Blog entry by Joanne Chuang
Anyone in the world
"Words have consequences 謹言慎行 " 是2021年至今新聞中最常聽到的一句話。何故呢？嗯…原因很多。本週，川普總統將面臨第二次彈劾審訊 ( 這是首位被彈劾兩次的美國總統 ) - 川普被控煽動群眾襲擊國會大廈。關於我的一件事少有人知，在我學習成為一位英語老師之前，我曾主修法律。現在看看在美國挑唆暴動的相關法條，我認為川普不太可能會因為他所說的話而入獄，他並未直接叫唆暴民前去襲擊國會大廈，儘管他號召群眾到場聚集，同時指控選舉舞弊才導致這場攻擊事件。川普仍可能會躲過牢獄之災 ( 至少就此事而言…，不過他被控的罪名還有很多 )。他也可能躲過彈劾，因為需要2/3的多數票通過方能定罪，眾議院共和黨人不太可能背棄川普。然而，正如國會大廈暴動事件所示：言語出格的確會付出代價。
"Words have consequences" is a phrase much-heard in the news so far in 2021. Why? Well the reasons are many. This week, President Trump will face his second impeachment trial (the first time a US President has ever been impeached twice) - he stands accused of inciting a crowd to attack the Capitol Building. A little known fact about me is that, before I studied to be an English teacher, I studied to be a lawyer. And looking at the law on inciting a riot in the U.S, I think it's unlikely Trump will go to jail for what he said - he did not directly tell the rioters to attack the Capitol, even if he did call them to be there, to amass, and it was his accusation that the election was stolen that led to the attack. Trump may escape jail (at least for this crime - there are lots of others he is accused of). He may also escape impeachment as, with a 2/3 majority required for a conviction, house Republicans are unlikely to turn on Trump. But, as the Capitol riot shows, words do have consequences.
現在川普已被禁用 Twitter。我知道這點在西方、及特別是在台灣極具爭議。我聽到很多言論認為這近似於中國的審查制度，這些憂慮非常合理。言論自由是否能無限上綱呢？難道我們不能暢所欲言？實際上，在台灣乃至整個西方國家，已經有法律限制民眾的言論 - 我們不能煽動暴力。也有法律明訂：若我們對某人或某事言語不實，導致對方情感上或財務上的損害，稱之為 'slander 誹謗'。那霸凌呢 ? 用言語攻擊他人，通常被稱為 'assault 侵犯人身'。關於自由有一項通則：我們的自由當以不得妨害他人的自由為前提。言論需要付出代價！
Trump has now been banned on Twitter. I know this is very controversial, in the west, and especially in Taiwan. I have heard many calls that this is akin to the state censorship we see in China. These are legitimate concerns. How far does free speech go? Are we not free to say anything we want? Well, actually, in Taiwan, and the western world as a whole, we already have laws preventing people from saying things - we cannot incite violence. There are also laws that mean we can be sued if we lie about someone or their business, and this damages them emotionally or financially (called 'slander'). What about bullying? Attacking others with words is often called 'assault'. There is a general rule about freedom - we can have it, but not if it damages the freedoms of others. Words have consequences.
是否該容許在網路煽動暴力？在網路散佈不實謠言和誹謗他人？八成不行！然而，對言論自由的限制該做到什麼程度？我們的確希望擁有批判政府、決策、或不同意他人觀點的自由。其實有個簡單的解答：不得以暴力脅迫 ( 當然，在現實生活中也同理 )。我們仍可以發表絕大多數的言論，只要我們表明這是個人觀點；川普可以說：" I THINK the election was stolen 我認為選舉造假 "，沒問題！這是他個人意見。但，他不可以說 "the election was stolen 選舉舞弊 "，在沒有實證的情況下把它當成事實闡述。我們已有一個查核事實的網站，名為Wikipedia 維基百科，不允許民眾張貼不實言論或在無實證情況下陳述事件。在Wikipedia 網頁上，未經引證、參考出處的文章很快會被 AI人工智能或人工編輯者移除。或許FB臉書、Twitter推特上的貼文也該以同樣標準處置？把想法當成意見陳述當然沒問題，但若將其視為事實散佈，請準備接受事實查核！
Should we be allowed to incite violence online? Should we be allowed to lie and slander others online? Probably not. But how far do we restrict freedom of speech? We do want to be able to criticise the government, or policy, or disagree with people. There is a simple solution however: no we cannot threaten violence (we cannot do that in real life on the street either), but we can say most things as long as we say it is an opinion: Trump could say "I THINK the election was stolen" - no problem - it is just his opinion. He cannot say, "the election was stolen", presenting it as a fact without real evidence. We already have a website that fact-checks and does not allow people to post lies or present facts without evidence: it is called Wikipedia. On Wikipedia, facts that are not referenced with evidence are quickly removed by AI bots or human editors. Perhaps our FB or Twitter posts need to be held to the same standard? Present an idea as an opinion - no problem, but if you want to say it IS true - prepare to be fact-checked!
川普與其團隊主張選舉造假其中一個重要論調是聲稱投票機被駭、有瑕疵、不可靠。他們經常隨意地提出這些主張，並被像Fox新聞等支持川普的右派新聞媒體所接受引用。然而這些主張未具實證， 現在這些投票機企業主正在控告 Fox 新聞、川普的律師 Rudy Guliani、甚至是川普本人，求償高達數十億美元。我們確實已有辦法對謊言和不實言論進行事實查核，就是所謂的法律，對於妄顧法律之徒來說，代價可能所費不貲。畢竟，空口不能說白話，言論需要付出代價。
A big part of Trump and his teams' assertion that the election was stolen, was claims that the voting machines were hacked, flawed or otherwise not reliable. They made these claims often and freely, and they were taken up by right-wing news outlets like Fox News that support Trump. But these claims had no evidence, and now the owners of those voting machine companies are suing Fox News and Trump's lawyer Rudy Guliani, and possibly Trump himself, for billions of dollars. We do already have a way to fact-check lies and false claims - it is called the law, and it can be very expensive for those who abuse it. Words have consequences.
But something far worse has happened as a consequence of Trump's attempt to undermine the US election. Recently, in Myanmar, the military did not like the result of the election which saw its preferred party receive a very low vote. They immediately claimed election fraud, mimicking exactly what Donald Trump said - and seized power. It is now a fear that any dictator that does not like it when democracy does not give them the result they want, will simply claim that there is election fraud, and dismiss democracy entirely. This is a real danger. Democratic countries like the US and Taiwan need to be a shining example to the rest of the world of how democracy can work - but the US has recently not been a good example. Authoritarian regimes will grasp any excuse to dismiss democracy as flawed and unworkable. This may be the most serious consequence of Trump's words.
如何記住 'consequence 後果' 這個字呢 ? 這是一個相當難的英語單字 ! 拉丁文原字 'consequetia' 意思是 'follow closely 緊跟在後'。我們可以在其中看到 'sequence 序列' 一字，意思是事情接連發生，不過， 'sequence 序列' 這個字也不簡單，其中又暗藏 'queue 行列' 一字，這是一個我永遠拼不出來的單字 ( Luiz：當真 ? 竟有牛津英語大師 Matt Townend 拼不出來的字？Matt：其實有好些個，你的名字就是其一！) 。不過，以上這些字都不能幫助我們記住完整的單字。是時候用一些中文來幫助記憶了 ! 'Con' 聽起來像中文的 'Kan 看'，而 'sequ' 看來像中文的 'cike 刺客'，讓我們利用這點 ! 而 'ence' 則是像 'an si 暗室'。我從中看到一個故事了！記住這個句子...
So how to remember the word 'consequence' - it is a pretty hard English word! The original word ('consequetia' in latin) means 'follow closely'. We can see the word 'sequence' inside it - meaning one thing happening and then another - but 'sequence' is also a hard word. The word 'queue' is also hiding in there, which is a word I can never spell (Luiz - really? There is a word the great Oxford Master Matt Townend cannot spell? Matt - there are several actually, one of them is your name!). But none of this will really help us remember it. Time to use some Chinese instead! 'Con' sounds like 'Kan' in Chinese (see), and 'sequ' sounds like 'cike' (assassin) in Chinese, so let's use that! 'ence' sounds like 'an si' (dark room). I see a story here! Remember this sentence…
在暗室中看到刺客會有後果...Kan 看 + cike 刺客 + an si 暗室 = consequence 後果 !
Seeing an assassin in a dark room has consequences... Kan + cike + an si = consequence!
呼~ 這麼久以來這算是最難的記憶技巧之一 ! 祝大家新年快樂 ! 謹記...言論需要付出代價 !
Phew! That was one of the hardest mnemonics we have made in a long time! Happy Chinese New Year everyone, and remember... words have consequences!
[ Modified: Thursday, 11 February 2021, 5:49 PM ]