Tag Archives | free speech

The Battle For Free Speech Has Taken A Wrong Turn

“The new battles over free speech are fierce, but who is censoring whom?” asks Kelefa Sanneh at The New Yorker:

Fitzgerald’s is an Irish pub in Chapel Hill, near the campus of the University of North Carolina, that counts among its attractions cheap burgers, flip-cup tournaments, and jolly music. One night last year, the soundtrack included “Blurred Lines,” the 2013 Robin Thicke hit, in which a night-club Lothario delivers a breathy proposition to a “good girl”:
480px-Blurred_Lines_–_Robin_Thicke_single_cover

I hate these blurred lines
I know you want it
I know you want it
I know you want it

A patron stepped into the d.j. booth to ask that the song be cut short—she later explained that she wanted to “create a safe space,” and that Thicke’s lyrics evoked threats of sexual violence. The d.j. rebuffed her, and in the days that followed she and her allies took to social media to voice their dissatisfaction, suggesting that the pub was promoting “rape culture.” Before long, Fitzgerald’s conceded defeat, apologizing to the patron on Facebook and promising that “Blurred Lines” would not be played there again and that the offending d.j.

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Reason Magazine Subpoena Stomps on Free Speech

Stephen Melkisethian (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Stephen Melkisethian (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Virginia Postrel Via Bloomberg View:

Wielding subpoenas demanding information on anonymous commenters, the government is harassing a respected journalism site that dissents from its policies. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York claims these comments could constitute violent threats, even though they’re clearly hyperbolic political rhetoric.

This is happening in America — weirdly, to a site I founded, and one whose commenters often earned my public contempt.

Los Angeles legal blogger Ken White has obtained a grand jury subpoena issued to Reason.com, the online home of the libertarian magazine I edited throughout the 1990s. The subpoena seeks information about commenters who posted in response to an article by the site’s editor Nick Gillespie about the letter that Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht wrote to Judge Katherine B. Forrest before she sentenced him to life in prison without parole. Ulbricht was convicted of seven felony charges, included conspiracies to traffic in narcotics and launder money, and faced a minimum sentence of 20 years in prison.

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Free Speech for Murderers and Freaks

freespeechI am sort of a live and let live kind of guy. I don’t really care what you do. At one point, I was employed as a prisoner rights advocate for the ACLU. One time I tried to help a bunch of murderers start a chapter of the Church of Satan inside prison walls under the guise of freedom of religion. It didn’t happen. The Department of Corrections sort of laughed at me.

Still though, I went to the wall for it. I tried really hard. Sometimes you just have to stand up for the rights of people to do really stupid shit, because it protects all of us. Right? Or maybe not.

What about Free Speech? You into that? What if it advocates mass murders, prejudice or diddling boys? Still down?

Check out the guys from Stormfront.

These guys are no fun at all. Stormfront is a white nationalist, neo-nazi Internet forum that has the distinction of being the Internet’s first major racial hate site.… Read the rest

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The Abuse of Satire: Garry Trudeau on Charlie Hebdo and Free-Speech Fanaticism

via Gary Trudeau's Biography

via Gary Trudeau’s Biography

Garry Trudeau (author and illustrator of the long-standing comic, Doonesbury) was recently honored with the George Polk Career Award at Long Island University, and he used the opportunity to talk about Charlie Hebdo, free-speech fanaticism, and our growing culture of “punching down.” Trudeau is no stranger to controversy – his strip has been censored numerous times throughout its many decades – so it’s interesting to hear his take on these issues:

The Muhammad cartoon controversy began eight years ago in Denmark, as a protest against “self-censorship,” one editor’s call to arms against what she felt was a suffocating political correctness. The idea behind the original drawings was not to entertain or to enlighten or to challenge authority—her charge to the cartoonists was specifically to provoke, and in that they were exceedingly successful.

Traditionally, satire has comforted the afflicted while afflicting the comfortable. Satire punches up, against authority of all kinds, the little guy against the powerful.

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Days After Free Speech Rally, France Arrests 54 People for Offensive Speech

freedom-of-speech-156029_1280

Lauren McCauley writes at Common Dreams:

In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre last week and just days since the historic Paris unity rally when world leaders stood shoulder-to-shoulder and declared their support for freedom of speech, French authorities have arrested 54 people on charges of “glorifying” or “defending” terrorism.

The French Justice Ministry said that of those arrested, four are minors and several had already been convicted under special measures for immediate sentencing, AP reports. Individuals charged with “inciting terrorism” face a possible 5-year prison term, or up to 7 years for inciting terrorism online. None of those arrested have been linked to the attacks.

Controversial comic Dieudonné was one of those taken into custody Wednesday morning for a Facebook post in which he declared: “Tonight, as far as I’m concerned, I feel like Charlie Coulibaly”—merging the names of the satire magazine and Amedy Coulibaly, the gunman who killed four hostages at a kosher market on Friday.

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Rest in peace @sweepyface

EVIL

Who is trolling who?

Dehumanisation is often the starting point of cruelty. Nazis didn’t see Jews as human, that’s how they could throw them into ovens. Slavery in America worked along similar lines, people were treated as cattle because they were labelled “niggers,” a word used to denote someone who was not quite “one of us,” not quite a person. Religions do this kind of thing a lot, in Islam it’s “kuffar”, in Judaism it’s “goyim,” in Christianity it is “heathen.”

In England at the moment the word “troll” is being used by Her Majesty’s Government to do the same. Originally “trolling” referred to a fishing technique where you slowly drag a lure or baited hook from a moving boat. In the old world of forums people would be called out for trying to “troll” for a response to their posts. Now it has become detached from its original meaning and conflated with the trolls of Tolkienesque fantasy.… Read the rest

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Egyptian Court Sentences Al-Jazeera Journalists To Seven Years

Al JazeeraTwo journalists are currently facing seven years imprisonment after an Egyptian court found them guilty of spreading false news and aiding terrorists. Don’t get up on your high horse yet, fellow Americans: For a country that has historically prided itself on the freedom of its press, we’re doing a lot to repress our own journalists.

Two Al-Jazeera journalists detained in the case known as the “Marriott Cell” have been sentenced to seven years in maximum security prison. A third journalist has been sentenced to 10 years.

The two defendants, Australian Journalist Peter Greste and Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, sentenced to seven years in prison were detained on December 29 at the Marriott in Cairo and had been accused of defaming Egypt and spreading false news that harms the nation’s interests.

The third journalist, Baher Mohamed, was detained a day later and has been sentenced to 10 years in prison by the criminal court.

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Peoria Mayor Uses Police Department To Raid House Over Parody Twitter Account

341px-Twitter_logo.svgAaron Cynic writes at Chicagoist:

Last week, Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis finally became fed up with a suspended parody Twitter account and enacted swift justice against his would-be social media detractors. Ardis filed a criminal complaint regarding the nefarious internet ne’er-do-well behind @Peoriamayor, who tweeted some 50 times to followers about the mayor’s unverified and supposed drug use and association with prostitutes.

Twitter suspended the account in March, which was marked as a parody a week before it ended, but Ardis understood a social media slight was comparable to lawless anarchy. Realizing a relatively unknown Twitter feed might destroy his reputation as an important civic leader, Ardis made sure the Peoria Police took care of the Internet miscreants. Peoria police executed a search warrant and raided a home in connection with the account, detained several people for questioning and seized computers and smart phones.

“They brought me in like I was a criminal,” Michelle Pratt told the Peoria Journal Star.

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How Secretive Global Trade Talk Will Destroy the Internet

Pic: Gavin Schaefer (CC)

Pic: Gavin Schaefer (CC)

Patrick Smith of the Fiscal Times lays out how exactly the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership will effectively neuter the Internet as a bastion of free expression.

Via Fiscal Times

Wikileaks got a hold of this document after the 19th round of talks held in Brunei last August. What we have is what will be on the table in Salt Lake this week.

The U.S. and Japan will propose that a product can be patented even if it is just a clever twist on other products and “does not result in improved efficacy.” Everyone else at the table opposes that proposal (Article QQ.E.1). Australia wants marketing approval of agricultural chemicals in one country to count in other countries; the Chileans and Mexicans are tough talkers on this point (Article QQ.E.XXX).

The big stuff on the IP side concerns the internet and digital technology. And it does not come out well by the look of the draft.

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