Category Archive 'Freedom of Speech'

27 Oct 2018

EU Court of Human Rights Upholds Ban on Defaming the Prophet Muhammed, “Not Free Expression”

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Alphonse de Neuville, Count Roland Behaving Insensitively at Roncesvalles, 1894

AA:

STRASBOURG

Defaming the Prophet Muhammed “goes beyond the permissible limits of an objective debate” and “could stir up prejudice and put at risk religious peace” and thus exceeds the permissible limits of freedom of expression, ruled the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Thursday, upholding a lower court decision.

The decision by a seven-judge panel came after an Austrian national identified as Mrs. S. held two seminars in 2009, entitled “Basic Information on Islam,” in which she defamed the Prophet Muhammad’s marriage.

According to a statement released by the court on Thursday, the Vienna Regional Criminal Court found that these statements implied that Muhammad had pedophilic tendencies, and in February 2011 convicted Mrs. S. for disparaging religious doctrines.

She was fined €480 (aprox. $547) and the costs of the proceedings.

“Mrs. S. appealed but the Vienna Court of Appeal upheld the decision in December 2011, confirming, in essence, the lower court’s findings. A request for the renewal of the proceedings was dismissed by the Supreme Court on 11 December 2013,” it said.

“Relying on Article 10 (freedom of expression), Mrs. S. complained that the domestic courts failed to address the substance of the impugned statements in the light of her right to freedom of expression.”

On today’s ruling, the ECHR said it “found in particular that the domestic courts comprehensively assessed the wider context of the applicant’s statements and carefully balanced her right to freedom of expression with the right of others to have their religious feelings protected, and served the legitimate aim of preserving religious peace in Austria.”

The court held “that by considering the impugned statements as going beyond the permissible limits of an objective debate and classifying them as an abusive attack on the Prophet of Islam, which could stir up prejudice and put at risk religious peace, the domestic courts put forward relevant and sufficient reasons.”

The statement also added that there had been no violation of Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights, covering freedom of expression.

How could you possibly oppose Brexit?

19 Aug 2018

Liberals and Free Speech

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Kevin D. Williamson puts the hundreds of newspaper editorials recently deploring Donald Trump’s criticisms of the establishment media into proper perspective.

If we want a culture of open and robust discourse, then we do not want a culture in which Brendan Eich is driven from his job for having an unpopular view on gay marriage. If we want a culture of open and robust discourse, then we do not want a culture in which there is an organized-campaign-style effort to have journalists dismissed from their positions for holding unpopular views, or a boycott every time the New York Times or the Washington Post (or, I suppose, The Atlantic) adds a columnist who is not likely to please the Bernie Sanders Campaign Historical Re-enactors Society at Reed College. It is true that none of these things is a formal violation of the First Amendment, because the First Amendment is a restriction on what kind of laws the federal government may enact. But calling CNN’s daily output “fake news” isn’t a violation of the First Amendment, either.

What’s actually at work here is a variation on “Heads I Win/Tails You Lose.” When the Left wants to stop an unpopular speaker from delivering remarks at Berkeley, then that’s just meeting speech with more speech and some firebombs. And, it’s true: There isn’t any First Amendment reason why you can’t have a riot at Berkeley every time Ann Coulter gets invited to speak there. But there are all sorts of other reasons.

If there is going to be more to freedom of speech than “Congress shall make no law” — which is what we should want — then that has to be true for everyone.

Freedom of the press is not some special license granted to organizations that incorporate as media companies. There is no intellectually defensible model of free expression that protects the editorial page of the New York Times but not Hillary: The Movie. Of course, it’s easy to think of a pretext for suppressing communication you don’t like: If you don’t like what Citizens United is saying, then you shut it down with “campaign finance reform,” which, we should remember, worked — until the Supreme Court stopped it. If you don’t like that oil companies fund organizations that criticize global-warming policies, then you claim that this amounts to “securities fraud.” If you don’t like that the NRA is an effective advocate for its positions, you use banking regulations to hamstring it financially. Don’t like somebody’s social or religious views? “Hate speech.” Easy as that.

We don’t need conjecture: We’ve seen how this goes. The Obama administration used the Espionage Act to punish whistleblowers, spy on journalists, and interfere with reporting it didn’t want done. Under Obama, the IRS targeted conservative nonprofits for harassment and more under the guise of enforcing the tax code — and it illegally disclosed private information about an advocacy group that irritated Democrats. The same people demand the power to set the terms for political debate, saying they want to “keep money out of politics,” a claim that it is impossible for any mentally functional adult to take very seriously.

Freedom of the press does not mean extending special privileges, legal or customary, to the New York Times and CNN. And freedom of speech means a lot more than the absence of formal censorship by the federal government. Formal protections for free speech are important and necessary, but they do not amount to very much without a free-speech culture to back them up.

A must read.

07 Mar 2016

Kos Shutting Down Hillary-Deviationism as of March 15th

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SovietPoster

That freedom of speech and thought stuff is all very well, but nowhere near as important no how as the ultimate Victory of the Glorious People’s Revolution.

Kos himself is consequently laying down the Party Line. Hillary is going to be the democrat (aka communist) party nominee. You will all support Hillary, and you will all refrain from criticizing Hillary, or else!

[O]n March 15:

I will no longer tolerate malicious attacks on our presumptive presidential nominee or our presidential efforts. What does that mean?

No attacks on Hillary Clinton using right-wing tropes of sources. She’s had 30 years of bullshit flung at her from the Right, there’s no need to have Daily Kos give them an assist.

Constructive criticism from the Left is allowed. There’s a difference between constructive and destructive criticism. Do I need to spell it out? It’s the difference between “We need to put pressure on her to do the right thing on TPP” versus “she’s a sell-out corporatist whore oligarch.” In general, if you’re resorting to cheap sloganeering like “oligarch” or “warmonger” or “neocon”, you might want to reframe your argument in a more substantive, issue-focused and constructive matter. Again, I’m not interested in furthering the Right’s hate-fueled media machine. If that’s what you want, might I suggest Free Republic?

Saying you won’t vote, or will vote for Trump, or will vote for Jill Stein (or another Third Party) is not allowed. If that’s how you feel, but have other places in which you can be constructive on the site, then keep your presidential feelings to yourself. Those of us who care about our country and it’s future are focused on victory. If you aren’t, then it’s a big internet, I suggest you find more hospitable grounds for your huffing, puffing, and stomping of feet.

If you are going to be pessimistic, you better support it. There’s a difference between “Clinton can’t beat Trump” and “Clinton can’t beat Trump in Alabama”. There is also a difference between the blanket “Clinton can’t beat Trump” and “Looking at the polling, I’m worried that Clinton is falling behind Trump because X, Y, and Z”. Obviously, that also applies to races and issues down the ballot, not just the presidential. If you are going to be a Debbie-Downer, you better have a damn good reason to justify your pessimism. Rank, unsupported pessimism is anathema to our data-driven, reality based culture.

No re-litigating the primary. I don’t give a shit what Clinton or Sanders said in the primary anymore. It’s over. Move on. Again, if it’s not over on March 15 because Sanders has narrowed his delegate deficit, then this doesn’t apply. But once this primary is over, it’s over. Anyone who is interested in keeping our primary divisions open and festering can go do that somewhere else (and be as relevant as the 2008-vintage PUMAs were).

Battle “the establishment” where it makes sense. So you are angry at the establishment? Go stick it to the man in downballot races where there good anti-establishment candidates on the ballot, like the Maryland Senate race and
Donna Edwards. To be clear, Daily Kos will depart from recent practice by endorsing all Senate candidates that want our help, because the Supreme Court is just that important. But you, as individuals, have choices, and you can direct your energy and money to those candidates who are more closely aligned with your values. And we will battle the establishment together on things like the primary calendar and superdelegates. But we pick our battles, and in many places, the establishment will be our allies. Or to paraphrase some dumbfuck, we go to election season with the party we have, not the one we wish we had.

We are really in this together. I know there have been rough fights, and some community members have been terrible to each other. But consider this a sorts of amnesty period. Let bygones be bygones. Don’t bring in comments from past battles into new ones. Wipe the slate clean, and let’s move forward together as allies, not enemies or, at worst, frenemies.

When Kos and his friends really win, deviationists will be taken to State Security Headquarters and executed with a pistol shot to the back of the neck.

09 Apr 2015

Princeton Votes For Freedom of Speech

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NassauHallPrincetonUniversi
Nassau Hall, Princeton University

The faculty of Princeton voted earlier this week to adopt the principles of the 1967 University of Chicago Kalven Report, affirming the principles of academic freedom and freedom of speech within the university community.

First Things:

Education should not be intended to make people comfortable, it is meant to make them think. Universities should be expected to provide the conditions within which hard thought, and therefore strong disagreement, independent judgment, and the questioning of stubborn assumptions, can flourish in an environment of the greatest freedom.’ . . . Because the University is committed to free and open inquiry in all matters, it guarantees all members of the University community the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn. Except insofar as limitations on that freedom are necessary to the functioning of the University, the University of Chicago fully respects and supports the freedom of all members of the University community ‘to discuss any problem that presents itself.’ Of course, the ideas of different members of the University community will often and quite naturally conflict. But it is not the proper role of the University to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive. Although the University greatly values civility, and although all members of the University community share in the responsibility for maintaining a climate of mutual respect, concerns about civility and mutual respect can never be used as a justification for closing off discussion of ideas, however offensive or disagreeable those ideas may be to some members of our community.

The freedom to debate and discuss the merits of competing ideas does not, of course, mean that individuals may say whatever they wish, wherever they wish. The University may restrict expression that violates the law, that falsely defames a specific individual, that constitutes a genuine threat or harassment, that unjustifiably invades substantial privacy or confidentiality interests, or that is otherwise directly incompatible with the functioning of the University. In addition, the University may reasonably regulate the time, place, and manner of expression to ensure that it does not disrupt the ordinary activities of the University. But these are narrow exceptions to the general principle of freedom of expression, and it is vitally important that these exceptions never be used in a manner that is inconsistent with the University’s commitment to a completely free and open discussion of ideas. In a word, the University’s fundamental commitment is to the principle that debate or deliberation may not be suppressed because the ideas put forth are thought by some or even by most members of the University community to be offensive, unwise, immoral, or wrong-headed. It is for the individual members of the University community, not for the University as an institution, to make those judgments for themselves, and to act on those judgments not by seeking to suppress speech, but by openly and vigorously contesting the ideas that they oppose.

Indeed, fostering the ability of members of the University community to engage in such debate and deliberation in an effective and responsible manner is an essential part of the University’s educational mission. As a corollary to the University’s commitment to protect and promote free expression, members of the University community must also act in conformity with the principle of free expression. Although members of the University community are free to criticize and contest the views expressed on campus, and to criticize and contest speakers who are invited to express their views on campus, they may not obstruct or otherwise interfere with the freedom of others to express views they reject or even loathe. To this end, the University has a solemn responsibility not only to promote a lively and fearless freedom of debate and deliberation, but also to protect that freedom when others attempt to restrict it.

Freedom of Expression at Yale was affirmed by the 1975 Woodward Report.


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