Tag Archive for Free Speech

Il n’est pas Charlie

Liberté Guidant le Peuple

We stand squarely for free speech and democ­racy”, said David Cameron last Wednes­day at Prime Minister’s Ques­tions, not more than an hour after the attacks on the French mag­a­zine Char­lie Hebdo. This is a rather strange propo­si­tion for the leader of a party who pro­posed to rein­state the ban on “extrem­ists” from appear­ing on tele­vi­sion and have been try­ing for the past few years to rein­tro­duce the “snooper’s char­ter”. Indeed, the Tories have gone rather native in the Home Office, in con­trast to five years ago when we were all crit­i­cis­ing Labour for restrict­ing our civil liberties.

Sev­eral hours later, the House of Com­mons then debated a somewhat–but not sufficiently–diluted Counter Ter­ror­ism and Secu­rity Bill, in which Tory and Labour front­benchers alike praised the bill for being an impor­tant tool in the fight against pae­dophiles and ter­ror­ists: the two words that friends of this blog have pre­vi­ously high­lighted as result­ing in uni­ver­sally awful legislation.

After this brief sojourn into hypocrisy, Cameron took a flight to Paris where he stood side-by-side with the world’s auto­crats and despots in the name of free speech. Whilst there, he lent his name to an agree­ment for more sur­veil­lance pow­ers. One would think that Charb and his seven col­leagues would not want that in their name. But Cameron went one step fur­ther, and pro­posed the worst idea to reg­u­late a spe­cial­ist field since Labour tried to ban cof­fee eigh­teen months ago: a ban on encryp­tion.

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My speech on digital freedom to the Liberal Democrat Conference

Mak­ing your first speech at a polit­i­cal con­fer­ence is tough, espe­cially when you know that the media are watch­ing you as well as del­e­gates there. That didn’t stop me, as a first-time con­fer­ence attendee, from mak­ing a speech to the Lib Dem Spring Con­fer­ence in York last Sun­day, on the Dig­i­tal Bill of Rights motion. Hav­ing been per­suaded to by Julian Hup­pert and Tim Far­ron to men­tion dig­i­tal free­dom at Con­fer­ence, I decided to make such a speech, which I repro­duce below:

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Rhys Morgan, and an attack on free speech

Rhys Mor­gan hit the head­lines a few weeks ago due to his work in pub­li­cis­ing Stanis­law Burzyn­ski’s frad­u­lent alter­na­tive med­i­cine prac­tices. I hold him in some high regard as, at his age, I wasn’t too heav­ily involved in skep­ti­cism (although a friend of mine was, and was par­tially the rea­son why I later became active in the athe­ist movement).

Also in the news was a dis­pute between Uni­ver­sity Col­lege Lon­don and their athe­ist soci­ety, after an image from the web­comic Jesus and Mo was used to pro­mote one of their face­book event. Obvi­ously, this caused Mus­lims on cam­pus to com­plain about the offen­sive­ness of the image. It’s noth­ing new; Leeds Athe­ist Soci­ety was forced to can­cel a show­ing and debate of the con­tro­ver­sial film Fitna back in 2009 for the same rea­son. » Read more..

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