International free speech roundup

by Walter Olson on December 11, 2012

  • UK: Jack Shafer on the trouble with the Leveson press inquiry [Reuters] Journos already cowed by hostile press laws: “Even foreign dictatorships know how to frighten Fleet Street.” [Spectator] “Even people who RT’d libelous allusions to [him] on Twitter could be sued. … surreal” [BoingBoing, Popehat]
  • Calling people names in Hanna, Alberta, or cheering on those who do, can now expose you to penalties under anti-bullying ordinance [Sun News]
  • “Britain’s High-Tech Thought Police” [Brendan O'Neill] Related, Rowan Atkinson [Telegraph]
  • Language muscle in Quebec: “After series of fire-bombings, Second Cup coffee shops added the words ‘les cafes’ to signs” [Yahoo Canada]
  • Blasphemy law around the world: Vexed with their speech, Egyptian court sentences to death in absentia various persons living in US and Canada [Volokh] “Turkish TV channel fined for ‘The Simpsons’ blasphemy episode” [Telegraph] After using Facebook to criticize politico’s funeral, women in India arrested for “hurting religious sentiments” [AFP] Indonesian man jailed, attacked by mob for writing “God does not exist” on Facebook group [Andrew Stuttaford, Secular Right] “A year of blasphemy” [Popehat]
  • Protesters block student access to “men’s-rights” speech at U. Toronto [Joshua Kennon via @amyalkon]

{ 4 comments }

1 William Nuesslein 12.11.12 at 8:10 am

I found the reaction to the phone hacking scandal (item 1 above) excessive. It reminds me of the reaction to Ingid Bergman’s marriage to her director Roberto Rossellini. Bergman was condemned in the United States Senate. The world was blessed with Isabella Rossellini and her twin sister Isotta. The Senate apologized for the condemnation a few years ago.

I wonder if others see community madness in the Leveson inquiry as I do.

2 Hugo S. Cunningham 12.11.12 at 3:06 pm

The British elite’s original firestorm against “News of the World” and other tabloids was understandable, even if the original spark (that NotW reporters were manipulating a murdered girl’s cell phone account), opportunistically fanned by the “New York Times,” turned out to be false. While American supermarket tabloids make things up and the public are free to believe or disbelieve them, British tabloids’ eagerness to dig up the dirt by whatever means necessary was chilling to prospective victims.

That said, I nevertheless agree that Britain needs to clean up their censorship-prone libel-law cesspit before even considering any new restrictions on the press.

3 Anonymous Attorney 12.12.12 at 2:20 pm

Re: blocking access to the men’s rights speech in Canada: I recall campus feminists blocking Dinesh D’Souza when I was in college. My political opinions were forever changed.

4 Richard Nieporent 12.13.12 at 7:13 pm

Re: Protesters block student access to “men’s-rights” speech at U. Toronto

You have to feel sorry for the poor woman in the video. Not only is she unable to understand the meaning of the First Amendment, but she seems to have a severe case of Tourette Syndrome.

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