do not have the right-of-way. You can drive as fast as you want, but then again you better not J-walk in France. The drinking laws in Europe are far more open than in most of the States in the USA. I saw so many drunk people walking around when I was Cambridge; Europe tends to tolerate it much more. I did notice, however, that Americans appear to have more self-confidence and it comes off as being arrogant to Europeans. Children seem to misbehave far more in America, as they appear to be more expressive or are allowed to be more expressive. This is just my observation. I'm just curious to read what the other JCer's think.
  2. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    Citation on France's speed laws? A quick search found me this statement: Speed limits, shown below, are implemented rigorously. Radar traps are frequent. In France, anyone caught travelling at more than 25km/h above the speed limit can have their licence confiscated on the spot.
    With further details about their system of speed enforcement.

    Ultimately, I think there's a question of how one wants to define freedom, as while it can be addressed for individual topics, it can't easily be done as a single property. For example, using the Freedom Index at http://www.freeexistence.org, one can compare various indices for looking at freedom measurements. I chose to consider as critical property rights, gun rights, drug rights, and freedom of expression, and under those, the aggregate score for the United States ranks us 3rd overall. And that's not the only way one can choose to evaluate this.

    Even from an issue by issue thing, the case can easily be made in various ways that one country or the other has more 'freedom'. European drug laws tend to be more lax, particularly in comparison to federal law. European laws regarding sex are much looser than American laws. We probably break even on something like same-sex marriage where 7 countries in Europe allow them, and in the US 7 states allow them. US gun laws are dramatically more relaxed. You can even look at the difference between free speech laws, such as how many parts of Europe have, imo, disgusting laws against speech like Holocaust denial or how UK law restricts free speech by making suits alleging slander and libel to be very easily won, hampering criticism.

    Without a metric, the question is subjective and anecdotal, and in terms of a broad focus on freedom, I don't think there's any feasible way that one could argue which rights are more or less important, such as are gun freedoms more or less important than drug freedoms and so on.
  3. WormieSaber Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 22, 2000
    star 5
    Citation on France's speed laws? A quick search found me this statement: Speed limits, shown below, are implemented rigorously. Radar traps are frequent. In France, anyone caught travelling at more than 25km/h above the speed limit can have their licence confiscated on the spot. With further details about their system of speed enforcement.


    Well I'm not sure if you have ever been to Paris before, but they drive way to fast down those roads. I thought of J-walking and quickly thought "no way". Aside from this, my opinion is based largely on what I experience personally and someone I knew from France who told me he didn't like the laws here, especially speed limits. Europe generally doesn't have the right of way for pedestrians. Someone else that I know from England has already been pulled over twice for speeding because he said back home he is used to driving fast.

    But yeah, I agree about how one defines freedom. Especially if you grew up in a country, of course you will see it as home and home is home. However, taxes are crazy in England. You don't get tax write-offs in England for owning a house like you do in the States.

    Since you speak of freedom of speech and "hiding the holocaust" - another shocker, one of my old college roomates from Japan had no clue that the USA laid the atomic bomb on her country to end WWII. In fact, she denied it and she believed it. I was stunned. Literally stunned. I tried to take her to a library to prove it, historically but she believed it was all American propaganda. Japan is so prideful they have re-written history to their youth!
  4. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    Wormie, deriving generalizations from personal experiences is rarely a prudent undertaking.
  5. Nagai Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Nov 15, 2010
    star 3
    Is it true that americans dont care about fashion. If it is than its awesome.
  6. DarthIktomi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2009
    star 4
    Wait, there are Japanese people who don't think the atom bomb happened? I would assume that, since it's one of the few things an Allied country did on the level of the atrocities of the Axis Powers, the Japanese would mention it. In fact, the whole reason they surrendered was roughly "Surrender is honorable if the alternatie is nuclear annihilation of the whole freakin' planet.", hence their dedication to pacifism today. (Tough to do when two of your neighbors are constantly complaining about each other.) In fact, the atom bomb had a major influence on Japanese culture; from Gojira to at least Neon Genesis Evangelion, the atom bomb is everywhere in Japanese pop culture.

    On to Europe...I would say Europe is more free, for the most part. For instance, I could send an email to YouTube claiming any video I didn't like violated my copyright and, compliant with the DMCA, they must take it down. And they would. Without investigating, or even viewing the video. And ban the guy who uploaded it. And yes, trolls have done this. Repeatedly. And. Using. One. Word. Sentences. Is. Annoying. While you can't say "the Holocaust never happened" in Europe, you're not forced into linguistic jujitsu. How can I explain being blacklisted when I can't say "black"?

    Wait, 25 km/h? In much of America, it's 2-3 miles an hour, or around 3-4 km/h. (Numbers rounded down for your safety.)
  7. Vaderize03 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Oct 25, 1999
    star 5
    The fact that we are still discussing whether or not the right to bodily privacy exists in the United States answers the title question of the thread.

    A little less generally, the answer is "yes and no". It depends on which aspects of the cultural zeitgeist are more important to society as a whole. Since they differ between the US and Europe, and between different states/countries within the US and Europe, it's a much harder question to answer than a simple "yes" or "no".

    The examples already listed in this thread show that very clearly. On guns, American laws are more lax. On speech, the same goes. When it comes to sex, drugs, and alcohol, some european countries are probably more free than the US, over which debates on these topics continue year after year.

    It all comes down to "point of view".

    Peace,

    V-03
  8. Alpha-Red Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 25, 2004
    star 5
    I would imagine the most substantial difference would be freedom of speech and the banning of Holocaust denial and etc over in Europe, but then again this is probably more due to cultural convention than anything else (U.S. thinks even neo-Nazis should be able to speak their mind, Europe thinks they're bad enough that they ought to be banned).
  9. GrandAdmiralPelleaon Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2000
    star 6
    I'm always puzzled about the attitude some people take towards this. America was never run by the Nazis, much of Europe was at one point. The historical memory of collaboration and fascism just make it a different topic in a European setting, that should be obvious to anyone.
  10. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    Yeah, that seemed pretty self-apparent to me.
  11. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    I think that's a bit poor. Either you have freedom of speech, or you don't. If you go around banning books or symbols here and there because some people might get offended, I know some other people right here that might get offended by some other symbols right there.

    It's a crime here to openly doubt that the holocaust actually took place. Isn't that just ridiculous? Granted, it's also ridiculous to claim the holocaust never took place, but even the most radical claim ought to be open to scrutiny. Especially the most radical claim. Now I can't even find out if it's really true. I think I'd be committing a criminal offense if I opened up a topic here claiming only a couple hundred thousand Jews died in Nazi camps.

    I can create a topic questioning the Armenian genocide in Turkey without a problem. But if I was French... I'd be committing a crime. Not sure why, I think it's just because the French want to get at the Turks.

    So when it comes to freedom of speech, uncharacteristically, I'd say: long live the USA.



  12. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    I rather agree with SuperWatto here. I think it ultimately hurts education of things like the Holocaust to prevent anyone from questioning it.
  13. wannasee Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 24, 2007
    star 4
    Questioning the holocaust, in the sense of conducting an investigation, is allowed.

    It's just not ok to run around denying it without any evidence.

    I think that's the case. It would be unreasonable to be otherwise.

    Edit: It would be suspicious even.
  14. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    It's not allowing questioning if you silence people that don't reach the conclusion that one wants.
  15. GrandAdmiralPelleaon Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2000
    star 6
    This isn't about being offended Watto, and you know that just as well as I do. Those laws were put into place after the war for very obvious reasons, or are you so blind you can't see the massive support (up to 20 to 30% of populations) for latent anti-semitic/racist and fascist parties in Europe, even now. To say that absolute tolerance for intolerance is a virtue, by some sort abstract principle without taking into account the context is ridiculous. It's not about questioning the Holocaust as a private person, by the way, but as a public act & statement. Just like encouraging racism and hate-crimes is also a crime. This isn't about being offended, this is about actual harm being committed. I'll direct you to the Kebab-murders as exhibit A. Or maybe you'd prefer Breivik. WWII and fascism isn't some far off memory and it isn't as thoroughly gone as you might think. I'm pretty bloody sure that there are substantial parts of the N-VA (biggest Flemish-Nationalist party at the moment here, and part of our regional government) that are just down right fascist and racist in private (as recent revelations about the whole VNV-group seem to corroborate). Hugo Schiltz didn't say it for no reason. The father of our most "popular" conservative/nationalist politician was thrown in prison after the War, guess why. I'm supposed to believe that that doesn't reflect in his political thinking. Psh.

    You can disagree about the method and prefer the way the USA deals with Neo-Nazi speech, but trivializing this as being about "causing offense to people" is downright insulting and I expect you (especially) to be able to think this topic through more thoroughly. Come on.

    EDIT: By the way, there was a good documentary on Dutch television about collaborators & the views they held then and now, did you watch it?
  16. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    I never said any such thing. What I said was: it's ridiculous to outlaw genocide denial. In any shape or form. In any country or union.

    If you're justifying a ban on Mein Kampf because a German killed a muslim, you'll need to ban the Koran as well. And then you'll need to ban the Old Testament. Pretty soon, with all pressure groups involved, you'll be back at banning Life Of Brian.

    Is that really what you want?
  17. Oissan Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 9, 2001
    star 6
    Actually, Mein Kampf is not banned. You are allowed to own it, you can buy old versions in antiquarian bookshops and annotated versions aren't illegal either. The reason why you can't buy a new non-commented version is that all of Hitler's belongings, including the rights to that book, fell to the state of Bavaria, and they have no interest in a re-release. Copyright will be gone about 70 years after Hitler's death, in 2016. At that point anyone could release a new version, though I'm sure Bavaria will attempt to go to courts over this matter.

    While you will certainly get bashed a lot for holding certain views, it would take a lot of crazy things to say to really be punished for it. Most of the punishment actually falls under other laws; it's not like you are allowed to spread lies about other people without facing any consequences in other countries either. The Nazis are definately a very delicate matter here in Germany, but it's not like that was entirely a German decision. Many of the laws were put into place by the Allies, in their attempt to denazify the country. Which was very successful, at least after some time. I don't think there has ever been a country that made such a complete turnaround as Germany has, going from militaristic and nationalistic to the point were any kind of national pride was frowned upon and any kind of military action, even if done to protect others, was critized by pretty large groups of the population. Heck, you still have some crazy nutjobs in certain political parties that see the apocalypse arriving anytime someone dares to wave a German flag during the soccer world cup.
  18. GrandAdmiralPelleaon Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2000
    star 6
    Come on Watto, you're far too smart (and besides, you know quite well what my positions are) to be posting such a strawman construct and end it with the bang of the slippery slope.

    Mein Kampf isn't banned in Germany because of the Kebab-murders, nor have I said they were the reason it should be banned. So I don't see where or how I would have been advocating such a thing. Furthermore, you know why Nazi-symbolism banned in Germany, you know, it involves a period between 1933 and 1945. If you can't see how the historical context of a country and it's image of itself is tied up in these laws, you're being obtuse. I'm not even saying I'm 100% for these bans, but I do see why they are there and the reasoning behind them, and to dismiss them so easily with something as easy as "offending sensibilities" is just plain wrong.

    Germany didn't ban critical debate, the Historikerstreit in the '80s is evidence enough of this. The reason why some other bans are in place are painfully obvious. I case you need reminding, the generation that committed the atrocities of the 3th Reich isn't gone and forgotten yet. Germany still hasn't completely come to terms with its past, and that could be said about many more European countries, Spain, Netherlands, Belgium and France for example.

    To try and wipe this very painful and difficult context from the table by referring to the abstract freedoms of anyone to be a moron, or the slippery slope argument (These bans have been in place for '60 years, apparently, banning the Koran or Life of Brain isn't something that's going to happen tomorrow either), it's just silly. I'm sure you can see this. The world we live in isn't governed by pure principle. Not even the free speech in the U.S. is. Are you allowed to emigrate to the U.S. if you've been part of a Marxist-party in the past yet? I know even being a member of one was cause to deny you even a visitors Visum in the past.
  19. Mustafar_66 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 20, 2005
    star 5
    Comparing the freedoms of one country with the freedoms of many countries seems a tad silly to me...
  20. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    GAP, freedom of speech is not an abstract freedom.

    The Dutch High Court fined the Arab European league for publishing a holocaust denying cartoon.
    The European Court ruled that the Danish Muhammed cartoon is not offensive.

    While we're busy imposing a legacy taboo, we're creating a fresh, new inequality. The danger in that easily rivals the danger of a Mein Kampf mass-market paperback release, in my opinion. More importantly: that's inequality codified in law - while Mein Kampf, a swastika or holocaust denial are mere words and symbols. Words and symbols don't kill.


  21. WormieSaber Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 22, 2000
    star 5
    Glad this thread finally took off. I hate starting threads that die only after a few responses.

    I'm not sure if any piece of written material can be completely banned today because there is always some jerk who is going to throw it up on the Internet. Or some liberal who is going to throw it up on the Internet (doesn't have to be a jerk, so I'm not generalizing). EVERYTHING is up on the internet, including the Satanic Bible. All it takes is a random search on Google and there you go. Enjoy the read. But what I was referring to were those who grew up with a belief, and that belief was ingrained into her so that a piece of history could be hidden. Who knows, maybe because of cultural pride? It has happened with the holocaust. I was surprised when my old college roommate denied that Japan was bombed in WWII, but knowing about the stories of Germany, how they denied the holocaust in the past I got it. If she denies it, then that means someone from her family and the people that surrounded her family are also denying it. And I should mention that her father was a college Professor in Japan. So this man should have been far more educated on history. The roots could have been deep.

    Are you kidding? Personal experience is the best kind of experience there is. You would rather read a book rather than actually interact with the real thing yourself? In this case, I think the reason why the dorms paired me up with a Japanese roommate was to integrate me with another race, which is fine with me. It is nice to experience another culture and even become friends with someone of another culture. So what she brought with her was her own experiences and belief systems from her own country. Reading about her would have been less of an experience.


    I think the reason for this is the puritan background of the USA, and all the religious fanatics in USA history - the foundations this country brought in when it first started. I've noticed that in most countries besides the USA prostitution is legal (not counting the limited legalities in Nevada). So I'd agree that there is more sexual freedom outside of the USA, but for good reason: the religious background of the USA. And England was the first place I ever went to where I saw some guy was just walking down the street drinking and throwing bottles around. I never really liked bars much probably because of the way I was raised, in the Baptist home. So again, you have culture that changes everything.
  22. GrandAdmiralPelleaon Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2000
    star 6
    There's always inequality codified into law, welcome to the Bourgeois-state. >_> Our entire system codifies varying degrees of inequality, that shouldn't be so hard to see. Furthermore, Freedom of Speech is very much an abstract freedom. It's a negative freedom, which is always an abstract notion. Compare it to the old Russian joke, before it was forbidden to travel, now I can't afford to travel.

    I'm not sure why you insist on the "sensitivity" approach or the "offensive" approach, this is not about "causing offence". I'm not sure how I can explain this to you any better. Symbols and words can most definitely kill, making such a clear distinction between actions and words deprives every word of its power, but only in your mind.

    Comparing the Muhammed-cartoon with the holocaust, by the way, that's a bit silly. Try comparing it with this.

    You do realize I'm not arguing the morality of the law, I'm explaining to you why it exists. You should really try and comprehend that first. Or, you know, put yourself up for Parliament and try and repeal that law, I suppose. >_>


  23. DarthIktomi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2009
    star 4
    I should point out that George W. Bush denied the Armenian Genocide a few years ago. So did the Israelis, but their stance, depending on the time of day, ranges from "if it didn't happen to us, it ain't genocide" to "if it didn't happen to us, it didn't happen". (Never mind that Lemkin used the Armenians as an example for defining genocide.)

    Hitler, interestingly enough, lampshaded the Holocaust (and its subsequent denial) by saying "nobody remembers [what happened to] the Armenians".

    wrt: The Muhammad cartoon, 1) Godwin's Law applies, and 2) the only thing really bad about the Muhammad cartoon is that Muslims were only offended by this. (And 300. I agree: 300 is overly campy, ridiculous (Ninjas as portrayed in Edo-period theater in the Persian army? Also, a giant cyborg.), gave us a lame forced meme, and if you saw it, congratulations on coming out.) Anyone here read the Narnia books? Remember the Calormenes and their demon god Tash? What about, um, every action movie set in the Middle East ever? Hell, even Back to the Future put in Libyan terrorists for what can only be assumed to be lulz.
  24. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    What kind of reasoning is that?
    "Oh, well, **** happens"?
    "I don't care if it's not fair; other things are unfair too"?
    Pretty weird to justify inequality with... more inequality.

    Then please explain to me how Nazi symbols and words are better at achieving that aim than fundamentalist religious symbols and words.

    Tell that to the AEL. They made the holocaust cartoon because of the Muhammed cartoon.

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  25. Katana_Geldar Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2003
    star 8
    Even though this thread is about Europe, Wormie, you did mention Australia, but I don't know why Mexico was in brackets. I've said this before on the JC, but I will again. Personally, I think the right for freedom of speech needs to be tempered with a responsibility to not use it in a way that deceives or infringes on the rights of others. Freedom of speech doesn't protect me from shouting 'FIRE!!!' in a crowded theatre. The fact that people lean in it to justify hate speech and downright lying to people (that includes some politicians) is sickening. This isn't right, this is abuse of a right.

    Freedom doesn't mean you're allowed to do whatever you want. That includes speed limits, littering, jaywalking, burning books, kiddie porn, putting up photos of naked people on billboards...