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Thread: Why Guardians Don't Get Free Speech (ENORMOUS Post)

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    Shadowlander Antisthenes's Avatar
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    Default Why Guardians Don't Get Free Speech (ENORMOUS Post)

    Hereís the tl;dr (what people in the real world call a thesis) before I launch into this thing:
    There is no substantial reason, in-game or otherwise, to believe that the Guardians offer the protections of free speech for their constituents. In fact, using both in-game queues and simple real-world examples, it can be very safely assumed that the Guardians restrict free speech, at least to a moderate degree.

    Now to the real post!

    When roleplaying in Argent Glade, I see a lot of Guardians complaining, quite openly and even vociferously, about the Guardians as a group. Now, for those of you who donít know, I play Jovan over on ol' Faeblight. Jovan is a warlock. Thereís a few hints floating around in the game that until very recently (and even not then), warlocks have not been all that well-loved, and for good reason. Users of death magic tend to go insane after a while and I can totally understand not liking those folks. As a warlock, Jovan learned to keep certain things under his hat, especially things that people with the ability and authourity to kill him might not like.

    Jovan doesnít usually approach these people who are openly speaking out against the Guardians. Usually, they have to be saying something incredibly stupid, like launching a particularly moronic defense of Defiants hanging out in Argent Glade. When he does approach these people, however, the response is almost always the same, if worded differently:

    ďI have the right to say whatever I want.Ē

    Hereís the rub, thereís really no logical reason to think that the Guardians are all that fond of free speech. Just to stroke my ego, Iíll go ahead and say I know quite a bit about law and legal theory, it comes with having had a classical education growing up. I also know enough to know I have to say I am not a lawyer and the following, while it is my opinion, is not legally substantive in the realm of anything but opinion. Back on track, though, before we get into this, we have to define just how a group of people get free speech.

    In the United States, which has a very extensive and impressive level of freedom of speech compared to other nations, basic constitutional theory says this: Liberty is not granted by government, but observed as an inherent quality by government as enforced by the Constitution of the United States of America. That approach to liberty is, for most constitutional governments, how a constitution works. Constitutions are usually documents of positive liberties that are observed as inherent traits of individuals by the government and not the product of government itself. There are a lot of complexities that go into that statement, but thatís the best functional definition of ďlibertyĒ and ďconstitutionĒ I can give you without writing a book (because there are many, many books about this exact thing).

    The Guardians function as something of a government. They are a unified body with a military and they obviously have substantial political power. Iím not sure if any land outside of Sanctum is sovereign land of the Guardians, but it is most certain that some of that land (for instance, Silverwood) is under their jurisdiction as though it were under their sovereign dominion. If we accept that the Guardians are the governing political body (if not necessarily the sovereign government) of an area, then we must also accept that the Guardian worldview and philosophy are the dominant ones of that region.

    If we accept the Guardians as a sort of governing body unto itself, then we have to ask this: Are the Guardians united by a constitution of positive liberties or by some other force? The answer is, without any evidence of the former, most assuredly the latter. There is no evidence anywhere in the game of a constitution that unifies the Guardians, much less one that protects free speech. Sanctum, the seat of Guardian power, is expressly described as a holy city which embodies that which unifies the Guardians, their faith in the Vigil. That the Guardians are united by, aside from the existence of shared enemies, their shared faith, this immediately removes the possibility of an American-style First Amendment that offers freedom of religion in addition to speech. Even if we accept Sanctum only as a city-state, the Guardians have a state religion.

    Now, letís use real-world examples to hash this out. First off, there are many constitutional republics in the world without protection of free speech. Off the top of my head, I can immediately think of Canada, Britain, Germany, Spain, France, Greece, Russia, Japan and Australia. Some of those nations may not even have constitutions; I just know they donít have constitutional protection of free speech. In fact, the only two nations I can think of that possibly have constitutional protection of free speech other than the United States are New Zealand and Israel and I wouldnít put money on New Zealand. These are also nations without state religions and thus, donít exactly serve as the best analogue for the Guardians.

    A better real-world analogue of the Guardians may actually be found in countries like Iran. Iran has a state religion, it has members of its military and police that exist to enforce standards of behaviour among its citizenry (as the Guardians have inquisitors, Brother Jebiah comes to mind) and speaking out against either the state or the religion of the state are both viewed as heresy. These three key features perfectly describe both the governing attitude of the Guardians and Iran. These two groups even have enemies that they vilify with a strong emphasis on their religious differences! The Guardians have the Defiants and Iran has the Jews.

    ... Or just Israel if you donít want to take Ahmadinejad at his word. I do but I take it personally when people want to wipe me out, so I could be biased. Also, I promise Iím not comparing the Defiants to Jews. Well, not right now, but I do have a theory about the Eth! Right, anyway.

    Then thereís this, and this is my personal favourite argument against this argument and several others. The Guardians have a thing called the Vault of Heresy where they lock up people and things they find, you guessed it, heretical. Now Iím gonna go out on a limb here and say that anyone who has a Vault of Heresy is not very tolerant of people who disagree with them. I donít care if itís my Vault of Heresy, your Vault of Heresy or your cantankerous neighbour Fredís Vault of Heresy, any Vault of Heresy is not a monument to friendship, unity, caring and kindness.

    Ten points if you got the SNL reference.

    Iím even going to go so far to say that this group of people does not value the importance of unlimited free speech and if you faff around in their territory (read: Argent Glade) and say theyíre a bunch of big fat meanyheads and some of your bestest best friends are the people they hate with the burning fury of a thousand suns, you might find yourself with a big olí Guardian boot in the butt. Does that mean the Guardians are bad guys? No! It means they have a separate moral imperative from people who value liberty over the unification of a group of people.

    It is an easy mistake to make to assume that all peoples share the same desires and base urges. However, even in the real world this is not true. In America, we often view the expression of liberty (i.e. ďdoing whatever you wantĒ) as a moral act. In, for instance, China, someone who acts selfishly while largely disregarding the community is probably going to be considered a jerk without a lot of disagreement because they have a differing cultural view of morality. For the most part, there's nothing wrong with cultural definitions of morality.

    As anal-retentive as this all is and as long as this post has been to come here, I leave you with one last tip in addition to my immense appreciation for reading through all of this crap.

    To be better roleplayers and even better people, we must understand that culture is a product of deep-rooted anthropological influences and the greater the differences in influences between two cultures, the greater the difference in the members of those two cultures. In an objective sense, there is nothing inherently wrong with being an outlier in a culture. Outliers are ultimately how cultures evolve. While both great revolutionaries and great fools tend to live in opposition to their parent culture, their success is gauged not by how far from the norm they are, but how well and how tactfully they influence the world around them.

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    Ascendant Maeloda's Avatar
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    If people RP in Argent Glade as Defiant, I'd sure as hell expect them to play as an undercover agent of the Defiant (best played by the Eth), an ascended Defiant who has disregarded his own faction's beliefs (eg a bahmi who simply wants to live as a merchant and forget about his ascendancy), or a spy on the outskirts of the town, trying to find a way for the Defiant to break through the defenses and take it over.
    Things like that.

    But to RP as an open Defiant who just wants to hang with the Guardians while keeping full membership in the Defiants? Uh... no. You'll be jailed on sight. The Guardians will go after you, and they do NOT see the 'big picture' (and in fact if it wasn't for some Vigil influence from ones like Mariel-Taun, it would possibly be wholly totalitarian) - (while the Defiants are more scattered in structure, they often lack an organizational structure to more efficiently fight the dragons, so there's that).

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    RIFT Community Ambassador Talila's Avatar
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    I must say. This is one of the best long posts I've read for a long while. I agree with just about every word you say and I appreciate you putting this up because it really is one of the area's that keeps occurring in Roleplay (Read: In Argent Glade).
    Unfortunately I suspect that many of those people who like to think that they have free speech as a Guardian won't be reading these forums, but if it gets out to just one of them, I'd say this is a succeeded mission
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    Ascendant Maeloda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talila View Post
    I must say. This is one of the best long posts I've read for a long while. I agree with just about every word you say and I appreciate you putting this up because it really is one of the area's that keeps occurring in Roleplay (Read: In Argent Glade).
    Unfortunately I suspect that many of those people who like to think that they have free speech as a Guardian won't be reading these forums, but if it gets out to just one of them, I'd say this is a succeeded mission
    An ascended of the guardian races, even one who makes stops in Sanctum and does deeds for them, need not be SO restricted in 'free speech'. An ascended can still go on and do their own thing, as per lore.

    However, if one plans on their character strongly aligning to the Guardians and not just be affiliated, as well as if they plan on RPing in a largely Guardian land (Three Springs, Argent Glade), then they should be prepared to play the character as though he/she must be careful not to speak much ill of the Vigil, and to openly oppose the Defiant (whether they believe they are the enemy or not).

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    Shadowlander Antisthenes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maeloda View Post
    An ascended of the guardian races, even one who makes stops in Sanctum and does deeds for them, need not be SO restricted in 'free speech'. An ascended can still go on and do their own thing, as per lore.

    However, if one plans on their character strongly aligning to the Guardians and not just be affiliated, as well as if they plan on RPing in a largely Guardian land (Three Springs, Argent Glade), then they should be prepared to play the character as though he/she must be careful not to speak much ill of the Vigil, and to openly oppose the Defiant (whether they believe they are the enemy or not).
    See, that right there is my main point.

    Your character may not agree with the Guardians or even the Vigil, they don't have to. Hell, Jovan is technically an apostate in the eyes of the Guardians if just because he's more pro-Thontic than pro-Vigil, but guess what. He shuts up about that when he's around people who could burn his *** down for speaking his mind.

    That's how restricted speech works. It's not restricted thought.

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    Plane Walker Xerokine's Avatar
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    I think Maeloda was pointing out that they are Ascended. They're immortal super-soldiers chosen directly by the gods, explicitly "not for their faith, but for their might". If an Ascended is walking down the streets of Silverwood and calls Cyril a ****, what is the mortal Bob Mathosian gonna do about it? Arrest him? One of the gods' Chosen? Call him out on it?

    "Hey, I know you're divinely empowered to save our world from destruction, but you should watch your tongue!"

    Yeah, that'll work. As Ascended, they're a tad above the law in a lot of cases.
    "I get up early. And I don't go to bed until I've made some very poor decisions."

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    RIFT Community Ambassador Talila's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maeloda View Post
    An ascended of the guardian races, even one who makes stops in Sanctum and does deeds for them, need not be SO restricted in 'free speech'. An ascended can still go on and do their own thing, as per lore.

    However, if one plans on their character strongly aligning to the Guardians and not just be affiliated, as well as if they plan on RPing in a largely Guardian land (Three Springs, Argent Glade), then they should be prepared to play the character as though he/she must be careful not to speak much ill of the Vigil, and to openly oppose the Defiant (whether they believe they are the enemy or not).
    I was hinting at the people that blatantly stand about saying negative things about the guardians as a whole, not the normal guardian ascended
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    RIFT Community Ambassador Talila's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xerokine View Post
    I think Maeloda was pointing out that they are Ascended. They're immortal super-soldiers chosen directly by the gods, explicitly "not for their faith, but for their might". If an Ascended is walking down the streets of Silverwood and calls Cyril a ****, what is the mortal Bob Mathosian gonna do about it? Arrest him? One of the gods' Chosen? Call him out on it?

    "Hey, I know you're divinely empowered to save our world from destruction, but you should watch your tongue!"

    Yeah, that'll work. As Ascended, they're a tad above the law in a lot of cases.
    Seen the council inside of Sanctum?
    Bob Mathosian can bring that ascended to the council (their name eludes me right now) and they can deem an ascended to spend an eternity in the Vault of Heresy. You get to see it in action during the Water Saga questline.
    I went off to FFXIV. Here's my blog.

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    General of Telara Siegmund's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talila View Post
    Seen the council inside of Sanctum?
    Bob Mathosian can bring that ascended to the council (their name eludes me right now) and they can deem an ascended to spend an eternity in the Vault of Heresy. You get to see it in action during the Water Saga questline.
    Might have had something to do with the fact you nearly killed Scotty and slaughtered some runeguard while under the influence of the abyssal.

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    Banned AsphyxZero's Avatar
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    Do you like elm or oak?

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    Shadowlander Antisthenes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AsphyxZero View Post
    Do you like elm or oak?
    I'm more of a sequoia man.

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    Telaran Scizor's Avatar
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    Hey! Norway has a constitution, and free speak, and christianity as the state religion.

    Anyway, I think, yes Bob Mathosian can report it to the council. But unless it's reported, Ascended have kind of free speech. But if you are smart, you dont go to a center for guardians and say "Guardians suck, go magitech!" without excpecting jail, or at least a Guardian boot in your booty.

    Oh, and I like oak. Prof. Oak
    Last edited by Scizor; 08-14-2011 at 08:50 AM.

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    Shadowlander Antisthenes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scizor View Post
    Anyway, I think, yes Bob Mathosian can report it to the council. But unless it's reported, Ascended have kind of free speech. But if you are smart, you dont go to a center for guardians and say "Guardians suck, go magitech!" without excpecting jail, or at least a Guardian boot in your booty.
    What you're describing is not free speech. One of the tests of "is it free speech" is whether or not you can dissent without being punished. If you can't, then it's not free speech.

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    Rift Master Tarshana's Avatar
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    As much as I agree with you on this.. in the long run it won't matter. RP'ers, by nature, love attention. They'll get it any way they can and justify it. And there are zero IC ramifications for heretical behavior :/
    Last edited by Tarshana; 08-14-2011 at 01:11 PM.

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    Shadowlander Antisthenes's Avatar
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    While the above point is completely true and while I did take it into consideration when writing this post, look at it this way:

    With the right reasoning behind what us smart people can think, we can look down on all the "LOOK AT MEEEEEE" roleplayers with an enjoyable, haughty air of self-importance. In the end, isn't that really all that matters?

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