Comments for Index on Censorship the voice of free expression Mon, 21 Jul 2014 10:06:25 +0000 hourly 1 Comment on Padraig Reidy: When truth is stranger than fiction by Padraig Reidy Mon, 21 Jul 2014 10:06:25 +0000 Hi Evan
Thanks for your comment.

Re the Leveson inquiry not setting about to be just about hacking, well, you are right to say its terms of reference are broader, but the calls at the time were for an inquiry about hacking, most prominently made by a certain organisation whose website is still named You will recall the old mobile phone logo etc.

On the similarity to the Irish system etc, honestly, we’ve had this discussion a thousand times, and we interpret the situation differently, but I will say a couple of things. 1) The Irish system contains an Ombudsman role, the current Royal Charter does not. 2) You are right to point out that Associated, News UK et al have signed up, but that was after years of negotiation, not the imposed system imagined under the Royal Charter. 3) The Irish system offers a partial defence of being a member of the Council. It does not raise the spectre of punitive costs for those outside the system.

The rest, well, we’ve been going over and over for years now, and I’m not sure there’s a lot to be gained from going over it again. But I do wish you would not present difference of opinion as ignorance or mendacity on the part of your opponents. George Orwell once wrote that “The Catholic and the Communist are alike in assuming that an opponent cannot be both honest and intelligent.” I know you profess neither of those creeds.


PS: it’s “Reidy”

Comment on France: Strict defamation and privacy laws limit free expression by Leslie Sat, 19 Jul 2014 23:49:46 +0000 Its confusing, what does France do about defamation of character?

I know a person whos ‘in laws’ are french and just after he and his wife decided to move to france with their 3 children after been together in spain for 11 years assuming his in laws would be happier he learned that they had been talking about him for years to their neighbours, local post office, town hall etc, THE WHOLE TOWN.

Also been that his in laws where retired tailors who worked inside a french army base they used their contacts their to get police to stalk my friend to learn about anyone he had been on contact with and told them he was a convict in the USA, while no proof to show they asked the people to not let my friend know and that they where in the process if finding out, and they contacted people like the phone company, electric company, his french school and any possible job offers he was engaging in as well as other gove agencies, and they had been doing this for years with out his knowledge to give my friend the impression everyone was xenophobic there.

Finally after they lost their property to a fire my friend learned about the slander, confronted his father in law who in return tribe to bribe him to leave, requested to have a family mediation to avoid legal action where they admitted that they did not want him to be their daughter’s husband since 10 years and never told their daughter about it, after disputes about this been racism since no one provoked them they accused my friend for been responsible to why their daughter converted to judaism, in fact from the recording on their iphone of the whole meeting i myself can hear that the mediator was antisemetic because she was yelling at my friend demanding why he did not know they would react like this because of his culture, nice.,

if that was not enough, they admitted to lying that money they told their daughter they wanted to share with the grand children in spain was really to financially support the couple to justify their anger as if it was over a financial dispute, then they admitted it was a gift and promised to never bother the couple, as well as they hit the kids while watching them and depicted jews as liars, not enough??? they promised to stop their behaviour but only continued after these meetings to refuse to see the couple and their grand children, then claim its the husbands fault, they filed for child visitations and again lied on paper claiming they financially supported the couple, while dropped after been filed verbally until the couple moved out of town and they sent copies of the court case they tried to use (what a US lawyer described as a kangaroo court case) to again claim their son in law did something wrong when it was all a lie,

From what i seen, heard and witnessed i dont think france’s defamation laws do anyone good, its just giving the gov powers to intrude themselves on privacy of others.

Comment on Padraig Reidy: When truth is stranger than fiction by Evan Harris Sat, 19 Jul 2014 18:45:03 +0000 Padraig Ready makes some good points about the production, and I share much of his analysis of the show – we spoke about it on the evening he attended as I was also there.

My only gripe with the review bit his review, is that I feel it is not unreasonable for a satire on the tabloid press to involve sexist and racial stereotypes. I don’t think that the writer’s or director’s view of women, gay men, Black men and Asians is in line with the script.

But just because this is a review of a play on the website of Index on Censorship does not mean it can take liberties with facts. I hope my comments below will bring more people to see an insightful review, spoiled only by its historical revisionism.

So here a quick fact-check on the bits that are not about the play.

1. First line. The Leveson Inquiry (Part 1 anyway) was not into phone hacking. It was into the Culture, Practices and Ethics of the press, and its relationship with the police and politicians. The reason it was not into phone hacking is because there were, and still are, police investigations into that. Part 2 – after the trials are complete – will examine exactly what happened and why the police screwed up the first time. The terms of reference (http:/ do not even mention phone hacking (or a posh term for it).

2. Second paragraph. The “people behind Hacked Off” very much did foresee an impasse in that we expected parts of the press to resist any change to the failed, fake regulation of the PCC. there are no punitive press laws on the statute books – there are laws that give court costs immunity and immunity form exemplary damages exposure (which has always been there) to newspapers which join an effective independent self-regulator, and provides court costs immunity for alleged victims of newspapers which do not. The system is very similar to the Irish system ( which has been signed up to by all the UK papers with Irish editions, including the Daily Mail. So “punitive press laws” is humbug.

3. The Inquiry is not over but I do not think politicians and the police emerged unscathed (para 2) even so far, nor do they deserve to. Two senior Met Police chiefs resigned (,_resignations,_suspensions,_and_dismissals_in_conjunction_with_the_news_media_phone_hacking_scandal) , several others were criticised, and several police have so far been jailed as a result of the criminal investigation. This narrative from the big news companies of press victimhood is pervasive but – as with MPs over their expenses – utterly unpersuasive.

4. Brooks was acquitted (ie found not guilty), as Padraig says in paragraph 4. And she is entitled to her “not guilty” verdicts. She was not “found innocent” as Padraig says in paragraph 7. That is not how the criminal justice system works.

5. Leveson did not “expand from being a “hacking inquiry” into an investigation of every single aspect of the press. Its terms of reference (http:/ were set from the outset and did not change. They were supposed to cover why the press for years covered up large scale criminal conspiracies in their own industries while demanding ever tougher regulation in every other walk of life. It was supposed to cover what we need to do to protect plurality of ownership of the media to protect our democracy (work Index supports To suggest it had mission creep is a bit conspiracy theory. If anything, time constraints and the need to avoid prejudice prevented it so far from digging deeper.

6. “And as with Leveson, the whole press is punished for the crimes of a few” (Para 10) this is absurd victimhood once again. Leveson rejected any form of state regulation. He rejected statutory regulation as his preferred solution. he did not recommend a statutory right of reply. He basically accepted the Guardian’s submission (para 43 here for a self-regulatory system with statutory underpinning and statutory incentives. The rewards for all journalists (exemplary damages immunity, court costs immunity, a whistle-blowers help-line, conscience clauses in contracts, better controls over plurality, ending the grip of the editors and bosses over the Code and regulator) are enormous.

7. In para 14, the Royal Charter was not the “Government’s” but Parliament’s, as it had all-party support and evolved from something other than Government processes. And a Charter rather than a statute was requested by the press, accepted by them and represented a concession.

8. in para 15, Padraig says of hacking “a criminal problem became a political issue; actions at one newspaper became the fault of the whole press”. When a vast criminal conspiracy is covered up because of corrupt links between the perpetrators and the police and the political establishment, that becomes a “political issue”. The actions were not just at one newspaper (the news of the World) or even one newspaper Group (the Sun and the Times were exposed over illegal payments and the Nightjack case but across many titles (the Sunday Mirror has been established as having phone hacking taking place) and in respect of illegal blagging, many news groups (

The review showed a great appreciation of the short-comings of the play, but a poor grasp of some basic facts.

Comment on Subscribe to Index Weekly by Ezekiel kilwake mukasa Wed, 16 Jul 2014 11:35:20 +0000 I used to read index on censorship 10years ago it has given me courage

Comment on Shout Art Loud: A “living report” on art and sexual violence in Egypt by Anca Sorina Olarescu Mon, 14 Jul 2014 14:07:50 +0000 It’s a good idea,but theatre,dance and music can only make the point about this issue.
Yes,artistic expression plays a vital role,but we need a global culture of non agressivity.People must be educated in this spirit!

Comment on The truth about Azerbaijan by NORA Fri, 11 Jul 2014 02:06:20 +0000 WHO IS AZERBAIJAN THIS COUNTRY” DID NOT EXIST 100 YEARS AGO

Comment on Facebook’s online shaming mobs by Jillian C. York Thu, 10 Jul 2014 23:31:40 +0000 “Does forcing people into acting a certain way actually generate any real change, or is it simply an act of censorship?”

This is a false dichotomy. Public shaming may not be an effective tactic, but nor is it censorship. Rather, public shaming is a social consequence to speech. There are surely better ways of changing minds, but calling it censorship is disingenuous.

Comment on Has Ireland reintroduced criminal libel? by Matt Baxter Thu, 10 Jul 2014 10:42:38 +0000 The court ruling is wrong in law. ‘Property’ under this law cannot include something as intangible as a reputation, or else someone will claim that their ‘spiritual property’ has been violated if others believe in a different religion. The Criminal Damage Act 1971 in the UK specifically defines property as being ‘of a tangible nature’, and the Irish legislation must include some similar clause. The ruling will be overruled by a higher court.

At least, I bloody hope so

Comment on Facebook’s online shaming mobs by Robert Thu, 10 Jul 2014 09:53:33 +0000 There is another dynamic to all this, which is the role that the social media platforms themselves play in mediating such debates and dialogue.

First, Facebook and Twitter are just two of many platforms. Political discussions do not *have* to take place on those services. So cutting connections on those social media sites is not quite the same as ‘censorship’ in the formal sense that we understand it.

Nevertheless, the issue remains because of the dominance of a very small number of social media sites. They distort political debate in several ways. Most obviously, Twitter reduces argument to 140 characters, killing nuance and ambiguity as it does so. Many a flame war was started simply because the Tweeters did not have space to say “in my opinion” or “I may be wrong, but” or “what do you think?”. Facebook’s algorithms show us stuff it knows we ‘like’, thereby creating a personalised bubble for each of us where challenging views are excised in favour of posts it predicts we will agree with. Language plays a part here: there is a ‘like’ button, which doubles as a ‘subscribe’ button. I may wish to follow the BNP posts to be aware of what nonsense they’re spouting, but I’ll be damned if I am going to click a button labelled ‘like’ in order to do so!

Finally, there is the inconsistent way in which social media sites apply their own, privatised censorship. I’m sure Index on Censorship has logged this issue and campaigned for ToS changes in the past. Violent and misogynist groups are allowed to exist while tastefully erotic groups are blocked. There is no oversight and few means of redress if you fall foul of an internal blocking decision.

Comment on Australia debates repeal of parts of racial discrimination act by Andy r Fri, 04 Jul 2014 19:04:23 +0000 Two things you notice about left wingers

1. They love to make laws restricting your freedom

2. They apply them in an uneven way so that their favoured groups get special treatment.

It would be far better to have a law that clarifies just how much someone can insult another person before it crosses a line into persistent harassment. Such a law need not specify the type of insult, only how long it should go on before the target of the insults is entitled to have their peace and quiet protected by the law.

The left would rather force us all to pretend that we live in perfect harmony.