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Old 11th July 2018, 04:02 PM   #1
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Catholic priest deplatformed

Priest Banned from Speaking at Catholic Conference Over His Support for Marriage Equality

Quote:
An Australian archbishop has banned a priest supportive of LGBT rights from speaking at a Catholic conference, a silencing that has led to cries of hypocrisy over the archbishop’s own claims about free speech.

Australian Jesuit Fr. Frank Brennan had been scheduled to speak at the CatholicCare Tasmania conference next February until the local archbishop intervened. Brennan, who heads Catholic Social Services Australia, has a highly affirming record on LGBT issues. He was a vocal proponent of marriage equality, and called the successful postal survey on the issue last year “a resounding win.” But that record led to controversy recently, reported PinkNews:
“Archbishop [Julian] Porteous [of Hobart], a strong opponent of LGBT equality, confirmed the decision to ban Brennan from speaking.

“His spokesperson said: ‘Archbishop Porteous addressed the conference on the issue of marriage. His Grace felt it was inappropriate for Father Brennan to speak at the conference, due to his public position regarding same-sex marriage.’

“LGBT campaigners branded the Archbishop a hypocrite for clamping down on pro-gay voices while regularly complaining about his own free speech being ‘violated’.”
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Old 11th July 2018, 04:12 PM   #2
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I don't see the hypocrisy. Organizations rightly control access to their own platforms. Membership in an organization does not entitle you to free use of the organization's platform.

This is different from people trying to block your access to platforms you are entitled to. The head of an organization can certainly do both without being hypocritical.

ETA: I don't know the details of the complaint. There might be some nuance that changes my conclusion.

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Old 11th July 2018, 06:08 PM   #3
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The hypocracy is in the last sentence of my extract. Archibship Porteous is a regular complainer that his own free speech is being "violated". And yet here he is "violating" the free speech of an equal rights advocate.

I don't agree that deplatforming is a violation of free speech, but that's the basis behind the hypocracy.
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Old 11th July 2018, 06:40 PM   #4
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I don't see the hypocrisy in that sentence. He's not violating the free speech rights of the priest he deplatformed, because the priest doesn't actually have the right to speak freely on that platform. Indeed, it is a principle of free speech that the church be able to control the messages that are presented on its platform.

So that's one half of the hypocrisy equation erased. Whatever is happening in the other half the equation, it can't be hypocrisy.

Either the archbishop is being denied access to a platform where he is rightfully entitled to speak, in which case his complaint is legitimate. Or he is not being denied such access, in which case his complaint is mistaken, but still not hypocrisy.
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Old 11th July 2018, 06:48 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Either the archbishop is being denied access to a platform where he is rightfully entitled to speak, in which case his complaint is legitimate. Or he is not being denied such access, in which case his complaint is mistaken, but still not hypocrisy.
In the latter case, where his claim is illegitimate, he may be being denied that access in exactly the way that he is denying access to the Priest mentioned in the OP. How is it not hypocrisy to complain about exactly the same thing that you are doing? Even if you aren't doing anything wrong in what you are doing, if you complain when someone else does it to you, that's pretty much the definition of hypocrisy.

His complaints may not be examples of the same thing, I don't know what free speech issues he's had, but the facts as represented in this thread are at least consistent with the possibility of hypocrisy.
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Old 11th July 2018, 08:14 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
In the latter case, where his claim is illegitimate, he may be being denied that access in exactly the way that he is denying access to the Priest mentioned in the OP. How is it not hypocrisy to complain about exactly the same thing that you are doing? Even if you aren't doing anything wrong in what you are doing, if you complain when someone else does it to you, that's pretty much the definition of hypocrisy.

His complaints may not be examples of the same thing, I don't know what free speech issues he's had, but the facts as represented in this thread are at least consistent with the possibility of hypocrisy.
That's fair. I hadn't considered that scenario. And we both recognize that there may be details we don't yet know, that change the conclusion.
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Old 11th July 2018, 09:24 PM   #7
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TBH, I don't know precisely what this particular archbishop has been involved in, but it seems to be related to last year's marriage equality "debate".
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Old 12th July 2018, 02:03 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
TBH, I don't know precisely what this particular archbishop has been involved in, but it seems to be related to last year's marriage equality "debate".
Google mainly throws me up several articles about a booklet "Don't Mess with Marriage" that the Catholic Bishops Conference published and about which an LGBTQ campaigner lodged a complaint with the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commissioner (and later withdrew, here's her take on that).

You be the judge whether you think that's trying to stifle freedom of speech. An excerpt:
Quote:
Sometimes people claim that children do just fine with two mums or two dads and that there is “no difference” between households with same-sex parents and heterosexual parents. But sociological research, as well as the long experience of Church and society, attests to the importance for children of having, as far as possible, both a mother and father.

‘Messing with marriage’, therefore, is also ‘messing with kids’. It is gravely unjust to them.
AFAIK, such research doesn't exist and the church is lying about that.
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Old 12th July 2018, 02:54 AM   #9
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And the Catholics know everything worth knowing about messing with kids ...
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Old 12th July 2018, 04:08 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
And the Catholics know everything worth knowing about messing with kids ...
Yep. Somehow I have the impression that that irony would be lost on the bishops.
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Old 12th July 2018, 04:27 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by ddt View Post
Google mainly throws me up several articles about a booklet "Don't Mess with Marriage" that the Catholic Bishops Conference published and about which an LGBTQ campaigner lodged a complaint with the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commissioner (and later withdrew, here's her take on that).

You be the judge whether you think that's trying to stifle freedom of speech. An excerpt:

Very interesting approach here. The premise of the above is that we can judge whether or not freedom of speech has been stifled based on the contents of the speech. That kind of misses the point of "freedom of speech".


I don't know anything more about the case than what you posted, and I didn't even follow the links, but it seems that the complainant was trying to use the power of government to prohibit speech that she didn't like. That's the definition of "stifling freedom of speech". I don't need to read an excerpt to determine that. Since the complaint was withdrawn, the attempt to stifle freedom of speech was apparently unsuccessful.
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Old 12th July 2018, 07:55 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
Very interesting approach here. The premise of the above is that we can judge whether or not freedom of speech has been stifled based on the contents of the speech. That kind of misses the point of "freedom of speech".


I don't know anything more about the case than what you posted, and I didn't even follow the links, but it seems that the complainant was trying to use the power of government to prohibit speech that she didn't like. That's the definition of "stifling freedom of speech". I don't need to read an excerpt to determine that. Since the complaint was withdrawn, the attempt to stifle freedom of speech was apparently unsuccessful.
First, I will note that it wasn't my argument to begin with that the bishop had a habit of whining about his freedom of speech being abridged. I googled for it and this incident was what came up in about half of the links.

But I disagree with your notion of freedom of speech.

Suppose, for an extreme example, that the bishop had sent a pastoral letter to his parish priests instructing them to lace the hosts for children from SSM with cyanide. The letter leaks, the police arrests him and he is prosecuted for it. The bishop decries that this is stifling his freedom of speech.

Do you agree with him there?

(I'll present the rest of my argument after your answer).
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Old 12th July 2018, 01:28 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by ddt View Post
But I disagree with your notion of freedom of speech.

Suppose, for an extreme example, that the bishop had sent a pastoral letter to his parish priests instructing them to lace the hosts for children from SSM with cyanide. The letter leaks, the police arrests him and he is prosecuted for it. The bishop decries that this is stifling his freedom of speech.

Do you agree with him there?

(I'll present the rest of my argument after your answer).
Of course not, as I'm sure you already know. There are well known limitations, whether in law or "common sense" on freedom of speech. Even in a nation or organization that claims to not limit freedom of speech, speech which actually poses a danger to others is, and ought to be, prohibited.

However, where mischief gets made is that people take that perfectly reasonable exception, and then declare certain speech to be "dangerous", even though it is not. In American jurisprudence, a fair number of exceptions have been carved out, but they are all related to something that was once called the "clear and present danger" test. While that is not currently the exact text of exceptions in American law today, it is a widely recognized term, and it's close enough for our purposes to describe when speech may be limited. The speech must pose a clear and present danger.

Sadly, the phrase has become so overused that many people who use it forget that the words of the phrase have actual meanings. To be prohibited, the speech must be dangerous, and the danger represented must be both "clear", and "present". i.e. it must be obvious what danger is represented, and the danger must be a direct, short term, consequence of the speech. So, a direction to add poison to a eucharist represents a clear danger, that someone might be poisoned, and that danger is "present". It would come as a consequence of the speech. Therefore, such speech may be prohibited.

On the other hand, a general statement that some particular speech might some day inspire someone to do something bad represents a danger that is neither clear, nor present, and a restriction on such speech is incompatible with the notion of free speech.

This is extremely important to maintain the right to free speech, because if that test, or something substantially equivalent, is not applied, then it is certain that people will do everything they can to label speech they disagree with "dangerous", using the well known, "it really makes me mad so I think they should stop saying it" test.
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Old 12th July 2018, 02:22 PM   #14
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There's also the principle of strict scrutiny. In order to justify abridging a right, the state must show that there is a compelling public interest in doing so, that the proposed abridgement is narrowly tailored to that exception, and that there no less intrusive solution to the problem.
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Old 12th July 2018, 02:25 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
Of course not, as I'm sure you already know. There are well known limitations, whether in law or "common sense" on freedom of speech. Even in a nation or organization that claims to not limit freedom of speech, speech which actually poses a danger to others is, and ought to be, prohibited.

However, where mischief gets made is that people take that perfectly reasonable exception, and then declare certain speech to be "dangerous", even though it is not. In American jurisprudence, a fair number of exceptions have been carved out, but they are all related to something that was once called the "clear and present danger" test. While that is not currently the exact text of exceptions in American law today, it is a widely recognized term, and it's close enough for our purposes to describe when speech may be limited. The speech must pose a clear and present danger.

Sadly, the phrase has become so overused that many people who use it forget that the words of the phrase have actual meanings. To be prohibited, the speech must be dangerous, and the danger represented must be both "clear", and "present". i.e. it must be obvious what danger is represented, and the danger must be a direct, short term, consequence of the speech. So, a direction to add poison to a eucharist represents a clear danger, that someone might be poisoned, and that danger is "present". It would come as a consequence of the speech. Therefore, such speech may be prohibited.

On the other hand, a general statement that some particular speech might some day inspire someone to do something bad represents a danger that is neither clear, nor present, and a restriction on such speech is incompatible with the notion of free speech.

This is extremely important to maintain the right to free speech, because if that test, or something substantially equivalent, is not applied, then it is certain that people will do everything they can to label speech they disagree with "dangerous", using the well known, "it really makes me mad so I think they should stop saying it" test.
It looks as if the case under question is in a kind of gray area. On the one hand, we are free to lie and to publish our lies. On the other hand, if the lies are intended to influence public policy or public behavior, a case could be made. We are, for example, free to express hatred and racism, but we are not free to express them in situations where they might incite violence.

The booklet in question is more than just speech someone does not like, and more than a pastoral directive to church members. It is addressed to all Australians, expresses a point of view about the lives of people who actually exist, and explicitly urges them to influence legislative action. While one might well make a case that free speech allows this, it is not a slam dunk where there is an allegation of actual harm done.
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Old 12th July 2018, 02:39 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
Of course not, as I'm sure you already know. There are well known limitations, whether in law or "common sense" on freedom of speech. Even in a nation or organization that claims to not limit freedom of speech, speech which actually poses a danger to others is, and ought to be, prohibited.

<snip>
Thank you. So you agree it's not stifling of freedom of speech if the speech in question is proscribed by (secular) law. The law in question may be different from country to country - and the USA probably has the least proscriptions in that regard, hence my extreme example - but the principle still stands.

Following that same reasoning, even if the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commissioner would have found the RCC booklet to be against Australian law and ordered the Australian bishops to withdraw the booklet, it would not have been stifling of freedom of speech.

The facts in the op-ed by Ms. Delaney are simple: she filed a complaint with the Commissioner, it proceeded to conciliation between parties, she proposed rewording of several statements, the RCC declined that, and she decided not to continue the complaint to a formal hearing and withdrew it.

So, no speech was ever stifled as the booklet is still as the RCC first drew it up.

My personal opinion on the booklet is that it's not just insulting for SSM couples, but outright abusive to their kids as throughout the booklet it claims that SSM kids get a bad or unhealthy upbringing because they have two mommies and no daddy, or vice versa. It's one thing if the RCC make statements within their own fairy tale - e.g., SSM kids will burn in hell! - but another thing that they claim they'll have a bad life here and claim that as a scientific statement of fact (which is a lie AFAIK). But then, as dann already mentioned, if someone is expert at abusing kids it's the RCC.

As to the matter in the OP, of course the RCC has the right to (de)platform whom they want at their own conferences. But if they deplatform at a conference on social care a national authority on the subject (that's what Google tells me Fr. Brennan SJ is), then it's clear that they prioritize their fear he might say something pro-gay over having experts at their own conference.
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Old 12th July 2018, 02:46 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
There's also the principle of strict scrutiny. In order to justify abridging a right, the state must show that there is a compelling public interest in doing so, that the proposed abridgement is narrowly tailored to that exception, and that there no less intrusive solution to the problem.
AFAIK, "strict scrutiny" is a term of art from American jurisprudence, and the same principle doesn't apply in Australian law. Of course, I'm open to correction.
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Old 12th July 2018, 04:01 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by ddt View Post
Thank you. So you agree it's not stifling of freedom of speech if the speech in question is proscribed by (secular) law. The law in question may be different from country to country - and the USA probably has the least proscriptions in that regard, hence my extreme example - but the principle still stands.

Absolutely not. The whole point of "freedom of speech" is that the secular law cannot impose restrictions on it. Of course, every government everywhere imposes some limits on it, because of the aforementioned dangerous speech considerations. However, if a ban on speech goes beyond cases of clear and present danger, then the secular government does not recognize the right of free speech.

Quote:
Following that same reasoning, even if the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commissioner would have found the RCC booklet to be against Australian law and ordered the Australian bishops to withdraw the booklet, it would not have been stifling of freedom of speech.
Following my actual reasoning, had they found against the RCC booklet, it would have been stifling freedom of speech. Since they did not do so, they did not stifle free speech. Or to put it differently:


Quote:
So, no speech was ever stifled as the booklet is still as the RCC first drew it up.
Quote:
As to the matter in the OP, of course the RCC has the right to (de)platform whom they want at their own conferences. But if they deplatform at a conference on social care a national authority on the subject (that's what Google tells me Fr. Brennan SJ is), then it's clear that they prioritize their fear he might say something pro-gay over having experts at their own conference.

Certainly. Although I respect the Roman Catholic Church more than I respect fundamentalist protestants, I agree that their teachings are still pure codswallop, and should not be taken seriously. I wouldn't go to a church-sponsored conference to get an informed opinion about anything other than Roman Catholic doctrine.
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Old 12th July 2018, 04:03 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
There's also the principle of strict scrutiny. In order to justify abridging a right, the state must show that there is a compelling public interest in doing so, that the proposed abridgement is narrowly tailored to that exception, and that there no less intrusive solution to the problem.
Australia has no bill of rights, and though we recognise the principle of freedom of speech and are signatories to international conventions recognising this and other human rights, we have no direct legal right to freedom of speech in Australian law.
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Old 12th July 2018, 04:10 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by ddt View Post
AFAIK, "strict scrutiny" is a term of art from American jurisprudence, and the same principle doesn't apply in Australian law. Of course, I'm open to correction.
You are quite correct. However, the basic principle that led the Supreme Court of the United States to invent the term "strict scrutiny" still applies. The basic idea was that in order to respect certain rights that are recognized as inviolable, no laws can be passed that restrict those rights, unless there is a compelling need to do so. In most cases, I dare say in every case, really, there must be a situation where it is impossible to fully respect everyone's rights, because they are at odds with each other. In those cases, United States law uses the "strict scrutiny" standard to determine whether a law that restricts free speech, or freedom of religion, or any other enumerated freedom in the Constitution, is permissible despite restricting those rights, and even in those cases, US law demands that the restriction be as narrow as possible to achieve the compelling interest of the government.

Although the terminology and application is specific to America, the basic principle is universal. If a government cares about freedom, and respects the freedom of its people, it will not pass laws that restrict fundamental rights.

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Old 12th July 2018, 04:50 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
Although the terminology and application is specific to America, the basic principle is universal.
Not unless it's recognised in law it isn't.
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Old 12th July 2018, 07:30 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by ddt View Post
AFAIK, "strict scrutiny" is a term of art from American jurisprudence, and the same principle doesn't apply in Australian law. Of course, I'm open to correction.
My understanding is the same as yours. I just think it's a good principle, that more judiciaries should implement around the world.
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Old 12th July 2018, 11:54 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
That's fair. I hadn't considered that scenario. And we both recognize that there may be details we don't yet know, that change the conclusion.
Yep, and the further information in the thread seems to suggest that he wasn't being hypocritical: the people attempting to limit his free speech really were attempting to limit his free speech.
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Old 13th July 2018, 12:00 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
My understanding is the same as yours. I just think it's a good principle, that more judiciaries should implement around the world.
I do agree that's it a helpful tool when idealism hits the buffers of reality and a pragmatic call has to be made. For it to something that should be used by jurisprudence around the world I'd say its narrow limitation to just state actions should be removed.
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Old 13th July 2018, 12:12 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
Of course not, as I'm sure you already know. There are well known limitations, whether in law or "common sense" on freedom of speech. Even in a nation or organization that claims to not limit freedom of speech, speech which actually poses a danger to others is, and ought to be, prohibited.

However, where mischief gets made is that people take that perfectly reasonable exception, and then declare certain speech to be "dangerous", even though it is not. In American jurisprudence, a fair number of exceptions have been carved out, but they are all related to something that was once called the "clear and present danger" test. While that is not currently the exact text of exceptions in American law today, it is a widely recognized term, and it's close enough for our purposes to describe when speech may be limited. The speech must pose a clear and present danger.

Sadly, the phrase has become so overused that many people who use it forget that the words of the phrase have actual meanings. To be prohibited, the speech must be dangerous, and the danger represented must be both "clear", and "present". i.e. it must be obvious what danger is represented, and the danger must be a direct, short term, consequence of the speech. So, a direction to add poison to a eucharist represents a clear danger, that someone might be poisoned, and that danger is "present". It would come as a consequence of the speech. Therefore, such speech may be prohibited.

On the other hand, a general statement that some particular speech might some day inspire someone to do something bad represents a danger that is neither clear, nor present, and a restriction on such speech is incompatible with the notion of free speech.

This is extremely important to maintain the right to free speech, because if that test, or something substantially equivalent, is not applied, then it is certain that people will do everything they can to label speech they disagree with "dangerous", using the well known, "it really makes me mad so I think they should stop saying it" test.
You do understand that there is much speech that is not protected speech that does not fall under the "clear and present danger" criteria, yes? Your posts in this thread don't seem to take it into consideration, nor do you seem to think that the work which was to be disseminated is pretty clearly defamatory and thus should be, IMO, suppressed. IOW, I agree with ddt on this one. The RCC clearly crossed the line and is using its status to bully the usual minorities into shutting up once again and just accept having this nonsense shoved down their collective throats.
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