Philobiblon: Freedom of the press

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Freedom of the press

Britain's religious hatred bill was at least watered down - chiefly through government incompetence - to at least insist on the necessity of intent to do harm. But it is still a bad piece of legislation.

While races should be protected from vilification - being an innate thing no one can change (although an entirely artificial construct, but that's another post) - no idea should be safe from the most robust of challenges. (And while of course a religious group should be protected from direct incitement to violence, that is already covered by other laws. Should I decide to try to provoke attacks on, say, people wearing black jeans, that is illegal, as would be targetting a religious group).

Some in Europe at least realise this:

Daily newspapers in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands featured 12 cartoons, which have caused a firestorm in the Islamic world.
Editors expressed a wish to show solidarity with the Editor of the Jyllands-Posten in Denmark, whose cartoons triggered violent protests in Gaza, a boycott of Danish goods across the Arab world and death threats against the newspaper’s senior staff. The paper's offices had to be evacuated last night after the second bomb threat in two days.
... France Soir covered its front with Buddha, the Christian and Jewish deities and the Prophet all sitting on a cloud. The Christian God says: "“Don'’t complain Muhammad, all of us have been caricatured."
Shortly after the paper appeared, however, its managing editor, Jacques Lefranc, was sacked. Raymond Lakah, the paper’s owner, issued a public apology ...
French ... ministers defended France Soir’s freedom to publish what it wanted. After a Cabinet meeting with President Chirac, Jean-Francois Cope, a minister and government spokesman, said: "France is attached to the freedom of expression"”, but adding that respect should always be shown for the beliefs of others.

So which British paper is going to print the cartoons?


Blogger clanger said...

Gutless [abusive epithet of choice] Jack Straw has praised the UK media for not republishing those cartoons. I hope history records that.

Freedom was only ever varnish-deep it seems. And for those thinking of pushing the envelope, blogspot's terms of service forbid the posting of anything '[blah, blah, blah,] or otherwise objectionable'.

Which covers just about anything they need to, to cover their corporate you-know-whats.

In the current climate, Voltaire, Rousseau, Darwin, and Nietzsche would all remain unpublished.

There you are minding your own business when you get hit by a car and wake up in 1573.

2/03/2006 06:56:00 pm  

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