Evan, IN Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Speech, and the Internets

Discussion in 'Mid West Regional Discussion' started by Preachrman007, Apr 5, 2007.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Preachrman007 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 12, 2002
    star 2
    Seeing as how this seems to happen once a year or so, I thought it might be helpful for us to have a post that articulates why we are not able to discuss matters of religion and politics on the board.

    Freedom of religion and freedom of speech are the first freedoms guaranteed to Americans under the Bill of Rights. It is obvious from the Framer's placement that this was an idea that was very important to their belief in what powers a government should have.

    You are guaranteed Freedom of belief. The government cannot prohibit the exercise of what you believe. You can practice any form of religion, or even not practice, as you see fit.

    However, what we have encountered here in the boards is not dealing with Freedom of Religion, but really Freedom of Speech. People have, with perfectly good intentions, tried to turn the latter into the former, but that is not the case. Obviously the moderators of the boards are not telling you what to believe, they are only telling you what not to talk about. It is not about religion, but about speech.

    Freedom of speech cannot be curtailed by the government. You have a right, in a public place, to say anything you want. The government cannot stop you. However, private property is different. While on the "property" of the Fanforce, they do have the right to restrict your speech.

    To use a metaphor, my favorite form of teaching, consider this: You can stand on the sidewalk and talk about whatever you want. You can ridicule my religion, my politics, my looks, whatever. However, my house has rules. If you come into my house and then start insulting me, I have the right to ask you to leave. If you refuse, I have the right to call the police and force you to leave. Your right to free speech does not override my rights to private property.

    The Fanforce boards are private property. Thus the owners have the right to limit your speech on their property. Just as people can be asked not to use lewd language, they can be asked not to use religious or political language. While the Terms of Service for the boards do not specifically prohibit religious or political discussions (at least that I could find), the E'ville Jedi long ago had a "gentlemen's agreement" (sorry, ladies) not to discuss such things for the sake of peace on our board.

    However, we must be careful not to go overboard and become too legalistic in this direction either. Through past precedent, we have established that it is acceptable to wish someone a "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Easter", as these have become holidays in the popular culture as well as religious holidays. It is acceptable to state what your religion is, as my own screenname implies and the fact that others have identified themselves as Christian, pagan, etc.

    If you see someone has crossed the line and dives too much into a religious discussion, the best thing to do is ignore it. Odds are it was a simple mistake and they did not mean anything by it. Let Darth_TKD know about it and he will step in and stop it if he finds it necessary. Responding does not help matters and only escalates things, as we have seen in past religious discussions here. I myself was guilty of this last year when my temper got the better of me when I perceived someone's comment as attacking my religion.

    I am not posting this thread to start a debate or cause trouble, quite the opposite. Keep in mind that I am a United Methodist pastor that works every day to talk about religion. I don't want to limit religious discussion in any place that it is appropriate. I'm hoping that by pointing out the distinction between Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Speech (the true issue here) that we can more readily understand the rights and reasons behind these restrictions and why it is inappropriate here. Nathan, feel free to lock this thread if you think it will be problematic (you won't hurt my feelings by doing so) I just felt that perhaps this might help avoid future problems.
  2. Mike-El Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 16, 2006
    star 3
    Well put.

    I know a big concern for me is the religious implications on BSG and not being able to fully discuss what it all means. It's been stated that the Six in Baltar's head is names Natasi and if you spell it backwards you get something more sinister. Like a devil with the red dress on, if you get my meaning.

    It's chock full of Christianity and Greek Mythology.
  3. Darth_TKD Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 6, 2002
    star 3
    Well, generally speaking, I've always assumed talking about religious symbolism in a work of literature/drama isn't the same as openly discussing religion, so long as the discussion isn't attempting to convince or convert someone else, or to degrade someone else's religion. Talking about religion in real life, as opposed to a piece of fiction, is totally different.
  4. Preachrman007 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 12, 2002
    star 2
    I agree. We discussed the religious imagery in Superman Returns last year and it was all handled maturely and without incident.

    Also, it's nearly impossible to talk about Jedi without mentioning the Eastern religions that were influential upon Lucas' creation of the Force.

    Mike, in my opinion, I think discussing religious imagery and symbolism in BSG would be a fascinating discussion, even if I'm not a BSG fan. I think for topics such as that the best thing to do would be put a kind of warning in the thread topic and in the first paragraph warning people that religious imagery will be discussed.

    Of course, any such thread would need to be heavily moderated to ensure things don't slip over the line.

    Perhaps if someone is interested in starting such a thread, it would be be beneficial to establish some ground rules ahead of time?
  5. HoosierTrooper Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 1, 2006
    star 3
    Well said to everyone.

    I would just add that we also continue to do a good job about not speaking of politics. We have so many people from different walks of life and viewpoints that it would only make things awkward. This club has been through many elections and political climates, yet we never talk national or world politics. For that, we all deserve a pat on the back. :)


    With that said, vote Imperial! [face_skull] [face_skull]
  6. navarre1095 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2005
    star 4
    Stacky made a snipe at my faith. I responded by jokingly making a snipe AT MY OWN FAITH. That should have been the end of it. All this commotion is really not necessary. Lighten up.
  7. Stackpole_The_Hobbit Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2002
    star 6
    The reason behind that is because I had just woken up AND met with my journo advisor, both of which are disorientating as hell :p

    And furthermore, even when I was technically catholic, I never got what was so damn good about it, so it also works that way too :p

    But no snipe intended, friend :)
  8. navarre1095 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2005
    star 4
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.