Archive for the ‘Freedom of Expression’ Category

The Invisible Black Hand of Censorship

Protesters in Hong Kong carry placards of the Chinese pro-democracy activist Liu Xiaobo during a march to demand his release. Photograph: Ym Yik/EPA

A week before Liu Xiaobo was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, a number of Chinese dissidents and reformers signed an open letter to the NPC calling for the honouring of promises for press-freedom which appear on paper, at least, in the Chinese constitution; and which appeared on the Hong Kong-based website of the Chinese Media Project.

One signatory and former defence official, Xin Ziling has appealed to supposedly deeply-held PRC principles of Marxism to elicit a sense of awareness by asking how Karl Marx would have circumvented Chinese censorship laws to publish The Communist Manifesto (my guess is, if refused, he would have gone-off to boff another maid). One point this appears to miss is that, despite Liu Xiaobo’s incarceration for endorsing Charter 08 (which used the 60th anniversary of the inception of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to call for its incorporation into Chinese legislation), virtually all the other signatories of this escaped imprisonment.


Next You Will Be Telling Us Shergar is Dead


Callow, pampered luvvies everywhere were cock a’ hoop to hear that other callow, pampered luvvies had announced a boycott of Ariel Theatre which is localed in one of the principle Israeli Settlements on the West Bank.

The letter, addressed to the boards of the Cameri, Habima, Beit Lessin, Khan and the Haifa and Beersheba theatres, read: “We wish to express our disgust with the theater’s board’s plans to perform in the new auditorium in Ariel. The actors among us hereby declare that we will refuse to perform in Ariel, as well as in any other settlement. We urge the boards to hold their activity within the sovereign borders of the State of Israel within the Green Line.”

I am not axiomically opposed to private individuals in Israel giving the cold-shoulder to Settlement products and services; as long as they give more thought than checking where their bread comes from, or taking a detour so not to drive across the cursèd territory.  We each are puritanically responsible for our own moral standing in society and, barring anarchy, there will always be some degree of submission to the power of the State (as it should be).

Luvvies, however, are a different matter.  I go to my butcher for meat, apothocary for medicine, library for books, newsagent for newspapers.  Luvvies and other artists are there for entertainment, and I do not take my cues on parenting from Auberon Waugh or gender politics from William Golding any more than I would seek political advice from their bunch (not even Ian Anderson’s masterful “fuck off you maniacs” to the pro-boycott crowd).


When Even the Daily Mail Thinks You Are a Bunch of Knuckle-Scraping Racists…


… it may be time to reconsider your position.

This is the terrifying moment a man is verbally abused because a crowd demonstrating against plans to build a mosque near New York’s Ground Zero believe he is a Muslim.

The powerfully built black man who is wearing a type of hat similar to that worn by Muslim men is called a ‘coward’ and verbally abused by some opponents to the mosque.

Telling them that he does not practice Islam and that they ‘don’t know why I’m here’, the man – identified as a carpenter called Kenny – is eventually saved by the intervention of two men.

Another Reason to Hate the Welsh

The True Face of Wales

As Julian Assange, Elric-lookalike (minus the nobility and awareness of his own inhumanity) and self-appointed speak of truth to [someone else’s] power suggests that it was worth the risk to Afghan informants identified by Wikileaks (but, let us be honest, they may may have been mercenaries) let us turn our eyes from the stupefying political force that the seething colostomy bags of liberal guilt which Assange represents.

And onto the Welsh.


Robert Dee Was the Worst Tennis Pro in the World


So, there you go.  Although, Orlando Figes is not the worst historian in the world.

Tory MP Explains Why He Threatened Blogger With Libel


Barrister, Member of Parliament for Banbury and Pooh Bah look-alike Tony Baldry has contacted the blogger whom he threatened with libel over allegations he had interceded on behalf of James Ibori; Nigerian oil-magnate currently on trial at Southwark Crown Court for corruption.

The blogger in question, Richard Wilson had read a Correction in the Independent on Sunday newspaper on 28 February which withdrew previous claims Tony Baldry MP had written a five page letter on behalf of Ibori’s solicitors to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office; and copied to the Attorney General, Justice Secretary and Home Secretary: only as Tony Baldry QC.

Wilson discussed this and the background on his blog, as well as the observations of Allen Green (aka Jack of Kent) that it is virtually unheard of for a barrister to write such a letter to major Government departments on the instructions of a solicitor.

Further threats of defamation proceedings followed from Baldry’s solicitors, Olwsang against both Wilson and his blog providers, WordPress; which was thought to be legally liable under English law.  Had this gone further, I suspect the California-based WordPress would have given the Agincourt Salute.


Tory MP Threatens Blogger With Libel, Manky Scots Git Threatens to Scupper Libel Reform


Aback reports of the rapidly falling stars of Geoff Hoon, Patricia Hewitt and Stephen Byers, the antics of one of their Tory compatriots deserves more attention.

In The Lawyer, Allen Green (aka Jack of Kent) writes of the strange case of the defense of real-life former Nigerian State Governor, James Ibori by Tony Baldry QC.  Starting with discussion in an anti-corruption web-forum called Nigerian Liberty Forum, as reported by Sahara Reporters Online, Baldry was shown to have written a five page letter to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office; and copied to the Attorney General, Justice Secretary and Home Secretary.

Details of the contents are sketchy – not least because the FCO has refused an FoI request from the NLF – but Baldry is assumed to have sought to effect the dropping of a-still-ongoing prosecution at Southwark Crown Court against Ibori for numerous corruption charges.


Overdosing on Homeopathic Remedies


I would not say that homeopathic remedies are wholly bogus, because I have no doubt that their proponents believe passionately in their effectiveness. Then again, even if a treatment for woodworm was promoted in which cats were to be doused with kerosene and used as fire-frisbees, I would not excuse any proponents if they believed passionately in their effectiveness.

So, I was satisfied to see the 1023 Campaign challenge Boots for its policy to stock homeopathic ‘remedies’ by purchasing large quantities and consuming them there and then, with no ill-effects.

The Society of Homeopaths called it a “stunt”.

Well, of course it was.  Surely you have a media department which advized you on the credibility your sincerely believed-in treatments would get from being stocked by Boots?

An attempt to drink the kool-aid in Southampton can be seen here:

I wonder if Boots will now stock faith-healing crystals.

(HAT TIP – Richard Wilson.)

Arrest Monbiot?


Norm has more.

Blogger Mark MacLachlan Arrested


Now it gets interesting.  Mark MacLachlan, the former constituency office manager to Mike Russell (what portfolio at the Scottish Executive does he hold this week?) has been arrested and bailed for breach of the peace.

This relates to his blog, Universality of Cheese which was used to make scurrilous remarks about opposition politicians with shades of the Dolly Draper und Damian McBride scandal.  On being identified as the blog author in November 2009, it was taken down and he was resigned (correct usage of the auxiliary verb).  Russell’s responses have varied between insisting he had no knowledge of such a blog being run by his constituency office manager to pleading that he took no interest in it.

I do not think this is a case of a member of an Executive minister using the Police to arrest someone whom he wishes to sue for libel.  Instead, there are allegations that MacLachan made veiled threats against Russell in a series of e-mails in which he expected equitable arrangements to be made.

Hmm, this could end up in court.