Re: Too Easy
Free speech not the same as having the ability to shout fire in a crowded theatre.
I'm not going to disagree with that, although that specific example it's a pretty tired cliché, so I try to avoid using it, in favour of more contemporary examples.
I am allowed to say I dislike x group on y grounds, as is anyone. I am not allowed to incite violence against x group for z reasons.
Again, correct. Worth noting that x is also allowed to criticise your reasoning, y, as are others, if your reasoning is based on unreasonable bias, such as racism. They're also allowed to call you rude names, and mock you for your opinions (even though it's a dick move to do so). For example, I've seen racist right-wing commentators seriously try to justify their views by claiming that black people are inherently less intelligent than white people. It's not just that this sort of argument is repellant, but it is also, more importantly, completely wrong. There is an awful lot of "justification" of vile opinions on the internet that is based on dodgy "facts" such as this, and a lot of it comes from the far right (who often try to present themselves as "reasonable conservatives"). Apologies for the excessive use of quote marks here - it saves the need for invective.
Now, as to the matter of incitement to violence. I'm not going to say much about that, other than I didn't raise the issue of incitement, which is pretty obviously a bad thing. In this discussion, it is a straw man, because we are talking about the limits of acceptable speech, not something that lies well beyond them.
What happens on the internet, on social media and on messageboards, and in discussion groups, is that the hosts put in place acceptable use policies. These typically run into several pages of legalese, but the general gist is, "don't be a bigot" - i.e. don't post sexist, racist, homophobic, etc. content. They are often accompanied by rules about not posting adult material such as pornography. People get banned for breaching those rules. If more people who self-identify as conservatives get banned for breaching those rules, there are two posible reasons why: 1) More "conservatives" are breaking the rules, or 2) There is some sort of "loony-left liberal" conspiracy against them. It's also worth noting, in this context, that belief in consipracy theories is more prevalent amongst right-wingers, even moderate conservatives, there are plenty of peer-reviewed studies showing these results, so feel free to look them up rather than take my word for it. Now, I'm not going to suggest for a moment that conspiracies don't happen, but the hallmark of a successful conspiracy is that is is secret and involves a small number of people. Actual evidence for them tends to come to light at some point as well. Based on this, I'm far more inclinded to accept (1) as the explanation than (2).
There are many many people spreading hate and discord without an imaginary sky friend - antifa being the first example to trip off my mind.
"antifa" is one of those terms I hear bandied around, like "SJW" that seems to be ill defined. If you are referring to people who are, as the abbreviation suggests, anti-fascist, then that really should cover 99.9% of the human population, because if you're not anti-fascist, then you either don't know what fascism is, or you are pro-fascist. Given that a big old war was fought over fascism in the middle of the last century, I can't imagine that there are many people who are blissfully unaware of fascism.
Perhaps, however, you are referring to violent left-wing "anti-fascist" protesters? Now, I've never seen any of these, and I've been on several large political marches in my time. One notable instance of this was a recent march in central London that gathered 750,000 ant-brexit protestors. There was a small counter-protest to this, of perhaps 30 people who could be described as "pro-fascist", not "antifa" attacking them though. In the absence of any evidence to the contrary I'm going to assume that either the people you are referring to are a vanishingly small group, or that they are an invented foe of pro-fascist groups dreamt up as a justification for their own vile actions. If you can give examples of the people you are talking about, and demonstrate that they have anything like the numbers and influence of current far-right groups, I'd welcome that information.
If you look I have said many times that objectionable speech should be allowed by ANYONE. I don't want censorship for ANYONE. I also don't want people to be violent.
These are laudable goals, but ultimately utopian. The issue with perfect free speech is that implies perfect responsibility for your actions, and in an ideal world, everyone would be responsible, and everyone could have that right to say whetever they liked. However, in reality, people abuse those rights. There is a balance here, however, in that this argument can be used by oppressive governments to silence legitimate dissent. I don't claim to have all the answers, but the logical conclusion is that the limits of free speech should lie somewhere between perfect free speech and censorship. Personally, I think that they should tend more towards the free speech end of the spectrum, but that there should be important limitations (incitement ot violence, racial hatred, etc.). if those limits overreach, there is an issue with the limits, but if you find that the things you want to say often run into those limits, perhaps you have the problem.
There is one important distinction that I'd like to end with; the legal limits of free speech (such as various incitement laws) and the limits set down by a service provider (such as Twitter) are not the same thing. The owner of any forum is perfectly entitled to say ,"no X speech here" without breaching free speech laws. it is their forum, and thier rules. "X" may be anything in this context - "sexist", "racist", etc. or "football", "train-spotting", etc. If I go to a forum dedicated to, for instance, modelmaking, and the forum has a rule about not posting off-topic, but then I try to start up a thread about favourite flavours of ice-cream, my free speech is not being curtailed if I get kicked out.