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Who coined the phrase "freedom of speech"?


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free_speech_2x.png

 

I see this webcomic linked to a lot.

 

Quite frankly, I see it linked to far more often than I see people actually claiming their First Amendment rights are being violated by a private company denying them a platform.

 

The other side of it, of course, is that I do see a lot of people calling it a violation of "freedom of speech" in a more general sense; in the idea that protecting people from getting thrown under the bus over their beliefs by their own employers despite otherwise doing their jobs. The only question is whether the phrase "freedom of speech" has a legitimate application beyond the Constitution's use of the phrase.

 

And the only legitimate metric of that is to ask who invented the phrase, and how did they define it. If they defined it more broadly, those using it more narrowly are the ones who are in the wrong. If they defined it more narrowly, those using it more broadly are the ones who are in the wrong. Is anyone here familiar with older versions of the phrase from within the English language?

Edited by ScienceNostalgia101
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12 minutes ago, StringJunky said:

AFAIK it only pertains to the US government wrt its citizens.

Agreed. In the US people are referring to their Rights guaranteed under the Constitution. The claim is frequently made by the same people who discuss their Right to bear arms. "Freedom of Speech" is a direct quote, and people in the US know the phrase from the Constitution. It is taught beginning in early elementary school.

There are certainly other legitimate uses of the phrase, but if asking how it is generally used in the US, the answer is as a violation of a Constitutional Right.

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First amendment of the US constitution:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

So the "right of Freedom of speech" pertains to the limits the US government has in this manner.

It does not matter if the term "freedom of speech" already existed or who first coined it.

 

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49 minutes ago, ScienceNostalgia101 said:

And the only legitimate metric of that is to ask who invented the phrase, and how did they define it.

I disagree with your nonsequitur conclusion that this is “the only legitimate metric,” but just to answer your question directly:

It may surely have come earlier in previous societies without writing or records available to us in our modern age, but first currently known recorded use suggests the idea came from Athens around 400 BC.

During that time it is was described using the term parrhesia. 


https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parrhesia

Quote

The term first appears in Greek literature, when used by Euripides, and may be found in ancient Greek texts from the end of the fifth century B.C. until the fifth century A.D. It implies not only freedom of speech, but the obligation to speak the truth for the common good, even at personal risk.

Parrhesia was a fundamental component of the democracy of Classical Athens. In assembliesand the courts Athenians were free to say almost anything, and in the theatre, playwrights such as Aristophanes made full use of the right to ridicule whomever they chose. Elsewhere there were limits to what might be said; freedom to discuss politics, morals, religion, or to criticize people would depend on context: by whom it was made, and when, and how, and where.

If one was seen as immoral, or held views that went contrary to popular opinion, then there were great risks involved in making use of such an unbridled freedom of speech, as Socratesfound out when he was sentenced to death for not adoring deities worshiped by the Athenians and for corrupting the young.

 

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16 hours ago, ScienceNostalgia101 said:

And the only legitimate metric of that is to ask who invented the phrase, and how did they define it. If they defined it more broadly, those using it more narrowly are the ones who are in the wrong. If they defined it more narrowly, those using it more broadly are the ones who are in the wrong. Is anyone here familiar with older versions of the phrase from within the English language?

No, that’s not legitimate, or realistic. The reality is that the meaning of words change over time, and the person who coins a phrase may not be the one who popularizes it, possibly in another context.

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3 hours ago, swansont said:

No, that’s not legitimate, or realistic. The reality is that the meaning of words change over time, and the person who coins a phrase may not be the one who popularizes it, possibly in another context.

So if any number of people want to arbitrarily decade that almond means coffee cup, or that kettle means faucet, then all who used the terms the way they were previously meant to be used get to have the rug swept from beneath their feet? That sounds less like a language and more like mob rule where reason doesn't need to be on your side if popular opinion is; that popular opinion gets to redefine a word that wasn't theirs to redefine.

 

So the ancients had the concept of freedom of speech, but that still doesn't specify when it entered into the English language. Without that, we are left with nothing but any plurality of people getting to change whatever definitions they want to even if the word wasn't theirs to redefine.

Edited by ScienceNostalgia101
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45 minutes ago, ScienceNostalgia101 said:

So if any number of people want to arbitrarily decade that almond means coffee cup, or that kettle means faucet, then all who used the terms the way they were previously meant to be used get to have the rug swept from beneath their feet?

Exactly. That’s pretty much how language and culture has evolved forever. 

46 minutes ago, ScienceNostalgia101 said:

That sounds less like a language and more like mob rule

Who’s redefining words, now? 🙄

49 minutes ago, ScienceNostalgia101 said:

that still doesn't specify when it entered into the English language.

Mostly because none of us feels your point has any merit or is even worth discussing, but again... just to answer it head on: Late 16th century. 

https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/parrhesia

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10 minutes ago, ScienceNostalgia101 said:

So if any number of people want to arbitrarily decade that almond means coffee cup, or that kettle means faucet, then all who used the terms the way they were previously meant to be used get to have the rug swept from beneath their feet? That sounds less like a language and more like mob rule where reason doesn't need to be on your side if popular opinion is; that popular opinion gets to redefine a word that wasn't theirs to redefine.

You seem to believe that language does not change but anyone talking to someone from a different generation will tell you that it is not the case. 

One of my favourite (and somewhat outdated) examples is Nimrod, which often refers to an inept person. However, originally it referred to a skillful (biblical) hunter. The change happened because Bugs Bunny (hello Zapatos) referred to Elmer Fudd as a Nimrod in an sarcastic way, but obviously folks did not realize that.

Another example meat in old English referred to all kind of foods (hence sweetmeat) but changed to refer specifically to animal flesh along the way.

There are tons of more common examples of course, but the main point is that language is very much alive and subject to change.

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1 hour ago, ScienceNostalgia101 said:

So if any number of people want to arbitrarily decade that almond means coffee cup, or that kettle means faucet, then all who used the terms the way they were previously meant to be used get to have the rug swept from beneath their feet? That sounds less like a language and more like mob rule where reason doesn't need to be on your side if popular opinion is; that popular opinion gets to redefine a word that wasn't theirs to redefine.

So many people used “literally” when they should have used “figuratively” (e.g. “I literally died!” while remaining alive) that the definition has changed to incorporate that.

So while your examples are extreme, and likely meant to be ridiculous, that’s actually how it works. (I could tell you I was having a gay experience until I tripped over a faggot, with the caveat that you should look up the old definitions and not use the modern lexicon)

 

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22 hours ago, ScienceNostalgia101 said:

The other side of it, of course, is that I do see a lot of people calling it a violation of "freedom of speech" in a more general sense; in the idea that protecting people from getting thrown under the bus over their beliefs by their own employers despite otherwise doing their jobs.

Since you are opposed to redefining words I can only surmise that you believe people are literally being launched beneath the wheels of large, multi-passenger conveyances. 

Edited by zapatos
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Har har. You know what I meant.

 

Look, there is a legitimate tradeoff between using words and phrases the way they were originally intended and communicating in ways that everyone else is used to. Sometimes, rightly or wrongly, by force of habit, we will err on the side of the latter.

 

But the number of people using a word or phrase wrong does not constitute blanket immunity from criticism.

 

If you look, for instance, at the word "communism," many right-wingers and even some independents will blame it for the woes of modern China. By rights, this should cast doubt on the credibility of the person doing so, as Xi Jinping's policies are blatantly at odds with communism as Karl Marx, who invented the word, described it. I've been called out on this myself when attempting to do the same (not because I had a problem with Marxist ideals so much as because I wanted to undermine the notion of blaming atheism for communism, even if at the expense of everything but my anti-theist beliefs; and yes, I regret that).

 

Yet the left, while seeing through that misuse of the word "communism," seems to have no qualms dismissing people who regard freedom of speech as meaning more than just whatever the Founding Fathers meant as not knowing any better, even though it entered the English language long before the USA's founding.

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30 minutes ago, ScienceNostalgia101 said:

Yet the left, while seeing through that misuse of the word "communism," seems to have no qualms dismissing people who regard freedom of speech as meaning more than just whatever the Founding Fathers meant as not knowing any better, even though it entered the English language long before the USA's founding.

A. The FFs aren't constrained by what anyone else meant by the phrase, only what they meant by the phrase

and

B. What the FFs meant by the phrase is not the final metric, as the right has been shaped by court decisions; the phrase is vague and also the context for it is shaped by society as it changes.

Does freedom of speech as defined ca 1791 include this conversation, seeing as electronic communication of any type wasn't yet invented? There's a whole host of kinds of speech that have come into existence, or at least been acknowledged as speech, since that time. For instance, I wonder what the FFs would think about "money is speech"

(also, "the left" is not a monolithic group and you would do well to actually show who holds the views you are so cavalierly assigning here)

38 minutes ago, ScienceNostalgia101 said:

Har har. You know what I meant.

Pretty weak tea

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