Posts Tagged ‘Free Speech’

Read more me_internet.htm at MelonFarmers.co.uk

webfoundation 0300x0078 0297x0077 logo Speaking at the Web Summit conference in Lisbon, Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, has launched a campaign to persuade governments, companies and individuals to sign a Contract for the Web with a set of principles intended to defend a free and open internet.Contract for the Web CORE PRINCIPLES

The web was designed to bring people together and make knowledge freely available. Everyone has a role to play to ensure the web serves humanity. By committing to the following principles, governments, companies and citizens around the world can help protect the open web as a public good and a basic right for everyone.

GOVERNMENTS WILL

  • Ensure everyone can connect to the internet so that anyone, no matter who they are or where they live, can participate actively online.
  • Keep all of the internet available, all of the time so that no one is denied their right to full internet access.
  • Respect people’s fundamental right to privacy so everyone can use the internet freely, safely and without fear.

COMPANIES WILL

  • Make the internet affordable and accessible to everyone so that no one is excluded from using and shaping the web.
  • Respect consumers’ privacy and personal data so people are in control of their lives online.
  • Develop technologies that support the best in humanity and challenge the worst so the web really is a public good that puts people first.

CITIZENS WILL

  • Be creators and collaborators on the web so the web has rich and relevant content for everyone.
  • Build strong communities that respect civil discourse and human dignity so that everyone feels safe and welcome online.
  • Fight for the web so the web remains open and a global public resource for people everywhere, now and in the future.

We commit to uphold these principles and to engage in a deliberative process to build a full “Contract for the Web”, which will set out the roles and responsibilities of governments, companies and citizens. The challenges facing the web today are daunting and affect us in all our lives, not just when we are online. But if we work together and each of us takes responsibility for our actions, we can protect a web that truly is for everyone.See more from fortheweb.webfoundation.org

Advertisements
Read more news.htm at MelonFarmers.co.uk

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.

Read more uk_internet_censors.htm at MelonFarmers.co.uk

count dankula pug video A man who filmed a pet dog giving Nazi salutes before putting the footage on YouTube has been convicted of committing a hate crime.Mark Meechan recorded his girlfriend’s pug, Buddha, responding to statements such as gas the Jews and Sieg Heil by raising its paw.

It is interesting to note that the British press carefully avoided informing readers of Meechan’s now well known Youtube name, Count Dankula.

The original clip had been viewed more than three million times on YouTube. It is still online on Youtube albeit in restricted mode where it is not included in searches and comments are not accepted.

Meechan went on trial at Airdrie Sheriff Court where he denied any wrong doing. He insisted he made the video, which was posted in April 2016, to annoy his girlfriend Suzanne Kelly, 29.

But Sheriff Derek O’Carroll found him guilty of a charge under the Communications Act that he posted a video on social media and YouTube which O’Carroll claimed to be grossly offensive because it was anti-semitic and racist in nature and was aggravated by religious prejudice.

Meechan will be sentenced on 23rd April but has hinted in social media that court officials are looking into some sort of home arrest option.

Comedian Ricky Gervais took to Twitter to comment on the case after the verdict. He tweeted:

A man has been convicted in a UK court of making a joke that was deemed ‘grossly offensive’. If you don’t believe in a person’s right to say things that you might find ‘grossly offensive’, then you don’t believe in Freedom of Speech.

Yorkshire MP Philip Davies has demanded a debate on freedom of speech. Speaking in the House of Commons, hesaid:

We guard our freedom of speech in this House very dearly indeed…but we don’t often allow our constituents the same freedoms. Can we have a debate about freedom of speech in this country – something this country has long held dear and is in danger of throwing away needlessly?

Andrea Leadsom, leader of the Commons, responded that there are limits to free speech:

I absolutely commend (Mr Davies) for raising this very important issue. We do of course fully support free speech …HOWEVER… there are limits to it and he will be aware there are laws around what you are allowed to say and I don’t know the circumstances of his specific point, but he may well wish to seek an adjournment debate to take this up directly with ministers.

Comment: Freedom of expression includes the right to offend

index logo See article from indexoncensorship.org

Index on Censorship condemns the decision by a Scottish court to convict a comedian of a hate crime for teaching his girlfriend’s dog a Nazi salute.

Mark Meechan, known as Count Dankula, was found guilty on Tuesday of being grossly offensive, under the UK’s Communications Act of 2003. Meechan could be sentenced with up to six months in prison and be required to pay a fine.

Index disagrees fundamentally with the ruling by the Scottish Sheriff Appeals Court. According to the Daily Record, Judge Derek O’Carroll ruled: The description of the video as humorous is no magic wand. This court has taken the freedom of expression into consideration. But the right to freedom of expression also comes with responsibility. Defending everyone’s right to free speech must include defending the rights of those who say things we find shocking or offensive

Index on Censorship chief executive Jodie Ginsberg said: Numerous rulings by British and European courts have affirmed that freedom of expression includes the right to offend. Defending everyone’s right to free speech must include defending the rights of those who say things we find shocking or offensive. Otherwise the freedom is meaningless.

One of the most noted judgements is from a 1976 European Court of Human Rights case, Handyside v. United Kingdom, which found: Freedom of expression206is applicable not only to ‘information’ or ‘ideas’ that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive or as a matter of indifference, but also to those that offend, shock or disturb the State or any sector of the population.

the britisher video Video Comment: Count Dankula has been found guilty

See video from YouTube by The Britisher

A powerful video response to another step in the decline of British free speech.

Read more news.htm at MelonFarmers.co.uk

kings college london logoHooded thugs have stormed a free speech event King’s College London, throwing smoke bombs and attacking security guards.

Believed to be part of the anti-facist movement, violent protesters forced their way into a lecture hall before setting off smoke bombs and smashing windows. Thugs grabbed the speaker’s microphone, while several security guards were punched during the melee.

A threatening note was also left for the compere.

Ten to 15 people dressed all in black, with black hoods and black face masks, leapt over the barriers and instantly engaged in a fight with two or three security guards, said witness Tristan Teller:

They tried to stop them but they just started punching them in the face. One guard, a grey-haired gentleman who looked to be in around 60, received several punches.

The event, which was organised by KCL Libertarian Society, saw YouTube personality Sargon of Akkad, real name Carl Benjamin, invited to speak alongside Ayn Rand Institute director Dr Yaron Brook.

The group were had dispersed by the time police arrived. There have been no reported injuries. No arrests. Enquiries continue.

Read more UK Government Watch at MelonFarmers.co.uk

nick clegg Nick Clegg has spoken of the irony of politicians who defend free speech and press freedom yet advocate a huge encroachment on the freedom of all British citizens.

In a key passage from his speech at the Journalists’ Charity, Clegg said:

The irony appears to be lost on some politicians who say in one breath that they will defend freedom of expression and then in the next advocate a huge encroachment on the freedom of all British citizens.

Let me be really clear , we have every right to invade the privacy of terrorists and those we think want to do us harm, but we should not equate that with invading the privacy of every single person in the UK. They are not the same thing.

The so-called snoopers’ charter is not targeted. It’s not proportionate. It’s not harmless. It would be a new and dramatic shift in the relationship between the state and the individual.

People who blithely say they are happy for their communications to be open to scrutiny because they have ‘nothing to hide’ have failed to grasp something fundamental about open democratic societies:

We do not make ourselves safer by making ourselves less free. Free speech means bad ideas can be exposed and good ones promoted.

But how is the marketplace of ideas supposed to work if law-abiding people can’t communicate freely about our ideas with others, free from surveillance?

How can we test our assumptions about the world and discover new ideas if our web browsing is being monitored? Free speech and privacy therefore go hand in hand.

Roy Greenslade of the Guardian noted: I am surprised that this speech has not been given greater media coverage and I’m grateful to the report on the News Media Association for bringing it to my attention.

David Cameron And right on cue, David Cameron has spouted off about the right for British people to offend religions.This is the same politician that has presided over a police regime where people are regularly being jailed for trivial bad jokes on twitter.

This is the same politician that has championed the PC lynch mob in its crusade to destroy people’s lives over minor PC transgressions.

This is the same politician that has brought in new censorship decrees without consulting the people or parliament that has destroyed the British adult internet industry.

This is the same politician that has championed shoddy internet filtering that simply isn’t fit for purpose.

This the same politician that wants to strip away every last vestige of people’s privacy and to leave them prey to hackers, scammers and criminals.

Cameron has been speaking to CBS News about the right to publish material that was offensive to some. He rightfully disagreed with a comment made by Pope Francis, who warned that people who mock religion are asking for a punch. He said:

I think in a free society, there is a right to cause offence about someone’s religion. I’m a Christian – if someone says something offensive about Jesus, I might find that offensive, but in a free society I don’t have a right to, sort of, wreak my vengeance on them.

All would have been well and good if he hadn’t already created/interpreted laws that have seen people jailed and punished for offending religions.

He also said as long as publications acted within the law, they had the right to publish any material, even if it was offensive to some. But then again the leaders of Russia, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and North Korea could all make the same statement. It all rather depends on how repressive the law is.

Read more EU Censorship News at MelonFarmers.co.uk

we must censor hebdo Index on Censorship, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, freeDimensional, PEN America, FreeWord, Reporters Without Borders, Article 19 and English PEN call on all those who believe in the fundamental right to freedom of expression to join in publishing the cartoons or covers of Charlie Hebdo on January 8 at 1400 GMT.

We believe that only through solidarity, in showing that we truly defend all those who exercise their right to speak freely, can we defeat those who would use violence to silence free speech. We ask media organisations, individuals and everyone who supports free speech to join together in this action.

Each publication will select a cartoon, a range of cartoons, or covers that they believe best reflect the right to free expression and publish at the same time globally. The idea is a moment of unity in which we show that together we stand up for journalism and the right to free speech, no matter what, and to show our support and respect for those killed on January 7.

Jodie Ginsberg, CEO of Index on Censorship said:

The ability to express ourselves freely is fundamental to a free society. This includes the freedom to publish, to satirise, to joke, to criticise, even when that might cause offence to others. Those who wish to silence free speech must never be allowed to prevail.

Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director, PEN American Center said:

Satire is both a privilege and a necessity in a free society. The freedom to question, to expose, to mock ultimately makes institutions, belief systems, and leaders stronger. The resort to murderous vengeance for the crime of drawing and publishing cartoons represents a terrifying perversion of religious values and an assault on our shared values. No matter how offensive, speech is never a justification for violence.

charlie hebdo decapitated Comic Book Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Charles Brownstein said:

The attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices is tragic, but it is also proof of just how powerful cartoons and cartoonists can be. Despite threats and prior attacks, the publishers, editors, and cartoonists of Charlie Hedbo never relented in using satire to question the world around them. CBLDF stands with Charlie Hebdo and their dedication to free expression.

Lucie Morillon, Programme Director, Reporters Without Borders said:

This unspeakable act of violence has challenged and assailed the entire press Journalism as whole is in mourning. In the name of all those who have fallen in the defence of these fundamental values, we must continue Charlie Hebdo’s fight for the right to freedom of information.

Jo Glanville, Director of English PEN, said:

This is a time for all writers, publishers, editors, artists and free speech groups to stand in solidarity. In the face in one of the most devastating attacks on press freedom and freedom of expression in Europe’s recent history, we need to reaffirm our commitment to speaking out and standing up for free speech. This action today is the first step.

Supporters of the call

Some of the publications and organisations joining us at this hour include:

  • The Guardian
  • New Statesman
  • Mail and Guardian
  • Folha de San Paulo
  • City Press
  • Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
  • Pen America
  • Article 19
  • English Pen
  • Reporters Without Borders
  • Conway Hall
  • Atheist NI
  • The Art Newspaper
  • New Humanist
  • Stephen Fry
  • Los Angeles Times

And some were understandably reticent

See  article from  theguardian.com

Publishing Muhammad cartoons would have been too risky, says Amol Rajan Editor of Independent newspaper said he had to balance principle with pragmatism, despite wanting to publish Charlie Hebdo cartoons on the front page

After the Charlie Hebdo Massacre, Support those Fighting the Religious-Right

See statement from freethoughtblogs.com

free thought blogs logo The persistent demand for the extension of blasphemy laws around the world is a real danger for all. France has a long, and now growingly endangered,  tradition of secularism; which allows dissent from religions and the right to express this dissent. It has had a rich tradition to mock and caricature powers that be,  religious or otherwise. Let us keep this hard won right which cost so many lives in history, and, alas, still does, as Charlie Hebdo’s twelve dead and numerous wounded demonstrate.

…Read the full statement

Sharia law, apostasy and secularism conference

Paying tribute to Charlie Hebdo and the many persecuted for criticising islam and religion

See details from ex-muslim.org.uk

7th February 2015, One day conference near London Kings Cross 9am registration; 10am-5:30pm

Speakers at the 7 February conference will include Activist Ahmed Idris, Campaigner for Secular Education Aliyah Saleem, Spokesperson of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain Amal Farah, Activist Atoosa Khatiri, Secular Activist Chris Moos, Director of the Centre for Secular Space Gita Sahgal, Founder of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Morocco Imad Iddine Habib, Spokesperson of One Law for All Maryam Namazie, Spokesperson of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain Nahla Mahmoud, Human Rights Campaigner Peter Tatchell, Southall Black Sisters Director Pragna Patel, Founder of Ex-Muslims of Scotland Ramin Forghani, Nari Diganta’s Rumana Hashem, National Secular Society President Terry Sanderson and Women’s Rights Campaigner Yasmin Rehman.

And on a lighter note…

See some  fine words and fine cartoons from washingtonpost.com

banksy on hebdo Charlie Hebdo: In their words and works, American cartoonists condemn Wednesday’s attack, hail slain satirists as heroes

And on a not so light note: Religion deserves fearless disrespect’

See  article from  freethinker.co.uk

Author Salman Rushdie yesterday made a statement about the attack on the Paris office of Charlie Hebdo that left 12 people dead. He said:

Religion, a medieval form of unreason, when combined with modern weaponry, becomes a real threat to our freedoms.

This religious totalitarianism has caused a deadly mutation in the heart of Islam and we see the tragic consequences in Paris today.

I stand with Charlie Hebdo, as we all must, to defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity.

“Respect for religion'” has become a code phrase meaning “fear of religion”.

Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, satire, and, yes, our fearless disrespect.

Read more EU Censorship News at MelonFarmers.co.uk

See article from eeas.europa.eu

EU flagThe EU is committed to promote human rights in all areas of its external action without exception, in particular, using the link between new technologies and human rights as important avenues for promoting democracy.

In this context the EU strategic framework on Human rights and Democracy adopted in 25 June 2012, foresees that the EU will develop CFSP Guidelines on Freedom of Expression online and offline, including the protection of bloggers and journalists. The Human right guidelines are an integral part of our Human rights policy. The guidelines are practical tools to help EU representations in the field to better advance our policy.

The EU guidelines on Freedom of expression, which should be adopted in the coming months, will ensure a maximum of coherence and consistency in EU and EUMS actions, as well as a reinforced visibility of the EU commitment on freedom of expression.

The EEAS would like to consult civil society while drafting these guidelines, opening up public consultations through the EEAS internet page. Please give us your input until 15 July 2013.

Index on Censorship have already published their contribution. See How the European Union can protect freedom of expression from indexoncensorship.org