Category Archives: Freedom of speech

Making Laws Against Hurt Feelings

We live in an age of ideological self-awareness, a world of identity politics and human rights activism, where those among us with any common characteristic or condition, or particular cause or opinion, can coalesce into active pressure groups each demanding recognition of its perceived “cotton wool” rights

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Canadian psychologist takes on the howling post-modern void

From Denyse O’Leary at MercatorNet: Unhinged criticism of the man has obscured the merits of his book

Professor Jordan Peterson, author of the top-selling 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, is beginning to look weary in the face of the waves of hatred he has endured recently. Two years ago, he was almost unknown outside his field. A Canadian clinical psychologist and professor of psychology (University of Toronto), he is author of over 100 papers in his specialities, the psychology of religious and ideological belief and personality theory. His principal work, Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief (1999), was a well-received tome. He taught at Harvard before being awarded tenure at the University of Toronto.

So how do we account for the fact that Peterson has also been targeted in Canadian media in a way that seems, quite honestly, unhinged: “the stupid man’s smart person?” (Maclean’s 2017); “The Professor of Piffle” (Walrus 2017); a faintly flickering intellect (Globe and Mail 2018). Some in academia are actively seeking to get him terminated. Few detractors seem to grapple with what he says or care to. As a longtime news writer, I don’t recall seeing anything like it. Some explanation is in order, one that includes a consideration of his recent best-selling book, 12 Rules for Life. More.

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Venezuela: Anti-Hate Law Used to Harass Media

This week, the infamous Anti-Hate Law entered a new stage in Cumaná (Sucre State), with its first-ever use against a media outlet: The main board members of newspaper Diario Región Oriente were questioned by officers of Military Intelligence (DGCIM) over an article published on January, 11. Last month, two protesters became the law’s first casualties.

Journalist Yndira Lugo, director of the paper, endured a two-hour meeting, saying the case was brought by a Popular Struggle Circle (Circulo de Lucha Popular), a low-level PSUV branch of Cumaná. The investigation will now pass to the Public Ministry.

The article, titled “The Communists warn!” (¡Los comunistas lo advierten!), is based on quotes made days earlier by Perfecto Abreu, a high-ranking member of the Venezuelan Communist Party, who said that Venezuela is “at the gates of great social unrest” and that the majority of Venezuelans feel “uncertainty, indignation and desperation… over the aggravation of the socio-economic situation in the country.”

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Editor of student newspaper out after publishing controversial articles

The editor-in-chief of a student newspaper at the University of New Brunswick is out after publishing an op-ed and interview with the head of a group that had taken responsibility for posting what were described as racist posters on campus.

Anna De Luca had defended the publication of the articles in The Baron by saying the newspaper believes in unfettered freedom of speech and expression.

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What’s the problem with French newspapers getting hundreds of millions in state handouts?

French newspapers and magazines continue to be handed hundreds of millions of euros in state subsidies each year, despite being owned by billionaires. This largesse is supposed to boost democracy, but its critics argue that it leads to a submissive media, writes Rory Mulholland.

There are few issues on which France’s far-right Front National agrees with the radical left-wing journalist Edwy Plenel – former editor of Le Monde and current boss of the crusading investigative website Mediapart.

But one is the question of the enormous amount of money – sometimes topping the billion-euro mark – the French state hands out every year to the country’s newspapers and magazines.

Both the Front National and Plenel staunchly oppose these subsidies, and both have campaigned for them to be stopped.

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Germany: Return of the Stasi Police State?

Germany’s new censorship law, which has introduced state censorship on social media platforms, came into effect on October 1, 2017. The new law requires social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, to censor their users on behalf of the German state. Social media companies are obliged to delete or block any online “criminal offenses” such as libel, slander, defamation or incitement, within 24 hours of receipt of a user complaint — regardless of whether the content is accurate or not. Social media companies are permitted seven days for more complicated cases. If they fail to do so, the German government can fine them up to 50 million euros for failing to comply with the law.

The new censorship law, however, was not fully enforced until January 1, 2018, in order to give the social media platforms time to prepare for their new role as the privatized thought police of the German state. Social media platforms now have the power to shape the form of current political and cultural discourse by deciding who will speak and what they will say.

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German opposition parties call to replace online hate speech law

Senior figures in the rival Free Democratic (FDP), Green and Left parties on Sunday demanded lawmakers replace Germany’s recently passed online hate speech law. The call comes after Twitter decided to delete allegedly offensive statements by far-right politicians and suspend the account of a German satirical magazine.

“The last few days have emphatically shown that private companies cannot correctly determine whether a questionable online statement is illegal, satirical or tasteless yet still democratically legitimate,” the FDP’s general secretary Nicola Beer (pictured above) told Germany weekly Die Welt am Sonntag.

Beer said Germany needed a law similar to the one the FDP proposed before Christmas that would give an “appropriately endowed authority” the right to enforce the rule of law online rather than give private companies the right to determine the illegality of flagged content.

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Canada: Islamist-Leftist-Government Alliance Silences Free Speech

Christine Douglass-Williams

For writing and warning about political Islam, I was terminated as a director at the federal government’s Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF), an agency usually at arms-length from the federal government.

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Frau Merkel gets a lesson in free speech

Free speech, the driving principle of the American experiment in how free men govern themselves, is a principle that does not always travel well. Free speech requires constant defense and the careful attention of loving hands. Mere lip service won’t do it.

Americans are armed with the First Amendment, the most important amendment of all, and it does not guarantee polite or even responsible speech, but free speech. The humblest citizen is entitled to say whatever he pleases. He can expect to pay the consequences of irresponsible speech, but the government can’t stop him from saying it.

Certain politicians even here from time to time seem frustrated enough to want to create exceptions. Who likes to hear himself berated by pipsqueaks? So far the Supreme Court has held the line, even upholding the right to say outrageous and wicked things unless they lead someone to commit actual crimes.

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