Archive for the ‘Free Speech’ Category

With a disgraceful new bill whose public consultation has just closed

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scottish-government logo A public consultation has closed on changes to Scotland’s hate crime laws that will diminish free speech even further.The plans to make it a criminal offence to stir up hatred, criticise or insult anyone based on their age, disability, religion, sexual orientation or transgender identity.

The bill will massively step up the definitions of what people are not allowed to stay lest it be considered insulting to easily offended identity groups, particularly sensitive religions. The bill also extends from people’s words into the possession of material that might be considered critical of sensitive identity groups.

The disgraceful bill has been opposed by many particularly the most effected, like newspapers.

Opposition to the bill has united the Catholic Church and the National Secular Society in opposition to the plans – along with academics, playwrights and newspaper columnists who all say they fear the proposed legislation will pose a threat to their freedom of speech. For example comedians could become too frightened to dare make a joke about a Scotsman, an Englishman and an Irishman walking into a bar.

The public were invited to make their views known to the Scottish parliament’s justice committee before midnight on 24 July.

Amanda Millar, president of the Law Society of Scotland, said:

It was right that laws provide a clear message that hatred should have no place in our society. However, we have significant reservations regarding a number of the bill’s provisions and the lack of clarity, which could in effect lead to restrictions in freedom of expression, one of the foundations of a democratic society. We have real concerns that certain behaviour, views expressed or even an actor’s performance, which might well be deemed insulting or offensive, could result in a criminal conviction under the terms of the bill as currently drafted.

Scottish Labour criticised the offence of stirring up hatred and accused ministers of failing to learn the lessons of the repealed Offensive Behaviour at Football Act. The party’s justice spokesman James Kelly said:

There is a significant divergence from similar law in England and Wales where intent is required for a person to be criminalised for behaviour which another finds insulting. Under the current proposals, the law here would not require this intent to be present – which sets an alarming legal precedent and could result in the criminalisation of expressions of religious views.

In its submission to Holyrood’s Justice Committee, the Scottish Newspaper Society warned that it contained highly dangerous measures which pose a serious threat to freedom of expression in its broadest sense. The organisation’s director, John McLellan, said it had the potential to provoke a string of vexatious complaints against journalists and columnists, which could then lead to police investigations. He raised further concerns about provisions against communicating insulting material:

It would also be an offence to distribute it, which potentially could see newspaper delivery boys and girls, or shops, fall foul of the law.

Allowing courts to direct the destruction of material had echoes of darker times and could lead to the banning of books or censorship of the internet, he warned.

He added that JK Rowling, who has recently faced a deluge of criticism from transgender rights activists after she expressed her views online, would almost certainly have seen her subjected to a police investigation had the proposed law been in force.

Twitter proves that there is a liberal elite silencing the right

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Black Round w/USA Q - Where We Go One We Go All Sticker Twitter’s threat to shadowban accounts and hashtags linked to the pro-Trump QAnon movement has merely validated followers’ fears that they are being controlled by a liberal elite.The US conspiracy theory (really an ecosystem of interlinked conspiracy theories) is centered around the cryptic disclosures of a supposedly high-ranking government employee going by the moniker Q.

The supporters believe that the eponymous Q is posting coded messages online to inform Trump’s supporters about a secret war against the right, and preparing them for an imminent event in which the president overthrows the evil cabal and imprisons its members.Generally they believe that Donald Trump is fighting against a secretive and evil global cabal, members of which include former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and the billionaire liberal philanthropist George Soros, who both have been hate figures for the American political right for many years.

Twitter’s thread vowing to take further action on QAnon activity across the service induced a collective persecution-complex orgasm across the Q community, who mostly interpreted the deplatforming threat as an admission that QAnon was every bit the threat to the ruling power structure they’ve always believed they were.

The company warned some 150,000 accounts will be affected by the new rule, implying that sharing QAnon content is behavior that has the potential to lead to offline harm. Tellingly, they didn’t cite any specific incidents, and mainstream media that have reported on the ban don’t seem to care what harm has in fact resulted from the fevered speculation over cryptic Q breadcrumbs.

Read more uk_internet_censors.htm at MelonFarmers.co.uk

tory exit 1 The Daily Mail writes:

Totalitarian-style new online code that could block websites and fine them 2£20million for harmful content will not limit press freedom, Culture Secretary promises

Government proposals have sparked fears that they could backfire and turn Britain into the first Western nation to adopt the kind of censorship usually associated with totalitarian regimes.

Former culture secretary John Whittingdale drew parallels with China, Russia and North Korea. Matthew Lesh of the Adam Smith Institute, a free market think-tank, branded the white paper a historic attack on freedom of speech.

[However] draconian laws designed to tame the web giants will not limit press freedom, the Culture Secretary said yesterday.

In a letter to the Society of Editors, Jeremy Wright vowed that journalistic or editorial content would not be affected by the proposals.

And he reassured free speech advocates by saying there would be safeguards to protect the role of the Press.

But as for the safeguarding the free speech rights of ordinary British internet users, he more or less told them they could fuck off!

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uk music love In 15 days’ time, MEPs will again vote on censorship machines and link tax in copyright proposals of Article 13. The legislation would see platforms such as YouTube compelled to introduce upload filters, to prevent unlicensed content being offered to the public. A new ‘Love Music’ campaign, bankrolled by powerful industry players, aims to ensure a thumbs-up from MEPs. But the opposition is out, in force.

In 2016, the European Commission announced plans to modernize EU copyright law, something that was to later develop into a worldwide controversy. A major part of the proposal is Article 13, a text that aims to make online services liable for uploaded content unless they take effective and proportionate measures to prevent copyright infringements. The implication is that platforms such as YouTube would be compelled to implement upload filtering and then proactively monitor to prevent future infringing uploads.

The #LOVEMUSIC campaign site asks visitors to add their signature to the Make Internet Fair petition, which calls on EU decision-makers to recognize that platforms like YouTube are involved in reproducing and making our works available under copyright laws and ensure that the safe harbor non-liability regime does not apply to them as it is meant for technical intermediaries only.

While most protests are taking place on the Internet, the platform that will be most affected by Article 13, opponents of the proposed legislation have been urged to gather in public too. Julia Reda MEP previously published details of a day of action to take place yesterday in various locations around Europe, but that will be just the tip of the protest iceberg as September 12th draws closer.

Following their shock defeat in July, major players in the music industry called foul, claiming that the protests had been automated and organized by big tech, something addressed by Reda recently. She wrote:

They’re claiming the protest was all fake, generated by bots and orchestrated by big internet companies. According to them, Europeans don’t actually care about their freedom of expression.

We don’t actually care about EU lawmaking enough to make our voices heard. We will just stand idly by as our internet is restricted to serve corporate interests.

To prove these predictions wrong, one of the focal points of the ‘NO’ campaign is a Change.org petition . At the time of writing it has in excess of 951,000 signatories, with the million target probably just a few days away.

But it is not just the music companies that are ‘Love Censorship’. Journalists from 20 countries joined the call for European MPs to approve the censorship proposals. News companies also see the article 13 censorship rules as helping them to claim more money from the internet giants.An open letter signed by more than 100 prominent journalists from major news outlets warns that the internet companies are fleecing of the media of their rightful revenue was morally and democratically unjustifiable. The letter written by AFP foreign correspondent Sammy Ketz says:

We have become targets and our reporting missions cost more and more. Yet, even though (the media) pay for the content and send the journalists who will risk their lives to produce a trustworthy, thorough and diverse news service, it is not they who reap the profits but the internet platforms, which help themselves without paying a cent.

It is as if a stranger came along and shamelessly snatched the fruits of your labour.

Critics, however, argue the reform will lead to blanket censorship by tech platforms that have become an online hub for creativity, especially YouTube. They say it will also restrict the usage of memes and remixes by everyday internet surfers.

Unfortunately the numbers taking to the street in protests yesterday weren’t too great. Between 80 and 150 people came to the protest in Berlin, according to various estimates, but most other events seemed to have fewer than two dozen. Based on photographs shared online, it seems that all of the protests combined drew between 500 and 800 people in total.

It would be foolish to expect a million people to take to the streets over copyright legislation, and the lack of protest doesn’t prove that Europeans don’t object to Article 13. Certainly, some do. But the actual number seems smaller than hoped.

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scarborough spa complexUp until this week, I had never heard of a man with the username Sargon of Akkad. Apparently, he is a political YouTube blogger, and seems to have an opinion on everything.

From my research, he is disliked by the far right and the far left. He gives his opinions in an honest way and invites debate. Nothing I have seen so far shows he is a hateful person. A lot of what he says I totally disagree with, but he certainly has a right to say it.

I heard of him because he was due to appear last week at Scarborough Spa. The event was cancelled following a risk assessment. The risk appears to be a campaign by a local left wing group to stop him appearing, and it worked.

Labour councillor Rob Barnett said: Scarborough Spa are to be congratulated for refusing to allow their stage to be used. We don’t need division — we need unity to fight for a better society.

Obviously, the society that Mr Barnett wants is one where censorship rules over freedom of speech. I find it very worrying that a political group should seek to censor those who do not agree with them.

…Read the full article from yorkshirepost.co.uk

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alison chabloz videoA woman has been convicted for performing offensive songs that included lyrics denying the Holocaust.Alison Chabloz sang her compositions at a meeting of the far-right London Forum group.

A judge at Westminster Magistrates’ Court found Chabloz had violated laws criminalising offence and intended to insult Jewish people.

District judge John Zani delayed her sentencing until 14 June but told the court: On the face of it this does pass the custody threshold.

Chabloz, a Swiss-British dual national, had uploaded tunes to YouTube including one defining the Nazi death camp Auschwitz as a theme park just for fools and the gas chambers a proven hoax. The songs remain available on YouTube.

The songs were partly set to traditional Jewish folk music, with lyrics like: Did the Holocaust ever happen? Was it just a bunch of lies? Seems that some intend to pull the wool over our eyes.

Adrian Davies, defending, previously told the judge his ruling would be a landmark one, setting a precedent on the exercise of free speech.

But Judge Zani said Chabloz failed by some considerable margin to persuade the court that her right to freedom of speech should provide her with immunity from prosecution. He said:

I am entirely satisfied that she will have intended to insult those to whom the material relates. Having carefully considered all evidence received and submissions made, I am entirely satisfied that the prosecution has proved beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty.

Chabloz was convicted of two counts of causing an offensive, indecent or menacing message to be sent over a public communications network after performing two songs at a London Forum event in 2016. As there wa nothing indecent or menacing in the songs, Chabloz was convicted for an offensive message.

See The Britisher for an eloquent and passionate defence of free speech.